Los Angeles Blade, Volume 06, Issue 23, June 10, 2022

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(Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library Special Collections and from USC/One Archives LGBT)

PAGES 32-51



Triple A: Gas prices reach new record highs over $6 a gallon in SoCal The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is By LA BLADE DIGITAL STAFF LOS ANGELES – High demand for travel as we head into the summer and continued concerns about global and local supply of gasoline will continue to put upward pressure on pump prices, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $6.21, which is 14 cents higher than last week. The average national price is $4.72, which is 12 cents higher than a week ago. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is .22 per gallon, which is 13 cents higher than last week, 40 cents higher than last month, and 1.90 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $6.14, which is 12 cents higher than last week, 36 cents higher than last month, and $1.95 higher than last year. On the Central Coast, the average price is $6.13, which is 10 cents higher than last week and 34 cents from than last month and is $1.93 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is .08, which is 10 cents higher than last week, 33 cents higher than last month and increased $1.94 from a year ago. In Bakersfield, the .1 average price is 12 cents more than last Thursday, 3 cents higher than last month and 2.0 higher than a year ago today. “Memorial Day travel volume added to the demand for gasoline last weekend which had a direct impact in gas prices here in Southern California and the rest of

.21, which is 1 cents higher than last week

the country,” said Auto Club spokesman Doug Shupe. It is hard to know what will happen with prices, but the upward pressure will likely last in the coming weeks and months as people take summer road trips.”

THE AUTO CLUB RECOMMENDS THE FOLLOWING TIPS TO SAVE MONEY ON GAS: Look into carpooling if you commute a significant distance. Carpooling with one other person cuts commute costs in half, and you can cut your commute costs by two-thirds by carpooling with two other people. Make sure your tires are properly maintained and inflated to the correct level. Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy. Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption. Slow down and drive the speed limit. Fuel economy peaks around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speed increases. Reducing freeway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%. Use cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because you could lose control of the vehicle.

Minimize your use of air conditioning. Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in colder temperatures. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel. Remove unnecessary and heavy items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. Download the AAA App to find the cheapest gas prices near you. The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on June 2nd, averages are:

(Photo by Wonderlane)


Use cell phone camera to scan QR code above to access information about Caltrans upcoming opportunities

Visit us at https://dot.ca.gov/ or email smallbusinessadvocate@dot.ca.gov for more information LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 10, 2022 • 03


San Francisco Pride

Police O cers Pride Alliance bro er compromise

SAN FRANCISCO – The governing board of San Francisco Pride and the leadership of the San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance worked out a compromise that allows for the participation of some o cers in the parade to march in uniform. It was also announced that San Francisco Mayor London Breed would participate in the parade. The Mayor had withdrawn her support after the Pride committee ruled that the city’s LGBTQ+ law enforcement contingents are banned from participating in the Pride parade wearing their uniforms. The Mayor noted in a statement at the time: “I love the Pride Parade, and what it means for our LGBTQ community and for our city. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. However, if the Pride Board does not reverse its decision, I will join our city public safety departments that are not participating in the Pride Parade,” the Mayor said in a statement. “I’ve made this very hard decision in order to support those members of the LGBTQ community who serve in uniform, in our Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, who have been told they cannot march in uniform, and in support of the members of the Fire Department who are refusing to march out of solidarity with their public safety partners, Breed added. ABC7 Bay Area reporter Lyanne Melendez, who had covered the ongoing controversy for the station tweeted out the news of the compromise as it broke Thursday. San Francisco Pride’s Carolyn Wysinger, President Of the Board of Directors, SF Pride and Suzanne Ford, Interim Executive Director, SF Pride and the San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance spokesperson O cer athryn Winters, in a dual statement issued Thursday noted: Pride grew out of conflicts between LGBTQ communities and police at Compton’s Cafeteria and Stonewall Inn. Ever since then, we have attempted to bridge that divide. That is why we are grateful to have reached a compromise solution today. It shows everyone is working in the spirit of Pride to come together We have agreed that all first responders will march together in one contingent. Most law enforcement o cers marching will be in casual dress. Police and fire department command staff will march in their class AA uniforms as regulated. There will be a small number of LGBTQ o cers in uniform providing security for the contingent.” “In addition to the agreement reached surrounding law enforcement o cers marching in Pride, San Francisco Pride and the San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance have also agreed to continue work that builds on the foundations laid by our conversations over the last two years. The San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance will work with Chief William Scott’s o ce to reinvigorate the Chief’s LGBTQ Police Advisory Forum, working with San Francisco Pride to ensure that community members selected for the forum represent the diversity of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community. San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance and San Francisco Pride, over the next year, will host a series of community discussions bringing together the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ o cers. These discussions will take place in San Francisco LGBTQ+ communities in order to ensure that the forums are accessible to all.” San Francisco Mayor London Breed raises the Pride flag during a June 2 ceremony at City Hall. Bay Area Reporter Photo by Rick Gerharter Journalists Eric Burkett and Cynthia Laird from The Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco’s LGBTQ newspaper and media outlet reported:


(Courtesy of the San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance)

The compromise was announced at Mayor London Breed’s ceremonial raising of the Pride flag on the balcony outside her o ce, overlooking the front entrance of City Hall. “I have a very, very big happy announcement today,” Breed said in a presentation following the flag raising. I almost want to cry, I’m so happy. But I, along with our LGBTQ public safety o cials will be marching in Pride this year. At that point, the assembly comprising LGBTQ community leaders, members of SF Pride, law enforcement, and city o cials burst into applause. The mayor continued, acknowledging that her decision not to march had probably hurt some people. I want to first apologize to the many members of the LGBTQ community who were hurt by the decision that I made to stand by our various public safety o cials of the LGBTQ community. And I apologize for not also recognizing the hurt and pain that I know some feel as a result of their own interactions and engagements with law enforcement.” She called the compromise one all parties in the dispute could be proud of, adding “the understanding and respect from both sides is a symbol of love, bringing us together.” The compromise resulted from an almost impromptu discussion facilitated by a local restaurateur, Manny Yekutiel, a gay man who owns Manny’s, a hybrid cafe and community space in the Mission district. Yekutiel, 31, also serves on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board. Distressed by how the dispute between law enforcement and SF Pride seemed to be escalating, Yekutiel decided to offer his cafe as a place to meet. After calling representatives from both sides of the dispute last weekend, they agreed that Sunday to meet the evening of June 1 to further discuss the matter. I decided to reach out to both Suzanne Ford and O cer Winters and see if they can come here and see if we could work something out together in person, he said, referring to the interim executive director of SF Pride and a leader in the police pride alliance. Yekutiel not only hosted the event, he said, but served as moderator. I asked the uestion at the end of this really beautiful conversation between the two of them where folks spent an hour sharing their experiences and their stories and their perspective on the issue,” he said. “I asked them what they needed to see in order to make a compromise, what would a compromise look like to be able to get everyone to march together.” He added that “a compromise was proposed and in the room, it was not accepted, but it seemed that we were able to actually find a path forward that allowed o cers to feel comfortable marching and, prior, to allow them there. And so I stopped in the middle of the conversation. I said, did this just happen Is this O with you Is this O with you The conversation between the two sides continued the following day and wrapped up just hours before the flag-raising


ceremony. End of stalemate The deal brings to an end a stalemate that started May 23 when members of the San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance stated they would not participate in the parade because the board that oversees the Pride parade had instituted a policy whereby they could not march in uniform. That policy, first adopted in September 2020, was because SF Pride board President Carolyn Wysinger and former SF Pride Executive Director Fred Lopez concluded that in 2021 we cannot welcome the participation of the San Francisco Police Department’s Pride Alliance — which is to say, uniformed SFPD o cers marching as a Parade contingent. The SF Pride leaders said the organization was disappointed and frustrated following a 2019 incident when police used force against anti-police and anti-corporate protesters who blocked the parade route for almost an hour. Due to the COVID pandemic, this year is the first time the policy is being tested because there was no in-person Pride parade in 2021. In last month’s announcement, the police o cers alliance was joined in solidarity by LGBTQ members of the San Francisco Fire Department and San Francisco Sheriff’s Department. Breed and gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey then said they would skip the parade if SF Pride did not reverse its decision. In a text to the B.A.R. Thursday, Dorsey wrote Yes when asked if he would now march in the parade. The flag-raising ceremony was attended by SF Pride leaders, including Wysinger and Ford, lesbian Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson, and others. Here in San Francisco, we embrace our diverse communities to ensure that everyone can live freely as who they are,” Breed stated. “While other states attack the rights of LGBTQ individuals, here in San Francisco, we fly the Pride flag proudly to celebrate the history and honor the accomplishments of this community. Today reflects and the entire month of June reflects the strength of the LGBTQ community and our city’s commitment to LGBTQ rights and equality.” While the city’s LGBTQ cultural districts had previously said that would not send representatives to the flag-raising, Aria Sa’id, president and chief strategist of the Transgender District, was in attendance. “When they reached out to me and said they had reached an agreement that their board was satisfied with, it was enough for us at the Transgender District in particular, said Sa’id. Because it’s not our event but we wanted to support another trans-led organization that puts on one of the largest festivals in San Francisco every single year.” (SF Pride leader Ford is a transgender woman.) Noting the agreement had come together rather quickly, Sa’id said, We just got alerted an hour before the flag-raising ceremony, and they just walked over from their o ces in the Tenderloin. Gay state Senator Scott Wiener D-San Francisco also attended the event at City Hall. The LGBTQ flag raising at City Hall is always a banner moment kicking off Pride Month in San Francisco, Wiener stated. “Particularly now — with so many vicious political attacks against LGBTQ youth around the country — San Francisco must be a beacon of hope for our community. The rainbow flag represents the hope, safety, and joy that San Francisco has come to mean for the LGBTQ community.”

City of West Hollywood California 1984

Happy Pride from Equality California!

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YOUR LUXURIOUS MEXICAN RIVIERA VACATION IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK Starting this fall, Celebrity’s stunning Solstice sails to the Mexican Riviera out of Los Angeles. Visit stunning destinations, including Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Along the way, you’ll enjoy rooms so stunning you won’t want to be found, restaurants that awaken every sense, and service so intuitive you’ll wonder if we can read minds. Plus, enjoy drinks, Wi-Fi, and tips Always IncludedSM.



*Always IncludedSM pricing packages apply to inside, ocean view, veranda, Concierge Class, or AquaClass® stateroom (“Eligible Bookings”). All guests in an Eligible Booking who choose the “Always Included” pricing package will receive a Classic Beverage Package, an Unlimited Basic Wi-Fi Package, and tips included. Changes to booking may result in removal of offer. Offers and prices are subject to availability, cancellation, and change without notice at any time. ©2022 Celebrity Cruises Inc. Ships’ registry: Malta and Ecuador. Imagery and messaging may not accurately reflect onboard and destination experiences, offerings, features, or itineraries. These may not be available during your voyage, may vary by ship and destination, and may be subject to change without notice.For complete details on our safety protocols on board, visit healthyatsea.com.

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6/8/22 10:04 AM


Boricua [boh-ree-kwah] is more than a word to identify a person from Puerto Rico. It’s a way of life that’s about embracing your passion and living every moment. And we welcome everyone who visits our Island to do the same. Book your trip today. DiscoverPuertoRico.com/LiveBoricua


LA Dodger’s Pride night celebration

The Los Angeles Dodgers kicked off both WeHo Pride and LA Pride with Pride Night at Dodger Stadium with appearances by Billy Bean, Dale Scott, Fallon Fox, August Getty, Gigi Gorgeous, Nats Getty, Leigh Vales and Bella Herron of the Ariadne Getty Foundation honored for their extraordinary leadership on LGBT issues along with Jojo Siwa during pregame ceremonies. Iconic trans leader and White House advisor Bamby Salcedo threw the first pitch of the game between the LA Dodgers and the New York Mets, emphasizing trans visibility before a packed house. The Los Angeles Blade even got a special shout out. The event also highlighted the life of former player Glenn Burke, honoring the Burke’s family with a tribute to the former outfi elder’s trailblazing role as a gay ballplayer for their 197 -78 teams. He turned efforts to bash him into a gesture that became the High-Five. The team wore Pride themed caps for the first time and will wear them again on June 11 when Dodgers and Giants take the field at Oracle Park in San Francisco wearing their respective team’s pride caps.. Troy Masters


HIV alone didn’t cause the clogged artery in my neck. Smoking with HIV did. Brian, age 45, California

You can quit. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. #CDCTips

LGBTQ+ patient s can expec t to be cared for by a team


- Melissa Wong, MD Cedars-Sinai Doctors and Life Partners

We’re committed to ensuring your comfort with staff who personally understand your concerns. That means making every single person who walks through our doors feel welcome and heard. As an LGBTQ+ Health Care Equity Leader for the third consecutive year, our continued commitment is to provide expert care tailored to every patient. From everyday care to our Transgender Surgery and Health Program, providing an inclusive experience is our priority. At Cedars-Sinai, we’re right here for the LGBTQ+ community.

Since August of 2019, Cedars-Sinai has achieved a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Healthcare Equality Index, and maintains this Leader designation through 2022.




AIDS Memorial Quilt sections at SF City Hall honoring 35th anniversary

By LA BLADE DIGITAL STAFF SAN FRANCISCO – Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will hang from the Mayor’s Balcony at City Hall on Monday, June 6, 2022, a symbolic display approved by Mayor London Breed, to invite the public to see a free, historic display of the Quilt – the largest ever in San Francisco – in Golden Gate Park on June 11 & 12, 2022 from 10 am – 5 pm each day. 35 years ago, then San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein approved Quilt to hang from City Hall; it was the first public display and helped launch a national movement for action against stigma and hate. This year the Quilt marks 35 years since the first panels were stitched together during the darkest days of the pandemic. It was a group of San Franciscans, led by Cleve Jones, Mike Smith and Gert McMullin, who gathered with friends to begin making quilt panels to remember loved ones who were dying of AIDS. This act of love and protest started a movement for action against the stigma so many faced at such a painful time in our country. BBC World News Witness History — The AIDS Memorial Quilt: The Quilt was conceived in November of 1985 by long-time San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones. Since the 1978 assassinations of gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, Jones had helped organize the annual candlelight march honoring these men. While planning the 1985 march, he learned that over 1,000 San Franciscans had been lost to AIDS. He asked each of his fellow marchers to write on placards the names of friends and loved ones who had died of AIDS. At the end of the march, Jones and others stood on ladders taping these placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. The wall of names looked like a patchwork quilt. Inspired by this sight, Jones and friends made plans for a larger memorial. A little over a year later, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. This meeting of devoted friends and lovers served as the foundation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Cleve created the first panel for the AIDS Memorial Quilt in memory of his friend Marvin Feldman. In June of 1987, Jones teamed up with Mike Smith, Gert McMullin and several others to formally organize the NAMES Project Foundation. Public response to the Quilt was immediate. People in the U.S. cities most affected by AIDS — Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco — sent panels to the San Francisco workshop. Generous donors rapidly supplied sewing machines, equipment and other materials, and many volunteered tirelessly.


On October 11, 1987, the Quilt was displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It covered a space larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels. Six teams of eight volunteers ceremonially unfolded the Quilt sections at sunrise as celebrities, politicians, families, lovers and friends read aloud the 1,920 names of the people represented in Quilt. The reading of names is now a tradition followed at nearly every Quilt display. Half a million people visited the Quilt that weekend.

The overwhelming response to the Quilt’s inaugural display led to a four-month, 20-city, national tour for the Quilt in the spring and summer of 1988. The tour raised nearly $500,000 for hundreds of AIDS service organizations. More than 9,000 volunteers across the country helped the seven-person traveling crew move and display the Quilt. Local panels were added in each city, tripling the Quilt’s size to more than 6,000 panels by the end of the tour.


The Quilt returned to Washington, D.C. in October of 1988, when 8,288 panels were displayed on the Ellipse in front of the White House. With a small seed grant from the World Health Organization, Quilt organizers travelled to eight countries to mark the first World AIDS Day on December 1, 1988 with simultaneous displays broadcast from six continents. Throughout 1989, more than 20 countries launched similar commemorative projects based on the Quilt. Cleve Jones, Mike Smith and the NAMES Project Foundation were nominated for the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of the global impact of the Quilt. In 1989 a second tour of North America brought the Quilt to 19 additional cities in the United States and Canada. That tour and other 1989 displays raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for AIDS service organizations. In October of that year, the Quilt (now more than 12,000 panels in size) was again displayed on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. HBO released their documentary film on the Quilt, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, which brought the Quilt’s message to millions of movie-goers. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary of 1989. By 1992, the AIDS Memorial Quilt included panels from every state and 28 countries. In October 1992, the entire Quilt returned to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In January 1993, the NAMES Project was invited to march in President Clinton’s inaugural parade where over 200 volunteers carried Quilt panels down Pennsylvania Avenue. The last display of the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt was in October of 1996 when the Quilt covered the entire National Mall in Washington, D.C. with an estimated 1.2 million people coming to view it. The Clintons and Gores attended the display, marking the first visit by a sitting president of the United States.


In 2000, the Board of Directors of The NAMES Project elected to move the Foundation’s national headquarters from San Francisco to Atlanta. The cross-country move was made to address the changing face of HIV/AIDS and grow the Foundation’s partnerships, programs and financial resources. In 2004, more than 8,000 of the newest panels that had been received at or since October 1996 display were shown on The Eclipse in Washington, D.C. in observance of National HIV Testing Day. In 2012, as part of the 25th anniversary of the NAMES Project Foundation, the Quilt returned to Washington, DC as part of a collaboration with the Smithsonian Museum’s American Folklife Festival, where the entire Quilt was displayed on the National Mall over the course of a two-week period with 1,500 blocks of panels being displayed each day. Given the size of the Quilt, it is now too large to be displayed all at once on the Mall. The International AIDS Conference was held in Washington DC immediately following the display, in which the Quilt was a major feature, with displays in more than 60

Photo of the quilt on display in Washington D.C. in 1993 (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

locations throughout the D.C. metro area. In 2013, as part of ongoing awareness and educational efforts, a special Quilt program, Call My Name, was created to draw attention to HIV/AIDS in the Black community and the public health crisis that still exists today. The program aims to create a greater number of Quilt panels that reflect the impact of HIV/AIDS within the Black community and the effect stigma and prejudice have on increased infection rates. A national tour followed that included hosting panel-making workshops organized by Black churches and community groups to make panels and raiser greater awareness of on the HIV/ AIDS crisis in the African American community. You can see some of the stories from Quilt panels made honoring Black lives lost to AIDS as part of a powerful online exhibition of the Quilt during Black History Month 2020.


In November 2019, the National AIDS Memorial became the permanent caretaker and steward of the Quilt, returning it to San Francisco, where its story began during the height of the AIDS epidemic. At that time, the Quilt’s archival collection of 200,000 objects, documents, cards and letters that chronicle the lives remembered in it were transferred to the prestigious American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, making this collection available through the world’s largest public library. This announcement, made at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, featured special guests House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Representatives John Lewis and Barbara Lee, who recognized the Quilt as a national treasure that must be preserved for its ability to teach for generations to come. “Moved by the beauty …and power of the Quilt, we again renewed our vow to finally defeat the scourge of AIDS and bring hope and healing to all those affected. Thanks to the tireless leadership of activists, survivors, scientists and the LGBTQ community, we will not relent until we banish HIV to the dustbin of history and achieve an AIDS-free generation.”


Today, the Quilt remains a powerful symbol of hope, love and activism that is a powerful teaching tool for health and social justice, with sections of its 50,000 panels traveling to hundreds of communities each year to raise awareness about the issues of health and social justice. This opportunity provides a visual reminder to the public to come see the Quilt on display on June 11th & 12th in Golden Gate Park. Rarely does the Quilt get displayed outdoors in this size and number of panels. The last time it was displayed with this many panels in San Francisco was in 1988 at the Moscone Center.



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 Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY”

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ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults and children who weigh at least 55 pounds. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. Do NOT take BIKTARVY if you also take a medicine that contains:  dofetilide  rifampin  any other medicines to treat HIV-1

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BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, GSI, and KEEP ASPIRING are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: February 2021 © 2022 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. US-BVYC-0085 02/22

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HIV TREATMENT * *Source: IQVIA NPA Weekly, 04/19/2019 through 05/28/2021.


KEEP ASPIRING. Because HIV doesn’t change who you are. BIKTARVY® is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in certain adults. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS.

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Scan to see Dimitri’s story.

3/23/22 10:40 AM


‘Don’t Say Gay’ law looms over Wilton Manors Pride

WILTON MANORS, Fla. — This year’s Pride celebration in Wilton Manors will take place against the backdrop of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed earlier this year. The Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival will take place in Wilton Manors on June 18. This Pride Month is different than previous Pride months because we see the attack on the LGBTQ community and because we see that the attack has taken place on the LGBTQ community, state Sen. Shevrin Jones told the Washington Blade on Monday during a telephone interview. Jones represents District 35, which includes portions of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, in the Florida Senate. Jones in 2020 became the first openly gay man elected to the chamber. The South Florida Democrat on March 7 became emotional when he discussed his own coming out in a speech against the Don’t Say Gay bill on the Florida Senate floor before his colleagues approved it. DeSantis signed it into law — which has been challenged in federal court — less than a month later. Wilton Manors’ Pride events will also take place less than a month after DeSantis’ administration asked the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, a board that regulates doctors in the state, to essentially ban transgender-specific health care for children and teenagers. The flags are being raised higher now more than ever because it’s not just the physical flag, it’s the flag of our voices, it’s the flag of our advocacy that’s being raised in this moment, said Jones, referring to Pride Month. There is a group of people who are trying to silence the LGBTQ community. Brandon Wolf, press secretary for E uality Florida, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, in a statement to the Blade noted the chilling impacts of the bigoted Don’t Say Gay’ law are already being felt across the state, even before it has gone into effect. Books with LGBTQ characters are being ripped from

The annual Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Fla., will take place on June 18, against the backdrop of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed earlier this year. (Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

shelves. Graduation speeches are being censored. Rainbow safe space’ stickers are being peeled from classroom windows. And there is an uneasy climate that is causing educators to leave the work they love in order to avoid discrimination. said Wolf, who survived the 201 massacre at the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando that left his two close friends, Christopher Drew Leinonen and his fianc , Juan Guerrero, and 7 other people dead. All of that makes Pride as critical as ever this year, he added. “Pride has always been a protest. It has always been a resistance to injustice and a demand for e uality. This Pride, people across the country are called upon to let Pride inspire them to get civically engaged, to recommit to the fight to protect LGBTQ young people, and hold accountable those who are working to undermine progress and erode our civil liberties.” SunServe is a Wilton Manors-based foundation that pro-

vides housing, mental health and other services to more than 5,000 LGBTQ people through its o ces in the city and in neighboring Fort Lauderdale. SunServe is among the groups that plan to participate in the Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival. SunServe enters this Pride Month with a lot of enthusiasm and celebrating our foundation’s 20th anniversary,” noted Tony Lima, the foundation’s CEO. Lima, like Wolf and Jones, acknowledged the Don’t Say Gay law will impact Pride in Wilton Manors. It will be a Pride with more focus on our young people, Lima told the Blade. Young people are our future and we must protect them and give them the opportunity to live full and happy lives.” Arianna’s Center is another Wilton Manors-based organization that serves trans women throughout South Florida. The organization this past weekend participated in a Pride parade in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan. Arianna’s Center staffers also plan to attend Pride Month events with the Mexican Consulate in Miami and with the Miami Police Department. June is not Pride Month for many of our clients, so we celebrate this month with a lot of responsibility, with the hope of having e uality and that the transgender community is heard, said Arianna Lint, the group’s CEO. We have many wishes for improvement, e uality and e uity for the trans community. We cannot celebrate while there are trans people incarcerated for no reason and with no social services that help them. Lint also acknowledged the Don’t Say Gay law has adversely impacted Florida’s LGBTQ community. Everyone is affected and everyone must work together and not just in groups or an elite club, she said. This affects everyone and we must unite to be able to better work together to eradicate this and other types of bills that affect us. Michael K. Lavers contributed to this article. YARIEL VALDES GONZALES

Senate Democrats intro resolution naming June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Alex Padilla D-Calif. joined Sherrod Brown D-Ohio , Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. , Tina Smith D-Minn. , and all Senate Democrats in introducing a Senate resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month. The senators’ resolution highlights the contributions LGBTQ individuals have made to American society, notes several major milestones in the fight for e ual treatment of LGBTQ Americans, and resolves to continue efforts to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals. The resolution also recognizes how the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could potentially undermine and erode other constitutional rights also grounded in privacy, including the right for same-sex couples to marry or engage in consensual relationships without the risk of criminal prosecution. Pride Month is an important celebration of the strength, resilience, and contributions of the LGBTQ community, said Padilla. As members of the LGBTQ community continue to face discrimination and violence just for living as their authentic selves, I stand firmly alongside them in the ongoing fight for e uality. This June and year-round, I am proud to celebrate with the LGBTQ community in California and across the country.”

By LA BLADE DIGITAL STAFF “More than 50 years ago, the Stonewall Uprising, led in large part by trans women of color, brought national attention to the ongoing movement for justice that lives on today in Ohio and across the country, said Senator Brown. This Pride month and year-round we recommit ourselves to gender e uality and to social, economic, and racial justice, and to defending marriage e uality as the constitutional right that the Supreme Court guaranteed seven years ago. “Every person has the right to live their authentic life free of discrimination and hate. I’m proud of the tremendous progress made in the fight for justice, e uality and inclusion, said Senator Feinstein. This Pride Month, as we celebrate that progress, let’s also recognize we still have more work to do and continue pushing for true equality.” This month—and all year round—we celebrate, recognize, and lift up the LGBTQ community, said Senator Smith. The freedom to live and love openly is fundamental. This Pride Month, we recognize the courage and accomplishments of those who have been on the front lines of the LGBTQ movement and recommit ourselves to the fight for justice and e uality. I am proud to help lead this resolution. Senate Democrats introduced the first-ever Senate Pride Month Resolution in June 2017, after then-President Trump


broke the eight-year tradition of offering an o cial presidential proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month. This is the fifth year in a row that the resolution has been introduced. On June 1, President Biden issued a presidential proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month, the Senator ALEX PADILLA (R) first time Pride Month has with TONY HOAG, Executive been recognized in the Oval Director, Equality California ( A lade le photo by Sam arrett Pate) O ce since 201 . In 2021, Senate Democrats re-introduced the E uality Act, legislation to ensure civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The E uality Act would une uivocally ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, federal funding assistance, and education. This year’s pride resolution has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign.


Pentagon celebrates Pride, LGBTQ+ progress & Trans visibility

Transgender visibility in the U.S. military was on full display on Tuesday during the Pentagon’s annual event recognizing Pride month, which this year featured two transgender speakers in prominent positions in the aftermath of the Biden administration lifting the transgender military ban. The event — hosted in Lt. Col. BREE FRAM was among the speakers at the coordination with DOD annual DOD Pride event. Pride, the a nity group for LGBTQ employees and service members within the Defense Department — took place in the Pentagon auditorium under the theme of “All Together” and highlighted progress in stripping away barriers previously preventing LGBTQ people from serving in their roles, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the transgender military ban. Lt. Col. Bree Fram, who’s transgender and deputy chief of acquisition polices and processes at U.S. Space Force, said she often feared she would no longer be able to serve in uniform based on the “whim of executive orders.” But two months ago when she disclosed to colleagues she was having surgery to treat cancer, she received overwhelming support. “That’s the spirit of all together: Leadership was behind me because they would have been behind any member of the team going through one of the scariest moments of their life,” Fram said. “They know that each of us brings value to the team and that all of us are worthy of the support needed to be our best selves.” Fram, co-leader of the transgender policy team within the Department of the Air Force’s LGBTQ initiative team, recount-

By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com ed the experience of a transgender service member whose colleagues refused to use her personal pronouns and began putting them in her email signature in defiance of military policy. Although colleagues had initially sought to ban her from the network, Fram said a supervisor stepped in to revise and allow the service members to continue using them in emails. “So for all of you out there, I ask you to set out your symbols of pride, share your pronouns in your email, particularly if you’re a person who doesn’t think they need to,” Fram said. Initiate di cult conversations about racial and gender barriers and share a bit of your vulnerability in a way that draws others in.” Shawn Skelly, who’s transgender and assistant secretary of defense for readiness, also spoke and drew heavily from President Biden’s proclamation for Pride month to discuss the challenges still facing LGBTQ people after years of progress. “America’s formative promise to itself remains today tangibly unfulfilled for too many Americans, Skelly said. And remarkably, for the LGBTQ+ Americans of today, we’re increasingly at specific, targeted risk, which includes those serving within this department.” Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones, who’s a lesbian, also spoke and remarked on the progress seen in the military since she was forced to sign a document as a cadet of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prohibiting her from participating in homosexual acts. “I knew exactly what that meant: I knew that my opportunity to get an education. I knew that my opportunity to serve our country. I knew my opportunity to die for our country or maybe all of that would go away, just because at the time we did not have enough leaders with the courage to say anybody ready and willing to serve their country should have the opportunity to do so,” Jones said. Jones recounted a story after she took o ce in the Biden administration and wanted to set up a photo shoot with other

LGBTQ service members who had served under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” To her surprise on the day of the shoot, Jones said, many younger service members too young to remember the law showed up and were part of the photograph. “But I leaned over and I said, ‘Hey, you know, what’s going on here? Some of these folks look a little too young to serve,”” Jones said. “And they said, ‘Oh no, many of these folks wanted to be part of the picture because they are serving because ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was repealed … So it really shows you what is possible when you’re willing to do the hard work that talent in our country among those serving — the talent we are able to tap into — if we are willing to remove those barriers to ensure folks can serve to their full potential.” The top defense o cial present was athleen Hicks, who promoted the Defense Department as having a commitment to advancing policies and programs aimed at developing “a leadership pipeline of diverse talent and create pathways for everyone at DOD to realize their potential.” We know that organizational climates affect our workforces’ experiences, Hicks said. More to the point it affects our warrior readiness. Therefore, we are directing initiatives to improve leader skill development and foster more effective inclusive team environments.” Hicks said the Defense Department is in the final stages of developing a diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility plan, which she said will direct activities within the department and identify priorities within the coming year. Among those in attendance at the event were British Ambassador to the United States aren Price; Secretary of the Navy Carlos del Toro; Rep. Mark Takano D-Calf. ; Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for U.S. Space Force; White House Director of Presidential Personnel Gautam Raghavan; and Ruben Gonzalez, special assistant to the president for White House Domestic Agency Personnel.

Louisiana’s anti-Trans sports ban enacted without governor’s intervention BATON ROUGE The measure titled the the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ SB took effect Monday banning transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender at all public and some private elementary and secondary schools and colleges in Louisiana. The measure became law after the state’s Democratic Governor Gov. John Bel Edwards decided to take not action on the legislation. Last year the governor had vetoed a similar measure, which was also introduced by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell, which Edwards had labeled a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” in his veto statement. The governor noted in his veto last July: “As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue.” During a press conference after his veto Edwards told reporters: “I would rather the headlines going out from today be that Louisiana did what was right and best. We rejected a play out of a national playbook that just had no place in Louisiana.

By BRODY LEVESQUE That bill wasn’t crafted for our state, I mean go read it and look at the arguments that were made. None of that applies here, Edwards said. He further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana. We have to be better than that, Edwards said. We have to be better than that. On Monday, June 5, at his press briefing the governor noted that it was clear to him that lawmakers would move to override his veto if he issued another one this year. He added that he remains completely opposed to the ban. Whether it’s intended or not, the effect is to tell — send a strong message to at least some of these young people that they shouldn’t be who they think they are, who they believe they are, who they know that they are, he said. And I find that very distressing. I do believe that we can be better than that.” The law re uires that participation in sports will be defined by a student’s biological sex as listed on the student’s o cial birth certificate which is entered at or near the time of the student’s birth.” The legislation also protects schools, coaches and other


school employees enforcing the ban from any legal action and allows cisgender women to seek legal action if they allege that participation by a Trans athlete allowed by a school “deprived them of an athletic opportunity” because of a violation of the ban. “Louisiana enacting an anti-trans sports ban marks the 25th anti-trans bill passed this year. Pride Month should be a time of celebration, not one of fear and anxiety. According to The Trevor Project’s research, 83 of transgender and nonbinary youth said that they have worried about transgender people being denied the ability to play sports due to state or local laws. Nearly 1 in 5 attempted suicide in the past year,” said Carrie Davis, Chief Community O cer for The Trevor Project. “This Pride, we need our cisgender and straight allies, especially those in government, sports, healthcare, and the business world, to speak out and take action for the transgender and nonbinary youth under attack. We can promote fairness in sports without sidelining all transgender students in the process, but we also know these attacks are not about fairness in sports — they’re about our very existence. The press must recognize that these bills are part of a larger effort to erase transgender and nonbinary youth by making it virtually impossible to grow up trans.”


Canadian male teen arrested for mass shooting threat against Florida Pride

By BRODY LEVESQUE Chief Rick Morris said during the press conferTORONTO – A 17-year-old male adolescent ence that the suspect knew the area well and was arrested by Canadian law enforcement afmost likely had other areas in mind for other ter he threatened to commit a mass shooting attacks, but was not in West Palm Beach at the at Pride on the Block 2022 in West Palm Beach, time of the arrest. Florida. “People were very scared. The Pulse nightA report was received Sunday, June 5, by the club shooting is still very much in people’s City of Miami Police Department that a video minds especially in our gay community, which was online posted to the video chat platform is tragic. We want the LGBTQ community to Omegle where the teenager suspect was seen know we stand behind them, Morris said. waving a gun in the video, making anti-LGBTQ+ In regard to the suspect Morris noted; “I can comments, and he additionally claimed to be say through his statement that there’s no reliving in Palm Beach County, where he said he morse.” was going to commit the mass shooting that West Palm Beach police had uniformed and day. plainclothes o cers along with SWAT team After a joint investigation by Miami Police members at the Pride on the Block event on Department which had notified the West Palm Sunday, which was delayed one day due to seBeach Department, the assistance of the FBI, vere weather WPBF 25 reported. New York Police Department, Toronto Police (Courtesy of the RCMP) “We did ramp (our enforcement) up in addiService and Peel Regional Police was enlisted to tion to the operational plan that we already had locate and arrest the suspect. in place but I can’t go into the details or the specifics, said Mike Jachles, public informaA spokesperson for the RCMP acknowledged that the suspect was arrested Monday tion o cer for the West Palm Beach Police Department. and that the weapon seen in the video was recovered. He was charged with threatening He continued, These were hate-filled threats targeted at a gay event’ in Palm Beach to commit a mass shooting and charges including written or electronic threats to kill, do County and the West Palm Beach Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. Charges are also pending of our residents, visitors and anyone who comes to our city.” in Florida. He is in custody in Canada currently awaiting extradition to Palm Beach County Florida. ABC News a liate WPBF 25 reported that West Palm Beach Police Department Deputy

Kuwait rebukes U.S. embassy over LGBTQ+ rights support By MICHAEL K. LAVERS KUWAIT CITY — The government of Kuwait on Thursday said it summoned a senior American diplomat after the U.S. Embassy tweeted its support of LGBTQ+ rights. A uwaiti Foreign Affairs Ministry statement notes Nawaf Abdul Latif Al-Ahmad, the country’s acting assistant secretary of state for Americas affairs, met with Jim Hollisteder, the acting charg d’affaires for the U.S. Embassy in uwait City, against the background of the embassy’s publication on its social media accounts of references and tweets supporting homosexuality.” The embassy on Thursday in tweets that it posted to its Twitter account in English and Arabic noted President Biden is “a champion for the human rights of LGBTQI persons.” “All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they live,” said the tweets. The uwaiti Foreign Affairs Ministry in its statement notes Al-Ahmad handed Hollisteder a memorandum confirming uwait’s rejection of what was published and stressing the need for the embassy to respect the laws and regulations in force in the state of Kuwait and the obligation not to publish such tweets in compliance with what was stipulated in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.” Kuwait is a U.S. ally that borders Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. It is one of the upwards of 70 countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who is openly gay, on Friday retweeted the embassy’s tweet. “The United States stands with the LGBTQI+ community everywhere around the world,” said Price.


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2022 June California Primary election results

Election information will be updated periodically as more districts report results By LA BLADE DIGITAL STAFF mary election for California’s 1st Congressional District. He will The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Gov. Gavin Newsom easnow face one of the most anti-LGBTQ members of Congress, en ily topped a field of more than two dozen challengers in his bid for Calvert, in the November general election. reelection, cruising into November’s general election. The LA Times reported California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta has adNewsom’s performance Tuesday came without major Democratvanced to the November general election in his bid for a first full ic opposition, after his resounding 2021 recall election victory set term. The former state the stage for what many Assembly member from observers see as an easy Alameda was appointed reelection. to fill out Xavier BecerState Sen. Brian Dahle ra’s remaining term after (R-Bieber) will face Gov. he became U.S. Health Gavin Newsom in Noand Human Services secvember’s general elecretary. tion after finishing secClose vote counting ond among the field of continues in the fight for gubernatorial hopefuls. second place between Dahle, a farmer and two Republicans, former seasoned lawmaker Assistant U.S. Atty. Gen. representing the conNathan Hochman and servative far northeast Los Angeles attorney Eric corner of the state, was Early. endorsed by the CaliforU.S. Rep. Karen Bass nia Republican Party and and billionaire real eshad been favored to fintate developer Rick Caruish in the top two. (Photo courtesy of County of Los Angeles) so will face off in the NoIn the race for U.S. vember general election Senate the Times noted to determine L.A.’s next mayor. City Councilman Kevin de León finthat Sen. Alex Padilla, facing a highly unusual election cycle, easily ished third in Tuesday’s primary, which advances the top two finadvanced to November in both of his races. ishers. The longtime L.A. Democrat, appointed to Kamala Harris’ seat Shopping mall magnate Caruso, a former Republican running as when she became vice president, advanced in a special election to a Democrat, quickly caught up to Bass (D-Los Angeles) after self-ficomplete Harris’ original Senate term, which ends in January 2023 nancing more than $30 million for his bid. Concern about rising and the regularly scheduled election for a six-year term that begins crime has been the driving force of the former city police commisright after. His general election opponent is yet to be determined. sioner’s campaign. Bass, a longtime community activist who has Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia won his primary election to served six terms in Congress, is running as a progressive who would represent the people of the 42nd Congressional District Tuesday become the city’s first Black female mayor. night, advancing to the November election against Republican John The Times also reported Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex VillanBriscoe. Mayor Garcia is on track to make history in November as ueva’s bid for reelection will go to a runoff in November after early the first openly gay immigrant elected to Congress. poll results showed him holding a slim lead over retired Long Beach Garcia made history in 2014 when he was elected as Long Beach’s Police Chief Robert Luna. first openly LGBTQ+ mayor, first Latino mayor and youngest mayor While only a few percentage points separated Villanueva and in the city’s history. He would be the first openly LGBTQ+ immigrant Luna, Luna had not secured the second runoff spot by late Tuesday and the second openly LGBTQ+ Latino elected to Congress — and night, leaving open the possibly that another challenger could overthe first LGBTQ+ Latino elected to Congress from California. take him, according to the Associated Press. LA Times reported that San Francisco voters have recalled Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin after a bitter, expensive campaign that could have ramifications for criminal justice reform efforts across the U.S. Boudin, elected in 2019 as part of the nationwide movement STATEWIDE & CONGRESSIONAL RACES: to reimagine public safety and redefine the role of a prosecutor, lost traction among an electorate that has grown increasingly conDemocrat Christy Smith, a former assemblywoman, will face GOP cerned about visible crime and homelessness. Rep. Mike Garcia for his District 27 congressional seat in NovemCalifornia Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the state’s first ber’s general election. The left-leaning northern L.A. County district openly LGBTQ+ statewide elected official, won his reelection primais viewed as one of Democrats’ best shots to flip a seat nationwide. ry Tuesday night advancing to the November election. Garcia, a former Navy pilot, has defeated Smith twice – the last time LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidate Will Rollins won the priby 333 votes.





Trans swimmer breaks silence says goal is ‘to swim at Olympic trials’

By DAWN ENNIS across the country have invoked Thomas’s name, claiming laws were needed to protect NEW YORK – After months of nasty headlines and boos hurled her way at the mere the sanctity of women’s sports, even in states where no out trans students competed. mention of her name, Lia Thomas can finally live her life away from the spotlight, and Thomas told ESPN the threat is entirely imaginary. enjoy her first summer as just another college graduate. Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a So, what does the out transgender champion do She’s granted her first media interwhole, Thomas told Barnes. Trans women are a very small minority of all athletes. The views since her historic NCAA victory, telling reporters she’s headed to law school and NCAA rules regarding trans women competing in women’s sports have been around for she also plans to take the laps necessary to win Olympic gold. 10-plus years. And we haven’t seen any massive wave of trans women dominating. I intend to keep swimming, Thomas told ABC News correspondent Juju Chang TuesThe rules are changing, however. USA Swimday on Good Morning America. It’s been a ming updated its trans participation policy in goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very February to re uire evaluation of eligibility for long time, and I would love to see that through. trans women by a three-person panel, and 3 In addition to Chang, the native of Austin, Texmonths of testosterone suppression; More as, also agreed to answer uestions from ESPN months than Thomas had undergone. Howevsportswriter atie Barnes, who is the first out er, the NCAA opted to not impose that policy for LGBTQ journalist to be granted this opportuits 2022 swimming and diving championships, nity. and Thomas merely had to comply with the preThe Los Angeles Blade repeatedly re uested vious policy: A demonstrated testosterone level an interview with Thomas, before, during and below 10 nanomoles per liter. after she competed at the National ChampiCritics of the NCAA have proposed trans onships in Atlanta. Barnes was there, too, and women should compete separately from cis as they reported, Thomas flat-out refused to women. Thomas told Barnes she objects to that appear at the traditional winner’s news conferso-called solution. ence. She gave only two interviews during her If you say, like, you can compete, but you historic run: The first went to a SwimSwam podcan’t score or you’re in an extra lane nine, caster in December, and the only other one was (Screenshot Good Morning America/ABC News) that’s very othering towards trans people, said live on the pool deck with ESPN, immediately afThomas. And it is not offering them the same ter Thomas won the 500-freestyle in March. level of respect and opportunity to play and to Barnes, who is nonbinary, asked the UPenn compete. grad for her perspective on the ongoing national debate over trans girls and women She told them it comes down to this: Trans women are women. competing with cisgender girls and women in school sports. It’s no different than a cis woman taking a spot on a travel team or a scholarship. It’s The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned, Thomas said. People a part of athletics, where people are competing against each other. It’s not taking away will say, Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage, so she could win.’ I opportunities from cis women, really. Trans women are women, so it’s still a woman who transitioned to be happy, to be true to myself. is getting that scholarship or that opportunity, she said. Thomas, who swam on the Penn men’s swimming team for three seasons, then took Besides looking to the Olympic trials, Thomas said she will attend grad school in the a gap year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled college swimming, said she fall and plans to focus on civil rights and public interest law. began her medical transition in May 2019 following her sophomore year. By the time Having seen such hateful attacks on trans rights through legislation, fighting for trans she joined the women’s swim team as a fifth year senior in 2021, she had undergone rights and trans e uality is something that I’ve become much more passionate about and 30-months of hormone replacement therapy. want to pursue, said Thomas. Republican legislators who have copy-pasted bills banning trans student-athletes

Labeling LGBTQ+ as a “behavior” MLB Tampa players refuse to wear logos TAMPA, Fla. — At least five players from the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team who took to the baseball diamond during the team’s 1 th annual Pride Night celebration this past Saturday refused to wear a Pride logo patch the team added to their uniforms intended to celebrate Pride month. Rays caps and uniforms had logos colored in the style of the modern LGBTQ Pride flag were to show the team’s solidarity with the LGBTQ community during the June home game against the Chicago White Sox. According to The Tampa Bay Times, pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were among the players who did not wear the patch on their uniforms and chose to wear the team’s standard caps. Adam, chosen by team o cials to speak for the

By BRODY LEVESQUE players who opted out, told The Tampa Bay Times it was primarily a matter of religious beliefs and not wanting to encourage the behavior of those in the LGBTQ community. A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faithbased decision, Adam said. So it’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently. It’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like Jesus encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different.


(Screenshot from MLB/Tampa Bay Rays)

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Los Angeles Blade photographer Jorge Barragan and Publisher Troy Masters captured some highlights of OUTLOUD FESTIVAL and WeHo Pride Parade. The sold-out festival and the parade (June 3 through June 5) brought tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars to West Hollywood, the largest gathering of its kind since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. And it was an event that will certainly go down in history.




KEVIN NAFF is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at knaff@washblade.com

Gay and tired

Roe, inflation, war, and Biden’s dismal polls portend disaster in months ahead By KEVIN NAFF

This should be a celebratory moment. We are gathering again for Pride and partying like it’s 2019. Mask mandates are gone and the educated are vaccinated. The Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress. Ketanji Brown Jackson is poised to join the Supreme Court. So why all the long faces among Democrats and LGBTQ rights advocates From mass shootings and out-of-control inflation to the baby formula shortage and war in Ukraine, President Biden finds himself buffeted by one crisis after another. His poll numbers, though ticking up slightly last week, remain stuck in the low 40s with a majority of voters disapproving of his performance. Some of the blame goes to Biden, with economists citing his 2021 $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill as a leading driver of inflation that has sent the prices of everything skyrocketing and gas headed toward an unthinkable $5 per gallon national average. And Biden’s communications problems continue with new reporting this week that younger advisers are frustrated at being ignored or mocked by older o cials consumed with 20th century ways of handling the media. But the dreary landscape is not all Biden’s making, with Republicans remaining recklessly opposed to gun safety measures, even after the murders of 19 children in Texas. And Donald Trump’s Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade this month, turning our Pride celebrations into a nightmare of backsliding not just on women’s rights, but on LGBTQ equality as well. In Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion overturning Roe, he cites the landmark Lawrence and Obergefell cases several times, noting, “None of these rights has any claim to being deeply rooted in history.” Alito and the ethically compromised Justice Clarence Thomas have publicly called for the high court to reexamine the Obergefell marriage ruling. Thanks to Trump and Mitch McCo-

nnell, they have the votes to do it. I have spoken to a range of advocates about the likelihood of Obergefell being overturned. Many view it as unlikely, given the confusion and avalanche of lawsuits it would trigger from already-married couples seeking to exercise the rights and benefits of state and federal law. But is any same-sex married couple feeling comforted by such assurances? The same sorts of state trigger laws awaiting abortion clinics when Roe goes down exist in some states for same-sex marriage. We are headed backwards to a time when America was governed by an unfair and dangerous patchwork of laws governing abortion — and marriage. Could a backlash over Roe boost Democrats in the November midterms? That’s the long-shot narrative being pushed by some who foresee a massive outcry from progressives when abortion is outlawed in 26 states as soon as this month. How many of those protesters voted in 2016 when every politico and commentator warned the Trump vs. Hillary election was really about the Supreme Court and Roe? The answer is only about 60 percent of the electorate voted that year. It will take an unprecedented midterm turnout of young voters to keep Congress in Democratic hands. And with spineless sell-outs like Joe Manchin and, even worse, Kyrsten Sinema, it won’t be enough for Democrats to merely hold the Senate; they need more votes to get anything done on voting rights, gun reform, abortion, and the long-suffering E uality Act. That measure — once described by Biden as his No. 1 legislative priority — remains stalled in the Senate with rumors of a looming compromise that would add a broad religious exemption to attract GOP support before Democratic losses in the midterms kill any hope of progress. So here we are, on the precipice of returning to back alley abortions and to another national battle over marriage equality. There’s a new T-shirt being marketed this Pride season; it reads simply “Gay and Tired.” That about sums it up.

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he a ho s a ans ende o ce . he lade s w hhold n he den as she wo ks nde co e .

rans CIA o cer embraces authenticity for sa e of country

Divided America feels unlike what we strive to model at agency For most of my life, I never thought I would have the opportunity to be who I always knew I was. But it finally happened, and for that I am infinitely grateful for the empowerment of all kinds of identities, not just mine, that the social progress that took place over my lifetime fostered. Before we go any further, I should probably mention that I’m a trans woman who is living her absolute best life as a proud intelligence o cer at CIA. Truly living the dream. The American dream. Do I have your attention? I’m not here to talk about transgender issues, though. While my transition was a pretty big deal to me personally, in the grand scheme of things at CIA it was an absolute nothing-burger. I got all the support I needed, I was embraced with open arms, and my colleagues all breathed a sigh of relief as the inner conflict I had been externalizing onto others became a thing of the past. My purpose in sharing that biographical detail with you is that the sheer normalcy of it all is a Good News story worth celebrating, a marker of how much progress we as a country have made. The fact that my experience is not the norm for so many people, however, regardless of their identity, serves as a reminder of how much progress we still have to make. And how much progress we seem to be losing by the day. Every day when I come to work, I leave behind a country that continues to subdivide into ever more atomized factions and get to experience a vision of the promise of America in action. I feel like I am stepping into a hopeful future when I pass through the front gate, a place where the self-evident truth that all of us are created e ual reigns and we have the unalienable privilege of defending every American’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I feel like I am home. And every night when I leave after a long day of having the privilege of contributing to our national security, I head back out into a divided America, one that feels increasingly unlike what we strive to model here at CIA on a daily basis. Is CIA perfect? Nope. But are we better than we were a decade ago? Yes. Five decades ago? Absolutely. I’ve been here long enough to not just see the change, but to also be it. For example, as someone who proudly serves her country, it has been the absolute honor of a lifetime to represent it as my authentic


self. In particular, I burst with pride at the opportunity to work with our foreign partners. In some cases, I work with partners from countries where someone like me would not be welcomed. In those moments, however, I focus on representing the entirety of what America stands for and what makes it uni ue. In those moments, I represent every American, whatever their background, whatever their values, whatever their politics. That gives me strength to do my job, and I do it really, really well. As a result, not a single one of these foreign partners cares one bit about me being trans. They value me for how well I do my job and how valuable my efforts on behalf of CIA contribute to their country’s security. I take great pride in knowing that someone who fundamentally disagrees with who I am is able to see past their prejudices and respect me for what I do. To anyone reading this whose assumptions about CIA have been challenged—whose assumptions perhaps even about the trans identity have been challenged—I invite you to let yourself be inspired to challenge some of your other assumptions, whatever they are. Be a part of tearing down walls rather than building them, take the first step toward someone you disagree with, and do your best to welcome the gesture of those reaching out with kindness. I realize how much of an ideal what I just described is, how distant and unfamiliar an experience that may still be for so many people, but I am sharing this story in the hopes that ever more of my fellow Americans can experience the freedom of living as their full, authentic self without anyone feeling like their piece of the American pie is being taken away. We need more people who thrive as their authentic selves. We need more diverse perspectives contributing to a collective culture while still honoring their own. We need more coming together for common causes. We need more of this at every level of our society to help us keep getting closer to the ideal that America represents, an America that is admittedly still under construction, an America that all my colleagues and I have sworn a solemn oath to defend as we build it. We’re striving for that here at CIA each and every day and if that’s a mission you believe in, please consider accepting it and join in however you can.

Inside the battle over the fate & future of Los Angeles Pride WEST HOLLYWOOD – Don Kilhefner is many things: pioneering activist, Jungian psychologist and co-founder of the LA LGBT Center in Hollywood, which is now the largest facility in the world providing multiple services for LGBTQ+ people. When speaking by phone with The Los Angeles Blade on Friday from his bungalow in the strip between Western Hollywood and the city of West Hollywood, Kilhefner was most firmly in touch with his roots as a community organizer. “It feels as if something is happening in the heart and soul of the LA LGBTQ community,” he said. “I’m smelling something larger going on. That something might be recognizable and familiar to those like Kilhefner who survived through the early days of gay liberation, during which time the movement was perhaps at its most political. “Stonewall was a riot,” the refrain goes. (The subtext: as you’re dancing in your harness and downing vodka sodas next to the Merrill Lynch float, flanked by members of law enforcement who are there to celebrate with you, remember the LGBTQ+ rights movement was born of a riot. An uprising, a rebellion.) This year in Los Angeles, to use the parlance of Gen. Z, Pride celebrations; hit different.’ For one thing, last Sunday’s parade in West Hollywood was the first after a two-year hiatus that began with Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns in 2020. For another, next Sunday’s parade on Hollywood Boulevard will be LA Pride’s first march since it split from West Hollywood after 50 years. The June 5 WeHo inaugural Pride parade down Santa Monica Boulevard had a star-studded lineup. Janelle Monáe was grand marshal. Cardi B sprayed whipped cream into parade goers’ mouths. YouTuber Jojo Siwa, clad in a rainbow-covered vest, danced on a float with girlfriend ylie Prew. Attendees might have thought it similar to 2018’s celebration, which was headlined by Kehlani and Tove Lo and featured other artists such as Eve, Keri Hilson, Kim Petras and Icona Pop. Kilhefner noted one departure, though, from years past. The City of West Hollywood and its powerful Chamber of Commerce enlisted an event coordinator for Pride 2022 – JJLA, a live event and digital production agency, in a move that he stressed was intended to maximize the amount of money attendees would throw down in West Hollywood’s bars, restaurants, hotels and shops. WeHo, said the self-described gay tribal elder, “doesn’t look or feel like LA. It doesn’t have the racial or class makeup.” And over the years, Pride has “changed from a vibrant community-based celebration to a celebration that is now based on the wealth of West Hollywood’s residents and powerful business community. The effect of hosting Pride in the city, as was done for decades, is analogous to an anti-poverty march through Beverly Hills, ilhefner said. The parade’s return to Hollywood Boulevard is not just a symbolic rejection of the idea that a community comprised

By CHRISTOPHER KANE predominantly of wealthy and white gay men should be the nexus of Pride celebrations, ilhefner said. It is also – regardless of what might have been behind the schism from West Hollywood – an acknowledgment of the very specific socio-political-cultural moment in which we find ourselves, the activist told the Blade. As the country grapples with another reckoning on polarizing issues concerning race and class, younger generations are leading the charge to make Pride more inclusive and more political as well as less moneyed and less corporatized, he explained. As Kilhefner writes in a forthcoming essay; “L.A. Pride must also keep the other eye on moving our history forward by creating a PRIDE celebration in Los Angeles that looks like the LGBTQ community here—with all its international flair and ex uisite racial and cultural features on display; with all its socioeconomic classes welcomed and feeling like it’s their PRIDE too; with L.A.’s gay north meeting gay south and L.A.’s gay east meeting gay west; a L.A. PRIDE that says something powerful about our political/cultural awareness and who we are becoming that we can genuinely take pride in—not an anachronistic bubble defined by white entitlement and extreme wealth.” “It’s important to point out we’re entering very perilous territory, ilhefner said. With the leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion presaging the reversal of women’s reproductive freedoms established in Roe v. Wade, it is becoming clearer that even the most hard-won rights are not irrevocable, he noted. It’s a lesson “that Harry Hay used to tell me,” Kilhefner said, referring to the late activist who co-founded America’s first gay rights group, the Mattachine Society, as well as the Radical Faeries movement, of which Kilhefner is also a co-founder. It is intersectional; this idea that progress can backslide, that the fight for justice and e uality is ongoing in perpetuity. Black people worked at all levels of the federal government until President Woodrow Wilson came to power and imposed a form of Jim Crow segregation, eroding much of the progress toward racial justice that had been made in the decades prior, ilhefner noted.

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It is important to acknowledge the historical significance of LA’s first Pride celebration in 1970 to fully understand the importance of its return to Hollywood Boulevard this year. The 1970 parade was largely created through Gay Liberation Front in LA,” Kilhefner explained. “We were contacted by leaders in the New York Gay Liberation Movement who said, we think it’s important that first anniversary of Stonewall be commemorated.’” Stonewall, of course, refers to the series of riots that took place over three days in New York City’s West Greenwich Village around the mafia-owned bar, the Stonewall Inn in June of 19 9 that are widely credited with inaugurating the modern LGBTQ rights movement.


“We needed a permit from the Los Angeles Police Department to hold this march on Hollywood Boulevard,” Kilhefner said. Then LAPD Chief of Police Edward M. Davis refused, arguing that to do so would set a precedent obliging him to award permits to prostitutes and thieves and others engaged in lawless conduct. Kilhefner explained, “We took it to the ACLU, and eventually the judge forced the LAPD to give us a permit.” Reporting in the Los Angeles Times turned what would have been a sparsely attended march into an mega-event with 30,000 spectators and marchers, Kilhefner chuckled. “It provided momentum to us pioneers,” allowing activists to push the gay liberation agenda from the closets to the streets – attaining a degree of visibility that was critically important for building momentum to fight for LGBTQ civil rights. Nearly five years after that first march, Davis was Invited to the 1975 celebrations. He declined in a letter in which he wrote, “I would much rather celebrate ‘GAY CONVERSION WEEK’ which I will gladly sponsor when the medical practitioners in this country find a way to convert gays toheterosexuals.

oung people push for a di erent direction for Pride Rainbow capitalism, as it is often derisively called, has long been associated with Pride celebrations, in cities from LA to Key West and across the globe including cities like Tokyo. It is now, as evidenced by these tweets and others highlighted in this story in The New York Times, fertile ground for jokes – a possible harbinger that young people want something different and more substantive from Pride than a show of solidarity from Exxon Mobil. Kilhefner has seen the emergence, and then the saturation, of corporate actors in Pride celebrations, which he considers tantamount to the co-opting of gay liberation for capitalist gains by members of the ruling class. “There were some people who felt it was progress” to see parade floats from multinational companies. By and large, this has changed, ilhefner said. “I spend a lot of time listening to young people and I’m impressed by their understanding of race and class issues in this country,” he said. “There’s been a radical shift in consciousness. The younger generation has become more militant as well as sharper about race and class.” “We are beginning to see pushback,” he said. When employees at the Walt Disney Company flagged their objections to the company’s contributions to legislators and others responsible for Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, “it smelled like gay liberation. Likewise, in Los Angeles, young people fighting for justice “see themselves as being engaged in guerrilla warfare,” Kilhefner said. “It’s David versus Goliath.”



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Sharon-Franklin Brown: Trans woman leads LA Pride making history

By SPECIAL TO THE LA BLADE By Alex Benedict | LOS ANGELES—This year’s memorate the Stonewall Riots which took place L.A. Pride parade is historic on many levels. on Christopher Street in New York. First, the event is being coordinated by ShaA major change this year is the new location ron-Franklin Brown, the first Black transgender of the parade as it moves from Santa Monica woman to be appointed board president of Boulevard in West Hollywood where it had Christopher Street West (CSW), the organizabeen since 1979, back to Hollywood Boulevard, tion that produces the parade and festival. its original location. In addition to planning L.A. Pride, one of the This location had proved inhospitable; in board’s main missions is to increase both diver1970 the LA City Police Commission put exsity and community engagement in the Greater traordinary conditions on the parade such as Los Angeles area. a bond for a million dollars and a minimum of Prior to this appointment, Brown was a mem5000 marchers. These conditions were evenber of the CSW board where she was recogtually overturned by the California Supreme nized for her leadership skills. Her appointment Court and the parade continued. comes at a crucial time for LGBTQ rights. On the In 1979, the parade moved to West HollyLA Pride website, Brown says “It’s never been a wood where it remained until this year. By the more important moment for the LGBTQ+ comearly 2000’s the attendance was estimated to munity and its allies to continue fighting for all be 400,000 to 500,000 making it the second of us. largest Pride event in the world. (Screenshot/YouTube LA Dodgers Pride Night 2022) Brown brings to the position a diverse backDespite its success, the CSW board decided ground, having been a US Navy sailor and to relocate the parade and festival. Brown exLGBTQ activist. Her leadership style reflects this diversity, which she describes as, plains the board’s reasoning for this historic decision. “We wanted to honor our roots inclusive, relatable, intentional and transformative. with the 50th parade. With COVID pausing our ability to actually celebrate out 50th She began her journey in Louisiana in a “small one stop light town,” and subsequentanniversary, we’re lucky that we can do it safely this year at the historic location where ly joined the United States Navy Reserves while attending the University of Louisiana things began for us decades ago. Monroe. While there, she began a “journey of self-discovery freely expressing her true Gerald Garth, CSW’s Vice President of Program and Initiatives clarified the board’s gender identity.” A key part of this journey was embracing her role in community leadreasoning in a recent statement on LAPride.org CSW recognizes that LGBTQ experiership. ences of Los Angeles are broader than just one neighborhood. Considering feedback In 1997, she ran for political o ce—City Council candidate for Myrtle Beach, South gathered since the pandemic began, we are committed to creating experiences and Carolina, making her the first openly transgender candidate to run for public o ce in access to our entire community, including many of those who have been most underthe state. Part of her motivation was the discrimination she endured as a trans-woman served and underrepresented.” having been terminated from Fayetteville State University for her gender identity. Board President Brown also points to the community partnerships that are attracted Her subsequent activism included speaking engagements at colleges and universito the new venue: We are also emphasizing why our incredible partners celebrate ties, as well as co-writing recommendations for “Model Protocols-Police Interactions the different meanings of why Pride is so important to so many diverse people. For with Transgender Individuals. ” These recommendations were later adopted by the Los examples she cites: the LA Public Library will have book cart performances to tie into Angeles Police Department. our celebration. Tik Tok…is elevating LGBT+ content creators and generating massive Currently she is the Chief Impact O cer at the LA LGBT Center; previous to that she solidarity with their first float in a Pride Parade ever. The event has attracted major was Chief Human Resources O cer. Her role there included training various organicelebrities such as Christina Aguilera, who will be the headliner of L.A. Pride in the Park. zations, especially in the healthcare field, to provide appropriate services to LGBTQ In response to the change in location, the West Hollywood community organized clients. their own Pride Parade and Festival called WeHo Pride. As it is the first Pride event in Brown’s appointment as Board President of Christopher Street West/ LA Pride retwo years because of the pandemic, Organizers are expecting a huge turnout which flects the organization’s recognition of the evolving LGBTQ community. As Brown will provide a much-needed boost to local businesses which have been suffering due says, (LA PRIDE Website) “As a robust community across Los Angeles, we value incluto COVID. Brown had no comment on the WeHo festivities. siveness and diversity. I’m so humbled to have been appointed by the board to this COVID has made safety a paramount concern, as last year’s parade, the 50th anniverposition as the first black trans woman to lead CSW/Los Angeles Pride..beyond the sary, was canceled. This year, the CSW is following all CDC and public health guidelines. pandemic and into the future. Recent tragedies have further complicated public events. According to Brown, CSW At CSW, she leads a board which is the most diverse ever with “75 percent …people is listening to local o cials on best practices We want to create safe spaces for of color, and we have trans leaders as well.” The Pride Board under Brown has recompeople to come together. mitted to its advocacy roots to create safe and inclusive spaces of self-expression. Brown has high hopes for L.A. Pride. I truly believe that our parade will result in uniL.A. Pride, organized by CSW, is one of the largest events in the world and began in ty, inclusivity and a celebration of all the hard-fought victories of all those leaders who 1970—the first permitted parade in the United States. Its original purpose was to comhave come before us. We stand on their shoulders.”


et i celebrates HOLLYWOOD Netflix is slaying Pride Month with a slew of offerings shining a spotlight on the diverse spectrum of LGBTQ stories, identities and self-expression with its new collection, Shine With Pride. With over 0 titles, the collection features impactful documentaries, dramas, comedies including Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness, Heartstopper just renewed for two more seasons , She-Ra and The Princess of Power, Elite and many more. Inspired by the range of color and symbolism present in the Pride flag, illustrator Ben Nichols created the collection artwork to celebrate the uni ueness that makes the LGBTQ community extraordinary. Throughout the year we’ll be unveiling new collections in collaboration with new artists, so stay tuned. Previous collections included Black History Month, Lunar New Year, Earth Month, Asian American American Pacific Islander Month, Global Accessibility Awareness Day and more. Additionally, Netflix will have new specials, series and films launching all month. Check them out below: S O A LGBTQ C R D J , 2022 The largest-ever gathering of LGBTQ comics. The historic celebration featured some of the best in LGBTQ comedy legends and emerging talent hosted by Billy Eichner. Highlights included icon Ani DiFranco introducing Margaret Cho, Sarah Paulson introducing Tig Notaro, Lily Tomlin introducing Sandra Bernhard, Lena Waithe introducing Wanda Sykes, and Rosie O’Donnell closing the night and inviting the rest of the performers joining her on stage for a NEW rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s hit Girls Just Want to Have Fun, GAYS Just Want to Have Fun. Other incredible talent who performed throughout the night included Bob the Drag Queen, Eddie Izzard, Solomon Georgio, Sam Jay, River Butcher, Patti Harrison, Matteo Lane, Marsha Warfield, Mae Martin, Judy Gold, Joel im Booster, James Adomian, Guy Branum, Gina Yashere, Trixie Mattel, Scott Thompson, and Todd Glass. Stand Out is produced by Page Hurwitz, Wanda Sykes Push It Productions , Brian Graden and Dave Mace Brian Graden Media . First Kill R D J 10 When it’s time for teenage vampire Juliette to make her first kill so she can take her place among a powerful vampire family, she sets her sights on a new girl in town named Calliope. But much to Juliette’s surprise, Calliope is a vampire hunter, from a family of celebrated slayers. Both find that the other won’t be so easy to kill and, unfortunately, way too easy to fall for. Created by: From Felicia D. Henderson EP, Co-Creator, Showrunner ; V. E. Schwab EP & Co-Creator ; Emma Roberts & ara Preiss Belletrist Productions, EPs Cast: Sarah Catherine Cook, Imani Lewis, Elizabeth Mitchell Lost, Outerbanks , • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 10,

Q storytelling ith releases for Pride Month

By R Aubin Wise Atlanta , Jason Robert Moore The Punisher , Gracie Dzienny Jupiter’s Legacy , Will Swenson The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina , Jonas Dylan Allen. H R D J 1 Directed by Amanda Micheli, HALFTIME offers an intimate peek behind the curtain revealing the grit and determination that makes Jennifer Lopez the icon she is. The documentary focuses on Lopez as she embraces the second half of her career and continues to inspire with her perseverance, creative brilliance and cultural contributions, set against the backdrop of her groundbreaking Super Bowl performance. Iron Chef: Quest For An Iron Legend R D J 15 The legendary Iron Chef series is reborn with a supersized approach to the ground-breaking culinary competition that started it all. It’s been called the toughest culinary challenge a chef will ever experience. This is where world-class cuisine meets high-octane sports. Five new trailblazing Iron Chefs will welcome brave Challenger Chefs to the reimagined itchen Stadium, where they’ll face off and be pushed to the limits of endurance and creativity, as they cook up extraordinary culinary creations. The competition’s most successful Challenger will return to battle in a grand finale for the chance to be named the first ever Iron Legend. Cast: Hosts Alton Brown and risten ish; Iron Chefs Curtis Stone, Domini ue Crenn, Marcus Samuelson, Ming Tsai, Gabriela Camara D E P P S 1 R D J 1 Based on creator and executive producer Hamish Steele’s horror-comedy graphic novels DeadEndia and web short Dead End, Dead End: Paranormal Park follows the adventures of Barney, Norma and magical-talking-dog Pugsley, as they balance their summer jobs at the local theme park haunted house while battling the totally real supernatural forces that dwell within it. Together with their guide to the underworld multiplane, a sardonic thousand-year-old demon named Courtney, they’ll face zombie mascots, demonic game show hosts, sleep-sucking witches and the scariest thing of all: their first crushes The series will also feature a special musical episode with songs written by Patrick Stump. Cast: ach Barack, ody avitha, Emily Osment, Alex Brightman, Clinton Leupp a.k.a. Miss Coco Peru, enny Tran and athreen havari; Guest Stars: Alan Cumming, Angelica Ross, C Nelson, emah Bob, MJ Roridguez, Patrick Stump, Sam Jay, Taylor Effy Gibson, Tom Lenk, Infante and more T U A yS R D J 22 After putting a stop to 19 3’s doomsday, the Umbrella

The Umbrella Academy. (L to R) ELLIOT PAGE as Viktor Hargreeves, EMMY RAVER-LAMPMAN as Allison Hargreeves in episode 301 of The Umbrella Academy. (Courtesy of

et i


Academy returns home to the present, convinced they prevented the initial apocalypse and fixed this godforsaken timeline once and for all. But after a brief moment of celebration, they realize things aren’t exactly okay, not at all how they left them. Enter the Sparrow Academy. Smart, stylish, and about as warm as a sea of icebergs, the Sparrows immediately clash with the Umbrellas in a violent face-off that turns out to be the least of everyone’s concerns. Navigating challenges, losses, and surprises of their own and dealing with an unidentified destructive entity wreaking havoc in the Universe something they may have caused — now all they need to do is convince Dad’s new and possibly better family to help them put right what their arrival made wrong. Will they find a way back to their pre-apocalyptic lives Or is this new world about to reveal more than just a hiccup in the timeline Created for Television by: Steve Blackman Cast: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Casta eda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Justin H. Min, Colm Feore, Ritu Arya, Justin Cornwell, Britne Oldford, Jake Epstein, Genesis Rodriguez, Cazzie David, Javon Wanna’ Walton, Jordan Claire Robbins Note: Elliot Page’s character transitions in the season and begins using the name Viktor Hargreeves and he/him pronouns. The storyline was crafted by creator Steve Blackman who both consulted GLAAD and enlisted writer Thomas Page McBee’s guidance and expertise to, alongside Elliot Page, help ensure the storyline was told authentically and sensitively. J K B P y R D J 21 Filmed at Catch One in Los Angeles by Doron Max Hagay, Joel im Booster makes his Netflix comedy special debut with Psychosexual. In a uni uely crafted three set act; Booster discusses learning the cultural nuances of being Asian as he gets older, shares his preference for threesomes with tips for successful masturbation and his fascination for human sexuality and much more. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

The Point Foundation rejects Don’t Say Gay, transphobic anti-healthcare and sportsrelated bills, and all hate laws that discriminate against and seek to erase LGBTQ+ people. For 20+ years, Point Foundation has celebrated the pride and resilience of the community by providing financial, community, and educational support for LGBTQ students in higher education. No matter how much hate is trying to block you from speaking, from showing up, or from a healthy happy life, we will always work to make sure there is space for you in higher ed, exactly as you are.


LA Pride Talent lineup includes…. CHRISTINA AGUILERA: THE ultimate pop diva Christina Aguilera is set to grab more than headlines as the big name on stage during the June 11, 2022 LA Pride Concert at LA Historic Park. She’s as well known for grabbing LGBT hearts and souls as she is for her big voice, over-the-top wardrobe and pop hits like “Genie in a Bottle” and “Fighter.” But the superstar is set to prove her status as a gay icon all over again. She is beloved by our community for advocating for LGBTQ equality and representation over the course of her career. Christina has called her LGBTQ fans her fighters, heroes and the reason she loves what she does. “The LGBTQ community has never had it easy,” she wrote in Billboard. “The struggles each one of you faces daily on an individual level and on a broader political and cultural level are unimaginable, yet you keep fighting, you keep moving forward trailblazing and beating all odds with love always in your hearts.”In 2002, Christina delivered a special single called “Beautiful” to the LGBTQ community, earning a GLAAD Media Award. She stands up for us and “anyone who’s been discriminated against or unaccepted, unappreciated or disrespected just because of who [they] are.” She’s gonna deliver.


ANITTA: Since breaking through in Brazil six years ago, Anitta has become the leading artist of a new generation of Latin American music. As the biggest ever global female popstar to come from Brazil, she has amassed 55 million Instagram followers and over 15 million YouTube subscribers garnering more than 5.6 billion views. Anitta has been named among the world’s 15th most influential musicians on social media by Billboard. In July 2013, she released her self-titled first album, Anitta, which consisted of 1 new tracks, most of which were written by her. Anitta’s second album, Ritmo Perfeito, was released in July 201 , followed by her third album, Bang, in 2016. The album contained 15 original tracks and the music video for the album’s title song, Bang, has garnered over 12 million views since its release. Her latest album, Kisses, was released in April 2019 and marks Anitta’s first trilingual album with songs in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Kisses was nominated for “Best Urban Album’’ at the 2019 Latin GRAMMY® Awards. This year she also won “Best Female Artist” at the Latin AMAs. Most recently, Anitta released her new single, Faking Love featuring Saweetie. MICHAELA JAÉ is a Golden Globe®-winning and Emmy®-nominated actress, singer, and activist. Rodriguez will next star in Apple TV ’s new workplace comedy LOOT opposite Maya Rudolph premiering this June. In 2021, Rodriguez became the first transgender woman to earn an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Blanca Evangelista in F ’s critically acclaimed series POSE. Earlier this year, Rodriguez won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a TV Drama Series, making her the first transgender actor to win a Golden Globe® award. Most recently, Rodriguez appeared in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature film TIC , TIC BOOM . She will also appear in GIRLS CAN’T SHOOT AND OTHER LIES)’ alongside Beanie Feldstein, Jameela Jamil and Kat Dennings. In June 2021 she released her debut single, “Something to Say’’ via Access Records. ROSSI: When it comes to Rossi, all you have to do is press play. Rossi transcends social norms 42 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 10, 2022

and compels the masses to join his party. With a sound that is uniquely his own, there is no denying that underneath the glam and glitter the music speaks for itself. Rossi’s debut single “7 Minutes” is a glossy and catchy tune that will have you wanting to spin the bottle, and the song, again and again. He is here to bring the fun of dance music back, with a cheeky, ueer, and nostalgic approach. SAN CHA is a singer-songwriter, based in Los Angeles, increasingly known for her visceral and explosive live performances. Her name, derived from the Spanish word sancha, which translates to mistress’, is a mischievous reference to the title of San’, given to male saints in the Catholic tradition. Fans of cumbia and punk, bolero and electro, flock to see San Cha’s emotional renditions of traditional Mexican rancheras and original songs that queer conventions of identity, power and love. Her striking stage presence is accompanied by the one-of-a-kind garments she adorns, aesthetic reflections of the years spent performing in drag and club scenes in the Bay. San Cha was the headlining act at the kickoff of the 2019 Red Bull Music Festival, with recent performances at the Getty Museum, TBA Fest, Levitt Pavillion, HOCO Fest, Sonido Clash Music Festival and Santa Monica Pier. Her latest album, La Luz De La Esperanza, is written in the form of a surrealist telenovela and sounds like what Pitchfork described it as modernized ranchera with a rock edge and goth sensibility’. Effortlessly mixing Spanish and English, La Luz De La Esperanza calls for a bold confrontation of tradition while respectfully honoring it.

OLITA: For emerging alt-pop icon olita, every song begins as an elaborate movie in her mind, irresistibly rooted in both riveting drama and viscerally real feeling. A truly multidimensional artist, the L.A.-based singer/songwriter/ filmmaker matches her fiercely honest musical output with self-directed videos, each revealing the singular aesthetic she honed in part through her studies in film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Recently signed to AWAL after earning massive success as a D.I.Y. creator including over 120 million global streams to date , olita wants to elevate LGBTQ visibility with her music through songs like Somebody I F cked Once, a video that went viral immediately after its premiere, amassing five million YouTube views in its first week alone. One of the most mportant things for me is to normalize queerness, and to show happy endings for queer people. I never thought of that as a kind of activism before, until I saw firsthand what it can actually do. REBECCA BLACK: 2021 is the year Rebecca Black put her stamp on pop culture with her song Girlfriend and she’s still having a major moment with her new release which PAPER and Billboard highlighting her GLAAD Media Awards performance as the “best musical moment” of the night, notably bubbly...fun... and... the exact kind of pick-me-up that so many of us are looking for. Vulture said she’s now serving up ueer pop anthems. The 23-year old singer, songwriter and creator, followed up the reviews by delivering a post-breakup bop “Personal,” to unapologetically cry and dance to; a song that melts bubble-gum pop and hyperpop glitches as smooth







as The Secret World of Alex Mack! To celebrate the 10th anniversary of her song of the zeitgeist, “Friday,” Rebecca, who has racked up 1.5 Million YouTube subscribers and 1 Million Instagram followers (@ msrebeccablack), released a “Friday” remix featuring an array of electro-poptasm, including Dorian Electra, Big Freedia, 3OH!3 & produced by Dylan Brady of 100 gecs. Rebecca advocates for anti-bullying, mental health initiatives and the LGBTQ+ community, across recent partnerships with the AdCouncil, GLAAD, and Best Buddies.

LA Pride Talent lineup continued….

MIKE TAVEIRA could be called the pansexual Portuguese pop singer. But look a little closer and you’ll see a fully-rounded artist with a distinct point of view, a razor-sharp ear, and triple-threat talents that have already begun to win the world over (with over a million streams and a combined 150k followers). Taveira’s sonic references are rooted in his childhood: the booming Springsteen percussion from his Jersey suburb and the microtonal melodies he’d dance to in the summers of Northern Portugal. Turning to performance to escape abuse and instability, Taveira spent his teen years becoming a student of Prince and Bowie, learning to write and dance from late legends. After moving to New York City at 19, Taveira dove headfirst into acting and starred in a few independent films, one of which accumulated over 50 awards and counting), but it wasn’t until 2018 – 4 years later – that he set out to record his own music. Between 2019 and 2020, Taveira independently released a string of singles – Heart, Curious, and Karma – racking up over 500,000 streams from his own hustle. Taveira explored themes of heartbreak and queer attraction over contemporary pop-R&B arrangements and won features from Billboard, Gay Times, Instinct, and Attitude.

of underground styles that New York City artists have long-shaped. Her DJ sets and original music oscillate between ballroom, hip-hop, house, industrial and techno; racing between fury and euphoria to create cathartic moments. While playing in just about every underground scene in North America - Jasmine put out releases with homegrown labels such as Club Chai and Molly House. It wasn’t until pandemic times, when she self-released her hard techno opus “BXTCH SLÄP,” that her sound truly took form. Starting as a bandcamp only release, it was reissued on wax by acclaimed label Dark Entries and quickly sold out. Jasmine also founded New World Dysorder: a label, collective, and club series that has been running strong for over seven years. In late 2020 they released “WW1,” an expansive compilation that showcased the dark corners of American club music. Jasmine Infiniti has been an integral part of modern North American club culture, and will continue spreading her message globally in the near future.”

GESS is a pop/r&b singer-songwriter-producer. Self-identified love child of Zayn Malik and Sabrina Claudio, GESS delivers atmospheric, contemplative music that’s been described as “a heartbreaking and sexy exploration of self.” GESS hit the scene in 2018 with the single “Spilled Milk” & EP “Plastic City.” In that time he has accumulated 2.5 million streams on Spotify and appeared on Billboard 9+ times, with work featured on 4 of their LGBTQ playlists. His quarantine EP “Psyche” premiered in Gay Times Magazine and received rave reviews by Paper Magazine and others. Aside from solo releases, GESS often produces and writes for LGBTQ acts globally, frequently collaborating with Shea Coulee Rupaul’s Drag Race winner . Most recently, their song Collide premiered on VH1. GESS has performed at major venues throughout California including the notorious Viper Room, as well as renowned events in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Amsterdam.

GRAG QUEEN: If you were lucky enough to watch Queen of the Universe (which aired on Paramount +) then you’re well aware that on the season’s finale 2 -year-old Grag Queen was crowned literally the first winner of the competition. Part RuPaul’s Drag Race, part Eurovision, ‘14 queens from 10 countries’ competed for the title in the -part series, which was an international success. The Brazilian singer wowed audiences with her show stopping performances of Andra Day’s ”Rise Up” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” among others. Grag was thrilled with her victory. “I feel SO accomplished! This award symbolizes a dream come true. I am sure my family and my country are proud of me. She’s been lauded by fellow singing Queens Alaska Thunderfuck who said, “Grag is one of the most technically skilled singers out there, but it’s her stage presence, sense of humor, and charisma that make her an absolute superstar. Trixie Mattel added, She’s a star before the song even starts, and then when she begins singing - it’s over bitch.” Her new single, “Party Everyday”, which she co-wrote and already has over 00,000 views on Youtube. Grag will also have a track on the forthcoming Love, Victor’’ soundtrack. The show’s new season premieres on HULU in June. A staunch supporter of the LGBTQ community in Brazil, Grag – born Gregory Mohd - say she’s very well-aware of how many young people are afraid to come out to be their true selves. “We live in a country that kills LGBTQ people more than any other, and our transgender people’s [life expectancy] is only 35 years old and it’s not fair. We are still trying to find some place of peace .I really want to use this platform to make people know that this situation is crazy and it’s real.”

MALIBU BABIE: The 808s pack a punch and so does the vision: to be the first female producer/artist to top the charts. Collaborating with multi-platinum, Grammy award winning songwriters and producers Theron Thomas and Sam Sumser, Malibu Babie is armed & ready to take over the music industry in a lane all her own. The viral hit-maker is already garnering attention from Billboard and Idolator, and has song placements with MTV, Netflix, Apple and Sephora. Malibu Babie promises to not just be your new favorite artist, but a whole damn brand.

EUREKA (They/Them) started as a small country child in the heart of East Tennessee. Raised by a single Mom, scraping by in poverty. Doing their best to survive and thrive is what created Eureka’s work ethic today. Now, standing ’ and that’s without heels, y’all , Eureka represents all the big guys, girls, and gender-fluid beautiful beings, as the PLUS SI E DRAG SUPERMODEL OF THE WORLD One of Eureka’s goals is to give bigger people around the world the confidence to go out and live their dreams. Their passion led them to compete on nine national stages

JASMINE INFINITI: Born in the Bronx and based in Brooklyn, Jasmine Infiniti’s sound is a mesh 46 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 10, 2022




LA Pride Talent lineup continued….

before the age of twenty-six. Today Eureka continues to STOMP their way onto the national scene with television, music, videos, songwriting, singing, acting, and modeling. Eureka sees themselves as the Elephant Queen because of her passion for elephants - their dedication to family, loyalty, and strength. They regard those family-oriented and brilliant pachyderms as the best representation of size-positivity, kindness, and love. Their fight is for those traits in all of us to never go extinct - and to give inspiration to their “HERD” of followers. EDWARD FRAME: Being in love with music pretty much his entire life, Edward first became interested in music production at the age of 18 with a passion that ranged from electronic dance music, house music all the way down to disco. In the 6 years he has resided in Los Angeles, he has become the co-creator of a massively successful summertime event called “PEARL” which reignited the passion for curating music for parties and events. He has since then been the music producer and DJ for this event which has in turn opened doors to DJing at other venues and spaces such as a regular Sunday residency at HEART in West Hollywood and pop-up gigs around town at the W Hotel Hollywood, Doheny Room West Hollywood, and the Sonoran in Palm Springs just to name a few. He has collaborated with many producers and DJs and hopes to keep the momentum on the rise this year. His love and passion for music and creating moments on the dancefloor for just about everyone is what fuels his drive to continue to learn and grow and become the top-level DJ he aspires to be! D.I.Y.: On his debut D.I.Y., drumaq introduces an unforgettably bold new voice into today’s R&B landscape. An accomplished songwriter, having written for various artists including Ant Clemons on his GRAMMY® Award nominated album, drumaq’s lyrics radiate a raw honesty, the L.A.-based artist details his experience as a ueer twentysomething finding himself through the beautiful chaos of love and lust and heartbreak. In a departure from the bedroom-pop introspection of 2019’s Vitamin D a self-released mixtape that’s now surpassed five million combined streams , drumaq brings that truth-telling to a more opulent and high-powered sound inspired by strong-minded female R&B stars like Jazmine Sullivan, Jill Scott, and eyshia Cole. And as druma reveals, D.I.Y. s unbridled confidence has much to do with the profound personal transformation he’s experienced over the past year. “I just want people to really feel themselves, and to know that it’s possible to change your whole outlook,” he says. “Instead of letting someone else’s negative actions destroy you, you can let them push you toward becoming a better person—someone who’s completely comfortable in their own skin,” he says.

BOY UNLIMITED and BOY APOCALYPSE: Comprising Boy Untitled and Boy Apocalypse, BOY2K is a forward-thinking experiment in the connective power of dance music. After meeting at a show in 2019, the pair began making music together, eventually resulting in the birth of a collaborative project that celebrates radical ueerness and challenges assumptions about what and who dance music is for. Fusing house, techno, and pop music, BOY2 is committed to making people move AND think about the world. Their music addresses a wide range of topics including technology, social media, sexuality, and more. Boy Untitled has been noted as an “artist to watch” by such publications as Billboard, Earmilk, Gaytimes, Nylon, and OUT! Magazine while Boy Apocalypse has been a featured vocalist on tracks with global dance acts including Adventure Club and Blem. Together, the duo combines years of experience and diverse perspectives 48 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 10, 2022

that make for an electrifying sound. In addition to their upcoming debut release, BOY2 is diving headfirst into the Web3 space and is currently collaborating with outlets like Yung Crypto to develop projects in the generative space. DERRICK CARTER is widely acknowledged as one of the best DJs in the world. With innovative productions, flawless technical skills and an effortlessly joyful attitude of rocking a crowd, his influence has infiltrated throughout the spectrum of dance music. Although known as one of the key players of Chicago’s house music wave in the 90s, Derrick Carter began DJing at the age of nine, spinning disco records at family reunions. Raised in the western suburbs, Derrick was into music from a young age; during his teens Chicago’s house scene sucked him in for good and before long he became a strong presence in the city’s underground dance scene. When I got my driver’s license at 1 my sneak ability was validated, he laughs. I was a fierce bedroom jock for a long time. After you mix for the love of it for six or seven years, you get it pretty tight and you can take it on the road.” Derrick’s sets are rooted in house, but he freely travels outside confirmative club tastes, seamlessly incorporating old-school disco, soul, jazz, and whatever else catches his fancy to jack the beat and rock the party. ALLISON PONTHIER: Brooklyn based, singer-songwriter Allison Ponthier writes folk-pop music that’s auto-biographical in narrative, reflective of her ueer identity and personal journey. Visually, the project lives in a universe where campy horror, lunar landscapes, and 80s westerns collide. It has a whimsical and theatrical feel to it, but embodies some darker humor and gracefully tackles some heavy concepts. Finding her own path from a conservative upbringing in Texas, Allison’s early records are reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers and Kacey Musgraves with a splash of Dolly Parton. In August 2021, Allison released her critically acclaimed debut EP “Faking My Own Death”. In September, she joined Lord Huron on his US tour and made her major festival debut at Austin City Limits in October. ALEXANDER STEWART: Toronto native, Alexander Stewart is quickly becoming on of the top independent artists to watch out for in 2022! Previously breaking the top 20 Billboard charts in Canada with his single Backwards , he kicked off 2022 with his latest single, a new powerful pop ballad, “Echo”. “Echo” immediately amassed millions of views on his TikTok prior to its release along with a record number of pre-saves! He gained the attention of megastar Liam Payne of OneDirection who tweeted Currently listening to a new unsigned artist I LOVE . Alexander’s monthly listeners on Spotify have doubled in the first few months of 2022 to +2 million.”Echo” is now becoming his biggest record to date, and his catalog is now at an enormous 50 million streams across all platforms giving us a taste of what is to become a very exciting year for Alexander.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN is a drag performer and recording artist best known for winning the eighth season of Rupaul’s Drag Race. He has released various hit singles since his run on Drag Race Purse First, Yet Another Dig and appeared on television A Black Lady Sketch Show, We’re Here and film Cherry Pop, The Queens . He currently cohosts the podcast “Sibling Rivalry” with Monét X Change and continues to inspire others with his iconic comedy chops.

The Los Angeles Lakers are proud to support LA PRIDE and the LGBTQ Community.

Own your


Pride police bans stir debate around country

By JOSH ALBURTUS As cities across the U.S. once again hold in-person Pride month festivities after two years of moving forward, in hopes of making an impactful change.” pandemic-related pauses, a growing trend among Pride organizations attempting to restrict But the bans are not met with open arms by all, with some believing the trend does more police presence at Pride events is gaining momentum. harm than good. The trend, which has only grown in recent years, has ignited debate among the LGBTQ comThe New York Times Editorial Board characterized NYC Pride’s decision as a “misstep.” munity and outside groups attempting to balance support for the community with support for The organizers are certainly within their rights to reduce the number of armed police o local law enforcement. cers providing security, but let’s be honest: It’s a poke in the eye at law enforcement more than These calls for an end to police involvement in the events largely stem from a detailed a meaningful action to address police violence or foster a dialogue about law enforcement rehistory of discrimination and use of force among police departments toward the LGBTQ comform,” said the board in an editorial. “These moves do nothing to celebrate and demonstrate munity and communities of color. solidarity within the LGBTQ community.” The Stonewall rebellion, during which patrons and local residents protested a police raid Even among memon the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, are largely credited with sparking the bers of the LGBTQ modern-day LGBTQ rights movement. The narrative set by this history has organizations in community, opinions some of the country’s largest cities trying to ban uniformed law enforcement personnel from on banning police Pride parades and festivals. from Pride events rePride groups in San main divided. Francisco and other In their response cities have recently ento NYC Pride’s ban on gaged in their own efuniformed police at forts to ban uniformed Pride, the New York police from marching Times Editorial Board in their annual parades cited a 2019 poll of altogether. 801 LGBTQ AmeriDrawing the ire of cans conducted by San Francisco Mayor Whitman Insight London Breed and the Strategies and Buzzcity’s police department, feed that found 79 San Francisco Pride last percent of responMAYOR BOWSER at the opening reception last month for Black Pride. month banned police in dents favored having Her o ce said she intends to march in the city s Pride parade this its annual Pride parade. police participation ee end though it s unclear if uniformed MPD o cers ill participate. “One of the top prioriin Pride events. ( lade photo by Michael Key) ties is that San Francisco In D.C., the situaMetropolitan Police Department o cers at the beginning of the Pride remains a position is a bit confusing. The Capital Pride Alliance adopted a policy in 2018 that bans uniformed 2019 Capital Pride parade. ( lade photo by Michael Key) tive, celebratory event police from participating in the Pride parade it organizes. The ban remained in place last year, for all, especially for and the Capital Pride Alliance has not publicly stated any change or retraction of the policy. our Black, trans, and lesbian/gay/queer+ family,” San Francisco Pride said in its statement an“In 2018 the decision was made that [Metropolitan Police Department] would not particinouncing the ban. “For the 2022 [San Francisco] Pride Parade, [San Francisco] Pride requested pate as a contingent in the Pride parade, and has not since,” the group said in a 2020 statethat those participating from law enforcement agencies do so out of uniform and in an alterment. “Going forward, [Capital Pride Alliance] will not permit any uniformed and armed ponative attire that still represents their organization.” lice o cers to march in the Pride parade or participate in Capital Pride Alliance -sanctioned In announcing their initial decision, San Francisco Pride directly related their reasoning to events.” past harm done by law enforcement to the LGBTQ community. But uniformed police did walk at the start of the D.C. Pride parade in 2019 (see photo), “[San Francisco] Pride remains committed to practicing radical inclusion, practicing harm raising uestions about the policy. Technically, the o cers were not part of an o cial parade reduction in our space, and supporting those who are marginalized within our community,” contingent, and rather were on duty. But they were seen waving to the crowd with at least one the group stated. “We acknowledge and appreciate the steps that have been taken to heal o cer carrying a Pride flag. decades of distrust between law enforcement agencies and the LGBTQ+ communities.” Going into this year, it remains unclear whether the ban on uniformed police presence Although the ban has since been reversed following a compromise between San Francisco in D.C.’s Pride parade will lead to any friction with government o cials similar to that seen Pride and the San Francisco Police O cers Pride Alliance, debate still lingers in other major during the events that played out in San Francisco. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s o ce in a cities with large LGBTQ communities. press release said she remains supportive of the efforts being made throughout June to highNew York, Seattle, and Denver are among the cities in which activists have banned or relight the LGBTQ community and intends to march in the city’s Pride parade. quested an absence of uniformed police presence at Pride events. “We are focused, especially this year, on using Pride to bring people back together and to NYC Pride announced last year it would prohibit uniformed police o cers’ participation in uplift and advance our D.C. values,” Bowser said in the statement. “We are proud that, for its events through at least 2025. years, D.C. has led the nation in supporting LGBTQ+ rights, and together we will keep it that “NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm way. We are the District of Pride, and I look forward to seeing people at the return of the Pride for members of the community,” the group said in a statement. “The steps being taken by the Parade on June 11. organization challenge law enforcement to acknowledge their harm and to correct course Bowser’s o ce did not respond to re uest for further comment regarding the issue. 50






, 2022

Global Pride events in full swing

From Baltics to Africa to Brazil, activists demand rights, protest ine ualities Pride events are in full swing around the world. Thousands of people on June 5 attended Bangkok’s first official Pride parade in 1 years. Gay Lithuanian MP Tomas Vytautas Raskevi ius and U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Bob Gilchrist are among those who participated in Baltic Pride 2022 that took place in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, on June . Jerusalem’s annual Pride parade occurred two days earlier against the backdrop of the arrest of a man in connection with death threats made against its organizers. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 1 helped raise the Progress Pride flag over his country’s Parliament. This is a time to celebrate our differences and support one another and to make sure that every day we are building a Canada where everyone is free to be who they are and love who they love, he said in a video he posted to his Twitter page. Olena Shevchenko, chair of Insight, a Ukrainian LGBTQ rights group, told the Blade that she and other activists from her war-torn country plan to attend Warsaw Pride in Poland on June 25.

Pride ags y over Ipanema each in io de aneiro. (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

This year marks London Pride’s 50th anniversary. The British government was to have hosted a global LGBTQ rights conference in London from June 29-July 1, but it cancelled it in April after advocacy groups announced a boycott in response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to support a bill to ban so-called conversion therapy without gender identity. The London Pride parade is scheduled to take place on July 2. The Cayman LGBTQ Foundation in the Cayman Islands will hold its annual Pride parade on July 30. The event will take place less than five months after the Privy Council’s Judicial Committee in London ruled same-sex couples in the British territory don’t have a constitutional right to marry. Jamaica is among the upwards of 70 countries in which con-

By MICHAEL K. LAVERS, DANIEL ITAI & ESTEBAN GUZMÁN sensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. J-FLAG and other Jamaican LGBTQ rights groups will hold a series of Pride events during the first week of August, which coincides with the country’s Emancipation and Independence Days. It’s always been incident free, J-FLAG Associate Director of Marketing and Communications and Engagement Elton Johnson told the Blade on Tuesday from ingston, the Jamaican capital. We get support from the police. We get support from many organizations, schools.

Members of the Rock of Hope gather outside the Eswatini Supreme Court on April 29, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Rock of Hope)

Decriminalization push LGBTQ activists in Africa are also planning to commemorate Pride. The government of Botswana in January said it will abide by a ruling that decriminalized homosexuality in the country. A plethora of other African countries still outlaw same-sex relations and those found guilty of homosexuality in places where Sharia law exists face the death penalty. Advocacy groups on the continent plan to use Pride to further push for decriminalization. The 2SLGBTQIA community has made dramatic strides in recent decades that absolutely should be celebrated, but there is still much more work to do to ensure intersectional e uality and justice for all but as we prepare to commemorate the 2SLGBTQIA Pride, let us be cognizant that the discrimination of 2SLGBTQIA persons in the country is still rife, said the Rock of Hope, an LGBTQ rights group in Eswatini. These events or awareness activities should bring meaning and strengthen the movement such that one day we can reside in a country free of hate, stigmatization and discrimination of individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity expression. Beit el-Meem, an Egyptian LGBTQ rights group, echoed the Rock of Hope. The road is not easy, but not impossible, and what distinguishes us is that each individual of us excels with the power of love and acceptance, and with this energy we will give to everyone around us, said Beit el-Meem. LGBT Rights Ghana has been at the forefront of the campaign against a bill that would criminalize LGBTQ identity and allyship in the country. The U.S. Embassy in Ghana on Tuesday tweeted a picture of President Biden speaking in support of LGBTQ rights. The tweet also said the U.S. rea rms that LGBTQI rights are human rights and that no group should be excluded from those protections, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, sex characteristics, disability status, age, religion or belief. LGBT Rights Ghana said it plans to mark Pride with its virtual Color Dialogue conversations it holds every year. This year promises to be fun, hopeful and filled with lots of love, said the group. Join us everyday at p.m. GMT on our

Instagram page as we discuss the struggles, hopes and joy of the Ghanaian Queer community.

Brazil election overshadows São Paulo Pride S o Paulo’s annual Pride parade, which is one of the largest in the world, will take place on June 19. Brazilian activists will mark Pride against the backdrop of their country’s presidential election campaign. HIV/AIDS service providers and LGBTQ activists with whom the Blade spoke while on assignment in Brazil in March said they are afraid of what may happen in their country if President Jair Bolsonaro wins a second term later this year. He represents a danger to the environment, Mariah Rafaela Silva, a transgender woman of indigenous descent who works with the Washington-based International Institute on Race, E uality and Human Rights, told the Blade on March 21 during an interview at a Rio de Janeiro restaurant. He represents a danger to diversity. He represents a danger to Black people. He represents a danger to indigenous people. Activists in other South American countries plan to use Pride events to demand further rights. Organizers of the annual Pride parade that will take place in Santiago, Chile, on June 25 plan to call for additional reforms to the country’s Penal Code and anti-discrimination law and demand an end of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The event will take place less than a month after a trans woman, Yuridia Pizarro, was killed in I ui ue, a city in northern Chile. Pride parades are also scheduled to take place in the capitals of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia respectively on June 25. Somosgay, an LGBTQ rights group in Paraguay, is planning to hold a Pride march in Asunci n, the country’s capital, on July 2. A Pride march dedicated to Le n uleta and Manuel Velandia, the founders of Colombia’s LGBTQ rights movement, will take place in Bogot , the country’s capital, on the same day. A Pride march is scheduled to take place in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on July 3. Activists in Argentina and Uruguay will hold Pride marches later this year. OSA






Abdul, Indelicato, & Sir Lady Java honored as L.A. Pride Marshals

By JEREMY KINSER LOS ANGELES – Paula Abdul, iconic recording artist with six number one hit singles, former Out actor Mark Indelicato, remembered for his portrayal of a gay teen on the hit comehost of American Idol, longtime LGBTQ ally, and one of the most influential choreographers dy Ugly Betty and who is currently appearing as a gay assistant on the HBO series Hacks, will in music video history, will be honored by Christopher Street West Association Inc CSW , be honored as this year’s Celebrity Grand Marshal. with the newly created Icon Grand Marshal title. The parade is presented by LA Pride title sponsor TikTok. It will begin in Hollywood SunSir Lady Java, a trailblazing nightclub personality in the 19 0s was targeted by LAPD for viday, June 12 at 10:30 a.m. on Hollywood Blvd and Cahuenga Blvd heading west, then south olating Rule Number 9, a ban on impersonation by means of costume or dress a person of onto N. Highland, then turn east on Sunset Blvd, ending at Sunset Blvd and Ivar. the opposite sex, will be celebrated as Community Grand Marshal. She will be accompanied L.A. Pride has announced that people who were interested in its former June 10 Commuby Hailie Sahar, a former cast member of Pose, who will portray Java in an upcoming feature nity Day can now enjoy Pride Village, a community-led, free street fair at Hollywood Blvd. film about her colorful life, in a vintage convertible to experience the full parade route. between Cahuenga and Vine St. in Hollywood. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It was very important to LA Pride that we lift history and legacy as a part of the parade on Parade Sunday, so people can enjoy Pride Village before, during, and after the LA Pride this year, so this is a new and exciting moment, says Gerald Garth, CSW’s Vice President of Parade with music, art, booths, food and drink, and the famed Ferris wheel. Community Programs and Initiatives. For more information, go to lapride.org.


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road ay s rst ony nominated trans actress spea s out It feels like a dream, it feels wonderful, it feels exciting’

“I am just a girl,” L Morgan Lee tells me. That simple statement is her self-definition, a girl taking life one step at a time. To the rest of us, L Morgan Lee is so much more. She is the award-winning actress starring on Broadway in the hit show of the season, “A Strange Loop.” Her singing talent matches that of any legendary diva, she is creating landmark theatrical projects on womanhood and New York Times articles are being written about her. She is the “girl” in the spotlight now. She is also, the first ever transgender actor or actress to receive a Tony Award nomination. While she is not the first trans performer to be seen on a Broadway stage, she seems to have broken the glass or some might say, cement) ceiling of being recognized in the upper echelon of talent. She is the first transgender performer to be in a work that has won a Pulitzer. While the Pulitzer recognizes the author, whom she was not, certainly her creative input was weaved into the final book of the play. L Morgan has journeyed a complex path to self-awareness. “For me, even in terms of being trans, the idea of being anything outside of what I was assigned at birth was just laughable and crazy to me as a child,” she says. “It just, it made no sense. It was not something that I was comfortable saying out loud to anyone or voicing. How would I be looked at by my parents, by anyone else So, I would sit and dream. The dreaming is, I think, what forms, much of so many queer people’s lives and experiences. Those dreams become our lifelines. I would dream and dream. I have a memory of when I was maybe six years old, in the middle of the night, looking up at my ceiling in my bedroom. Waking up soaked with tears. Saying, if I could wake up and be a girl, a girl, everything would be okay. She adds, “That is why I am so excited to have gotten my first opportunity to be on Broadway, excited to have gotten a Tony nomination. Because I know that there is some kid somewhere, who is also looking up at the ceiling saying that same thing.” L Morgan’s first adventure into performing was as a kid and ironically projected her future identity fluidity: She costumed up and performed “Karma Chameleon” in nursery school. She allowed herself to explore her true identity under the guise of a Halloween costume quite a few years later. She went in fully fashion glam drag, and it changed her world forever. “The minute I did it, I felt a jolt of energy I had never felt before. I finally felt free in so many ways. It’s as if I finally got to breathe. When she started work on A Strange Loop, she had been cast under the assumption that she was a cisgender man playing female parts. As the years of work into the play went on, L Morgan’s transgender journey escalated, and she attempted to resign from the play as she realized she was no longer the person they thought they had hired. Not only were they aware, as many close loved ones can be, of her journey, but they embraced her and assured her that she belonged more than ever. “The characters I played allowed me to, in some ways hide until I was able to be more public about who I am. And once I did that, it certainly brought another layer of depth to what


L MORGAN LEE is up for a Tony Award on Sunday night. (Photographed by Andrey Strekoza exclusively for the Blade)

I was doing. I have been that much more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve grown. Transition has settled in more. So, both my viewpoints about the show, the people I’m playing, and my lens of life in general, have evolved through the process. So, certainly the woman I am today, views the show and the script, and the characters I play in a very different way than I did when I first sat down to do it in 2015. Her growth within the show, and the growth of the show itself are intertwined. Certainly, some of the magic of the show is that it is not “performed” as much as it is lived out of the souls of the actors in it. L Morgan describes, “The experience of ‘A Strange Loop’ has been beautiful, complex, layered and ever evolving, for me in particular. Every time I’ve come back to the rehearsal room with this project, my own lens has been slightly evolved or has moved forward in some ways.” “The piece is as strong as it is because the lens itself, the lens through which the story is told, is very specific and very honest. Inside of that specificity, there are lots of complications and layers and messy stuff. There are things that you don’t talk about out loud’ taboo to discuss. There are things that people see as problematic. There are so many things inside of all of that, but it’s honest and it’s human. It is a 25-year-old, who’s about to turn 2 , sort of raging through life, feeling oppressed and unseen and shouting out to find how he fits into the world. It is how he can find his truest voice in a world that doesn’t really allow him to feel like he’s enough. Because it is so specific about those things the show touches so many different people. L Morgan demonstrated coming out as a confident transgender actress, with her vulnerabilities unhidden, on the opening night of the play and decisions she made as she stepped into the public spotlight. “I feel a responsibility. It feels like a dream, it feels wonderful. It feels exciting. It’s like everything I’ve ever asked for but the, the most poignant feeling for me is the responsibility. How could I show up for that person that needs to find me. “On my opening night on Broadway, we were trying to figure out what I was going to do with dress and hair and all these things. You only get a first time once. You get your


debut one time. So how do I make the most of this moment I felt raw and excited. I needed to show like the most honest and clear-cut version of me I could. I needed to show my shaved head because that’s something that’s important to me. It’s something, I almost never show. I stepped out revealed, exposed and vulnerable on the very public red carpet, speaking to cameras with my buzzed head. Our relationship with hair runs very deep, especially for trans people, and there was something about it, that just felt like, I needed to do it. That kid somewhere under the covers needs to see this trans woman who is in her Broadway debut and she’s in a pretty dress and she has a shaved head, and she seems like she’s comfortable. Then when you hear her talking about it, you hear about her vulnerability and hear that she felt nervous, and you hear that she was dealing with dysphoria and she was dealing with confidence and she was dealing with all these things that we attached to our hair and she reveals those things. Not only because they’re true but because when we reveal Our Truth, our humanness, there is universality there. There is connection inside of our vulnerability.” While the Tony nomination escalates her Broadway experience, L Morgan does not lose sight of her mortal existence. “On the day that the Tony nominations happened, I fell apart, completely losing it in by bedroom. Then I realized, I still needed to get a couch, and clean up the apartment. I still feel regular. It’s been a wild dream and at the same time, your real life just keeps on going. I am just trying to put one foot in front of the other.” On the night of the Tony’s, L Morgan will be up against some heavy hitters. Not the least of these is Broadway legend Patty LuPone. L Morgan is O with that. Her dream has been to see her face in one of the camera boxes on television of the nominee hopefuls. “The biggest reason I do what I do is one because I love storytelling. My experience is Black, my experience is trans, but I’m just, I’m just a woman. I am a woman who had a trans experience. That’s my story. I know that somewhere there’s s a kid, as I have said, who is just like I was. It is extremely important for me to make that kid proud and make that kid feel seen and make that kid know that it’s possible. I want that kid to be able to know that most importantly, they already are who they are dreaming to be. The world is telling you something different, but you know who you are. There’s nothing wrong with you, there is nothing wrong with us. The world has never told us that we were an option. That kid needs to find my story. They need to know that we exist. It is the reason it took me so long to be public about things and to start speaking, because I wasn’t seeing enough examples. There’s a quote, ‘she needed a hero, so that’s what she became.’ I really live by that.” She needed to see a trans woman Tony nominee. So that’s what she became. When they call the winner on Tony night, it will be between a Broadway legend and Broadway’s newest star. However it goes, another ceiling has been broken forever, and somewhere a trans girl in hiding will realize her dream too can come true.


A new and queerer ‘Queer as Folk’ It may be trash TV, but it’s OUR trash TV

By JOHN PAUL KING The first thing you need to know about watching the new Queer as Folk is that seeing the old Queer as Folk first either one of them is unnecessary. Peacock’s reboot of the groundbreaking LGBTQ series features none of the original’s characters; it takes place in a different city and a contemporary era that feels far further removed from the previous setting than the mere two decades that have actually passed. Despite the participation of original writer/creator Russell T. Davies, who joined forces with new writer/creator Stephen Dunn, among others, to make it happen, to watch it is essentially to watch a new and entirely unrelated series. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry all the hallmarks of the much-beloved franchise, from its messy and infuriating cast of characters to its sensationalistic emphasis on sex. It just means that anyone new to the party can rest assured they won’t need a recap to know what’s going on. The new narrative centers on Brodie Devin Way , a free-spirited college dropout who has just returned to New Orleans, and the tight circle of friends and chosen family that surround him. There’s his best friend Ruthie Jesse James eitel , a trans high school teacher who is starting a family with her non-binary partner Shar CG ; there’s also Noah Johnny Sibilly , a former longtime lover with whom he is still close, and Daddius Chris Renfro , another former flame who is entangled with them both. For his first night out back in his hometown, Brodie with his newly out gay brother Julian Ryan O’Connell in tow heads off to meet them all at Babylon, a ueer neighborhood club, where local legend Bussey Horewood Armand Fields runs a drag show that has also drawn underage aspiring ueen Mingus Fin Argus to try their hand at performing for the first time. With each of these principal players gathered under one roof, the stage is set for a horrific act of violence that will devastate the entire community and serve as a catalyst for each of them to confront the traumas in their personal lives and relationships as they struggle to heal in its aftermath. We like to avoid spoilers, so we’ll just say that what happens at Babylon during the first episode’s climactic scene has a cultural resonance to it that is only deepened by recent headlines in America, and the timing of the show’s premiere evokes an eerie synchronicity that is hard to ignore. Nevertheless, QAF remains rooted in the ueer lives of its ueer protagonists, and what it sets out to accomplish is only amplified by the added social significance bestowed by coincidence and that’s a good thing, because this QAF, just like the other QAFs, is all about ueer visibility. This time around, that visibility extends to more than just white cisgender gay men. In QAF 2022, people of color are decidedly in the majority, and there are other underrepresented identities in the mix, too ueer people who have disabilities, who live with HIV, who are sex workers, who are adoptees, who come out late in life. We get versions of family that go against the cultural grain, supportive mothers of ueer kids, and ueer parents forming new family constructs for which there are still no blueprints. We get an enthusiastically sexy depiction of ueer bodies, often naked or nearly so even when they’re not actively coupling with each other which they do fre uently. All in all, it’s kind of glorious: a portrait of a ueer generation forging a sex-positive path through uncharted territory where acceptance is given, not earned, and there’s room for every nuance of identity. This positive cultural modeling might seem at odds with the dysfunctional image it presents of most of its protagonists, who tend toward the self-centered, self-destructive, and judgmental. They avoid their problems with hedonistic sex, or drugs, or both; their behavior is often ill advised and reckless, and their relationships play out like slow motion train wrecks. These are hardly role models but none of us are perfect, and part of the reason QAF has garnered such a loyal legion of fans is that it gives us characters who reflect our flaws back at us. We identify with them, even if we sometimes don’t like them very much. Similarly, QAF 2022 follows the original’s playbook by featuring an abundance of ueer sex, weaving tantalizingly explicit scenes of intimacy throughout the series like an erotic thread. Some viewers will inevitably find this unfettered sexuality lurid, or

JOHNNY SIBILLY and CHRIS RENFRO are ‘Queer as Folk.’ (Photo courtesy Peacock)

even exploitative, but it goes without saying that heteronormative sexual shenanigans have been regularly delivered to our screens for years; it’s only fitting that ours should be afforded the same treatment. In any case, QAF has always had a Trash TV flavor that has endeared it to its fans. Unlikable characters and gratuitous sex have never stopped the franchise from finding an audience, and they’re unlikely to do so now. Ironically, a bigger obstacle to this installment’s success could well be its aspirational vision of a united ueer community, which might feel authentic to inhabitants of a large urban hub like New Orleans, but for the millions of LGBTQ people not lucky enough to live in such a place might seem a little too good to be true. There will inevitably be viewers who see the world of QAF 2022 as a woke progressive fantasy; for someone still struggling with they/them pronouns, a show in which most of the characters lay claim to multi-hyphenate identities is likely to stretch the boundaries of believability, and older audiences with all-too-vivid memories of a ueer community plagued by its own lack of tolerance around issues of race and gender may be tempted to write the whole thing off as just another Hollywood attempt to brush aside cultural ine uity by framing the world through a rose-colored lens; finally, even for many who laud the effort at providing the much-needed inclusion so many corners of our community have long been thirsty for, the show’s determination to pull off the impossible task of representing everybody might just feel like trying too hard. That’s not to say, however, that the new QAF doesn’t capture the same irresistible charm that made it a touchstone for a whole generation of LGBTQ audiences even if the old fans may have some trouble adapting themselves to the change of cultural climate. It features an attractive cast, with standout performances from Sibilly, eitel, O’Connell, and Argus not to mention showy turns from ueer fan favorites im Cattrell and Juliette Lewis , and it succeeds in immersing us so deeply into their world we feel like a part of it. Most important, perhaps, it emphasizes the importance of coming together in our ueer diversity to stand against the hate directed against us from outside something that stands even today as the biggest existential threat we face as a community. For all those reasons, it’s essential viewing and even if you end up with too many ualms to connect to it as wholeheartedly as you may wish, that’s O . It may be trash TV, but it’s OUR trash TV, and that makes all the difference. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 10, 2022 • 55

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Buy these products to show your Pride this month Beach towels, cakes, graphic tees, and more

By MIKEY ROX Let ’em all know that you’re here and you’re queer with these Pride month product picks Tom of Finland Playing Cards designed to strike fear in the heart of Ron DeSantis. You and the boys planned a tame game of five-card stud on a night in at your P-Town share, but these erotic Tom of Finland playing cards had other plans. Hard to bluff in the buff. 17, Amazon.com Happy Pride! Cake Mention cake in the queer community and two things come to mind: the Colorado bakery that courted controversy when it refused to bake the confection for a same-sex wedding in 2012, and, according to modern colloquialisms, dat ass. Those citations notwithstanding, you can perfect your Marie-Antoinette impression when you slice up Bake Me A Wish’s “Happy Pride!” message cake (with rainbow sprinkles, of course) that sends $10 of every purchase to the Ali Forney Center. $65, BakeMeAWish.com

Roma Sheer Jogging Pant

If Peacock can reboot “Queer as Folk” this month, there’s no reason why we can’t reboot the sheer tops and bottoms (the kind you wear) of the same era like Roma’s LOVE -striped fishnet jogging pant with matching briefs and tank. $27-$50, Amazon.com

#LubeLife Party Flavor

Buttercream-topped birthday cake banned from your summer diet? Get your Funfetti fix with LubeLife’s water-based celebration-flavored lubricant guaranteed to get the no-pants party started. Fifteen percent of June sales will benefit the It Gets Better Project, with a minimum donation of $10,000. $8.99, Amazon.com

Bi Pride Beach Towel

All the sun-seekers will discover your lust doesn’t discriminate when you unfurl the quick-dry Bi Pride beach towel that weighs and packs 10 times smaller than conventional versions. $19, Amazon.com

Nina West X Dearfoams

Your Sunday-best outta-the-house slippers get an upgrade via the Nina West X Dearfoams collection available in seven solid-tone colorways and one pink-trimmed glitter pair that screams “I might be in Walmart right now, but I got Target money, honey.” $26$40, Amazon.com

Every Man Jack Pride Set

Musky-fresh scents like sandalwood, cedarwood, aged bourbon, and sea salt comprise Every Man Jack’s Pride Body Wash Set, which are really just olfactory invitations for your trick to come closer. Twenty-five percent of EMJ Pride collection proceeds benefit Rainbow Railroad. $35, Amazon.com

Nautica Pride Swim Short

No self-respecting homo would be caught dead in Nautica’s sustainably crafted knee-length Pride swim shorts – because sky’s out, thighs out, baby! – but 10 bucks says your straightwhen-sober roommate is eager to show his LGBTQ support this month (even though he’ll still vote Republican in November). $23-$45, Amazon.com

Adidas Harden Vol. 4 Pride Shoe

Stomp the yard – and LGBTQ bullies – in Adidas’s sporty (and surprisingly attractive) Harden Vol. 4 indoor court sneaks, featuring a rainbow rubber sole and gold metallic embellishing for that little extra tink. $96-$142, Amazon.com

“Protect Trans Kids” Graphic Tee

If you’re the type that can’t resist an inexpensive statement tee, at least choose a message with meaning. In today’s “Don’t Say Gay” society, this one is especially necessary. $16, Amazon.com Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBTQ lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels



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from all of us at the Blade! 58 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 10, 2022


Corporate allies increasingly challenged over LGBTQ support Chilling blowback mounts from State Farm to Disney

By CHRIS JOHNSON | cjohnson@washblade.com After years of leveraging their familiar brand names to denounce anti-LGBTQ measures in state legislatures, large corporations are facing increasing challenges to their free speech amid newfound pressure from conservative forces, raising questions about whether they will continue to remain as vocal as they have in the recent past. From retaliation against State Farm for pledging to donate LGBTQ-themed books to children’s schools, to Florida revoking Disney’s special districting status after speaking out against the “Don’t Say Gay” law recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, businesses are encountering significant resistance after pledging support for the LGBTQ community — and the blowback is having an impact that may silence the relatively newfound ally for LGBTQ causes. Nadine Smith, at the forefront of the fight as executive director of Equality Florida, said businesses “are receiving clear messages from the DeSantis bully pulpit not to interfere with the agenda of censorship and discrimination.” “Speaking out on behalf of your employees’ children and the respect of your employees’ families is in keeping with the values of diversity and inclusion companies have touted for years to attract and retain top talent,” Smith added. “Failing to walk the walk because the governor and his fellow extremists have threatened you is the political choice.” One recent case of a business reversing course was State Farm backing down after pledging to donate LGBTQ-themed books in coordination with GenderCool, a youth organization highlighting LGBTQ-themed voices, to schools and libraries. Among the titles of the books to be donated were “A Kids Book About Being Transgender,” “A Kids Book About Being Inclusive,” and “A Kids Book About Being Non-Binary,” which portrayed the experience of different gender identities. The anti-LGBTQ group Consumers’ Research launched a campaign consisting of online blasts, which were boosted by The Daily Wire and Breitbart, with the slogan “Like a Creepy Neighbor…State Farm is There,” The campaign appeared to have the desired impact. On May 23, State Farm announced it would pull back, declaring “conversations about gender should happen at home with parents” as opposed from GenderCool it “will no longer support that program.” Although State Farm in a later statement insisted it would continue to support the LGBTQ community and inclusivity, the victory for conservative forces was evident. Another high-profile example of a business speaking out on policy against LGBTQ people and facing blowback was Disney when it spoke out against the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits discussion in schools on LGBTQ matters in grades K-3 . Although Disney initially was reluctant to speak out, it reversed course in response to public pressure and CEO Bob Chapek contacted DeSantis to denounce the measure days before he would sign it. DeSantis, who’s widely considered a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, publicly denounced the company for embracing “woke” ideology. The Florida Legislature followed up by revoking Disney’s tax status, which had enabled it to operate its own security forces in Disney World in Orlando. The conservative media also played a role. Skewering Disney for taking a stance against the “Don’t Say Gay” measure, The Daily Wire decried the media conglomerate for

its all around approach to LGBTQ visibility, declaring a $100 million investment in the launch of a “DW Kids,” which aims to be a competitor to Disney in youth media. Conservatives also crowed when polling found Disney has suffered a loss in public approval; one poll from the conservative Trafalgar Group found 68 percent of respondents were less likely to do business with Disney as a result of the company “focusing on creating content to expose young children to sexual ideas. Disney ended up making neither side happy. The Human Rights Campaign announced it wouldn’t accept a donation of up to $500,000 pledged by Disney at the time it came out against the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Media reports also highlighted stories about LGBTQ employees and allies at Disney storming out in protest over the media company’s delayed action on the Florida measure. Fabrice Houdart, managing director of the LGBTQ group Out Leadership, acknowledged the “Disney debacle hurt our community,” but said he thinks the overall impact of the incident was no indication of a decrease in strength among LGBTQ people. “If Bob Chapek was testing the resolve and clout of our community and its allies to ensure corporations take a stance when our human rights are under attack, he got a very clear response,” Houdart said. “The community’s reaction, protests, and media coverage highlighted that the time for companies to play both sides on human rights is over. Corporate power is immense and we will continue to engage corporations to ensure they put their money and lobbying efforts where their mouth is.” But the growing tension among business leaders is palpable. The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled “Disney’s clash with Florida has CEOs on alert” dated May 2, details the impact retaliation is having on businesses and whether or not they will take a stance on LGBTQ issues or other matters deemed socially divisive, revealing a new trepidation not seen in recent years. “The fallout from the recent political spat between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has alarmed leaders across the corporate sphere, according to executives and their advisers, and heightened the challenges for chief executive o cers navigating charged topics,” the Journal reported. The current situation stands in stark contrast to years past when businesses were falling over themselves to denounce measures and policies against LGBTQ people. The most recent case was House Bill 2 in North Carolina, which barred citywide LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinances and transgender people from using restrooms on public property consistent with their gender identity. The business outcry and cancellations cost the state an estimated $39.7 million in revenue and is credited for being the reason Gov. Pat McCrory lost re-election in 2016. The outcry over House Bill 2 echoed a similar situation. In Arizona, the business outcry in 2013 over religious freedom legislation seen to enable discrimination against LGBTQ people led conservative Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the measure. In 2015, Then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defied opposition to similar religious freedom legislation and signed the measure into law, but after outcry continued to escalate, he signed into a law a fix to the legislation that dramatically limited its discriminatory scope.

In each of these cases, businesses were seen as the key ally in pushing back against measures against LGBTQ people because their brands were well known, seen as neutral in outlook and influential with lawmakers counting on political donations to win re-election. As a result, corporate involvement may well have turned the tide in conservative states like Arizona, Indiana, and North Carolina. Regional differences may account for the different outcomes as LGBTQ advocates in certain states continue to boast strong business support that continues to thwart legislation seen to enable discrimination. Angela Hale, managing director of the LGBTQ group Texas Competes, made a distinction between Florida, where she said the environment is toxic after retaliation against Disney and may lead businesses to “think twice” on LGBTQ issues, and Texas, where she said the business community continues to support LGBTQ people, pointing out more than 1,500 businesses back her organization. “What I’ve been watching is Ron DeSantis punish Disney, try to punish the Special Olympics, punish the baseball team in his state, for speaking out on issues that are important to those corporate values,” Hale said. “And that’s unfortunate that he is taking such tactics because businesses employ millions of people across the country and have employees in every state, and these employees care about the positions that the company they work at take.” Asked whether she thinks the retaliation against companies like Disney would have an impact, Hale said it’s “too soon to tell,” but in the meantime businesses are continuing to speak out on a range of issues, including gun control after the recent shooting at a grade school in Uvalde, Texas. “When we have these horrible anti-LGBT bills, and we’re particularly targeting trans children, and we’re targeting teachers, businesses are going to speak out,” Hale said. “I have found at least what’s going on, even in this climate and in Texas, that because of the seriousness of the situation right now that we are having people brave enough to speak out, and it does take bravery to speak out because there can be consequences to those actions if you’re a regulated industry.” The new influence of conservative media, which in years past didn’t have the impact or organization to take on LGBTQ rights, also cannot be understated. The Daily Wire, for example, proudly brags about its influence on Facebook and has produced some of the most widely circulated pieces on LGBTQ issues. Ben Shapiro, founder and contributor to The Daily Wire, did not immediately respond to the Blade’s request Wednesday to comment for this article. Houdart, at the end of the day, is “not concerned” about businesses withdrawing because they know supporting LGBTQ people is good business, and the LGBTQ movement would continue to harness that power to “engage corporations to ensure they put their money and lobbying efforts where their mouth is.” “Companies were never supportive out of the goodness of their heart but because it is good business,” Houdart said. “And it remains good business. Employees, consumers, and investors are very clearly demanding that the private sector acquires a social license to operate and LGBTQ+ issues are one of the most straightforward avenues for companies to do so.”


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