JUNE 24, 2022 • VOLUME 06 • ISSUE 25 • AMERICA’S LGBTQ NEWS SOURCE • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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Repeal of loitering law targeting sex workers sent to Newsom Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) sent Senate Bill 357, the Safer Streets for All Act, to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for his action Monday. The Legislature passed SB 357 last year, but Senator Wiener held the bill at the Senate desk, delaying its transmittal to the governor. Newsom will have 12 days to sign the bill after it is processed by the Senate. SB 357 repeals a provision of California law criminalizing “loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution.” This criminal provision — arrests for which are based on an oﬃcer’s subjective perception of whether a person is “acting like” or “looks like” they intend to engage in sex work — results in the disproportionate criminalization of trans, Black and Brown women, and perpetuates violence toward sex workers. SB 357 is sponsored by a large coalition made up of former and current sex workers, LGTBQ groups like Equality California and Transgender Gender-variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), and civil rights groups like the ACLU. The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Traﬃcking (CAST LA) is supporting the legislation. SB 357 does not decriminalize soliciting or engaging in sex work. Rather, it simply eliminates an loitering oﬀense that leads to harmful treatment of people for simply “appearing” to be a sex worker. This crime is so subjective and inherently proﬁling that it allows a police oﬃcer to arrest someone purely based on how they are dressed, whether they’re wearing high heels and certain kinds of make-up, how they’re wearing their hair, and the like. This criminal provision is inherently discriminatory and targets people not for any action but simply based on how they look. People who engage in sex work deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Criminalizing sex work does not make sex workers or communities safer. Most criminal penalties for sex workers, loitering laws included, do nothing to stop sex crimes against sex workers and human traﬃcking. In fact, loitering laws make it harder to identify traﬃcking victims; traﬃcking victims are
often afraid to come forward in fear of being arrested or incarcerated. In February of 2021, a similar piece of legislation to repeal this type of loitering ban became law in New York. SB 357 is part of the movement to end discrimination against and violence toward sex workers, especially the most targeted communities — trans, Black, and Brown people. SB 357 is co-sponsored by Positive Women’s Network – USA, St. James Inﬁrmary, SWOP LA, Trans Latin@ Coalition, Asian Paciﬁc Islander Legal Outreach, Equality California and ACLU California Action. Under current law, it is a crime to loiter in a public place with the “intent” to commit a sex work-related oﬀense. But this law can be broadly interpreted, and thus allows for discriminatory application against the LGBTQ community and people of color. Law enforcement can use a non-exhaustive list of circumstances to subjectively determine if someone “intends” to engage in sex work, including factors such as speaking with other pedestrians, being in an area where sex work has occurred before, wearing revealing clothing, or moving in a certain way. Because current law regarding loitering is highly subjective and vague, law enforcement oﬃcers disproportionately proﬁle and target Black and Brown transgender women by stopping and arresting people for discriminatory and inappropriate reasons. This is how Black and Brown transgender women get arrested and cited for simply walking on the street. It also gives law enforcement the ability to more easily target and arrest sex workers. People in the LGBTQ, Black, and Brown communities report high rates of police misconduct throughout the United States and are disproportionately aﬀected by police violence. Transgender people who have done street-based sex work are more than twice as likely to report physical assault by police ofﬁcers and four times as likely to report sexual assault by police. A Black person is 3.5 times more likely to be shot by police than a white person. These statistics are a daily reality that transgender, Black and Brown people face and lead to mistrust
of law enforcement. SB 357 will repeal a discriminatory law that makes it a crime to loiter with the intent to engage in sex work, given that it fails to prevent street-based sex work and disproSex workers under arrest by the LASD. portionately results in (Photo courtesy County of Los Angeles) the criminalization of transgender people and communities of color. “This Pride Month, as we see a surge in violence against and harassment of the LGTBQ community, it is more important than ever to get rid of a law that targets our community,” said Wiener. “Current law essentially allows law enforcement to target and arrest people if they are wearing tight clothes or a lot of make-up. Many of those impacted by this law are Black and Brown trans women. Pride isn’t just about rainbow ﬂags and parades. It’s about protecting the most marginalized in our community. I urge Governor Newsom to sign SB 357.” “SB 357 repeals a Jim Crow law that criminalized Black and trans people in public spaces,” said Fatima Shabazz of the DecrimSexWorkCA Coalition. “We hope that the Safer Streets for All Act will help people understand how policing does not create public safety, and will immediately deprive police of one tool they use to harass and oppress folks based on race and gender,” said Ashley Madness of SWOP LA and the DecrimSexWorkCA Coalition. “Ahora nosotros nos sentimos libre de caminar en la calle sin miedo que la policia nos vaya a arrestar,” (Now we can walk free on the streets without fear of the police arresting us,”) said Lisseth Sánchez of St. James Inﬁrmary and the DecrimSexWorkCA. BRODY LEVESQUE
Caitlyn Jenner celebrates FINA ban on trans swimmers
Former Olympian and one-time California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner enraged Trans activists Monday after she tweeted her approval of the FINA vote Sunday that essentially bans Trans women from participating and competing as collegiate swimmers. “It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted Sunday after the international athletic organization announced its vote to ban trans athletes. The Swimming’s world governing body voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The ﬁnal vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.” “We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement. The organization is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty. Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past six months have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes. “We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. BRODY LEVESQUE
(Screenshot/YouTube Fox News)
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 24, 2022 • 03
Disney delays shifting 2,000 employees to Florida
The Walt Disney Company conﬁrmed to the Orlando Sentinel last week that it has delayed plans to move 2,000 of its employees to a new campus in Lake Nona, Fla. Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro originally announced the new regional campus in July 2021 that was planned to serve as a Central Florida regional hub for the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment. It is now delayed until 2026. Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler told the Orlando Sentinel that the expected opening date for the Lake Nona campus was pushed to 2026 to “give people more time” and accommodate the construction timeline for the new oﬃces. These latest developments follow escalating tensions between DeSantis and Disney CEO Bob Chapek regarding Disney’s opposition to Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, and the Florida Governor signing a bill to disband Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Located in Lake Nona, the new campus was planned to complement Disney’s operations in Southern California and its regional hub in the New York City area and be home to more than 2000 Cast, Imagineers and employees. The relocation to Florida was originally planned to be operational by the end of 2022, and has been in the planning stages since 2019. In a July 2021 memo to staﬀ, D’Amaro said, “While we are still determining exactly which of our team members will be based there, we expect that most Southern California-based DPEP professional
roles that are not fully dedicated to the Disneyland Resort or, in some cases, the international parks business, will be asked to relocate to this new Florida campus.” He continued, “Expanding our already signiﬁcant DPEP footprint in Florida makes sense. In addition to Florida’s business-friendly climate, this new regional campus gives us the opportunity to consolidate our teams and be more collaborative and impactful both from a creative and operational standpoint.” (The preceding article was previously published by the oﬃcial news website for the Walt Disney Company.)
(Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company)
Homophobic Temecula Council member rails against Pride proclamation A City Council meeting to thank the Council members for their Pride proclamation and to support the LGBTQ high school groups that were recognized was derailed when a video of City Council member Jessica Alexander was shown as a courtesy as she said that she was out sick with the ﬂu. In her recorded remarks, she espoused views that are homophobic and she referred to “sexual lifestyle” and “sexual preference” repeatedly. Then claiming her allegiance as a Christian she insisted she could not in “good faith” support the proclamation she deemed harmful and wrong. According to local media outlets, separately, she has also
targeted the local Drag Queen shows and a Drag Queen Story Hour labeling them as “grooming” and has previously made references to LGBTQ people as pedophiles. Alexander has also been accused of making racist remarks following an incident last year over a statement she made during the April 13, 2021 city council discussion on returning to in person meetings drawing a parallel between being forced to wear masks in order to meet in person and Rosa Parks making the decision to sit in the front of the bus. BRODY LEVESQUE
Anti-LGBTQ+ City Council member JESSICA ALEXANDER rants against Pride month. (Screenshot/YouTube City Council Channel)
SoCal gas prices back oﬀ from records Gas prices reversed course very slightly in the last couple of days throughout Southern California after setting new daily price records all this month and signs are pointing to steeper declines ahead, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $6.43, which is three cents higher than last week and a penny below the all-time record of $6.44 set on Tuesday. The average national price is $5.01, which is four cents higher than a week ago and also a penny below the record price on Tuesday. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $6.45 per gallon, which
is three cents higher than last week, 42 cents higher than last month, and $2.20 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $6.37, which is four cents higher than last week, 41 cents higher than last month, and $2.15 higher than last year. On the Central Coast, the average price is $6.36, which is four cents higher than last week, 41 cents higher than last month and is $2.14 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $6.32, which is four cents higher than last week, 40 cents higher than last month and $2.15 higher than a year ago. In Bakersﬁeld, the $6.37 average price is ﬁve cents more than last Thursday, 46 cents higher than last month and $2.24 higher than a year
04 • JUNE 24, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
ago today. “A very volatile week for the U.S. economy and a slight downturn in consumer demand reported by the EIA, which is likely due to record high prices, have caused a plunge of nearly 60 cents on the Los Angeles wholesale gasoline market this past week,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Hopefully that decline will soon be reﬂected in price reductions at the pump.” With almost all local gas stations charging more than $6 a gallon for regular unleaded, gas thefts have continued to victimize Southern California drivers and the resulting damage to gas tanks can cost $1,000 or more to ﬁx. FROM STAFF REPORTS
California bill to expose dangerous secrets passes Assembly Judiciary Fraud by corrupt corporations often ﬂies under the radar
By KAREN OCAMB WEST HOLLYWOOD – Political scandals capture America’s attention like the dramatic crescendo of a soap opera. But day-to-day consumer fraud by greedy, corrupt corporations that impacts the public health and safety of thousands often ﬂies under the radar, even if exposed by a lawsuit, because of secret settlement agreements and overbroad court protective orders. The Public Right to Know Act (Senate Bill 1149) by California state Senator Connie M. Leyva seeks to change that and on Tuesday, June 14, the Assembly Judiciary Committee agreed with Senate and passed SB 1149 by 7-1. “If it had been shown in court that the coﬀee you were drinking now or earlier this morning was contaminated with toxic chemicals, wouldn’t you want to know that?,” Leyva asked the committee in presenting the bill. What too often happens in cases related to defective products and environmental hazards is that the public doesn’t ﬁnd out about the harms until years later, “when many people have already been injured or even died.” SB 1149 “would prohibit factual information about dangerous public hazards from being hidden from the public through overly broad court protective orders and agreements to keep information about dangers a secret.” In an open society, “court records are presumptively open to public inspection,” Leyva noted. “Secrecy is sometimes necessary to protect personal information or legitimate trade secrets — but is grossly inappropriate when it clearly keeps information about ongoing dangers from the public. In very real way, it can threaten their health, safety and even their lives.” Leyva oﬀered several examples, including how Purdue Pharma “told outright lies for many years regarding the safe dosage levels and likelihood of addiction from OxyContin, which ultimately killed hundreds of thousands of people.” Public Justice is co-sponsoring SB 1149 with Consumer Reports and oﬀered two witnesses to attest to the importance of the bill. Richard Zitrin, a former trial attorney and Professor Emeritus at UC Hastings, appeared via phone on behalf of Public Justice and Lori Andrus called in on behalf of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Zitrin, an expert in legal ethics, got right to the point. “It is simply wrong for lawyers or judges to be complicit in keeping things secret where the public dies as a result,” Zitrin said. “Over 12 judges over the period of 15 years entered protective orders to keep information that was revealed about OxyContin secret in those court proceedings,” a point he emphasized in testimony before the Senate Judiciary last April. Zitrin also testiﬁed that Bayer, the company that bought the permanent birth control device Essure, kept problems with the device secret for 12 years. Maggie Stroud, 48, married with two adult children in the Bay Area, had to learn about the cause of her pain from an Essure users group on Facebook. “Around 2010, when I was 36 years old, my husband
and I decided not to have any more children — so I looked for a permanent method of birth control. I did my research, asked questions about this non-surgical birth control device, was told I would be ﬁne and decided to go ahead with the procedure,” Shroud told Public Justice. “It was the worst experience I’ve ever had. The device was a small metal coil that was implanted in my fallopian tubes. I was awake the whole time — in such terrible pain, I almost passed out. After the devices were implanted, my life started falling apart. First, I had this woozy, rocking feeling. It really freaked me out. Then my scoliosis back pain got really bad and my migraines more Essure birth control devices. (Screenshot/KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas) intense. I was in constant pain,” and no likely due to the nickel that was a component in the coils. one knew why. Roughly 5% of the population is allergic to nickel. Many of A coworker told Stroud about a Facebook page for peothese women also documented heavy bleeding — some ple who’d had the implant. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m not said like a horror movie — and severe cramping in an uncrazy!’” she said. Stroud ﬁnally found an OBGYN who would usual and abnormal aspect. To remove these devices, my remove the devices through a total abdominal hysterectoclients and these other women had to undergo partial or my, which caused the-then 42-year-old to go through comtotal hysterectomies. Many of these women were in their plete menopause. early 30s when they began to experience menopause after “But,” said Stroud, “I got my life back! Had I known what these premature hysterectomies.” I could possibly go through, I absolutely would have not Zitrin testiﬁed that 67,000 complaints were made by gotten the device. We’re not science experiments. We’re women to the FDA with 27,000 lawsuits consolidated into humans and we have the right to know what’s going into one case in Alameda County where the court issued a proour body so that we can make our own choices based on tective order. “The protective order, as most of these profacts. We need the Public Right to Know Act to get the truth tective orders do, allowed the defendant to self-select what we deserve.” items could be conﬁdential,” Zitrin said. Bayer “self-selectThe room fell chillingly silent as Andrus, a lawyer who ed 97.7% of all of the 900,000 documents in this case to for 20 years has represented people injured by dangerous be conﬁdential when it should have been limited only to pharmaceuticals and ﬂawed medical devices, testiﬁed how those things that are corporate proprietary information Essure marketed the devices as “safer and less intrusive and trade secrets.” The case was settled with all but 200 than having a tubal ligation surgery.” Dozens of her clients documents remaining secret. joined thousands of other women in bringing civil lawsuits “(SB) 1149 is a big change in the law. There’s no question in California’s courts beginning in 2015. about it,” said Zitrin. “But it is necessary to save lives.” “The devices consisted of two small metal coils, one to be Following the opposition from business groups, Assemplaced in each fallopian tube. The devices were designed bly Judiciary Committee Chair Mark Stone rejected the to cause inﬂammation and to prompt scar tissue to form feigned arguments they advanced. “The case that they rearound the coils in the women’s abdomen, thus blocking ally want to make is that the consumer protection laws are sperm from reaching her ovaries. The women who ﬁled there to compensate for injury, which means that they’re suit alleged multiple problems with these devices. The not a deterrent and they’re not preventative of injuries. devices could break. They could perforate the fallopian That is just inhumane,” said Stone. “And it’s just astonishtube. They could migrate around the abdomen. They could ing to me to think of defects and environmental hazards puncture and become lodged in nearby organs. They could being considered trade secrets. None of the companies I also result in ectopic pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy is have ever worked for would’ve considered such as trade where the fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. That secrets. But yet, in this context, the whole current way that can cause the death of the mother. It’s a terrible event and the opposition want to construct the consumer protection it should be avoided,” Andrus said. law would mean that defects are part of someone’s trade “Terrible pain at the site was another common eﬀect that secrets. That is kind of astonishing to me.” these women alleged in their lawsuits and also pain during SB 1149 now heads to the full Assembly for a vote. intercourse,” Andrus continued. “They alleged skin rashes LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 24, 2022 • 05
AHF urges outreach, education around monkeypox
During a press conference Monday, representatives from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urged public health oﬃcials and other healthcare stakeholders to ramp up educational and outreach eﬀorts to slow the current rates of the monkeypox virus transmission. “Our hope is this [monkeypox outbreak] is a passing issue, not something that’s ultimately a great cause for alarm and concern,” AHF President Michael Weinstein said. “But it’s better [to be] safe than sorry.” Weinstein, joined by the organization’s Interim National Director of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Stuart Burstin, and its West Coast Regional Director of Internal Medicine, Dr. Carl Millner, stressed the importance of minimizing community spread through measures that can reduce the likelihood of exposure to monkeypox. These measures, they said, include avoiding skin-to-skin contact with individuals who are known to have an active infection or who were previously infected but may still carry a risk of transmitting the virus. Weinstein and Burstin both pointed to public health experts’ calls for patients who are recovering from monkeypox to use condoms during all sexual activity for at least 12 weeks, pursuant to guidelines from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) that were last updated June 17. As the virus can also be spread by exposure to bedding and clothing that has been contaminated by infected persons, contact with these items should also be avoided wherever possible, Burstin said. “We can reduce [the risk of transmission] by behavioral means,” Burstin said. “What we have to do is to educate people so that the risk remains low to zero,” he said. “If that
DR. CARL MILLNER
(Screenshot/Press brieﬁng June 20, 2022 AHF)
fails, there’s vaccination and therapy.” Infections are currently concentrated in Europe: the U.K. has reported 524 cases, and Spain, Germany, Portugal, and France have reported 313,303, 241, and 183 cases respectively. Many of the infections in Europe and the Americas can be traced back to events where gay men gathered — speciﬁcally a LGBTQ+ fetish festival in Belgium and a Pride event in the Canary Islands. No deaths have been reported, and most monkeypox cases are mild — symptoms include rashes, initial ﬂu-like symptoms, and lesions or sores. Men, particularly gay men, and men who have sex with men (MSM), have been disproportionately represented in the clusters of cases documented. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there have been 113 conﬁrmed cases in the U.S. Burstin said that ﬁgure is probably far lower than the num-
ber of actual cases, as the signiﬁcant overlap in symptoms caused by monkeypox with those caused by other illnesses, including COVID-19, raises the likelihood of underreporting and misdiagnoses. Millner said it can even be easy to miss the prototypical rash that develops with monkeypox infections, which he described as a lesion or multiple lesions that usually appear on the hands, mouth, feet and genitals. These are often, and reasonably, misidentiﬁed as pimples, infected hair follicles, or – especially when located on or near the genitals – blisters caused by sexually transmitted diseases like herpes or syphilis. Burstin said that while monkeypox can, in rare cases, cause serious and even life-threatening symptoms, the disease has a low case fatality rate, around one percent. Plus, he said, the possibility that future variants may be deadlier or more contagious appears to be slim, given what epidemiologists have learned about the widely studied and now eradicated but closely related smallpox virus. There are vaccinations and treatments available for monkeypox, Burstin said, which are reserved for cases of serious illness and for populations deemed high-risk, which include pregnant women, young children, the elderly and the immunocompromised. Instead of mass vaccination campaigns, public health experts say immunizations should be administered based on assessments of patients’ risk of becoming seriously ill. For those deemed eligible, if given within the ﬁrst four days after contracting the virus, vaccines can reduce the number and severity of symptoms, Burstin said. CHRISTOPHER KANE
Monkeypox cases rise amid calls for vaccine equity
As of June 16, 2,166 cases of monkeypox have been recorded globally, spanning 37 countries, including places where it is not usually seen. The United States currently has 100 recorded cases of monkeypox — California, New York, and Illinois are hot spots with 21, 17, and 13 cases respectively. According to the CDC’s latest report, most of the reported cases have occurred in men who have sex with men, but monkeypox can be transmitted to anyone who has had close skinto-skin contact with an infected person. Although cases are currently concentrated in gay and bisexual men, Kyle Knight, senior LGBT and health researcher at Human Rights Watch, stressed the importance of managing the outbreak without stigmatizing gay men — or deepening the divide between wealthy and poor countries. “Whether it’s lessons drawn from HIV, COVID-19, or other public health issues, it is essential to place human rights at the center of the response to infectious disease outbreaks,” Knight said, in a statement. In an email to the Blade, Dr. Sarah Henn, Chief Health Oﬃcer for Whitman-Walker Health, reiterated the need to spread awareness of monkeypox within the LGBTQ community while simultaneously eradicating stigma. “When dealing with an outbreak of any infection it is important to recognize risk factors for infection and speciﬁc communities where the infection is being seen. This must be done without stigmatizing those aﬀected. This is the delicate balance that public health authorities are currently trying to walk
with the outbreak of monkeypox. There is nothing intrinsic to the monkeypox virus that makes it a sexually transmitted infection, but it is transmitted by close skin to skin contact with the pox lesions, which obviously sexual intimacy involves,” she said. “People in the queer community need to know what to look for and understand what the potential risks are to their own health. We want to empower the community to help control the outbreak and protect themselves from possible infection without creating stigma or unnecessary fear.” In addition to its prevalence among gay and bisexual men, monkeypox has a history of unequal treatment options in poorer countries. While some wealthy countries have stockpiles of the smallpox vaccine leftover from when the disease was eradicated in the 1980s, the vaccine — which is eﬀective against monkeypox — is currently unavailable on the entire continent of Africa, where monkeypox is an endemic disease. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization, (WHO) regional director for Africa, advocated for a uniﬁed global approach that includes vaccine equity. “We must avoid having two diﬀerent responses to monkeypox – one for Western countries which are only now experiencing signiﬁcant transmission and another for Africa,” Moeti said. “We must work together and have joined-up global actions which include Africa’s experience, expertise and needs.” In countries such as the U.S. and Canada, “ring vaccinations” are being used to prevent outbreaks, in which close contacts of
06 • JUNE 24, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
infected people are given a smallpox vaccine within four days of exposure. This approach prevents serious infection and reduces the risk of further spread, but in places where smallpox vaccines are not readily available, it is not an option. In Chicago, where the state of Illinois’s monkeypox cases are concentrated, oﬃcials are also focusing on providing information about prevention and safer sex to gay and bisexual men. With the San Francisco and New York Prides happening this weekend — the country’s two largest — the future of monkeypox outbreaks in the U.S. appears uncertain. Guidance from the Chicago Department of Public Health encourages people attending “festivals or other summer events” to be mindful of skin-to-skin contact, get tested for monkeypox if exposed, and monitor for symptoms after exposure. Additionally, the CDPH has printed cards with links to the CDC health tips for gay and bisexual men, for organizers to hand out at events. In Washington D.C., the outbreak is currently smaller — four cases to Chicago’s seven — but oﬃcials are still taking preventative measures to diagnose and treat the illness. “As of today, four cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed within the District of Columbia,” Dr. Henn said. “We are working closely with DC Health to screen people for monkeypox who are presenting with rashes that could possibly represent infection and have been coordinating with the city around vaccination of those who have been exposed to a diagnosed case.” CARIS WHITE
Prevent HIV with pride. @StopHIVTogether • @StartTalkingHIV @CDCHIV • @StartTalkingHIV @CDC_HIV
There are many options to prevent HIV. Choose the method that works for you. LEARN MORE AT CDC.GOV/STOPHIVTOGETHER
Texas GOP snubs Log Cabin: shortsighted mistake or sign of things to come? Party declares, ‘homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice’
With the Texas GOP denying a booth at its convention to Log Cabin Republicans, condemning homosexuality as “abnormal” and repudiating transgender identities — as well as its continued refusal to accept President Biden’s election as legitimate — the resulting fallout has observers wondering if the imbroglio represents the past or the future of the Republican Party. The Texas Republican Party delivered its full-throated rejection of LGBTQ people — including LGBTQ people who have aligned themselves with the Republican Party and former President Trump — as an oﬃcial position in the state party platform drafted at a convention in Houston last weekend, which also includes a rejection of the 2020 election results and the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibiting discrimination against Black voters. Also at the convention, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was booed as he spoke for being part of the bipartisan working group that drafted the gun control agreement now moving through Congress in the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. “Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice,” the Texas GOP platform says. “We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin, and we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.” Additionally, the platform rejects “all eﬀorts to validate transgender identity” at a time when states are moving forward with measures banning transgender youth from competing in school sports and instituting criminal penalties for medical providers providing transition-related care to minors. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has declared transition-related care for youth a form of child abuse and has ordered state agencies to investigate the parents of children receiving such care. Cal Jillson, a political scientist who studies Texas politics at Southern Methodist University, said in an interview with the Blade the Texas Republican Party adopted these positions because “it’s the base of the base of the base” drafting them through a series of party and precinct meetings on the way up to the state convention. “Many state parties have decided no longer to produce platforms in their conventions, because this happens all the time,” Jillson added. “You’ve got these deeply, ideologically committed conservatives who approve a platform that then asked to be explained away by candidates and others. So many state parties just say we’re not going to do a platform because we don’t want to go through this shit.” The Texas Republican Party’s denial of booth space at the convention for the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas came despite the group’s commitment to conservative principles — even the repudiation of gender ideology and the Equality Act — and continued defense of President Trump as the ﬁrst Republican president who was a gay ally. Charles Moran, president of Log Cabin Republicans, urged the state party in a statement to look at the special election results in Texas last week — which saw the election to a congressional seat of Maya Flores, a Mexico-born Texas Hispanic woman and Republican — as the better alternative for the party. “Texas Republicans just saw on Tuesday night what happens when the party includes new faces and voices – a Demo-
By CHRIS JOHNSON | email@example.com
Texas Gov. GREG ABBOTT has declared transition-related care for youth a form of child abuse.
crat-held seat was ﬂipped for the ﬁrst time in nearly a hundred years by a conservative Mexican woman,” Moran said. “It’s clear that inclusion wins, which makes the Texas Republican Party leadership’s decision to exclude the Texas Log Cabin Republicans from their convention not just narrow-minded, but politically short-sighted.” It’s not the ﬁrst time the Texas Republican Party has excluded Log Cabin Republicans from the convention. According to the Log Cabin Republicans, the Texas GOP has not allowed Log Cabin Republicans to have a booth in years. “So what’s going now isn’t a change from anything....just a continuation,” Moran told the Blade. “The only diﬀerence is now the media is actually paying attention to it.” The exclusion this year, however, has inspired commentary on both sides as Democratic opponents crow the situation is perfectly emblematic of a political party with an anti-LGBTQ history and reputation and Republicans call it an isolated incident in a party that has evolved in its approach as recent polls show marriage equality — a once unpopular idea within the GOP — now has majority support among Republicans. Charlotte Clymer, a Democratic transgender activist, wrote on Twitter the exclusion of Log Cabin from the Texas Republican convention is not unexpected. “Watching Log Cabin Republicans be denied access at the Texas Republican Convention is like if cows were incredulous over their applications being rejected by the butcher,” Clymer wrote. Donald Trump Jr, who has become a leading ﬁgure in the conservative movement amid the rise of his father as a political ﬁgure and has become closely aligned with Richard Grenell, who after being the face of LGBTQ outreach under President Trump has become a star in right-wing media, was among those condemning the exclusion. “The Texas GOP should focus its energy on ﬁghting back against the radical Democrats and weak RINOs currently trying to legislate our 2nd Amendment rights away, instead of canceling a group of gay conservatives who are standing in the breach with us,” Trump Jr. told conservative outlet Breitbart. The Texas Republican Party didn’t respond Wednesday to the Blade’s request for comment. The rebuke of the Texas Republican Party appears to have its own opponents within Log Cabin. On Wednesday, Michael Cargill, acting chairman of Log Cabin Texas, announced in a
08 • JUNE 24, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
statement posted to local chapter’s website he’s resigning from the board and as acting chairman, citing “DC and California LCR members inexplicably interceding in Texas aﬀairs and trying to pointlessly bully the Texas GOP.” Log Cabin Republicans of Texas was due to have a booth at the convention by “at best 2022 and worst-case scenario 2024.” “If the Log Cabin Republicans continue down a path of divisiveness, lack of respect for the chain of command and due process, bully tactics, lack of cohesion and unwillingness to work with all chapter and state LCR leaders in the organization, the state leadership will lose its diverse composition, and its ability to lead with credibility and a uniﬁed purpose,” Cargill said. Additionally, Cargill said David Garza, vice president of Log Cabin Republicans Austin, and Mimi Planas, president of Log Cabin Republicans San Antonio, are also resigning from the Texas board. Further, Cargill writes “neither the Austin nor San Antonio chapters will be sending representatives to the Texas Board.” Cargill via an email sent to Log Cabin Republicans of Texas didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment on what he meant by D.C. and California Log Cabin members “inexplicably interceding in Texas aﬀairs and trying to pointlessly bully the Texas GOP.” Moran, asked by the Blade to respond to the announced resignation, downplayed the departure as an acting leader within Log Cabin’s chapter system making an exit based on his temporary status. “From my understanding, Mr. Cargill was serving in the role only in a temporary capacity, so his resignation comes as no surprise,” Moran said. “Our Texas board represents the 5 chapters in the state and state oﬃcers serve at the pleasure of those state boards.” Brad Polumbo, a gay libertarian commentator, wrote in a column for the conservative Washington Examiner the exclusion of Log Cabin is at odds with the values of liberty and individual freedom within the Republican Party, which “should have room in its tent for both religious conservatives with traditional views on homosexuality and gay Republicans.” “[A] political party’s job is to win elections, and the Texas GOP is openly rejecting a group that wants to support them, agrees with them on most issues, and wants to defeat the Democrats, all because they can’t stomach the thought of having gay people in their party,” Polumbo writes. “I wonder how that will play out with LGBT voters in the next state election? Jillson predicted the exclusionary approach by Texas Republicans to LGBTQ people within their own party and LGBTQ issues would continue until they suﬀer losses at the ballot box, which hasn’t happened in years and would likely not happen in the near future with Republicans expected to win in the congressional mid-term elections. “The Republicans who attend the state conventions are a yesteryear group, even in the Republican primary electorate, which is pretty far to the right,” Jillson said. “And they select the Republican candidates that then go on to defeat the Democratic candidates and statewide elections. So until that stops happening, the Republican Party is not going to look to the middle and say, ‘Oh, sorry. We’ve been ignoring you guys. What is it that you wanted?’ And they just don’t need to do that now.”
Democrats reintroduce ‘lavender scare’ ﬁrings review bill Three Democratic lawmakers last week introduced a bill that seeks to rectify the harm caused to LGBTQ federal government employees who were ﬁred during the so-called “lavender scare.” “Today, as the United States confronts renewed threats to LGBTQI+ rights at home and abroad, we need to remember the far-reaching consequences of institutionalized homophobia,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) in the statement that announced he and U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.) introduced the Lavender Oﬀense Victim Exoneration (LOVE) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. “The so-called ‘lavender scare’ handed power to blackmailers and homophobes, stripped thousands of hard-working Americans of their jobs, and weakened our national security.” The ‘lavender scare,’ as it was called, saw the ﬁring of thousands of gay employees throughout the federal government — particularly the State Department — from the 1940s to the 1960s as anti-communist sentiment raised suspicion toward certain minority groups in multiple spheres of American society. The LOVE Act has been introduced in previous Congresses, including in both 2019 and 2020. While the bill in 2020 was also authored by Castro and Cicilline, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the 2019 measure.
“It is long past time for the U.S. government to recognize the stories of the LGBTQI members of the State Department who were treated unfairly during the ‘lavender scare,’ and to oﬀer them and their families a measure of justice,” Menendez said in a statement after introducing the 2019 bill. In addressing what its sponsors identiﬁed as harm done to the LGBTQ community as a result of the ‘lavender scare,’ the newest LOVE Act proposes measures to be implemented within the State Department similar to those in previous forms of the bill. Among its provisions, the bill would mandate the investigation of cases of those in the State Department targeted by the ‘lavender scare’ decades ago. In addition, the legislation would require the creation of an Advancement Board within the State Department to aid LGBTQ diplomats and their spouses both within the department as well as in their interactions with foreign countries. On the congressional front, the bill would call for Congress to issue a formal apology for the role it played in the propagation of the ‘lavender scare.’ Subsequent bans on employment under the federal government for members of the LGBTQ community have made resurgences in the decades since the ‘lavender scare.’ The Obama administration in 2016 ended a ban on transgender Americans serving in the military that had been in
U.S. Rep. JOAQUÍN CASTRO (D-Texas) speaks at an LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. (Blade photo by Michael Key)
place since the 1960s. The Trump administration reinstated the policy, but President Biden again reversed the ban within days of his inauguration. Castro framed the proposed legislation as an important step toward both ensuring reparation for the events of the ‘lavender scare’ as well as preventing such discrimination from occurring in the future. JOSH ALBURTUS
Former GOP lawmakers call for Equality Act passage
In a letter addressed Tuesday to party leaders on Capitol Hill, 11 former Republican members of Congress urged federal lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination legislation to protect members of the LGBTQ community. Former U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.), Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.), Chris Shays (R-Conn.) and Steve Gunderson (R-Wis.) all signed the letter. “The status quo is not working for LGBTQ Americans nor is it emblematic of our country’s founding values of freedom, fairness, and equality,” the signatories wrote in the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Ros-Lehtinen told the Blade that supporting and urging the passage of nondiscrimination legislation was “the right action to take.” “That is why I am so proud to have spearheaded this letter, signed by 10 other former Republican members of Congress, encouraging lawmakers to pass this bill so that discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community will be a thing of the past,” Ros-Lehtinen said. The Equality Act has been introduced in Congress multiple times dating back to the 1970s. Its latest iteration was introduced by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) in early 2021 and was later passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. “Equality is a founding principle of our country, and everyone knows discrimination is wrong,” Cicilline told the Blade. “I introduced the Equality Act to guarantee that every LGBTQ+ American would be protected from discrimination in all as-
Former U.S. Rep. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-Fla.) (Blade photo by Michael Key)
pects of our lives. With so much anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed and even passed in some state legislatures across the country, we must pass the Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community once and for all.” The current form of the legislation would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in a number of diﬀerent areas including public accommodations, employment, housing and education. The bill has now awaited a vote in the U.S. Senate for nearly 16 months, where many see it as unlikely that the bill would be able to garner the 60 votes needed to withstand a potential ﬁlibuster and subsequent failure to move forward for President Biden to sign. In lieu of federal legislation, the president has taken alternative, executive steps to codify LGBTQ protections into areas under his jurisdiction. Last Wednesday, President Biden held an event at the White House where he signed an executive order aimed at combatting discrimination against the LGBTQ community. “As President Biden said during his ﬁrst joint address to Con-
gress, the president has the back of LGBTQI+ people across the country,” the White House said in a statement marking the signing that took place during a Pride month event. “That is why he [is] taking these bold actions and continuing to ﬁght for full equality for every American — including urging Congress pass the Equality Act and provide overdue civil rights projections for LGBTQI+ people.” The president’s executive order took aim at the continued practice of so-called conversion therapy and hundreds of discriminatory state laws passed in the last year. The order tasked entities under his command, such as the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, with combatting such legislation and harmful practices. LGBTQ nondiscrimination advocates have similarly been able to make strides in certain areas in recent years without the Equality Act. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County in 2020 ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was illegal in employment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, multiple states still permit such discrimination in areas outside of employment. Ros-Lehtinen described how she believes passing comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation would make fairness and equity in all states a reality. “The sad truth is that in our wonderful nation, it is still permissible to discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We need federal protections and not a patchwork of state laws that may or may not grant protection from this unfair discrimination. I urge the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act which will grant this protection.” JOSH ALBURTUS & MICHAEL K. LAVERS
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 24, 2022 • 09
Blinken pledges U.S. support for LGBTQ rights, Griner’s release State Department holds ﬁrst roundtable with queer journalists
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week reiterated the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights around the world is a key element of U.S. foreign policy. “We are determined, starting with our boss, the president, that the United States be a champion for these rights around the world and a defender of the rights when they are under siege,” said Blinken on Wednesday during a roundtable with six LGBTQ and intersex reporters at the State Department. “Unfortunately, this is something that we see, you know very well, to be the case all too often in all too many places: Basic human rights, out of reach, under threat, active rollback in many places. And for that reason we try to focus all of our missions in our embassies as well as the senior oﬃcials here on the challenges that we see.” The Washington Blade was among the media outlets the State Department invited to the roundtable, which was the ﬁrst time a secretary of state sat down with a group of LGBTQ and intersex journalists during Pride month. Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad, and State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who is gay, are among those who attended the roundtable with Blinken. The roundtable took place a day after a Russian court once again extended the detention of Brittney Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist who is a lesbian and married. The State Department has determined that Russia “wrongfully detained” Griner at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February after customs inspectors allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage. Blinken on May 14 spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner. Oﬃcials with the State Department’s Oﬃce of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Aﬀairs and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Aﬀairs on Monday met with Griner’s teammates to discuss her detention and eﬀorts to secure her release. “We’re very much engaged with them,” said Blinken. He added the State Department is “very focused” on securing Griner’s release. “We are determined to bring her home along with Paul (Whelan, an American citizen who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia after a court convicted him of spying) and for that matter, any and every American who is being unjustly detained anywhere in the world,” said Blinken. “It’s something that I am personally focused on, and I want to leave it at that because it is obviously an ongoing issue. But just know that this is a matter of intense focus for us.” Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who had been in a Russian custody since 2019, returned to the U.S. in late April after the Kremlin released him in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian citizen who had been in an American prison on drug traﬃcking charges. “We are working day and night relentlessly to bring Brittney, to bring Paul home, to bring every American who’s unjustly detained around the world,” said Price. Price further described the decision to extend Griner’s detention through at least July 2 as “an injustice on top of
By MICHAEL K. LAVERS | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Washington Blade attended a roundtable with LGBTQ and intersex reporters at the State Department on June 15. (Photo courtesy of Ronny Przysucha/State Department)
broader injustice.” “She should be released,” said Price. Griner was supposed to have her ﬁrst phone call with her wife on Monday, the couple’s anniversary. But Cherelle Griner told the AP that the 11 attempted calls went unanswered at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. A State Department spokesperson said they “deeply regret that Brittney Griner was unable to speak with her wife because of a logistical error.” It turns out the number Brittney Griner had been given to call is not answered on weekends.
LGBTQI rights part of ‘eﬀorts to defend democracy’ President Biden in February 2021 signed a memo that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad as part of his administration’s overall foreign policy. The White House four months later appointed Stern, who was previously the executive director of OutRight Action International. Blinken noted the State Department in April began to issue passports with “X” gender markers. Blinken also highlighted the U.N. General Assembly’s adoption of a free elections resolution last November that speciﬁcally includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Price during a May 2021 interview with the Blade said the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations is one of the Biden administration’s ﬁve priorities in its eﬀorts to promote LGBTQ and intersex rights around the world. Stern recently noted “among a wider set of priorities, marriage equality is one element of our longstanding and ongoing commitment to advance the rights of LGBTQI+ persons.” Blinken during the roundtable said U.S. eﬀorts to promote LGBTQ and intersex rights around the world are “attached to our own eﬀorts to defend democracy and human rights around the world.” “This is a deadly serious time around the world,” said Blinken. “And in some ways whether or not the rights of this community remain protected or defended and advanced or whether they are being increasingly trampled on is the canary in the coal mine because we know as go
10 • JUNE 24, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
the rights of critical groups, ultimately so goes everyone, so that’s another reason we’ve got to be so attentive to this.” “If threats, acts, violence, repressive repression, laws are being increasingly wielded against the LGBTQ community, then you can almost bet that that’s going to be expanded to other groups, other communities,” he added. “It’s indicative of an even larger problem.” The roundtable took place two days after the White House announced Biden would travel to Saudi Arabia in July. The kingdom is among the handful of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain punishable by death. “The president will be bringing up rights issues across the board when he’s in Saudi Arabia, as he does in any country where we have or he has concerns,” said Blinken in response to the Blade’s question about the trip. “As he said the other day, his views on human rights have not changed. The challenge, and I think the responsibility that we have, is to make sure that we are most eﬀectively advancing the issues of values of this country.” Blinken said the U.S. welcomes the Saudi government’s eﬀorts to combat extremism — 15 of the 19 men who carried out the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks were Saudi citizens — and to counter Iran’s inﬂuence in the Middle East. Blinken also noted the country’s role in the continued ceaseﬁre in Yemen. “We have an opportunity … to maybe have something enduring in terms of the longer lasting cease ﬁre and peace negotiations that profoundly advances our values, as well as our interests in putting in the rights of people of all kinds in Yemen who’ve been suﬀering terribly,” he said. “At the same time, we have been very determined from day one to recalibrate the relationship, not rupture it, recalibrate, because we had concerns that it wasn’t as eﬀectively as it could be advancing our own interests and our own values,” added Blinken. “So, we took the time to do that.” Blinken noted the State Department has used the “Khashoggi Ban” — named after Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018 — to sanction more than 70 Saudi citizens and others who have targeted journalists, government critics and others in a third country. Blinken also told the Blade that he raises “individual cases where we have concerns, as well as systemic challenges” with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud during their meetings. “We have a real engagement on these issues,” said Blinken. “We’ve also seen some positive steps on individual cases, but there are also systemic challenges.” “It’s a long way of saying that there are complex issues,” he added. “Human rights, including LGBTQI rights, are something that is central to our foreign policy, but it’s not the totality of it. And everything has to be reﬂected in what we do and we have to make a judgment, which may be right or may be wrong, about what is the most eﬀective way to advance these issues in this agenda.” Blinken told the Blade that he is “quite conﬁdent that everything I’ve just said to you will be reﬂected in what the president does and says when he’s in Saudi Arabia.”
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Troy Masters is publisher of the Los Angeles Blade.
The politics of Monkeypox
Be vigilant against thugs and bullies as we confront another disease Be vigilant. Donald Trump’s confederacy of thugs have disrupted and threatened violence at Pride events across America nearly a dozen times in recent weeks — as if the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub and the proud MAGA insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 weren’t enough. They are aided and abetted by an army of “Christian” spinmeisters who are always asserting anti-LGBTQ+ allegations to inspire hostility and denigrate the very idea of LGBTQ+ Pride and equality. Just look at their inhumane attacks on trans kids. Would Jesus do that? And now there’s Monkeypox. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been sounding alarms and ﬂashing red lights about the growing health emergency. The CDC reports: “Monkeypox spreads through direct contact with body ﬂuids or sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox, or with direct contact with materials that have touched body ﬂuids or sores, such as clothing or linens. It may also spread through respiratory secretions when people have close, face-to-face contact. In the current monkeypox outbreak, we know that those with disease generally describe close, sustained physical contact with other people who are infected with the virus. We continue to study other possible modes of transmission, such as through semen.” And there, so to speak, is the rub. The spectre of a pox on gay men is irresistible fodder for our enemies to produce stigma and ugly propaganda. A new “gay plague” is a wet dream for the Proud Boys who disrupted a Drag Queens Story Hour and more intersectional reason for white nationalist groups like the Patriot Front to riot at Pride events in the name of curing the disease. We’ve heard this before. “The poor homosexuals — they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution,” infamous anti-gay commentator Patrick Buchanan wrote May 24, 1983 in the New York Post. Moral Majority pitchman Rev. Jerry Falwell debated MCC founder and prominent gay activist Rev. Troy Perry on whether AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuality. Hell, no, wrote MCC Rev. Stephen Pieters (famously interviewed by evangelical Tammy Fay Bakker) in The Body: “The idea that HIV/AIDS is a punishment from God is based on three faulty assumptions: that homosexual acts are sinful, that God causes suﬀering, and that God punishes sin with disease. These false assumptions result from a particular way of looking at society, sexuality, and how God works in the world.” So steel yourself for the disgusting slings and arrows about to be shot our way as scapegoats in the culture war over Monkeypox. But we’ve been here before, too. In the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS was called G.R.I.D. (Gay-Related Immune Deﬁciency). Before the self-empowerment movement conceived and publicized by Michael Callen, Richard Berkowitz and Dr. Joseph Sonnabend and before the Denver Principles ignited the power of organizing, people with AIDS were called “victims” at the mercy of intentionally ignorant government 12 • JUNE 24, 2022 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
bureaucrats. ACT UP brought self-empowerment to the streets and into the newsrooms and living rooms of everyday people. If Monkeypox is used as a cudgel against the community of men who have sex with men (MSM), it will be time to ACT UP and ﬁght again. So, here’s what you need to know to protect yourself against the Monkeypox virus, which is rarely deadly, but nonetheless seriously unpleasant: The illness begins with: fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. Lesions progress over 2-4 weeks into unsightly scabs before simply falling oﬀ, producing some scaring. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease but death rates in the recent European and American outbreak have so far been zero. This is not a gay disease nor is it a sex-panic but it is hitting our community hard and we must protect ourselves and each other. And that means educating ourselves and asking questions. For instance, PReP, which is a hugely successful and lifesaving drug that prevents transmission of HIV, does nothing at all to protect against Monkeypox, which can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact by hugging or even sharing the clothes of someone with the virus. One huge diﬀerence between now and the old AIDS days is that now the government is trying hard to work with us. That may change in November if Trump’s Republicans take over Congress. And it’s not just federal. Today, most LGBTQ protections are through some federal laws and policies but most are through a patchwork of state and local laws that are being undermined rapidly by a right-wing attempting to destroy the gains we have made. Surely, by now you’ve heard how we’re “groomers,” a spooky 1950s term that means pedophile. Soon we’ll once again be “diseased pariahs.” So what should the community, the business and institutions that serve us do? Be proactive. Grindr, Sniﬃes and Scruﬀ and in-person sex businesses should not only promote safer sex practices but link to credible CDC/WHO information about monkeypox, including the risk of contracting the disease. Community organizations and healthcare agencies should add a monkeypox section on their website and take the lead on promoting information about how to protect ourselves. Social media companies have a particular responsibility to prevent disinformation and I call in them to monitor Monkeypox conversations to reduce misinformation. But here’s the most important thing: I call on you to ﬁght back and be vigilant against political thugs and bullies, to care for yourself, for your partners, friends, neighbors – and, as a critical precaution — keep your monkey paws wrapped before you serve it up. We can get through this if we empower ourselves and take care of each other, again.
V O L U M E 06 I S S U E 25
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is a Navy veteran and the CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Celebrating Pride within the military Advancing equality and inclusivity
Discrimination weakens us and when it exists within a community like the military, where its members constantly rely on each other to survive, it is particularly destructive. As a Black man and veteran, I have ﬁrst-hand experience of the very real and prevalent discrimination that exists within our military. But racism is just one type of prejudice the military community is grappling with; LGBTQ+ discrimination is another. Last Pride month, I called upon fellow Americans to consider each individual’s role in helping champion and support long-awaited change for LGBTQ+ servicemembers and veterans. Now, almost exactly a year later, the progress we’ve seen is minimal at best. Out of a veteran population of 19 million, an estimated 1 million U.S. veterans identify as LGBTQ+. Yet, in spite of their signiﬁcant presence, LGBTQ+ veterans continue to face unequal treatment, blatant discrimination, and a far greater number of obstacles than their nonLGBTQ+ counterparts. Throughout the history of the military, an estimated 100,000 LGBTQ+ servicemembers have been discharged from service simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. At least 14,000 of them were discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. These other-than-honorable discharges have caused countless servicemembers to confront unprecedented and life-altering losses, many of them are still dealing with the ramiﬁcations today. An other-than-honorable discharge is more than just a job loss. Its eﬀects can compound further into a series of negative consequences far beyond the discharge itself. Those who are forced to leave the military under such circumstances are not likely to be allowed to re-enlist in the Armed Forces or reserves. Bad paper discharges also hamper future employment opportunities for LGBTQ+ veterans, particularly in the government. This signiﬁcantly aﬀects the ﬁnancial security and the overall career trajectory of many. The direct impacts of these discharges, as well as the constant burden placed on LGBTQ+ veterans to avoid them, have led to horrible health consequences for too many. Ex-servicemembers who were forced out of the military under DADT have reported debilitating mental health issues, including depression and trauma disorders. Thus, it is no surprise, that DADT has left a legacy of high suicide attempt rates (15 times higher than veterans overall) among LGBTQ+ veterans. Other than honorable discharges under DADT also led to housing instability among
LGBTQ+ veterans. Often ineligible for housing vouchers aﬀorded to other veterans, coupled with ﬁnancial insecurity, many LGBTQ+ veterans have experienced homelessness. Long after the DADT repeal, LGBTQ+ veterans are still struggling with homelessness LGBTQ+ servicemembers today have inherited major burdens from the era of DADT and even earlier. They are still less likely than non-LGBTQ+ active-duty servicemembers to report that they are currently covered by any form of health insurance, less likely to report owning a home, and are four times more likely to report an overall ﬁnancial diﬃculty getting by. COVID-19 has only ampliﬁed the dangers faced by at-risk veterans over the past two years. My organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s comprehensive care program, the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), has seen a nearly 500% increase in veterans reaching out for help since the start of the pandemic. 72% of the outreach included veterans seeking support for mental health needs, economic insecurity, homelessness, or a combination of those issues. Our nation has failed to protect those who dedicated their lives to protect others. So how do we push for change? Passing the Equality Act into law is certainly a start. The bill aims to expand federal civil rights protections and prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support, and advocates are pushing for a vote in the Senate in the coming months. In addition to the Equality Act, Congress must work to include the proposed “Truman Amendment” to the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment aims to ensure that eligibility for service in the military is not inﬂuenced by race, color, national origin, religion, or sex (including gender identity, sex characteristics, or sexual orientation) of an individual. Such non-discrimination policies, while signiﬁcant on their own, are limited in their application and enforcement as executive orders. Through inclusion in NDAA, the Truman Amendment would codify these protections into law. Policymakers saying they are “encouraged” by the advancement of legislation like the Equality Act and Truman Amendment in Congress without working to actively pass them, is not enough. We must call on our Senators to pass the Equality Act and to include the Truman Amendment in the NDAA. While we cannot undo the harm suﬀered by LGBTQ+ servicemembers and veterans, it is our responsibility to ensure that their sacriﬁces are recognized and they are given the acceptance and protection they are owed. Together, we can achieve this.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 24, 2022 • 13
Trailblazing soccer legend Briana Scurry inspires with new book ‘My Greatest Save’ recounts highs and lows of her remarkable life
By KATHI WOLFE ciously in the next game,” she said. Black lesbian soccer icon Briana Scurry knew from the get-go Scurry thinks she has been discriminated against because of that she would compete in the Olympics. how she looks. “Because I’m Black and lesbian,” she said. In February 1980, Scurry, then eight, was in the family room in In 1999, after the World Cup win, Scurry kissed her then girlher home in Dayton, Minn., watching the Winter Olympics, held friend. “When we kissed the TV cameras cut away because we that year in Lake Placid, N.Y. The United States was playing hockwere lesbians.” ey against Russia. In what became known as “the Miracle on Ice,” She also believes that she’s received fewer oﬀers for commerthe U.S. Olympic team won the gold medal. cial endorsements than white, heterosexual athletes. Scurry cheered for the U.S. team. But Jim Craig, the team’s goalScurry worries about the “Don’t Say Gay” and anti-trans laws tender, especially, became a hero for her. “One day I am going to that are being passed nationwide. “I worry that these [queer] kids be an Olympian, too,” Scurry decided. will be bullied. That they might become suicidal,” she said. This sounds like a child’s daydream – with as much chance of “I wrote my book for LGBTQ kids,” Scurry said, “I want them to becoming a reality as a happily-ever-after-Disney movie. believe in themselves and to believe that they can be athletes.” But trailblazing soccer legend Briana Scurry has proved that, “We’re going backwards,” Scurry added. “It’s frustrating. It’s tirwith talent, hard work, support from family and friends, along ing but we’re going to have to keep ﬁghting for our rights.” with a sense of humor, dreams can come true. Scurry was forced to engage in one of the toughest ﬁghts of The child who dreamed of being an Olympian grew up to ﬁnd her life after she had a traumatic train injury while playing soccer herself on the Wheaties box for her winning save as goalkeepin 2010. After she was injured, Scurry was labeled “temporarily er for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in the 1999 FIFA totally disabled.” That label was a severe understatement. World Cup championship game. (FIFA is world soccer’s governing Scurry’s head injury left her in unbearable pain. It was incredbody.) ibly hard for her to concentrate on the simplest things — from “I believe I’m the only Black lesbian to be on a Wheaties box,” reading more than a couple of paragraphs to following the plot Scurry, who won the gold medal in the 1996 and 2004 Summer of a TV show. Olympics, said in a recent interview with the Blade. Scurry became so depressed that she came close to ending Scurry’s life has had Olympian highs and hellish lows. her life. (If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the Trevor In 2010, her soccer career ended after she sustained a traumatProject at thetrevorproject.org and/or the National Suicide Preic brain injury during a game. Scurry ran up against an insurance vention Lifeline at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.) company that wouldn’t pay for the medical care she needed. “The insurance company said I was faking it,” Scurry said. “I told At one of her lowest points, she had to pawn her Olympic gold them I was a professional athlete. There was nothing I wanted medals to pay for food. more in the world than to get back in the game.” In “My Greatest Save: The Brave, Barrier-Breaking Journey of a World-Champion Goal“Why in the world would I have wanted to fake not being able to work?” she said. keeper,” her revealing, moving, can’t-put-down book, (written with Wayne Coﬀey), which Thankfully, in this low period in her life, Scurry was connected, through friends to Chryscame out on June 21, Scurry tells her compelling story. sa Zizos, who works in public relations. It is “more than the story of an all-time great goalkeeper,” tennis legend and LGBTQ Zizos publicized Scurry’s struggle with the insurance company. The publicity was eﬀecicon Billie Jean King said of “My Greatest Save.” “It’s about a pioneering female athlete who tive. The company agreed to pay for the physical therapy and surgery that Scurry needed. made sure to honor those who came before her even as she worked hard to make things Today, Scurry and Zizos are happily married. Scurry loves being step-mom to Zizos’s better for those who came after her.” children, who call her “bonus mom.” “It was time,” Scurry said when asked why she wrote the book, “I was in a good place to Scurry, now fully recovered, talks about her traumatic brain injury to educate soccer do it.” players, coaches, and parents about concussions. When you’re in a tough situation it’s hard to see how to write about it, she added, “I had “There’s more research now about ways to help protect players from concussions,” she to go away from it to go back to it. We started in 2020 right before the pandemic.” said. Scurry hopes the book will inspire readers. “I hope it will encourage people to blaze trails Headbands would help protect players against concussions, Scurry said. “Some of the in their own lives,” she said. players won’t wear headbands,” she added, “because it would be perceived as weakness.” Scurry wanted readers to see behind the veil of a professional athlete – to see how she Shin guards used to be voluntary, and players didn’t wear them, Scurry said. “But after overcame obstacles, kept going, and reached her goals. FIFA mandated them, players wore them,” she said. “The same thing would happen if FIFA Throughout her life and career, Scurry has encountered obstacles and barriers from a mandated headbands.” traumatic brain injury to racism and homophobia. Scurry was thrilled last month when news broke from The New York Times and other From early on, Scurry was aware that she was diﬀerent. There were few people of color outlets that landmark contracts had been signed with the U.S. Soccer Federation. The conwhen she was in elementary, middle, or high school. The youth soccer teams that she tracts say that, for the ﬁrst time, men and women soccer teams will be paid equally in inplayed on were also predominantly white. During her 17 years with the U.S. Women’s Socternational matches and competitions. The agreement says that in forthcoming World Cup cer National Team, “it was the same thing — at least among the core players,” she writes tournaments men and women will be paid equally in money awarded by FIFA in prizes. in “My Greatest Save.” “I’m overjoyed about women getting equal pay,” Scurry said. In 2017, Scurry became the ﬁrst Black woman to be elected to the National Soccer Hall Fifty years ago this month, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 became law. of Fame, and she is one of the ﬁrst out LGBTQ soccer players. The legislation, which prohibits discrimination against women in education, has enabled Scurry was so supportive of other queer soccer players that she became known as the thousands of women and girls to participate in sports in high schools, colleges and pro“welcome wagon.” fessionally. “When I played with the Atlanta Beat we’d compete fearlessly against the opposing “Title IX opened the door for millions of girls around the country to be able to participate team,” Scurry said. “But after the game, [the Atlanta and the opposing team] wanted to in sports,” Scurry said. hang out.” “Without Title IX ... there would have been no path for me to play soccer Scurry would take the LGBTQ home and opposing players to a fun, safe place — a bar collegiately and professionally,” she added. where they could grab something to eat and dance. “Then we’d go back to competing fero14 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 24, 2022
The Anthony Meindl Trans Acting Fellowship Launches Outfest LA becomes an Academy Award Qualifier
The OutMuseum Streaming Platform Launches
The OutSet: The Young Filmmakers Project Launches
The Outfest UCLA Legacy Project Launches
1st Gay & Lesbian Media Conference takes place on UCLA Campus
Outfest Fusion: The Los Angeles LGBT People of Color Festival Launches
Conference is renamed Los Angeles International Gay & Lesbian Film and Video Festival and moves to the 4-star Theater on Wilshire
Outfest LA Celebrates its 20th Anniversary with its largest attendance in history
Platinum Oasis launches at the Coral Sands Motel
Festival moves to the original DGA HQ for first time – legitimizing the festival in the industry
Outfest LA Celebrates its first Opening Night at the Orpheum LA and becomes the largest film festival in So Cal.
Festival moves to the brand new DGA and showcases 115 Films from 15 Countries
The Screenwriting Competition (future Screenwriting Lab) is Launched
First Inaugural Outfest Sundance Brunch is held
Film Festival is renamed Outfest Los Angeles
‘Wildhood’ explores queer Indigenous experience An example of personal filmmaking at its most sublime
By JOHN PAUL KING and sexuality is only one of the many elements woven together in Hannam’s briskly paced It’s hardly news to say that the movies have a less-than-ideal track record when it comes yet intricately layered screenplay. No one in the movie needs to “come out,” exactly; it’s to authentic representation – or, really, any representation at all – of Indigenous people. easily gleaned that Link knows from the start that he is gay, or at least someplace on the For most of its history, Hollywood’s “dream machine” dutifully perpetuated the narrative queer spectrum, even if he doesn’t know that getting comfortable with that fact might be that, with very few exceptions, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian,” and even after the tied up in the journey ahead of him. As for Pasmay, they’re fully comfortable with their cultural tide began to turn, filmmakers who attempted to propagate a more compassionTwo Spirit nature, yet the past trauma of family rejection is something they have yet to fulate viewpoint usually muted their efforts with stereotyped portrayals of Native Americans ly overcome. As these two walk together – accompanied by the one-eyed but clear-sightthat presented them either as comic relief or tragic victims of oppression – when they ed Travis, who is working through family issues of his own – their growing closeness weren’t being idealized as magical fonts of ancient wisdom, that is – and did little to conrequires them to grapple with these lingering fears, providing a framework through which vey the reality that they were really just human beings like the rest of us. Hannam can subtly illuminate the difIt goes without saying that the ferences between the world views LGBTQ community can relate. But held by white and Indigenous cultures. though things have gotten somewhat With an Indigenous queer filmbetter for us in recent years, we are maker behind the camera, the takestill hard pressed to think of many exaway from that contrast inevitably amples of films in which Indigenous emphasizes the opposition between people have not been essentially martwo different cultural conceptions of ginalized – and when we try to think of queerness itself, and rightly so. As for movies with Indigenous people who their direction, Hannam’s remarkably are also queer, the best most of us can self-assured visual storytelling effortdo is “Little Big Man,” the 1970 Arthur lessly complements the nuances of Penn western in which Dustin Hoffman their screenplay to mesmerizing effect, is raised by a Sioux Nation tribe and making all these intellectual-soundgrows up with a Two Spirit character ing themes arise like thoughts in a named Little Horse (played by Native meditation, to be noted as they pass actor Robert Little Star) as his friend. and remembered later. No doubt it For the record, it’s a sympathetic porhelped that “Wildhood” was expanded trayal, if not quite fully drawn. It was by Hannam from an award-winning also nearly 60 years ago, and we’re still 2019 short; in any case, the result is waiting for another mainstream movie a film with an easy, natural flow that to show us a more authentic vision of neither shies from emotion nor dwells queer Native experience. in it, and culminates exactly where we While Hollywood continues to drag hoped while taking us places we never its feet on correcting that gap, howexpected to go. ever, Canadian/L’nu Two Spirit/nonbiAs for the acting – a crucial element nary filmmaker Bretten Hannam has in making any film rise to its highest been hard at work to bring their own JOSHUA ODJICK and PHILLIP LEWITSKI star in ‘Wildhood.’ (Photo courtesy Hulu) aspirations – Hannam’s cast not only perspective to the screen – and their serves them well, but are so perfectly debut feature film, “Wildhood,” which attuned to their movie’s delicate spirit that they seem not to be performing at all. The launches on Hulu June 24, is as much a breath of trope-free air as one could wish. nonbinary Odjick, charismatic without being showy, exudes a confident compassion that Disregarding expectations about Indigenous identity right out of the gate, it centers on makes a perfect complement to Lewitski’s awkward and angry teen rebel, and the easy Link (Phillip Lewitski), a half-Mi’kmaq teenager who lives with his younger half-brother chemistry between them helps to make the latter’s lowering of defenses all the more Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony) in a rural trailer park on the coast of Nova Scotia. Their believable. Winters-Anthony gives a stunningly genuine performance as Travis, helping to home life is toxic, with an abusive father (Joel Thomas Hynes) more interested in training bring full weight to the all-important theme of chosen family; and Michael Greyeyes (the them for a life of crime than in taking care of their basic needs; when Link learns that his film’s most recognizable face, thanks to TV roles in “True Detective” and “Fear the Walking Mi’kmaw mother may still be alive – despite what he had been told since early childhood Dead,” among other titles) gives a memorable turn as a helpful stranger who facilitates – he abruptly decides to steal away with Travis and make a run for it, hoping to locate her Link’s eventual reunion with his mother – in exchange for a favor, of course. and find a better life in the process. “Wildhood” comes to Hulu after becoming a hit on the Festival Circuit in 2021, where it Ill-prepared for a cross-country journey, an early encounter brings them quickly under was an official selection at both TIFF and AFI Fest and won awards at both the Canadian the wing of Pasmay (Joshua Odjick), a Two Spirit Mi’kaq pow wow dancer traveling from Screen Awards (for Odjick’s performance) and the Palm Springs International Film Fesgig to gig. Though Link is hesitant to trust this interloper and the two are frequently at tival. That provenance is a testament to the importance of such festivals in amplifying odds, he gradually warms to Pasmay, and an emotional bond begins to grow between the voices of marginalized artists and allowing them to tell their stories – but it’s not the them as the three young travelers make their way across the Canadian wilderness toreason for putting the movie at the top of your must-stream list, nor is the fact that it’s gether. an embarrassingly rare example of Indigenous queer inclusion on the screen. Ultimately, It’s not hard to gather where things go between Link and Pasmay, and together with the the reason for watching “Wildhood” is that it is an example of personal filmmaking at its quest to reconnect Link to his estranged mother and the Native heritage she represents, most sublime, existing at the intersection of personal experience, public enlightenment, it should be obvious enough that this is a coming-of-age tale whose protagonist yearns and popular entertainment. to embrace more than one neglected facet of his identity. Yet though it might be easy to That’s a big burden to bear, but “Wildhood” never feels weighed down. On the contrary, classify “Wildhood” as a teen “coming-out” movie, it would also be misleadingly dismissive. it leaves us with a sense of freedom and acceptance that is lighter than air. Like its central character, it’s a movie with many questions to be asked and answered, 16 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 24, 2022
Fascinating mystery novel features gay private eye in 1947 Philly
‘Knock oﬀ the Hat’ explores a world before LGBTQ rights advances
By KATHI WOLFE The Horn & Hardart automat is a great place to meet friends and eat (on the cheap) delicious meatloaf and coconut cream pie. People wonder when Connie Mack, the Philadelphia Athletics’ manager, will retire and have a ballpark named after him. If you’re queer, you dance, drink and hook-up in gay bars. Life is good. Even on summer nights when few places are air conditioned. Except that if you’re queer, you can be arrested if you’re in a gay bar that’s raided by the police. If you’re arrested, your name will likely appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer on a list of “deviants.” This is the world of Cliﬀord Waterman, a gay private eye, the protagonist of “Knock Oﬀ the Hat,” the fascinating new mystery by Richard Stevenson. The novel is set in 1947 in Philadelphia. During World War II, Cliﬀord, a former police detective, was in the Army. He was an Army MP in Cairo, where he jokes, “I was working with US Army unintelligence.” Cliﬀord was dishonorably discharged from the Army for being gay. Though ironically, his job in the service was to round up “drunks,” “dope ﬁends” and “perverts.” An oﬃcer found him one night, “enjoying the company of a nice man named Idriss, who normally cleaned the latrines,” Cliﬀord says. “On this particular occasion, this pleasant chappie was cleaning my latrine.” The era in which Cliﬀord lives is repressive. The House Un-American Activities Committee is going after queer peoANNOUNCEMENT LONG DISTANCE MOVING: Call today for a FREE QUOTE from America’s Most Trusted Interstate Movers. Let us take the stress out of moving! Speak to a Relocation Specialist, call 1-844-857-1737 Become a Published Author. We want to Read Your Book! Dorrance Publishing-Trusted by Authors Since 1920. Book manuscript submissions currently being reviewed. Comprehensive Services: Consultation, Production, Promotion and Distribution. Call for Your Free Author`s Guide 1-877-538-9554 or visit http:// dorranceinfo.com/Cali NEW AUTHORS WANTED! Page Publishing will help you self-publish your own book. FREE author submission kit! Limited offer! Why wait? Call now: 1-855-667-0380 AUTOS WANTED WANTED! Old Porsche 356/911/912 for restoration by hobbyist 1948-1973 Only. Any condition, top $ paid! PLEASE LEAVE MESSAGE 1-707-339-5994.
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The novel is ﬁlled with dark humor and engaging characters from an actress who pretends to be a deceased gay man’s ﬁancee to a left-wing queer farmer. In one scene, after Lauren Bacall drops into a dinner party, it’s revealed that her “dick” is “bigger than Bogie’s.” Richard Stevenson is the pen name of the groundbreaking mys‘Knock Oﬀ the Hat: A Cliﬀord tery writer Richard Lipez. Waterman Gay Philly Mystery’ “Knock Oﬀ the Hat,” was By Richard Stevenson c.2022, Amble Press published after Lipez, $18.95 | 200 pages who was openly gay, died at 83 in March 2022. Lipez envisioned “Knock Oﬀ the Hat” as being the ﬁrst in a series featuring Cliﬀord Waterman. Also, under the pseudonym Richard Stevenson, Lipez over four decades (beginning in 1981 with “Death Trick”) wrote 17 mysteries featuring the queer detective Donald Strachey. “Chasing Rembrandt,” the last of the Donald Strachey series, will be released by ReQueered Tales in fall 2022. CONTINUES AT LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
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Come Over to Squirt.org and Join the Action. LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 24, 2022 • 17
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