Latina Queer artist honors life and death for Día de los MuertosBy ZACHARY JARRELL
In a busy open-air shopping mall nestled between two downtown Los Angeles skyscrapers sits a celebration of life and death – one drenched in ﬂower petals, showcasing bright oranges and yellows surrounding a blue two-tiered structure.
“We can all learn how we can pay homage to spirits, ancestors and people who have passed,” Dalila Paola Mendez, a queer artist of Central American decent who created the piece, told the Los Angeles Blade.
On Sunday, Mendez ﬁnished the altar, celebrating Día de los Muertos, at FIGat7th in downtown Los Angeles. The mall has celebrated the holiday since 2015 and began to host altars in 2019. The 2022 altar, which will be up until Nov. 2, is the second time Mendez has taken on the project.
“I really like her artistic sensibility, when it comes to creating the altar,” said Leah Ross, manager of retail marketing in Southern California for Brookﬁeld Properties – the owner of FIGat7th. “The altar is something that’s created with a sense of beauty, a sense of emotion. And I really liked what she did.”
Mendez was excited to return because she “really enjoyed this space,” she said. “I was really happy that I was asked to do it again,” Mendez said. “I think for downtown, so many diﬀerent people come to that center.”
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Latin American holiday generally celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2. During the celebration of life and death, family and friends gather to remember their lost loved ones by sharing fond memories of the departed. Altars, or ofrendas – the most prominent feature in the celebration – are used to honor the dead.
Citing Latin American migration, Mendez – a ﬁrst-generation American with Salvadoran and Guatemalan roots – said some people could “no longer could go to a grave site and pay homage to [their] family members that way.” So, to her, “altar making became another way of calling on the spirits, honoring the ancestors and doing it here in LA as an artist based in the United States.”
Mendez also uses the medium to bring attention to social and political issues. Her altar this year, for example, focuses on water – which she called a problem in today’s world, especially in the city she has called home her entire life.
“We’re going through a drought in Los Angeles,” Mendez said. “Around the world, we’re dealing with rising sea levels, hurricanes, storms. Water gives life and it also can cause death, so I really wanted to honor that element. That’s the foundation of the altar.”
Traditionally, an altar includes the four elements: water, ﬁre, earth and wind – all of which
oﬀer something to the dead. Water, Mendez explained, is normally reserved for a drink the deceased enjoyed. “If you’re not in such a public space, it would be something like liquor,” she said.
Her ﬁrst altar at FIGat7th was displayed in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread social justice protests after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. Earlier that year, former Los Angeles basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter also died in a tragic helicopter accident. Ross called her work that year “very poignant” and said she “did an amazing altar.”
“I think the representation and diversity that I include is really helpful,” Mendez said.
When asked how she injects her queer identity into her work, Mendez said, “I think it’s just me being queer.” She said her altars are about “honoring the ancestors,” including those in the LGBTQ community.
According to Ross, FIGat7th chooses to celebrate Día de los Muertos because it “appeals and is important to a large part of our demographic.”
“We are a very multicultural center,” Ross said. “Our demographics reﬂect the face of Los Angeles and that includes a very robust and diverse Latinx population.”
Personally, Día de los Muertos is Ross’ favorite holiday. In fact, it was her idea to bring the celebration to FIGat7th, she said.
“What I focus on when I’m creating events for FIGat7th are things that reﬂect our community, that appeal to our customers, that will be meaningful things for them to attend and create a wonderful place in our community,” Ross said.
For Mendez, the holiday has gained more meaning in the last few years – following the loss of her mother last year and her grandmother three years before that. “The altars have had more profound signiﬁcance for me because those two women were very important in my life,” she said.
“Honoring their spirits and their teachings are things that move me forward as an artist and person,” Mendez said.
"We can all learn how we can pay homage to spirits, ancestors and people who have passed,"Dalila Paola Mendez(Courtesy of FIGat7th, Photo by Javier Guillen) (Courtesy of FIGat7th, Photo by Javier Guillen) (Courtesy of FIGat7th, Photo by Javier Guillen) (Courtesy of FIGat7th, Photo by Javier Guillen)
Kern County special needs teen bullied at school in viral video
A video of a special needs teen being bullied by other teens posted to the social media platform TikTok earlier this week has provoked outrage in this small city in twenty-two miles Southeast of Bakersﬁeld in ern County.
The video showed the young Latino male teen in tears having his hair cut-oﬀ with patches of bald spots intentionally shaved by another student while more gathered around directing insults mocking him and in obscene Spanish at one point you can hear one of the students tell him not to cry.
After the haircutting ﬁnishes the young teen student can be seen using his blue t-shirt to wipe away tears and then seen using his mobile as a mirror to check how much hair had been sheared oﬀ. The video footage also showed the other students with huge grins on their faces as they continued to mock the boy.
Arvin City Councilmember Daniel Borreli told local media
outlets that he is “outraged” by the video and intends to hold the school accountable. Other city o cials said investigators from the Arvin Police Department have reached out to the school to assist with the investigation.
A school district spokesperson emailed the following statement:
“Arvin High School administration is aware of a video circulating on social media. The behavior exhibited in the video is clearly unacceptable, and we do not condone bullying of any kind. When students breach the boundaries of acceptable behavior, they will be held accountable for their actions, and the school will provide support to any aﬀected student. The incident is being thoroughly investigated, and appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken.”
Friday morning a rally was held in support of the bullied teen. David aplan, a reporter for CBS News a liate BATV tweeted:
“HAPPENING NOW-Hundreds are at Arvin High School for a rally in support of a 10th grade student at Arvin High School who experienced bullying. Students shaved pieces of his hair against his will.”
On Thursday the high school responded with a statement posted to Twitter:
“In regards to the recent events at AHS, please know the school has taken and will continue to take action. Due to the ages of those involved, disciplinary actions will and must remain conﬁdential. We appreciate your strong emotions and anger toward this incident the staﬀ at AHW share your feelings. We do not condone these actions and please know we do educate against bullying. Please continue to have discussions with your children about bullying and how e can be better together.ARVIN HIGH SCHOOL”
Out actor Leslie Jordan dies in Hollywood car crash
Beloved Out actor and comedian Leslie Jordan has died in a single-car crash Monday morning in Hollywood after suffering an unspeciﬁed medical emergency an LAPD source said. The news of his death was ﬁrst broken by entertainment gossip news website TMZ.
The 67-year-old saw a resurgence of fame with his viral and hilarious videos on social media during the lengthy coronavirus pandemic. ordon was best known for his roles as Lonnie Garr in Hearts Aﬁre 199 –1995 , Beverly Leslie in Will Grace 2001–200 , 2017–2020 , and several characters in the American Horror Story franchise 2011–present .
ordon, an accomplished stage actor and playwright, was also devoted as an advocate for LGBTQ+ equality rights. Early on during the HIV AIDS crisis, ordan, a Los Angeles resident became involved in AIDS Project Los Angeles APLA as a buddy and as a food delivery-person for Project Angel Food, a non-proﬁt founded during the HIV AIDS pandemic which to the present day prepares and delivers healthy meals to feed people impacted by serious illness.
In statement to the Blade after learning of ordan’s death, Richard Ayoub, the CEO of Project Angel Food said:
“Leslie was more than just a supporter of Project Angel Food, he was family. When Leslie ﬁrst moved to LA in the 90s he wanted to help people with AIDS so he volunteered as a driver for Project Angel Food. Leslie presented Project Angel Food with the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Creative Business Award in 2019, and was such a joy to be around. Our hearts ache.”
Two years ago in a lengthy interview with Page Six, ordan revealed he once hated himself for being gay. The star and social media phenom told Page Six that homophobia and
Southern California gas prices declined at their fastest pace ever recorded in the last week, plunging by 0 cents or more on average in most areas, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch.
The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is 5. , which is 2 cents lower than last week. The average national price is . , which is seven cents lower than a week ago.
The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is 5.9 per gallon, which is cents lower than last week, 7 cents higher than last month, and 1. 0 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is 5. 7, which is cents lower than last week, 5 cents higher than last month, and 1. 0 higher than last year.
On the Central Coast, the average price is 5. , which is 0 cents lower than last week, 2 cents higher than last month, and 1. 1 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is 5.79, which is 5 cents lower than last week, cents higher than last month, and 1. higher than a year
ago. In Bakersﬁeld, the .0 average price is 20 cents lower than last Thursday, 2 cents higher than last month, and 1. 0 higher than a year ago today.
“Despite the large price declines of the past two weeks, average prices still need to drop by about 0 cents to completely erase the local gas price spike of September and early October,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Los Angeles wholesale gas prices did increase this week, possibly on reports of two reﬁneries having short-term maintenance issues, but at this point wholesale prices remain low enough that the September-October pump price spike can be erased. The cheapest Southern California gas stations are now charging less than 5 a gallon.”
The Auto Club reminds drivers of the following tips to save money on gas:
If you use premium unleaded fuel, make sure it is required for your vehicle, not just recommended. The Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center found that vehicles with recommend-By BRODY LEVESQUE
self-loathing were planted deep inside him growing up in a church-going family in 1950s Tennessee.
“If you’re born homosexual, it’s not a choice,” said ordan, who has released a book of essays called “How ’All Doing ”
“I think for myself when you know something in your heart and you’re told that’s just wrong I talk to a lot of my gay friends and I say it’s a wonder we’re even alive!”
In a 201 interview with the Blade, ordan spoke about his career:
“It feels amazing. I’ve always been the funny guy that came in with a zinger. That was my job from the day I got here in 19 2, with 1,200 that my mother pinned into my underpants on a Greyhound bus,” he quipped during a panel at the Television Critics Press Tour.
“I got oﬀ at the corner of Vine Street and De Longpre and I realized that was my job. Thirty years I did that. ’Will Grace’ which he guest starred in won an Emmy for it. And I thought, you know what It’s time.’ ust the way it’s unfolded has been amazing.”By BRODY LEVESQUE
ed premium fuel performed safely with regular unleaded gasoline.
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 1 .
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.
IMPORTANT FACTS FOR BIKTARVY®
MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIKTARVY
BIKTARVY may cause serious side e ects, including:
Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. Your healthcare provider will test you for HBV. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without ﬁrst talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months, and may give you HBV medicine.
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:
any other medicines to treat HIV-1
BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY
Tell your healthcare provider if you:
Have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis infection.
Have any other health problems.
Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY.
Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take:
Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist.
BIKTARVY and other medicines may a ect each other. Ask your healthcare provider and pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all your other medicines.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF BIKTARVY
BIKTARVY may cause serious side e ects, including:
Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section.
Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to ﬁght infections that may have been hidden in your body. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY.
Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY.
Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat.
Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, lightcolored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain.
The most common side e ects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (6%), and headache (5%).
These are not all the possible side e ects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY.
You are encouraged to report negative side e ects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.
HOW TO TAKE BIKTARVY
MAGA Republicans seem so intent on demonstrating their anti-LGBTQ cruelty, on Oct. 18, Republican members of Congress introduced the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act of 2022 quickly dubbed the national Don’t Say Gay’ law right in the middle of National Bully Prevention Month.
If Republicans take control of the House and Senate, as well as down-ballot state races, we can expect more and more absurd and intentionally cruel legislation targeting women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.
Bottom line: if the latest polls are right and Republicans are picking up steam, the midterm elections on Nov. could mark the beginning of the end of democracy as we know it.
With just three weeks to go, Victoria irby, deputy executive director at the National Black ustice Coalition announced the release of a new Get-Out-The-Vote video. In a oom interview for Race to the Midterms, irby oﬀers hope and encouragement, noting that in 201 , when times seemed so dark and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was stacking the US Supreme Court and the federal judiciary with justices pre-selected by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society to reﬂexively give Republicans legal victories and power, the people especially MAGA-designated groups targeted for second class citizenship deﬁed the polls and the odds and stopped the MAGA plans for America on the eve of destruction.
“We turned out in record numbers during a midterm when people said we wouldn’t,” says irby. “LGBTQ people, people of color, young people, diﬀerently abled or disabled people. We showed up and showed out and we got rid of folks in those statehouses and governor’s mansions. We took back a chamber of Congress, the US House of Representatives, and then in 2020, progressives were able to have plus Georgia in the 2020 midterms, got to give a shout out to Georgia we were able to have this 50-50 US Senate that, no, didn’t allow us to get some of the legislation we wanted signed into law but was able to stop some pretty bad things from being able to become the law of the land.”
When people are frightened or wonder as they are now if their vote matters, irby vociferously points out that “when we showed up and showed out in 201 and 2020, we changed the course of the strategy of the far right who want it and had a really good plan. They almost came close to implementing, to completely hijacking our democracy and our nation’s values. And we can do that again in just a couple of weeks.”
For at least 2 years, Black people and women have been ﬁghting for the ideals upon which America was founded since 17 9 when the United States Constitution was ratiﬁed with a Preamble that started with three words that launched the American experiment in democracy: “We The People.” Those words ring hollow for too many who doubt that the US government exists to represent and serve its citizens.
“When we look at our Constitution as it was originally written, the only people that began with the right to vote were land owning white men,” says irby, noting the “huge ﬁght for centuries” over who to exclude from the right to have the opportunity to have representation that represents the issues that you care about in the policies that you know you need to improve your life. That included pushing to get the right to vote for folks who were enslaved and considered three ﬁfths of a human, like my ancestors. And then, also included, being able to win women’s suﬀrage, which we just celebrated the hundredth anniversary of, which still didn’t include all women because there were still barriers that were being put in place.
“And we’ve had, constitutionally, these rights,” irby continues. “But if you don’t have access to the right, it doesn’t matter what’s on paper. It matters what’s also in practice. And so when you look at the civil rights movement and the work of leaders like ohn Lewis and so many others, the advocacy they did to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to have that long march to Selma where people were sprayed down with water hoses, had dogs, biting them, were beaten with police sticks and worse there are people who lost their lives in the ﬁght to vote. And although there were protections that were given in this in the Voting Rights Act of 19 5 in 201 , the US Supreme Court gutted those rights with the Shelby decision. And part of what they gutted were the protections that ensured that the access to the ballot were unfettered.”
irby notes that the ohn Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act “would help to put back in place those pre-clearance requirements and update the maps of districts that are required to submit a paperwork before Department of ustice, because it’s not the entire country. It’s pockets of the country that have a history of discriminating against marginalized communities.”
If Republicans win the midterms, the ohn Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Equality Act and virtually all other legislation to move America towards a more perfect union will die on the vines, strangled by the weeds planted by autocrat-wanna-be Donald Trump and his GOP acolytes.
irby notes that the National Black ustice Coalition has a Voter Hub at their website with resources to help people check their voter registration and vote-by-mail information.
Venton ones is among our democracy warriors ﬁghting on the frontline. The -year old Black gay, HIV-positive native of Dallas, Texas is running for state representative for Texas House District 100. ones is running to represent the people who raised him, who know him, the people with whom he has shared his life and dreams.
“One of the main reasons that I’m running is because I’ve been aﬀorded the amazing opportunity to be able to learn and dive into public policy through my work in addressing public health through working to address the HIV epidemic working within the African-American community and the LGBTQ community, and now using that experience to bring that home and to be able to help change outcomes, not only in the community that I grew up in, but also in the state of Texas,” says ones.
In a classic understatement, ones says Texas “is in desperate need of leadership.” He wants “to make sure that we’re not continuing to perpetuate the hatred and bigotry that we continue to not only see statewide, but also that we see in our national discourse. So, I ran to make a diﬀerence and use the experience that I’ve gained to be able to do that necessary work, particularly for a new generation of leaders that have been able to learn and grow from so many ﬁghters that I’ve seen, particularly addressing HIV and public health” in the 19 0s and the ongoing racial justice work “that that’s so needed” in our state and national discourse.
“Working in HIV, you also saw that it wasn’t just about public health,” ones says. “ ou know, these communities at this intersection also faced larger socioeconomic disadvantages, more racism, more stigma, more discrimination in those circles. And so, one thing that I committed the last 20 years of my career to doing before running for o ce was to work unapologetically in that space.”
But ones would bring not only his experience to the Texas Statehouse he would bring a much needed, more profound understanding of a spiritual need humanity is missing right now. “I can say from a very young point in my age and also in my career, the conversation about intersectionality has been very present,” ones says. “As a Black gay man from the state of Texas, I could not remove one identity or the other if I tried and I chose not to, especially when it came to learning how to be in a space of authenticity, because that voice is important right now.”
Please check out our full video interviews with NB C’s Vicky irby and candidate Venton ones here: https: www.youtube.com watch v huppsI Ag5g t 2s
Hopefully they will inspire you to get engaged and especially to vote
Race to the Midterms: Kirby and Jones on race, hope & voting Republicans are picking up steam, the midterm elections on Nov. could mark the beginning of the end of democracy as we know it(Los Angeles Blade graphic/Max Huskins)
oleta a a e ted eath th eat to o e o alley chool o cialBy LA BLADE STAFF
A 45-year-old Goleta resident was taken into custody by detectives from the Thousand Oaks Police Department this past weekend, after he allegedly threatened to “put a bullet” through the skull of Conejo Valley Uniﬁed School District Superintendent Mark McLaughlin.
Ventura County Star reporter Dawn Megli noted that Randell Graham was arrested at his home on suspicion of making felony criminal threats, according to the Ventura County Sheriﬀ’s O ce, which contracts police services with the City of Thousand Oaks.
Graham has not been charged, according to records in Ventura County Superior Court. He was released from custody Monday morning and is due in court Oct. 1.
Deputies arrested him after they said they identiﬁed him as the caller who left two voicemails Friday at the district o ce with death threats against the Thousand Oaks school chief, the sheriﬀ’s o ce said Monday. General threats were also made against district o ce staﬀ, the Ventura County Star reported.
Superintendent McLaughlin told the VC Star he believes Graham’s actions were tied to to claims by a parent during a school board meeting last month that her daughter witnessed a fellow student masturbate in class. McLaughlin further noted that the incident was unconﬁrmed.
seeking legal action.
The incident went viral on several farright online platforms the VC Star noted, all of which accused McLaughlin of defending the incident as normal. The superintendent said he is
The Conejo Valley Uniﬁed School District CVUSD , has been targeted by far-right members of Pastor Rob McCoy’s Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park. McCoy is an advisor to anti-LGBTQ far-right Trump supporter Charlie irk’s Turning Point USA.
Those targeting the CVUSD are claiming that the school district is supporting the LGBTQ agenda by allowing books the they claim are obscene on subjects including transgender people, coming out and same-sex couples and LGBTQ
The various groups are also railing against California’s state-mandated sexual education classes and what they see as pro-LGBTQ without regard to “parental rights” on issues including gender identity.
The far-right from across the country are now entering the battle.
McLaughlin told the VC Star “The discourse in our district has always been there but that discourse has stayed within our community. We have now seen that discourse move beyond our community and outside groups being brought in to deal with our school district and community discourse.”
With McCoy’s inﬂuence, CVUSD was placed on a “radicalism watchlist” of which the listing includes the district o ce phone number along with public contact information for the ﬁve board trustees.
McLaughlin played a recording of one of the threats.
“Hey, hey, Mark, congratulations. ou o cially have a hit on you,” the message says. “ ou’ve been marked. I would not get caught walking in public. I wouldn’t get caught going to work.”
“We’re going to put a bullet through your skull,” the caller says, ending with a series of name calling and profanities.
cc ed ille o ay o e t de t o d co pete t o t ial
defense lawyer raised the issue over his mental competency.
On Nov. 9, 201 , Woodward had entered a plea of not guilty to murder in Orange County Superior Court. udge imberly Menninger denied bail, saying she thought Woodward posed a danger to the community after seeing troves of evidence linking Woodward to anti-gay, anti-Semitic messages and propaganda from the neo-Nazi group Atomwaﬀen Division, which apparently reveled in Bernstein’s brutal murder.
“I love this,” one member wrote of the killing, according to copies of the online chats obtained by ProPublica, which exposed Woodward’s involvement with Atomwaﬀen on an. 2 . “Sam did something stupid,” wrote one member. “Not that the faggot kike didn’t deserve to die. ust simply not worth a life in prison for.”
Many of Bernstein and Woodward’s classmates from their former Orange County high school thought it was odd that the two were together because, Bernstein’s best friend Raiah Rofsky told CBS News “ Hours,” Woodward “was literally known as being a crazy, homophobic, racist guy.”
The Orange County Register reported Friday two mental health experts who evaluated Woodward one chosen by the defense, the other by the prosecution determined that Woodward is competent to stand trial.
The Register noted that the reports from the mental health experts who evaluated Woodward were ﬁled under seal, and their contents were not discussed during the brief hearing on Friday morning. For a defendant to be considered competent to stand trial, they must be capable of understanding the proceedings and able to assist with their own defense.
A previous defense attorney in mid- uly raised unspeci-
ﬁed concerns about Woodward’s mental competency. The competency decision was delayed in early-September after Woodward refused to meet with one of the experts assigned to evaluate him. It isn’t clear whether such a meeting ultimately took place before the experts submitted their reports to the court.
Bernstein, 19, a brilliant gay ewish University of Pennsylvania student was home for the holidays and disappeared anuary 2, 201 . His body, with 20 stab wounds to the face and neck, was discovered in a shallow Borrego Park grave a week later. DNA evidence led authorities to Woodward, Bernstein’s Orange County high school classmate, who was arrested on an. 12. Bernstein’s blood was found in Woodward’s car.
When Orange County investigators ﬁrst went to meet with him, Woodward was apparently cooperative, telling them and Blaze’s parents “that he and Blaze went to Borrego Park to hang out.” According to Woodward, after awhile Blaze walked down a path alone and disappeared into the brush. Later OC investigators say that Woodward claimed Bernstein tried to kiss him while they both sat in a car at Borrego Park and then he told investigators that he pushed Bernstein away.
Prosecutors allege that Woodward actually stabbed Bernstein to death and buried him in the dirt at the edge of of the park, where the body was discovered six days later.
A pretrial hearing was set for an. 27 , 202 and a date for the jury trial has not yet been scheduled.
After their son’s murder, Gideon and eanne Pepper Bernstein established a scholarship fund for foster care and at risk kids at Blaze’s former Orange County high school.By BRODY LEVESQUE
The Conejo Valley Uniﬁed School District has been targeted by the far-right including members of Turning Point USA
Trans woman deported from U.S. murdered in Honduras
A Transgender woman who the U.S. deported to Honduras earlier this year has been murdered.
Reportar sin Miedo, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Honduras, reported a group of “hooded subjects” shot Melissa N ez in Morocelí, a municipality in El Paraíso department in eastern Honduras, on Tuesday night.
Initial reports indicate N ez, 2, died from a gunshot wound to the head.
Indyra Mendoza, general coordinator of Cattrachas, a lesbian feminist network based in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, on Thursday conﬁrmed to the Blade that N ez asked for asylum in the U.S.
Mendoza said she did not know on what grounds N ez asked for asylum, but Reportar sin Miedo reported she had lived in Miami and had more than 20,000 followers on TikTok. N ez, according to Reportar sin Miedo, became “a strong activist” for LGBTQ and intersex rights while in the U.S. Mendoza told the Blade that N ez in December 2021 returned to Honduras after she traveled through Mexico and Guatemala. N ez tried to return to the U.S., but Mendoza said
American authorities deported her back to Honduras in uly.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights last une issued a landmark ruling that found Honduras responsible for the murder of Vicky Hern ndez, a Trans sex worker with HIV who died in police custody hours after the 2009 coup that ousted then-President Manuel elaya from power.
elaya’s wife, President iomara Castro, is among the Honduran o cials who participated in a ceremony earlier this year during which the government publicly acknowledged it was responsible for Hern ndez’s murder. The admission the government reached with her family.
Violence and discrimination based on gender identity and expression nevertheless remains commonplace in Honduras. Vice President amala Harris is among the U.S. o cials who have acknowledged anti-LGBTQ and anti-intersex violence are among the factors that prompt Hondurans and people from neighboring El Salvador and Honduras to leave their countries.
Camila Díaz C rdova, a Trans woman from El Salvador who the U.S. deported, was killed in San Salvador, the Salvadoran
capital, in anuary 2019. A Salvadoran court convicted three police o cers of Díaz’s murder and sentenced them to 20 years in prison.By MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Brittney Griner thanks supporters on birthday
WNBA star Brittney Griner on Tuesday in a message through her lawyers thanked her supporters who continue to press for her release.
“Thank you everyone for ﬁghting so hard to get me home,” said Griner, whose 2nd birthday was on Tuesday. “All the support and love are deﬁnitely helping me.”
O cials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February detained Griner a Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist who is a lesbian and married to her wife, Cherelle Griner after customs inspectors allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage. The State Department has determined that Russia “wrongfully detained” her.
A Russian court on Aug. convicted Brittney Griner of smuggling drugs into the country and sentenced her to nine years in a penal colony. The court is scheduled to consider Brittney Griner’s appeal of the sentence on Oct. 25.
Cherelle Griner on Sept. 1 met with President oe Biden at
the White House.
American o cials have publicly acknowledged their willingness to release Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S., as part of a deal to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, another American citizen who is serving a 1 -year prison sentence in Russia after his conviction for spying.
Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both scheduled to attend next month’s G-20 Summit in Indonesia. White House Press Secretary arine ean-Pierre last week said Biden “has no intention” of meeting with Putin until his government engages in the negotiations to secure Brittney Griner’s release.
“The Russians need to take the serious oﬀer that we put forward on the table, or make a serious counter-oﬀer to negotiate, but in good faith,” said ean-Pierre.By MICHAEL K. LAVERS
Parliament rejects same-sex registration for couples
A proposal that would have codiﬁed the ability of samesex couples in Slovakia to register their partnership, which would have granted inheritance rights, decisions regarding medical care, treatments and compensation in the event of death or injury at work, was rejected by the Slovakian Parliament this past week.
The legislation did not give equal protections and rights such as marriage or civil unions and needed 7 votes to be
passed. The bill saw 50 parliamentarians vote in favour, 7 politicians vote against, 15 submitted a blank vote, and 1 did not vote at all.
Slovakian President uzana aputov was critical of the outcome telling various media outlets the legislation was necessary to protect the “safety and acceptance of our fellow-citizens.” “We need to act,” she tweeted. “Our society is not threatened by the love of two people of the same sex or their partnership.”
The vote on the legislation occurred a few days after a vigil was held in the Slovakian capital city to honor the two victims killed and a third who was badly wounded in a shooting outside of the Tepl re bar, a popular LGBTQ establishment in the old city, which was also attended by the nation’s president and the European Parliament’s Vice-President. President aputov noted regarding the vote, “Our society is paying for indiﬀerence and insensitivity when even such a
tragedy does not move a su cient number of deputies to take the necessary and correct step.”
Opposition to granting rights to same-sex couples as well as opposition to LGBTQ equity in rights in the country is led by the far-right political groups including the res ansk nia Christian Union . Richard Va e ka, a party Member of Parliament told the Standard his party promised before the last elections to protect marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
He added he is afraid that this law is only the start of an “avalanche” that ends with allowing the adoption of children by same-sex couples and punishing people for disagreeing with the LGBTQ agenda.
Va e ka stressed that he respects every person but is convinced that “every child deserves a father and a mother, and it is the best family space for raising children.”By BRODY LEVESQUE
Black player makes history: He’s Out at Hampton UniversityBy LA BLADE STAFF
In an exclusive interview with Cyd iegler of OutSports magazine, a football athlete at Hampton University, a private, historically Black, research university spoke about his coming Out as the ﬁrst openly gay athlete at the university.
In his interview, Byron Perkins, a defensive back, said “Especially at an HU, young Black gay men need an outlet. They need a support system. There hasn’t been an out gay football athlete at an HU. I want to end the stigma of what people think. I want people to know they can be themselves.”
HU’s student body is predominately Black and female with over of students from out-of-state or from other countries. The football team, the Hampton Pirates, compete in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Perkins, who is a junior, had transferred to HU from Purdue University and according to his stats has played two
seasons with the HU Pirates. So far this season he has been credited with 1 tackles and two deﬂected passes. The Pirates current season standing overall is -2.
Speaking with OutSports Perkins outlined his views on coming Out and his growth as a person, a gay Black male in particular as he charts a new course in his life.
“I’ve been self-reﬂective and trying to prioritize what makes me happy and makes me feel alive,” Perkins said. “I thought it could be just
Looking to make history in Tennessee House raceBy BRANDIE BLAND
Odessa elly is the archetype of a grassroots community advocate turned politician. Her long, wavy locs frame the kind of smile that will lend you a cup of sugar or invite you to an impromptu backyard barbecue just because. elly speaks like someone who has been in the trenches, can relate to all our struggles, and is authentically rooting for our successes.
A native of Nashville, elly grew up on the east side of the city in a poor working class neighborhood riddled by poverty and gun violence. An active and creative child, elly played Amateur Athletic Union AAU basketball and used her Barbie dolls as hostages in her imaginative G.I. oe schemes. “Even though I’m from the hood and we weren’t rich by any means, I had a very blessed childhood,” elly said. “I grew up in a house with both of my parents and had a very solid foundation.”
After graduating from Stratford High School now Stratford STEM Magnet School , elly attended Tennessee State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and later, Cumberland University, where she earned a master’s degree in public service.
elly is running against a Trump ally, incumbent Rep. Mark Green R , for Tennessee’s redrawn seventh congressional district, a formerly Democratic-majority district ruptured by Republican-led gerrymandering that echoes the South’s history of political turmoil.
If elected, elly would make history on multiple fronts she would be the ﬁrst out Black woman elected to represent Tennessee, the ﬁrst out Black lesbian to serve in the U.S. House and the sixth openly gay woman to serve in Congress. Former Rep. Barbara ordan was revealed to be in a same-sex domestic partnership in her obituary.
And elly is ready to make history along with her state
next month, as long as all eligible Tennesseans get out and vote.
“2020 showed us that Tennessee is not a red state, it’s a non-voting state,” elly told the Blade in an interview.
elly credits the ustice Democrats for being unrelenting supporters of her campaign.
Surprisingly, elly was unaware of the history she would make as the ﬁrst openly gay Black woman to be elected in Tennessee.
“It didn’t hit me until after I decided to run and I was literally reading the prospectus that was put together for me,” elly said.
For more than a decade, elly worked in the Nashville Department of Parks and Recreation as the leader of the Napier Community Center and executive director of Stand Up Nashville.
In 201 , when elly learned the city awarded a 275 million bond to billionaire ohn Ingram for the construction of Geodis Park, a stadium for the city’s new major league soccer team Nashville SC, Stand Up Nashville got to work securing a community beneﬁts agreement CBA with Ingram.
The unprecedented agreement secured aﬀordable housing, a 15.50 an hour minimum wage for all stadium workers, aﬀordable childcare and workforce development.
“That CBA was our pride and joy,” elly said.
But elly recalls her proudest moment as the time she overheard a group of teenagers she was working with at Napier Community Center discuss how they don’t have to worry about what will happen to them after graduation because they have the community beneﬁts agreement.
“ ou preach some of these things so much the kids just roll their eyes because they hear it 2 7, but at that point, I knew every bit of stress was worth it,” elly said.
football and school, but there was a component missing. And recently I’ve been able to ﬁgure out that I haven’t been fully happy because everyone didn’t know who I was. Authenticity is everything to me.”
Perkins also posted to Instagram revealing his sexual orientation, “I have come to understand that life is precious and I could be gone at any moment, therefore, I will no longer be living a lie. No one should have to live a life crippled by what society thinks.”
elly’s love for her city and community didn’t stop with Stand Up Nashville. Now, elly channels that same energy and hard work into her campaign to stand up for Tennessee in Washington.
elly is a self-proclaimed Blue Dog Democrat whose platform includes Medicare for all and the Green New Deal, which focuses on combating climate change by moving away from fossil fuels and creating millions of high-paying jobs.
“The Green New Deal is me thinking about pathways out of poverty,” elly said.
Outside of the political arena, elly is a mother of two and a foodie who enjoys gaming, sports, and listening to music. Running for public o ce can be frenetic, but when elly needs to refocus and take a deep breath, she turns on her go-to song, Meek Mill’s “Amen.”
“I’m from the South so I like soulful rap and anything that has a good beat,” elly said.
When asked about her plans if she doesn’t win her election, elly said she is still considering all options.
“I’m gonna need a minute to make a decision about what I do next. All I want to do is try to win this race,” elly said. “And I hope I’m showing up well and speaking to the urgencies of the majority of you out there.”
HU’s student body is predominately Black and female with over of students from out-of-state or from other countries
Odessa elly who is running for Tennessee’s redrawn seventh congressional district would be ﬁrst out Black woman to serve in CongressBYRON PERKINS (Los Angeles Blade/Instagram) ODESSA KELLY (Photo by Shance Ware)
Federal Appeals Court blocks Biden’s student debt relief plan
The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order late Friday that prohibits the Biden-Harris administration from “discharging any student loan debt” under the relief program until it rules on an emergency request by Republican-led states to block the policy.
The federal appeals court ruling temporarily blocks President Biden’s plan to cancel billions of dollars in student debt.
In a response to the 8th Circuit’s ruling, the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement: “Tonight’s temporary order does not prevent borrowers from applying for student debt relief at studentaid.gov –and we encourage eligible borrowers to join the nearly 22 million Americans whose information the Department of Education already has. It also does not prevent us from reviewing these applications and preparing them for transmission to loan servicers.
It is also important to note that the order does not reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the case, or suggest that the case has merit. It merely prevents debt from being discharged until the court makes a decision.
We will continue to move full speed ahead in our preparations in compliance with this order. And, the Administra-
tion will continue to ﬁght Republican o cials suing to block our eﬀorts to provide relief to working families.”
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block the rollout of the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan in an emergency request to the Supreme Court in a case was brought by the Brown County Taxpayers Association. That case is being heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
In the 7th circuit case, Brown County Taxpayers Association argues that the U.S. Department of Education is acting outside of its administrative authority by forgiving student loans. The Department of Education is vested with the power to manage various loan programs but cannot, the applicants contend, forgive loans “unilateral[ly].” This power, they say, rests with Congress.
A lower federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit earlier this month, on grounds that the Brown County Taxpayers Association lacked “standing.” In short as simply taxpayers, they could not show a personal injury which is required to bring forth a suit.
In the th Circuit case, six states – Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina argued that the student debt relief plan contravenes the separation of fed-
eral versus state’s powers and violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it exceeds the Secretary of Education’s statutory authority.By BRODY LEVESQUE
Actor Kevin Spacey found not liable by jury in sexual assault lawsuit
The federal grand jury hearing the $40 million dollar civil sexual assault lawsuit brought against Kevin Spacey found the actor not liable after about only an hour of deliberations.
Out actor Anthony Rapp had sued Spacey alleging that the time two Academy Award winning actor had molested him. Rapp, 50, and Spacey, , each testiﬁed over several days at the three-week trial.
In court documents, Rapp states that in 1986, Spacey, then 26, invited him, when he as 14, to his Manhattan home where Spacey allegedly assaulted him.
ABC News reported that deliberations began in mid-afternoon after a lawyer for Rapp, Richard Steigman, urged jurors to make Spacey pay for trying to make a sexual ad-
vance on Rapp in Spacey’s Manhattan apartment in 1986 after a party. He accused Spacey of lying on the witness stand.
The Associated Press reported when the verdict was read, Spacey dropped his head, then hugged his lawyers. He didn’t speak to reporters as he left the courthouse.
“We’re very grateful to the jury for seeing through these false allegations,” said his attorney, Jennifer Keller.
“What’s next is Mr. Spacey is going to be proven that he’s innocent of anything he’s been accused of. That there was no truth to any of the allegations,” she added, a reference to other sexual misconduct claims against the actor, including criminal charges in England.By BRODY LEVESQUE
i o be eﬁt o a e e po e e pa ded by the
The U.S. Department of Veterans Aﬀairs announced a major policy change last week closing a gap in survivor beneﬁts for certain survivors of LGBTQ+ Veterans speciﬁcally, for those who were unable to wed until the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, and who, therefore, were not married to their now-deceased Veteran spouses for long enough to qualify for survivor beneﬁts.
This extension of survivor beneﬁts is eﬀective immediate-
“VA is closing a gap in beneﬁts for surviving spouses of LGBTQ+ Veterans, righting a wrong that is a legacy of the discriminatory federal ban on same-sex marriages,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “It is VA’s mission to serve all Veterans – including LGTBQ Veterans – as well as they’ve served our country, and this decision is a key part of that eﬀort.”
Due to bans on same-sex marriages, many LGBTQ+ Veterans were unable to get married until Obergefell v. Hodges 2 2015 despite being in “marriage-type” relationships long before that.
According to a statement from the VA this wrongly precluded many survivors of those LGBTQ+ Veterans from becoming eligible for survivor beneﬁts because their Veteran spouse died before the marriage met VA’s length-of-marriage requirements one-year for survivor beneﬁts, eight-
years for a higher rate of beneﬁts .
This decision addresses that problem by counting the duration of marriage from when the surviving spouse can establish a “marriage-type” relationship — such as a commitment ceremony, joint banking account, or joint purchase of a house. Importantly, these beneﬁts are not retroactive.
The VA also noted in its statement that it is committed to delivering world-class care and beneﬁts to LGBTQ Veterans. As a part of this eﬀort, last year, VA began providing beneﬁts to Veterans who were given “Other Than Honorable” discharges due to their sexual orientation.
Eligible survivors can apply for these beneﬁts here, and more information about this announcement can be found here.
LGBTQ+ Veterans can learn more about VA’s current health oﬀerings on the LGBTQ Health Program website.By LA BLADE STAFF
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Hate on full display in Los Angeles. This is NOT acceptable period!
The ‘Goyim Defense League’ headed by Minadeo dropped vile banners over the busy 05 freeway in Los Angeles Saturday
Yesterday a group of white neo-Nazi white supremacists led by the hate speech purveyor Jon Minadeo II, a person who was arrested for vile displays of antisemitism at the Auschwitz concentration camp museum memorial in O wi cim, Poland just this past summer, has now brought his hate and racism to LA.
The ‘Goyim Defense League’ headed by Minadeo dropped vile banners over the busy 405 freeway in Los Angeles Saturday.
Minadeo and his band of hate mongers were acting in “support” of Rapper Kanye West, also known as e.
West has engaged in several hateful intolerant rants on podcasts and social media posts in which he has made comments about supposed Jewish people’s collective power and control.
In West’s recent appearance on the Drink Champs Podcast, he blamed “Jewish Zionists” for the reports that his ex-wife Kim ardashian and her then-boyfriend Pete Davidson had sexual intercourse next to a ﬁreplace, claimed that “ ewish people have owned the black voice,” and described Disney as a Jewish platform.
In the same Drink Champs podcast, which was removed from Youtube, West also claimed that Jewish people “came into money through the lawyers” divorcing Christians because Catholics refused to do so.
This newspaper strongly condemns Minadeo’s actions along with members of his white supremacist group ‘Goyim Defense League.’ As is with transphobia, homophobia and xenophobia, racist hate has no place in a civil society and most assuredly cannot be tolerated. Angelenos and their elected o cials must work harder to stop this incessant ﬂow of absolute garbage that infects out Southern California home.
Like the most recent examples of West’s remarks coupled with the horrible racism and scandal on the City Council of Los Angeles, which this newspaper has also strongly condemned, this yet another reason this type of hate must be condemned, countered, and answered with messages of tolerance and acceptance celebrating the diversity among the human species- not attacking the diﬀerences.
The Los Angeles Times on Sunday published: More antisemitic hate seen in L.A. after Kanye West’s remarks– Fears that antisemitic remarks by Kanye West would spur additional bigotry came to fruition in Los Angeles on Saturday when a well-known hate group held a demonstration in support of the rapper on a 05 Freeway overpass. Demonstrators gave Nazi salutes as they stood behind a large banner that read, “Kanye is right about the Jews,” according to images collected by antidiscrimination organizations and Jewish residents appalled by the group’s message.
is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including Parents Magazine, the Hufngton Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more. He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
e lie o da a e pe i io to be o ee el e
In 2020 drag queen Trixie Mattel mock killed oﬀ Leslie ordan. “Do you remember Leslie ordan ” she quipped. “Rest in Peace.” Both her co-host, atya, and the cameraman were horriﬁed. With sincere shock the cameraman can be heard exclaiming, “What No ”
“No, no, I am kidding ” Trixie howled in laughter at her fake out, and the deeply pained reaction it generated.
Today, the joke is over, and the laughter has stopped. Leslie ordan is gone.
Many will call Leslie ordan a “gay icon”, but he is much more than that. He has been the constant television presence that gave us permission to be our authentic queer selves by whole heartedly embracing his own gayness.
He is the icon that the icons mourn. Dolly Parton, certainly in that category, said. “Well I am as hurt and shocked as if I have lost a family member. Leslie and I had a special bond, I think the world felt they had a special bond with him. I know people always say, “Oh they will be missed” but in this case, that could not be more true. He will be missed by everyone who knew him personally and by everyone who was entertained by him. Rest in peace lil brother.” Leslie ordan was part of our collective gay brand. While media liked, and still likes, to portray gay men with certain aﬀectations that became cringe-worthy cliches, Leslie ordan blew past them. His character was those presentations in their true authentic form. As Mayim Bialik told him in her podcast interview, “ our brand is OU being you.”
As Leslie told Ellen on her show, “I open my mouth and ﬁfty yards of chiﬀon comes out.”
Recently, for many in America, Leslie was the epitome of ﬁnding humor in our shelter-in-place reality. At the start of the pandemic, he had 0,000 followers on Instagram. By the end of the quarantine, thanks to his twice daily postings for 0 days, he had 5,500,000 followers. That was only the beginning his whimsical short videos became TikTok snippets and ou Tube pleasures as well.
In the broader history of television, Leslie’s appearances will stand out as a branding on any television show that wanted to make its stamp as an LGBTQ landmark. From Murphy Brown to Ryan Murphy, from Ellen’s coming out sitcom to
Will and Grace, from Desperate Housewives to RuPaul’s Drag race at one point or another, they all featured a Leslie ordan episode. When they did, they could be assured of one thing: Leslie would steal the scene, every time.
“From the ﬁrst time I saw him on an episode of Murphy Brown in 19 9, he was hysterically hilarious. So grateful for the years of laughter from this deeply gifted man,” states Mark Hamill. The magic that was Leslie ordan in 19 9 can still be felt in today’s queer culture.
“A light, a joy, PURE LOVE. What a loss. Love you sweet Leslie,” mourns Drag Race’s Michelle Visage.
“What a loss, an unapologetic masterclass on how to live life ” famed drag queen Vivienne states.
“Devastated to ﬁnd out that Leslie ordan has passed. He was such a queer icon to me,” Trinity the Tuck responded to the news.
“What an angel. Gone much too soon,” gay Rom-Com trailblazer Billy Eichner states.
“Leslie, we are heartbroken at your loss and will miss your mirth and your inimitable spirit.” George Takei wrote in tribute.
Leslie was gay and adored from the beginning. He was born in Chatanooga Tennessee in 1955, and a few years later became big brother to twin sisters. “I fell out of the womb and landed in my mother’s high heels,” he said.
His family was religious with his mother getting them into church at any point where “the doors were open.” His dad was a military o cer who was adored by his son, even when in Tennessee society in the 50s, it might have found little Leslie a bit much with which to deal. As his dad sat on the front porch with butch miliary friends, little Leslie’s voice could be heard from the front yard, “Daddy, daddy Watch me twwwwiiirrrrl ”
When Leslie was three, he wanted a bride doll for Christmas. His military Lt. Col. dad told his wife “no.” On Christmas eve, as Leslie was going on and on about how Santa would bring him his bride doll, Leslie’s mom asked her husband, “What are your going to tell him ” The next thing she heard was the back door shut.
The next morning, Leslie found a beautiful bride doll under
the tree. Leslie’s dad died in a plane crash nine years later. Leslie found ways to be himself. “In high school, you have to play the game. Nobody bothered me nobody teased me –because I was funny. I learned to be funny to keep the bullies at bay. So nobody would tease me. But I was always waiting for that axe to fall.”
Leslie arrived in West Hollywood in 19 2. As he described it, West Hollywood was a “city in crisis”. It was a time that forged his gay bravery into his persona, and gave him the spirit that would later burst through his comedic genius. “People were dropping like ﬂies from AIDS. We were not getting any help, so we ﬁgured out very quickly we had to take care of our own. I jumped into the trenches, and I I saw miracles. With people whose families had turned their backs on them because they found out not only that they were gay, but they had this disease, It was a real period of growth for me where some real beauty came out of that. We were all going through this together. In the gay community, we were going though that struggle all together and we came out a stronger community, a more loving community. Because we were more willing to reach out to one another. That was when I ﬁgured out that I couldn’t argue with people about being gay , I’m not going to argue with them. I know what I know. I know what I know.”
In the past few decades, Leslie weaved his brand of out-hilarity with his own internal demons. “The dark cloud that followed me was not my homosexuality, it was depression,” he said. He found recovery and his own sense of spirituality. He related to something his friend Carrie Fisher had said: “I am a very enthusiastic agnostic who would love nothing better than to be proven wrong.”
He told Mayim Bialik, “I seek with an open heart, I would love nothing better than to believe in a Higher Power and I talk to him. Do I know for sure I don’t think any of us know for sure. In the seeking you ﬁnd your faith.” He rankled at the idea that being gay was his “cross to bear.” “No, it’s not my cross to bear It is who I am I am just a little open book.”
In the end, there is comfort in knowing that Leslie ordan not only lived as his most authentic self, but he also lived his best life. He is quoted as saying recently, “I am as content as I could possibly be. What a blessing to be content with yourself.” For those of us who emulate him, that might be our great take-away. The very gay Leslie ordan has left us with the permission to be content with ourselves, just the way we are.
That should also bring his late mother solace. She proudly accepted him when he came out to her at age 12. Her only comment was “I am concerned that you will be subject to ridicule. So. I think you should live your life quietly.”
Well. We all know exactly how well THAT didn’t work out. Thank God.
“Leslie, we are heartbroken at your loss and will miss your mirth and your inimitable spirit.” George Takei wrote in tribute
ROB WATSONBy KEVIN NAFF |
Ina Garten’s gay appeal is undeniable. From her fabulous home and gardens, to her creative cocktail recipes, to her many gay friends and over-the-top brunch parties, who wouldn’t want to count Ina as a friend?
He may not be on the brunch invitation list yet, but we can all live a bit vicariously through Trent Pheifer, 37, a home cook who chronicled his quest to cook all 1,272 of Garten’s recipes on Instagram storeboughtisﬁne , catching her eye and ultimately cooking with her on a Zoom event earlier this year.
To celebrate the release of Garten’s 13th cookbook this week, “Go-To Dinners,” the Blade sat down with Pheifer to talk all things Ina.
“She pulled me in, in a way that wasn’t about cooking,” Pheifer said. “She was always having a good time, it was approachable.”
Pheifer said that when he ﬁrst started cooking he tried Julia Child, but ran into problems with her lengthy recipe for Beef Bourguignon.
“A lot of those recipes weren’t working out for me because I didn’t have the skills,” he said. “I had made a few of Ina’s recipes and everything was easy to read and gave me conﬁdence in the kitchen and the results were delicious.”
Pheifer loved the ﬁlm “ ulie and ulia,” about a ulia Child fan who cooked all of the iconic chef’s recipes, and thought he would cook his way through Ina’s many recipes.
It took him nearly six and a half years, but he did it and in March of this year, he reached the end, culminating in a memorable Zoom event with Ina herself in which Pheifer cooked the ﬁnal recipe, her Boston Cream Pie, a notoriously tricky dish.
What did he learn during all that time in the kitchen as an amateur cook?
“It’s about diving in — you just have to do it,” he says. “So many people think they aren’t good cooks because they’ve never cooked or they’ve tried something too complicated. … Don’t overdo it when getting started and slowly build.”
Pheifer noted that he was eating mostly prepared foods from Trader Joe’s when he started and now can make anything in Ina’s vast repertoire. But learning to cook isn’t all about impressing dinner guests with fancy dishes. Pheifer, who’s gay and works as a fundraiser for the Advertising Council in New York City, said the bigger lesson was discovering his self-conﬁdence.
“I’ve always struggled with self-conﬁdence not being good enough or smart enough –and I think in the last seven years of this project my conﬁdence has skyrocketed,” he said. “Having worked hard at something and being recognized, having fun with people, I found conﬁdence in being myself and that has spilled over into my job and life. I wouldn’t be where I am without it.”
Pheifer also shared his thoughts on Ina’s appeal to gay men, noting that about half of his Instagram followers are men, most of whom he assumes are gay.
“A lot of gay men are attracted to strong women,” he said. “A lot of gay boys grew up with ‘Barefoot Contessa’ and a lot of her friends are gay and it’s a place you knew you were welcome. She never waved the Pride ﬂag, but I knew I would be welcomed into her home.”
Aside from baking cookies with his mother and grandmother as a child, Pheifer didn’t grow up with an interest in the kitchen, though he noted the family sat down to dinner most nights together. By college he wasn’t cooking at all.
“When I was approaching 30 I realized I didn’t know how to cook for myself and it’s expensive to go out to dinner every day,” he said. ulia Child inspired him at ﬁrst, until that run-in with the Beef Bourguignon. After discovering Ina’s recipes were more approachable, he only encountered one bad experience while cooking his way through her books: vegetable lasagna.
The recipe calls for roasting three trays of vegetables and making a sauce — not an easy feat in a small New York City kitchen. “There were too many elements at the same time,” he says.
Undeterred by the laborious lasagna recipe, Pheifer soldiered on for nearly seven years, sometimes wondering if all his eﬀorts and Instagram posts would be noticed. He says he didn’t start the project hoping to get media attention, but there were thoughts that maybe all of this could lead somewhere.
“At some point you get years into the project and wonder, will anyone notice,” he said. “Ina is so beloved that she inspired this fan base of people who love her and I think I got lucky that no one else was doing it already.” He added that he didn’t do any outreach and the subsequent media attention was organic and came via word of mouth.
One highlight of Pheifer’s culinary journey came unexpectedly while on a vacation in Paris, which happens to be Ina Garten’s favorite city where she and husband eﬀrey own an apartment. He was on a foodie trip with friends and snagged a coveted table at Verjus, known for its tasting menu, when he spotted Ina and eﬀrey at a table in the intimate dining room. When they ﬁnished, Pheifer summoned the courage to approach his culinary idol.
“It was kismet,” he says, “the color ran from my face. I approached after they ﬁnished and my friend knocked over their bottle of wine as I was shaking their hands.”
He introduced himself as the man behind storeboughtisﬁne and Ina immediately recognized him and they posed for a photo.
“I couldn’t think of a more magical way to meet her,” he said, “this was such an intimate experience and in the city she loves the most. Ina is obsessed with Paris so it was a magical moment.”
With Ina’s new book out Oct. 25, Pheifer says he will continue his quest to cook all of the recipes. He plans to tackle two or three each week.
And if Pheifer could pick the theme for Ina’s 14th cookbook, he says it would be “Store Bought is Fine.” Ina has said her next book will be a memoir and Pheifer hopes she will write about what drives her to create.
Although Pheifer turns to Ina for French, Italian, and American dishes, he said he collects all sorts of cookbooks and his favorite this year is “Korean American” by New York Times writer Eric Kim.
As for Pheifer’s favorite Ina recipe to make, he says it’s her rigatoni with sausage and fennel from “Cooking with eﬀrey.” Least favorite: pear and parsnip gratin. His go-to Ina dinner: Shrimp and Linguini Fra Diavolo with Outrageous Garlic Bread. Go-to dessert: Mocha Iced Box Cake. And his favorite Ina cookbook is “Barefoot Contessa At Home.”
Ina Garten’s latest, “Go-To Dinners” is out Oct. 25 from Clarkson Potter and includes breakfast-for-dinner options, make-ahead ideas, and simply assembled dishes.
Celebrating Ina Garten’s 13th cookbook with her biggest fan Trent Pheifer has made all 1,272 of her recipes and counting
It’s hard to believe that “American Horror Story” is now more than a decade old – yet at the same time, it feels like it’s been on the air forever.
Arguably the signature accomplishment of gay entertainment mogul Ryan Murphy, who’s been behind some of the most acclaimed, controversial, and campy programming of our contemporary era, it’s a show that has met all three of those descriptors – often at the same time – while bringing a legion of die-hard fans back for more each season. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but Murphy’s “AHS” juggernaut has managed to keep itself going for 11 years thanks to its anthology format.
It has also, from its inception, been one of the queerest shows on television. This might be stating the obvious, considering that Murphy typically includes multiple queer storylines in each season and employs a host of out queer actors, not to mention maintaining an unabashedly queer sensibility in the show’s aesthetic and bringing in the occasional iconic diva. We only bring it up here because for its latest installment, which premiered with two episodes on FX last week, just in time for Halloween, “American Horror Story” has gone “gayer” than ever.
The stalemate may be about to give way, though. When a young man named Adam (Charlie Carver) shows up at the station to report his roommate’s disappearance after a night of cruising in the Ramble, Patrick breaks his silence at home and tells Gino about the incident, encouraging him to pursue the story and giving him a lead to follow, and embarking on a clandestine investigation of his own likewise, Adam, resolving to ﬁnd his missing friend after having his concerns dismissed by the police, traces a scrap of a clue to Theo (Isaac Powell), a rising-star photographer, and his art dealer boyfriend Sam (Zachary Quinto), whose dark secrets may or may not be connected with the murders. Meanwhile, somewhere in the “gayborhood,” a killer still lurks, and the body count continues to climb.
If you’re thinking that the story – written by Murphy and frequent creative collaborator Brad Falchuk – is an allegory in which the hunt for a ﬁctional serial killer a favorite “AHS” trope) is used as a metaphor for the AIDS crisis, you’re probably not wrong. That doesn’t mean that AIDS doesn’t exist in this “AHS” version of the early ‘80s; a side story featuring epidemiologist Dr. Hannah Wells Billie Lourd , glimpsed only brieﬂy so far, has broached the subject of the disease, and it seems likely to become a big part of whatever endgame the show’s creators have in mind.
That endgame is anyone’s guess. “AHS” has a reputation for throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks; almost every season has left the gate with a provocative premise and an intriguing bundle of ideas – and while some have thrillingly lived up to their potential and others have devolved into a self-indulgent mess (though viewers’ assess ment of which is which may vary wildly, depending on which viewer you ask), even the best of them have usually allowed at least one or two threads to trail oﬀ and disappear. “N C,” at this early stage, could go either way or land somewhere in between.
Admittedly, it shows a great deal of promise. Obviously thrilled to explore a seminal moment in queer history, the series seems to delight in the sights, the sounds, and the happenings of early-‘80s Manhattan. There are scenes in the historic baths, complete with a singing diva (Patti LuPone, of course) to entertain the boys in between hook-ups; an artist-turned-impresario (Gideon Glick) throws a massive party in an abandoned pier-side warehouse, where everybody who’s anybody (or ever wants to be) gathers for a drug-anddisco-fueled night of art, fashion, and hedonistic fun; a Quentin Crisp-ish queer elder (De nis O’Hare) holds court in a dimly lit dive, and macho men engage in aggressive frottage at the leather-and-levi bar a few streets over. It’s the kind of vivid and nostalgic period recreation that Murphy’s productions have become famous for – detailed, colorful, immersive, and just glossy enough to make it feel like a fondly remembered dream – and it’s one of the pleasures of watching the show.
Titled simply “NYC,” it’s set against the backdrop of 1981 New York and focuses squarely on the city’s thriving gay community. As anyone with even a basic knowledge of queer cul tural history already knows, it’s a heady time and place for a gay man to be – but it’s also a time and place on the cusp of soon-to-descend devastation.
For most of the show’s characters, however, AIDS is not even a blip on the horizon, at least not yet. Instead, they’re facing a diﬀerent kind of plague: a wave of grisly murders, targeting gay men, has left a growing pile of dismembered bodies in its wake, and to make matters worse, the NYPD seem uninterested in doing anything about it – or rather, most of them do. Patrick (Russell Tovey), a closeted police detective, has been cautiously pressing his superiors to take the situation more seriously, but it hasn’t been enough to nudge them into action; it also hasn’t been enough for his lover, Gino (Joe Mantello), an out-and-proud journalist who has made the mysterious killings into his paper’s No. 1 cause, and for whom Patrick’s refusal to share information about the case for fear of being “outed” has become a sore spot in their relationship.
At the same time, there’s something unsettling about watching this Tarantino-esque dis tortion of a history that strikes such a deep chord in the queer imagination. With a main storyline that seems akin to a true-crime rewrite of “The Normal Heart” and a gallery of background characters that are clearly reimagined versions of real-life ﬁgures like Robert Mapplethorpe, David Wojnarowicz, Klaus Nomi, Victor Hugo and more, Murphy and Fal chuk’s audacious (some might say sensationalistic) approach to melding LGBTQ heritage into a pop-culture horror narrative might hit a little too close to home for audiences who see this particular real-life chapter as horriﬁc enough without ﬁctional embellishment.
Still, as “AHS” has proven many times before, it’s not afraid to disturb its fans – and that doesn’t just mean with gore and shock value, though there’s always plenty of that. Its horrors are rooted in our social zeitgeist, in our traumatic memories and in the vast uncer tainty of our life in the here and now.
“NYC” – coming as it does at a time when anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and homophobic ideol ogies make the hard-won advancement of our community feel all too precarious – is no diﬀerent. Thus far, no overtly supernatural elements have emerged so far though that may change), but by invoking specters that continue to haunt us, hovering in the shadows around our safe spaces until they can leap out and catch us oﬀ guard, it’s a ghost story, nonetheless.
It even has the potential to be a good one, if Murphy and company can continue to reach the bar they’ve set for themselves with the ﬁrst two episodes. udging from the “AHS” track record, they have a roughly even chance.RUSSELL TOVEY stars in the new season of AHF. (Photo courtesy FX)
‘American Horror Story’ goes full gay in ‘NYC’ Anthology features leather daddies, divas, baths, and gruesome murders in 1981
Boo abo t le bia a ai i tea y e otica ith thi to y
It was so not cool.
And yet, you owned it because it was your error, there was no denying it, and you can’t go back in time and undo it. It wasn’t cool, but it happened. Then again, was it really such a misstep, or was there something good inside the something bad you did As in the new novel, “Mistakes Were Made” by Meryl Wilsner, will it all turn out right in the end?
The bar wasn’t one she usually frequented, but it was as far from the dorm as Cassie lein could possibly get. It was Family Weekend at college, she’d graduate soon, and the whole “family” thing was ridiculous. No, the bar was a better place to be and she was preparing to get drunk, until she started watching the older woman who was watching her.
She bought the woman a drink and one thing led to another, which led to the back seat of the woman’s car, the exchange of ﬁrst names, and a semi-public one-night stand that Cassie was sure she’d never forget.
Erin Bennett had hoped being at Family Weekend might heal the broken bond she had with her daughter, Parker. She knew Parker was still angry that Erin had ﬁled for divorce from Parker’s father, and Erin wished she could explain things but she wasn’t exactly sure herself why the divorce was important. She was mulling this over when Parker arrived at breakfast with one of her closest friends in tow – a friend that Erin had never o cially met, but thatBy TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
she knew very well.
Intimately, in fact.
It was the woman she’d had sex with the night before.
Clearly, this was awkward and Parker could never ﬁnd out what had happened. While the obvious thing to do was to put the brakes on, that was impossible – especially after Parker wouldn’t take “no” for an answer when she invited Cassie to her mother’s house for Christmas break. Being in the same home together was hard enough, but being in the same room, and in pajamas How could anyone resist that
There are really two basic ways to perceive “Mistakes Were Made.” It’s either an overly long, mostly-bare-bones story that contains some explicit bedroom scenes. Or it’s soft erotica with a tissue-thin story between steamy trysts.
Could it be better Well, that, too, will depend on what you want in a novel.
Author Meryl Wilsner’s bedroom kitchen, back seat, living room scenes are hotter than a baked potato straight from the oven. They’re steam-your-glasses hot and there are enough of them to seize your interest and handcuﬀ it to a bedpost – if that is, indeed, your interest. Come to this novel for a romance-y tale, though, and you could be bored because, while girl-meets-girl is all over this book, it’s frustratingly slow getting to it.
And so, know what you want before you pick up “Mistakes Were Made.” If erotica is your thing, stay for the heat. If you want a good story, though, it’ll leave you cold.
‘Mistakes Were Made’
By Meryl Wilsner c.2022, St. Martin’s Press $16.99 | pages
Mistakes Were Made’ delivers heat but the romance falls ﬂat
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