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CONTENTS JUNE 5, 2019 VOL43 NO5
FROM THE EDITOR
CHANNEL Q IS QUEERING OUT THE RADIO WAVES
8 ELECTRIC FUNERAL FEST 10 AN HORSE
42 CYNTHIA LEE FONTAINE
16 TRAGIC SCHOOL SHOOTING IMPACTS QUEER COMMUNITY
46 WHEELCHAIR SPORTS CAMP 50 YVIE ODDLY
MISS RICHFIELD 1981
20 DENVER HEALTH
HOW FAR WE’VE COME
USE YOUR WORDS
TYLER THE CREATIVE
COME PARTY WITH THE ANIMALS
THE PROBLEM WITH FAKE GRASSROOTS FUNDRAISING
30 MAINTAINING PRIDE FOR ‘PRIDE’
72 COLORADO... I’M LISTENING 74
MY 420 TOURS
GETTING SURGICAL WITH DENVER HEALTH
STOP HURTING US
PERMISSION TO LOVE
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SERVING THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS SINCE 1976 PHONE 303-477-4000 FAX 303-325-2642 WEB OutFrontMagazine.com FACEBOOK /OutFrontColorado TWITTER @OutFrontCO INSTAGRAM /OutFrontColorado FOUNDER PHIL PRICE 1954-1993 ADMINISTRATION firstname.lastname@example.org JERRY CUNNINGHAM Publisher J.C. MCDONALD Vice President MAGGIE PHILLIPS Operations Manager JEFF JACKSON SWAIM Chief Strategist EDITORIAL email@example.com ADDISON HERRON-WHEELER Editor VERONICA L. HOLYFIELD Creative Director BRENT HEINZE Senior Columnist INTERNS: Arianna Balderrama, Zach Blue WRITERS: Amanda E.K., Alysha Prieto, Caitlin Galiz-Rowe, Denny Patterson, Jordan Hanson, Joshua Lionlight, Keegan Williams, Mar Luther, Nina Montaldo, Steve Cruz, Tyler Harvey, Yvonne Wright ART firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN2PRO Graphic Designer COVER PHOTO: Brandon Voss CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Charles Broshous
FIGURES FROM THE CRAIG PONZIO SCULPTURE COLLECTION
Now on View View sculptures that explore the human form in both classical and abstract styles against a backdrop of diverse landscapes. Get tickets at botanicgardens.org
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RESERVATION OF RIGHTS Q Publishing Group, LTD is the owner of all right, title, and interest in the OUT FRONT brand and logo. No person or entity may reproduce or use (or authorize the reproduction or use of) the OUT FRONT brand and logo in any manner other than expressly authorized by Q Publishing Group. Unauthorized use of the OUT FRONT brand and logo is strictly prohibited. OUT FRONT is published by Q Publishing, Ltd., a Colorado corporation and is a member of: the National Equality Publishers Association and Colorado LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce.
Sassona Norton, An Hour Before Dawn (detail), bronze, 2001. Collection of Craig Ponzio. Artwork © Sassona Norton. Photo by Scott Dressel-Martin.
10th & York Street
FROM THE EDITOR
t’s here again: Pride season, and this time, there’s even more meaning behind it. It’s the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, of Pride. It’s the time of year that we look back on the brave trans women, drag queens, and queer folks who paved the way for us. It’s the one time of year that everything turns rainbow and glittery. But the problem is, Pride is a little like Christmas for Christians. There are plenty of people who go the whole year never talking about church, or Jesus, but in December, their home is lit up with red and greens lights, and they are singing the Lord’s praises in Christmas carols. They spend money; they are all about goodness and paying it forward. And then, in January, they are back to swearing in traffic and not going to church. They are Christian for one month of the year, and they really, truly feel it in their hearts during that month and have a great holiday season. But then it’s over, and it’s back to the same old routine. That’s a bit like how lots of queer folks, and a lot of allies, are during Pride month. For a month, everything is all rainbow and glitter, and then things go back to being “straight,” monochromatic, and dull. This is a time when Pride is needed more than ever. We are facing hate crimes, especially against trans people, at an alarming rate. Right here in Denver, a trans woman named Amber was brutally attacked and beaten. Plus, while we like to look back at Stonewall and earlier Prides and think about how far we’ve come, there is still so much work to be done. Trans folks, especially women and people of color, still face a lot of prejudice and hate. The G is still center-stage in a lot of queer spaces, whithout much regard to the L and the B, much less the T. Even as a cis woman, I am constantly reminded that the queer world, especially queer media, is still very much a boys' club. So, this time around, when you feel moved by the spirit of Pride, hold on to that feeling; spread it around, and make sure you’re keeping it all year and applying it to all people. -Addison Herron-Wheeler
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Electric Funeral Fest is Here, Queer, and Full of Beer
lmost every year, I have an internal struggle. Actually, this happens way more than once a year. Pride weekend is the most nuts weekend of the year, and OUT FRONT requires all hands on deck to make things happen. But, whenever I can sneak away, instead of resting, I head down to South Broadway and check out as much of the Electric Funeral Fest goodness as I can. This isn’t the only time of year I have to balance queer events with metal events and run around like a chicken with my head cut off. All year, there are also metal shows, and all year, there are also drag shows, events, and tons of parties.
In addition to wishing I was Hermoine in Harry Potter and could be in two places at one time, I sometimes feel out of place in both settings. Certain metal shows make me feel too queer and femme, while some queer events are so heavy on the pop music and peppiness that my inner goth wants to run screaming. This is why I’m so grateful for places in Denver that make a space for everyone. Like Gladys, a bar that welcomes weird drag and an awkward girl with gauged ears and a metal shirt who orders
amaretto sours, and Hi-Dive, a known spot for divey metal shows that also hosts drag shows. And I’m grateful for Electric Funeral Fest. Every year in June, South Broadway is transformed into even more of a metalhead paradise, as the venues Hi-Dive and Three Kings become vessels for some of the heaviest, doomiest sounds out there, and fans trapse back and forth to sip beer, mingle, and see some of their favorite bands. Not only does the event happen every year around Pride, this year, the two headlining bands both have ties to the queer community. Torche have an openly gay frontman, and Thou, a band who are known to be allies to the community, just welcomed in a queer band member, KC Stafford on bass, vocals, and guitar, who identifies as nonbinary. “I’m just excited to get out there and play a show,” said Steve Brooks, vocalist and guitarist for Torche. “It’s been a while. I’m looking forward to just getting out there and seeing friends and getting away from my day job for a few days. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to get away, but I’d love to check out [the Pride festivities in Denver] too.”
By Addison Herron-Wheeler Photo by Mike Goodwin
Usually, there is some crossover, as Pride folks drift down South Broadway, and metalheads make their way up to the Pride festivities. "Dust Presents does not discriminate fans or bands for race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, and we support the LGBTQ community with open arms,” the group who puts on Electric Funeral Fest every year explained. “We are proud to know that Electric Funeral Fest will coincide with Pride Weekend this year. Our events are a welcoming space for lovers of art and music, and we certainly hope that some of the LGBTQ community will join us for some heavy metal on South Broadway!" "On Pride Weekend, the Hi-Dive has its regularly scheduled programming of acceptance and love for all people that we practice 365 days a year (366 days on leap years),” added Curtis Wallach, co-owner and talent buyer at Hi-Dive. “We will also be hosting a kick-*ss heavy metal fest. Come as you are, and let's party." So, this year, if you’re looking to still support queer artists, but top 40 isn’t always your vibe, stop by South Broadway to crack a cold one and bang your head. Electric Funeral Fest is happening this year on June 14 and 15 at Hi-Dive and Three Kings in Denver.
Be prepared. Your lung cancer can spread to your brain. Rose, Rose, age age 59, 59, Texas Texas
Smoking caused Roseâ€™s lung cancer. She had to move from the small town she loved to get the treatment she needed, including chemo, radiation and having part of her lung removed. Recently, her cancer spread to her brain. You can quit.
Words and photo by Veronica L. Holyfield
An Horse, An Air of Ready
efore the explosion of streaming music on phones and downloadable playlists to metaphorical clouds, record stores were once the favorite spot to aimlessly wander for hours. Every level of music nerd could genre-hop and wax poetic with fellow lovers of all things sonic, perusing the aisles of compact discs and vinyl. In 2006 in Brisbane, Australia, within the very walls of an independently owned musical hub, a pair worked alongside one another and soon discovered a kinship and a mutual desire to create. An Horse, the punk-indie-rock outfit made up of Kate Cooper and Damon Cox, have been recording and releasing music since 2007. With the release of their debut album in 2009, Rearrange Beds, the Aussies drew worldwide attention. The upbeat and unconventional pair caught the ears of the industry, and the band began to tour with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Cage the Elephant, Tegan and Sara, and Dashboard Confessional. With the distinctive lamenting of Cooper’s vocals and guitar riffs alongside the infinite persistence of Cox on the drums, they toured the world several times over. The massive success of their single “Camp Out” even landed them a performance slot on The Late Show with David Letterman, and they quickly found themselves back in the studio. By 2011, An Horse released their followup the, 13-song, anthemic album Walls, which hit the shelves and placed the two back on the road. The opening single, "Dressed Sharply," fused pulsing, down-tempos which pulled you in with undeniably catchy, up-beat guitar riffs. Met with praise and selected as iTunes Single of the Week, the band played massive shows and festivals like Lollaplooza and SXSW. But then, the music stopped.
A six-year hiatus followed which had fans and critics fearing the forever disintegration of the An Horse duo. However, in March of 2019, refreshed, ready, and optimistic, Cooper and Cox have returned with a brand-new album, Modern Air, and are eager to play the songs they worked so hard on.
“It’s much harder [to write these songs], but the reward is much bigger. I didn’t want to get up onstage and sing about my dad dying for the next two years, because that’s really heavy. So I wanted to write songs that were fun and that people would come away from feeling stronger and more empowered.”
“It was written over a couple of years; we really took our time,” Cooper said. She admitted that it seemed like the band was gone for quite a long time, but from the end of their tour in 2013 to the beginning of working on the new songs, it was really only a matter of a couple of years off.
Wanting to make the new even better than the former, the band was resolute in working with a team capable of capturing their essential sound in the most perfect way.
There was a method to the madness; in fact, a deliberate reason as to why the time off was taken and even necessary. “I wanted to make a record that I was super proud of,” she said. “I just don't want to write songs to pay bills; I want to write songs that mean something.” Cooper began with writing demos at home, and after relocating to Montreal from Brisbane, she would send them to Cox so he could make notes and additions. Sending tracks and recordings back and forth digitally proved to be a fulfilling, collaborative process, recording remotely and during inperson practice sessions. As An Horse rediscovered their unique and dynamic pace, the direction of the new music and the context and content of each song became more and more intentional. “I tried to write songs that were really positive, because I just see on social media this glamorization of being sad and writing depressed, sad songs. But we only have a short time on this Earth; we should really try to be happy and work hard at that,” she said. As the band partnered with Lame-O Records, the songs started taking a new direction, not so much in sound, but more specifically in lyrical content and focus.
“From very early on, we knew that we wanted to work with Mike Sapone, because we're big fans of a lot of the records he’s made,” said Cooper. Producer, composer, and mixer Sapone has worked with big-name bands Taking Back Sunday and Brand New and has contributed music to major TV shows like Smallville and Sons of Anarchy. “I'm not sure if he’s really worked with a band that sounded like us." Starting to feel a bit of pressure, An Horse received push-back and were tempted to just work with someone else. However, the feeling of pressure and expectation was nothing new, and they were not wavering. “When I decided years ago to just stop, I felt a lot of pressure then, because it was like I was walking away from something that I’d worked really hard on, and it could have been the dumbest idea I'd had, but I didn't have another option at that point in time. “When it came around to putting this record out, I thought, ‘I should have done this years ago,’ but I really wasn't well enough; I wasn’t a happy human being. Not that I was unwell, but I was feeling like sh*t, like everyone does in life. So, I had made peace with the fact that I've put out records that aren’t going to make me a rich person, but they're going to make people happy." The pair had waited this long to make
the record the right way, the way they wanted. If they had to wait a little while longer to work with Sapone, they would wait. Finally able to make schedules align, An Horse arrived in New Jersey and recorded at The Barber Shop Studios as well as Sapone Productions in New York. “Mike was amazing to work with,” she said. “He’s such a sonic architect. It was an awesome experience, and I’m super happy with it.” Modern Air, named after the inevitibility of technology and wifi that has made its way onto even the farthest reaches of the Earth and sky, is packed with songs that deliver what fans love most about An Horse. Throughout the track list, they dive back into the indie-punk sound with ease as they explore life, love, and relationships with pure, anthemic magnetism. With the first single release off the album, An Horse chose “This Is A Song” as the gateway back to audiences, proving they are still the same quirky, fun artists here to make songs for the oddballs and the misfits. Boasting opening lyrics, “This is a song/ For all the times you didn’t belong/ And this is a song/ For all the times they got you wrong,” they are embracing their differences rather than fighting them. “I feel like that in life; I'm just such a weirdo. I don't think I'm weird, but I know a lot of people think I'm strange, and I meet people when I'm out playing music who are the same. I just wanted to write a song for them to say, ‘F*ck it; it's cool, man. It's good to be like us. Don't worry about the people you went to school with who have 14 children; just do your thing. Your life's gonna be more interesting.’ When you are feeling like the lady at the bank gave you sh*t for looking the way you do, just put that on her. She works at a bank... Unless, of course, you enjoy working at a bank, in which case you are living your best life, and I’m very happy for you.” Living her best life is what Cooper is working really hard to do, and while the reward of playing live shows and connecting with fans whom she has affected is unquantifiable, life on tour is rough. Especially for a woman.
“It's actually brutally hard for me being on tour, and one of the reasons I was ready to play shows again was because there’s a whole lot of women playing shows now. When I was a kid, there were, like, two bands that I could look up to with women in them, and that’s changed so much now, and I'm really happy,” she said. Hitting the road, often Cooper finds herself the only woman on a lineup in any given city. However, at the time of interview, An Horse was in the middle of touring North America with Australian, all-femme trio Camp Cope, and that has made all the difference. “We had to dig up some old press, because we just re-released Rearrange Beds, and just the way they built that up ten years ago, it's so different to how people build it up now. Everything had to say that I was a woman,” she said. In fact, being classified as a queer band is far less of a limiting qualifier than being labeled a band with a woman. “Are we labeled a queer band? I’m not sure. To me, it doesn’t play a part. I mean, I know I’m a queer woman; I know that much, but I don't ever think about it too much beyond the fact that we talk about constantly the fact that we are highly evolved and the chosen people. Right? (laughs)
“I guess we are 50 percent a queer band, but I don't know if we get labeled that. Probably, but I really don't pay too much attention to it. I'm just super stoked to be comfortable in my own skin, and if that makes other people comfortable or okay with themselves, then that makes me really happy. I'm just so stoked that I’m gay. Every day, I probably say it to someone,” she said. As An Horse made a pit-stop at a sold-out Lost Lake Lounge on May 21, the pair looked reinvigorated, sounding tighter than ever. Cooper wailed the new songs with the moshing crowd singing along as she riffed through new and old tracks. Cox’ exploding energy on the drums was infectious, as he banged non-stop for the entire set, all while offering melodic, back-up harmonies. Navigating through a set-list like the pros they are, the duo delivered an unstoppable intensity that even the mile-high altitude couldn’t dampen. Perhaps it was the six-year break that they needed to find a voice and an air of readiness, or maybe it was simply a reminder that the music they make affects so many in such a positive way. Nevertheless, An Horse are back and more-than-willing to rock your face off. One thing is certain, though; they are doing it with a lot more optimism this time around. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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By Addison Herron-Wheeler Photos by Veronica L. Holyfield
Envision: You Acknowledges Mental Health Issues in the Queer Community
t’s no secret that there are a lot of issues with mental health in the queer community. Although each new day brings more acceptance of the reality behind mental health, not everyone is getting the help they need. Between 44 and 70 percent of patients with mental disorders do not receive treatment, even in developed countries, and being queer adds another layer of barriers to getting help. Many queer folks are not comfortable going to doctors because of fear of judgement or being misgendered, and many do not have the resources to go get help. Additionally, alcohol and drugs are huge issues in the queer community, and many of those who need help turn to using substances as crutches instead.
Envision:You is taking a stand against these odds and focusing specifically on helping the queer community with addiction and mental health. Although still in its infancy, the organization has already met with Governor Jared Polis to ensure support for their work and are planning on implementing strategies to help the queer community during the coming year.
“During our recent meeting with Governor Polis, he demonstrated his administration’s commitment to improving the mental health of all Coloradoans including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” said Steven Haden of the Mental Health Center of Denver. “We are grateful for his leadership and support.” “When you look at the statistics concerning LGBTQ+ behavioral health, it’s alarming,” he added. According to Jerry Cunningham, executive director of the OUT FRONT Foundation, “The disproportionate impact mental illness and substance use disorders have on the LGBTQ+ community demand an increase in provider competency in addition to enhancing and expanding available services statewide. I believe it is imperative to further educate our community about these issues, connect individuals to helpful services, and increase the resources available to tackle this enormous problem.” “The Mental Health Center of Denver is pleased to have the opportunity to support the work of the Envision:You initiative,” explained Haden. “We
are dedicated to enhancing and expanding the services we provide the LGBTQ+ community and to working with other behavioral health centers and providers around the state to do the same."
gain community support. He offered his opinion on how issues near and dear to his heart, like full-day kindergarten, can positively impact mental health and the queer community.
Envision:You are planning a summit in order to discuss how to best tackle these issues. The Colorado Behavioral Health and Wellness Summit is currently seeking proposals for keynote and workshop presentations on relevant and/or emerging topics in the behavioral health field including substance use and wellness programming.
“Overall, early identification and intervention are critical for behavioral health issues,” he said. “So, kids being in kindergarten and preschool helps ensure that the school, community, or parents are notified early if there is something going on. It can help save kids from unsafe environments as well as provide healthy, nutritious meals and address unmet mental health needs. Early childhood education is a key part of that.”
The event is a collaboration between The Mental Health Center of Denver, the University of Denver, and Envision:You. “The Summit will engage the Colorado community to break down silos statewide and to bridge gaps in communication and collaboration,” Nancy Lorenzon, director of pre-health advising, University of Denver, said. “Additionally, the Summit will feature a series of workshops and trainings focused on the LGBTQ+ community.” In preparation for the Summit, Envision:You met with Governor Polis to discuss how best to
If you don’t know where to get mental health, substance use, or emotional help for yourself or someone you know, Colorado Crisis Services provides confidential and immediate support 24/7/365 on the phone, text, chat, or in person at one of their walk-in centers. Call 1-844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255. To learn more about Envision:You or to find other supportive resources, please visit envision-you. org.The Summit is scheduled October 21-25, 2019, on the campus of the University of Denver.
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By Yvonne Wright
nother day has gone by; another shooting has gone by, and it’s so normalized that we almost expect it, and it’s not surprising when it happens anymore.” Kaylan Bailey is one of the hundreds of people to survive a mass shooting here in Colorado. Sitting in a CNN studio just days after the STEM school shooting, this survivor of the Aurora theater massacre talks about what has become the new normal. School shootings are no longer unusual. Not that anyone is used to them. Or even remotely okay with them. But surprised by them? Not anymore. So, when word leaked one of the two alleged STEM school shooters might be a girl, even the most seasoned observers were stunned. It’s rare for a mass shooter to be a woman. Rarer still to be a teenage girl. Turns out the alleged shooter is even more uncommon, and isn’t actually a woman. Sixteen-year-old Alec McKinney was formally charged as Maya Elizabeth McKinney. He is transgender. What makes this so unusual, experts say, is the vast majority of transgender teens turn any violent tendencies inward. Depression, anxiety, and suicide are rampant. More than half of all transgender boys responding to the American Academy of Pediatrics survey report attempting suicide at least once. To put that in perspective, the attempted suicide rates among transgender teens is roughly nine times higher—nine-times higher—than the general population. Dr. Debbie Carter studies violence among teens and councils transitioning adolescents at the Anschutz Medical Campus. She warns too often after a violent act there is a tendency to stereotype people we see as different. Just as Muslims became targets after 9/11, we need to look at the figures and not the fears. Statistically, transgender people are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators of it. “We're all trying to figure out how to understand the public health issue of violence, and that when there's someone who seems to be different ... usually a shooter, people add a lot of characteristics,” she said.
One key to turning violence around is to study what triggers it and work to turn those triggers around. “Violence is a public health issue. Everybody's more than disappointed, saddened, grieving that individuals that are not yet adults choose violent methods,” she said. No one feels this more than the students and parents from the STEM school in Highlands Ranch. McKinney and 18-year-old Devon Erickson are accused of stealing weapons from Erickson’s parents, then going on a shooting spree that left one student dead and eight others injured. The shooting took place less than eight miles from Columbine High School, the site of the deadliest student massacre in Colorado history. It also took place less than a month after Columbine’s 20th anniversary. But, unlike Columbine, the number of kids killed did not reach double digits. Thirteen died at Columbine. One at the STEM school. Why? Survivors credit Kendrick Castillo and three other students for jumping one of the alleged shooters, allowing classmates to run for safety. Castillo, a robotics enthusiast, was killed just three days before graduating high school. At his funeral, his father described him as a great lover of humanity and urged the estimated 2,000 mourners there to be more like his son and put love and compassion for others first. “If I had to describe him a certain way, the first would be love, the love for anybody that he met,” said John Castillo. “We all really, really love Kendrick, but to carry on his life’s message, we need to be more like him.” One classmate who witnessed the attack told NBC’s Today Show that at least three of her classmates are just like Castillo. Brendan Baily, Jackson Gregory, and Lucas Albertoni helped him stop the shooting. “The next thing I know [the shooter] is pulling a gun, and he’s telling nobody to move, and that’s when Kendrick lunged at him, and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape,” said Nui Giasolli.
All eight students injured in the shooting have been released from area hospitals. The youngest is just 15 years old. But, the outcome could have been so much worse. The free, K-12 charter school has more than 1,850 students who range in age from 5 to 18. Questions are being raised about security after concerns came to light. In May of 2018, a popular cheerleader reportedly told the school board she was leaving the school because she didn’t feel safe. She told the board they needed more security. Seven months later, a parent reportedly called the school anonymously to report fears the school could face a mass shooting like those at Columbine or Arapahoe. An investigation by the school found no evidence to support the allegations, according to Colorado Public Radio. That parent is now being sued for defamation. The STEM school is being represented by the attorney representing a group trying to stop Colorado legislation allowing guns to be temporarily removed from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. Both suspects are being tried as adults. They each face nearly 50 criminal counts. Castillo’s parents were in the courtroom when charges were handed down just hours before their only child was laid to rest. "It would have been easy for them to say, 'I'm not going to make it to court today, because in less than two hours we're going to have a memorial service for our son,'" District Attorney George Brauchler said of Castillo's parents. "But from the word ‘go,’ they have made it clear that their intention is to be here for every single hearing." Seeking justice can be a long and winding road. Just ask Bailey. It took more than three years for the Aurora theater shooter just to get to trial. Bailey was only 13 years old when she was caught in the crossfire. Since his conviction, she’s worked to help others cope with the unimaginable. “It’s just the thought and the process of the fact that it does keep happening, and we have the power to control that and stop it, and yet here we are,” she said. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Wants to Go the Distance for Denver
t’s an unusual political situation, and one that hasn’t happened in over two decades. But the race for mayor was close in Denver, so close that there is now a runoff election taking place between current Mayor Michael Hancock and challenger Jamie Giellis. The race may be close, but Mayor Hancock isn’t sweating. He thinks he has what it takes to keep growing the city. We chatted with him about his plans for another term, his goals when he finally does get to relax, and what makes Denver and the queer community so special.
How do you feel about this close race and the runoff situation? Is this something you were expecting? We believed with a larger number of candidates in the race, a runoff was more likely than not. And so we weren’t surprised, although you never aim for a runoff; you aim to win! [laughs] I don’t think anyone really knows how close the race is, but we're committed to winning one person at a time, one vote at a time.
What do you think are some of the biggest issues facing Denver right now, and what do you plan to do over the next few years if you are reelected?
By Addison Herron-Wheeler Photo courtesy of Hancock for Denver
You know, amazingly, over the last 10 years, with the growth we've seen, with
the congestion and the cost of housing resulting from that, I think people want to know going forward that we're going to work to bring balance and equity to the opportunities within the growing city. I know that I would much rather be charged to manage the challenges of a growing city then the challenges of a city that is dying and doesn't have the resources to respond appropriately. We've been blessed over the last eight years; it's been an amazing run. We came out of a recession to become the most economically vibrant city in the country. But, we have to bring balance to our growth; we've got to manage it better. And now that we know that this is the most desirable city, we've got to make sure we harness those opportunities going forward. And so that's what we're doing. Really, I believe that balance, that equity, the opportunities to kind of create greater stability for all of our residents, are the challenges going forward and also the opportunities.
What will you do to help fix housing disparities, the high cost of living, and homelessness? We’re zeroing in on homelessness; homelessness is a very complex issue, so you must bring a multi-prong approach. We are working on expanding access around permanent supportive housing, taking innovative programs and opportunities like Tiny Homes and expanding those, expanding shelter beds in the city of Denver, making sure that we are lowering the barriers to entry in terms of our shelters, and continuing to expand innovative, nationally recognized programs like responders dealing with mental health. Putting mental health professionals in the cars with our police officers has made a huge difference in the city of Denver. We want to continue to expand and implement our five-year strategic substance misuse plan which is addressing head-on the challenges around alcohol and drug addiction in the city of Denver. We have the tools; we have the strategies; we are implementing them. Now it's about the next term and really making sure our reach is broader.
On the housing side of things, we also have a $300 million housing fund that we're implementing. We will spend $16 million this year; our goal is to generate some 6,300 units of housing over the next five years in the city of Denver. We want to lean in on affordable housing and bring in more attainable housing, as well as stabilize the economics around the cost of housing in Denver.
What will you do to further continue to serve and support the LGBTQ community if you are reelected? It's very important to me that all disparate groups in our city feel welcomed and included in the city of Denver. When it comes to the LGBTQ folks, we have been tremendous partners; we've accomplished a lot together over the last eight years, being the first in a state to conduct a civil union ceremony in Denver and ultimately continue to push for gay marriage in Denver and throughout Colorado. I'm proud of those accomplishments. My administration was the first to direct the Department of Safety to appoint liaisons to the LGBTQ community to create opportunities for broadening and increasing access to the administration but also to deal effectively with the issues. We collaborate very closely with the LGBTQ Commission on laws for the state as well as ordinances in the city of Denver that might impact the quality of life for the the LGBT community here in the city. So, my hope, desire, and vision is really to continue our partnership, raising the opportunities around culturally significant and sensitive issues, opportunities in the city of Denver, but also being willing to boldly address those disparities and discriminatory actions that occur in our city or throughout the state of Colorado when they occur, and stand strongly on the importance of making sure that all rights are protected in the LGBT community.
If you are reelected, are you planning on being a part of the PrideFest festivities with a float or getting involved in some way?
Whether or not I’m reelected, I’m going to be a part of it! [laughs] I'll be there this year, walking in the parade and engaged like I always am.We are always honored to take part in the Pride festival and the parade. And I know our presence makes a difference. You can expect I will continue to lean in.
When you finally aren’t mayor anymore, what do you plan to do? Sleep! [laughs] But really, I haven’t thought about it much. To be honest with you, family. Most people don’t realize the human toll a job like this takes on your family, and you walk away, when you're done, you realize your family's changed; your children have grown up; they probably married and started having kids. You have to begin to re establish and strengthen those relationships again, because you've been gone so much. So right now, I can just tell you, what I know I will do is figure out how to re-engage with my adult children and begin to strengthen those relationships.
What would you like people to know specifically before they vote? This is a big decision. This is about how we've been able to transform the city and to make sure that we build a city that is inclusive of all people. And while we have challenges as a great city, the fact is, we are a great city, and this city is not in crisis. It's important that we do everything we can to address those challenges, but do it from a position of strength and a position of growth as opposed to a city that sees a perception issue in terms of its own identity. I think most people realize we're a great city; that's why they're here. But they want the challenges met, and they want the challenges overcome, and only doing it the Denver way will we be successful. And that's what I hope to continue doing this term.
Is there anything else you'd like to add? I would love to have your vote! OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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Denver Health 20
is an Oasis in the Desert of LGBTQ Healthcare
By Caitlin Galiz-Rowe
enver Health has been recognized as a leader in LGBT health care by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for five consecutive years, and with its national recognition and commitment to LGBT health care, Denver Health is proud of being an ‘LGBT Center of Excellence,’” reads Denver Health’s page for LGBTQ Health Care. According to Administrative Director of the LGBT Center for Excellence Kari Kuka, the Center’s mission is simple: “to be THE source of care for all LGBTQ+ people.” For the most part, it seems like they’re largely able to be successful in this mission. One patient who receives care from Denver Health, Spoons Vazquez, has found the care to be excellent after dealing with a history of less-than-stellar care at other facilities. “It’s kind of a crapshoot,” he told OUT FRONT. “As much as places may advertise that they’re queer spaces, you never know what the doctors’ personal opinions are. In all reality, they were probably hired before, so if someone has a personal bias, that’s not going to change just because you change the name of the center.” But Denver Health’s Center for Excellence program has been different. “I didn’t necessarily know the extent of what Denver was trying to do until I started getting more involved as far as talking to the doctors and going through some experiences with the Denver healthcare system,” he noted. “I can see that they’re trying to change the way their people are educated on gender-expansive services and gender-expansive people.” That’s exactly what Denver Health Center is striving to do, because they are a “decentralized model” of care, which means anyone can go to any of their nine clinics, specialty care, or surgical care facilities, and expect open, affirming care. This means that the staff at all of these clinics needs to be trained to give such care.
“Having this model means that we must continue to train over 7,000 staff members,” said Kuka. “We have also improved how we gather and report information about gender in our electronic medical database to help improve the use of a patient’s chosen name and their pronouns.” This training is proving to be effective in day-to-day relations with patients. “The difference between that and anywhere else, when I go anywhere else, I have to educate people on my pronouns; I have to educate people on if anything on my paperwork says something different than how I present; then it’s a conversation. But Denver Health has put together a system where you have, like, flags in the system for birth name and then preferred name and gender so that people don’t say stupid stuff to you,” Vazquez explained. Keeping up with all this training has proven challenging, and it’s not the only obstacle Denver Health faces. “We understand how difficult and challenging both healthcare and insurance can be,” Kuka said. “We know the process is not easy, but we are giving everything we have to make it all possible for as many patients as we can. We are fighting for excellent care for all people.” This fight can be extremely challenging, especially with the additional work of keeping staff trainings up to date. But it’s worthwhile work. “The most rewarding aspect of the work is hearing from patients whose lives have been changed so drastically because of the services we’ve been able to provide,” Kuka said. These services are continuing to grow. Last year, the Center for Excellence launched gender-confirmation surgeries, and they’ve been able to do over 80 procedures so far. “I love visiting with patients after lifechanging surgery and seeing them smile,” she added.
By Yvonne Wright
How Far We’ve Come F
rom electing the nation’s first out, gay governor to voting in an unprecedented number of LGBTQ state lawmakers, Colorado has a lot to celebrate this Pride. The state’s so-called Rainbow Wave is paying off. “This was a historic [legislative] session for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families,” said Daniel Ramos, the executive director of One Colorado. By historic, the long-time activist means more LGBTQ rights bills became law this year than ever before. And what makes this legislative session so unusual is the number of conservative lawmakers who crossed party lines to approve two measures that have failed time and time again. “The strong bipartisan support of both of these bills further demonstrates that LGBTQ equality should be a nonpartisan issue, and we applaud the republicans who stood with our community,” he said. One took four years, the other five. Until now, they were voted down each and every year. But this session, a measure to ban conversion therapy and a bill to make it easier for transgender Coloradans to update their identification finally made it through.
“It may have taken us five years to get this bill passed, but every long drive to get to the capital, every ‘no’ vote, and every senator that would not look us in the eyes have all been worth it, because today we have all changed the lives of transgender Coloradans,” said Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, co-chair of the LGBTQ caucus and senate prime sponsor. Named Jude’s Law after a transgender girl who began testifying on behalf of the measure at the age of 9, it allows Coloradans to update the gender on their birth certificate without surgery, a doctor’s note, or a court order. It also makes it easier to change one’s name to reflect one’s gender. “I feel very grateful and fortunate that we are one step closer to achieving basic rights for transgender people,” said the now-13-year-old Jude, who’s last name is not published for safety reasons. Residents can now choose between M, F, or X as gender identifiers when updating a birth certificate. Colorado is now one of only three states to have non-binary gender options for both birth certificates and driver’s licenses. “This bill is about personal freedom,” said Representative Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, co-chair
of the LGBTQ caucus and house prime sponsor. “Not having updated ID documents interferes with the ability of transgender Coloradans to live their lives openly and honestly and to be their authentic selves.” Being their authentic selves is something the state’s teenagers will have an easier time doing thanks to the conversion ban. It bars doctors and state-licensed mental health providers from using the discredited practice on minors to try and change their sexual orientation or gender identity. “Conversion therapy is not backed by science and has been proven to be harmful to our LGBT+ youth,” said Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder. He was the bill’s prime sponsor. “There is nothing to ‘fix’; They should not feel ashamed of who they are. After working for years to pass this bill, I am proud that we are finally going to protect our LGBT youth and ban the dangerous practice of conversion once in for all in Colorado,” he said. State republicans blocked the conversion ban for the last three years. But this year, three senate republicans and two house republicans joined democrats in voting for it. “Protecting our LGBTQ youth is not a partisan issue,” said Ramos. Also approved, a sex education bill that prohibits teachers from using gender norms or gender stereotypes. It also allows teachers to recognize LGBTQ relationships and/or sexual experiences in the classroom. Why the success? An unprecedented six LGBTQ candidates ran for a seat in the Colorado state house, and all of them won, including the state’s very first transgender lawmaker. Colorado also saw more LGBTQ people running for city and county positions than ever before. This translated into more support for LGBTQ rights. Governor Jared Polis, D-Colorado, also became the country’s first openly gay man elected governor, ensuring approved legislation is signed into law. Yet, with all the gains, there is still more to be done. One Colorado recently updated its 2011 LGBTQ health assessment and found, despite legal advancements, members of the community now report higher rates of harassment and discrimination; worse health, mental, and behavioral outcomes; and greater barriers to health care. "Just because LGBTQ Coloradans have health insurance doesn’t mean that it’s accessible and affirming care for those in our community," said Sheena Kadi, deputy director, One Colorado. This month, the agency launched Closing the Gap: The Turning Point for LGBTQ Health, a new initiative for the coming year. Let’s hope that 2020 holds just as many gains for queer people.
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es, I do write for an LGBTQ magazine. No, I am not a lesbian. No, I am not bisexual. No, I am not bi-curious. I’m straight. I’m simply an ally who found the perfect opportunity to grow as a writer. That’s what I told myself when I applied for a position with OUT FRONT. That’s what I told anyone whose curiosity was peaked when I mentioned the freelance gig.
and were choosing alternative labels like bisexual and so on. We discussed the possible reasoning behind this, her background as a photographer, how she helped her photo subjects loosen up in front of the lens, and the privileges that she was sometimes met with as a more androgynous-looking lesbian. We chatted for a while before I found that my face had become warm and fuzzy from flirting.
It was early 2018 when I stumbled across the journalist job posting. Overlooking the consequences, I constructed an introductory email, attached my resume and favorite writing samples, and hastily sent everything to the magazine’s editor. I waited. And waited. And then I found the welcome email waiting for me in my inbox. At first I was thrilled at the opportunity to explore a new beat. Up until that point, I had almost exclusively covered fashion. But very quickly, I found that I had opened the door for people to question my sexual preference, a door that I had pressed firmly shut, wallpapered over, and barricaded a decade before.
After saying goodbye and watching her leave the noisy building, I remained on my stool, puzzled. There was no way I could have a crush on another girl.
Everything was so new writing for OUT FRONT. I learned the origins of popular slang like “snatched” can be traced directly back to people of color in the drag scene, and that members of the LGBTQ community are more likely to suffer from substance and alcohol abuse. I became so excited, and angry, and inspired by all of the fresh information that I didn’t have time to realize how being a part of the community was changing me, how being around folks who were so comfortable and proud of their identities was affecting how I felt about myself.
Use Your Words By Alysha Prieto
And then I met a woman, a local photographer, for an interview at a coffee shop. She had created a photo essay that captured what it looked like to be a lesbian. During her work, she found that folks were becoming less and less inclined to identify as lesbians
I experienced my first crush on a woman my first year of high school. I had known her from afar for a few years, and the never-ending shuffle of pubescent friendships finally brought us into the same group. She was playful, candid, fiercely loyal to the people she cared for, and one of the most unabashed lesbians in our grade. I attributed my affection for her to the closeness of our friendship and her crush on me. An innocent cuddle and peck on the lips were written off as a fluke. It took months for me to acknowledge to myself that I had been attracted to the photographer, and many more months after that to admit that I had also been attracted to my friend. During this interim, I learned the word pansexual. Pansexual is defined as “the sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their biological sex, gender, or gender identity.” It stuck. Finding my word finally allowed me to feel sure of who I was and what I wanted. When my editor approached me about writing a personal column, I racked my brain for ideas to pitch. How do same-gender relationships compare to their heterosexual counterparts in terms of relationship violence? Does the queer community also fetishize racial ambiguity? Before I could dig into any of these topics from an honest place, I decided that I’d first have to set the record straight. Or, in this case, not so straight. Yes, I do write for an LGBTQ magazine. No, I am not straight. I’m pansexual.
une 6 is my 28th birthday. Normally, a birthday is nothing special to me, but this one’s different. As this chapter in my life concludes, the pages have become canon.With an era fading from present to past, I reminisce on all that I did right and all that I did wrong amidst a simultaneously heartbreaking, serendipitous, and celebratory time.
is Rebranding, Not Rebounding
This past year was the most challenging of my life, rigorously tested by two moves, leaving a dream job, unemployment, and ultimately, a bad breakup. It has also been the most successful year of my life, stirring up a whirlwind of emotions that I breathe every day. Traveling has always been in my blood. Born into a military family, I wasn’t bred to settle down anywhere in particular. Maine harbors my roots, but I didn’t see much of it growing up, regularly moving from state to state longing for New England’s hot summers and cold winters. Eventually, I found myself in Richmond and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where I met my partner at the time. Itching to uproot, together we contemplated a short list of cities that we could see ourselves moving to, packed up our bags, and hit the road for the Mile High City. It wasn’t long after that I met the woman who would change my life forever (do gay men get to say that often?) The editorin-chief of 303 Magazine, Brittany Werges, took me under her wing and provided me with boundless ways to flourish at the independent publication. Embracing the opportunities at hand, I took over the magazine’s music desk and advertising roles. During my time with 303, I founded a music showcase and worked on collaborations with Denver Film Festival, Underground Music Showcase, and more. I even had the opportunity to launch a record series with Vinyl Me, Please— two compilation albums that, combined, feature 24 Colorado musicians such as GRiZ, The Motet, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Tennis. I worked hard, and with a reckless ambition that somehow didn’t get me into a ton of trouble. After a rewarding three years, I parted ways with 303. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I followed my heart out to California, where my partner of five years had moved months before. However, it wasn’t long after my arrival that the two of us split. Having moved to a new state with no job, no savings, and then, no partner or stable housing, I found myself in a free-fall from one of the highest points in my life to one of the lowest.
Merely days later, as if by some By Tyler Harvey divine intervention, life threw Photo by Kori Hazel me a bone. California’s Northern Nights Music Festival—a threeday camping festival in the Redwoods—took me on as their press manager. From there, I used the inspiration Northern Nights sparked inside of me—paired with my recent heartbreak as the motivation I needed to grow—to launch my own business in the process. There might have been a dash of that reckless ambition in there, but at that point, there was nothing left to lose. After saving up enough, I packed up whatever I could fit in my car and headed back to Denver, where most of my time is now spent growing my brand, Tyler, the Creative (tyler-thecreative. com). It’s a press, publicity, and marketing firm for local musicians and bands including Motion Trap, Kaitlyn Williams, Retrofette, and Kayla Marque—plus, Northern Nights Music Festival, of course. Though thrilled with how unexpectedly quickly my business has taken off, I hope to rebrand soon as a full-on agency for musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and more. With the assistance and collaboration of some like-minded creatives and partners who are also passionate abut the talent that Denver has to offer, I aspire to help grow the Colorado music and arts scene as a whole by spotlighting some its best up-and-comers. Off-the-clock, you can find me eagerly diving back into all of the many, many things Denver has to offer. It’s been refreshing, and I wouldn’t be able to do it all without the especially humbling support my friends, family, 303 and even Denver’s music scene have shown me—it just warms my hardened little (recently single!) heart. For more about me and the immensely talented musicians I work with, check out my website. In the meantime, you can catch me around town spending far too much money on records at Twist & Shout, sad-dancing at Lipgloss on Fridays, screening the next big indie flick at Sie FilmCenter, or regrettably cutting loose in the cage at X Bar. Denver, it’s so great to be back. Thanks for having me.
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By Jordan Hanson
The Problem with Fake
Grassroots Fundraising I
recently worked for a larger, pro-equality organization as a campaign director. For legal reasons, I can’t name the organization. But, if you live or work in the Capitol Hill area, it is safe to say that you’ve seen us fundraising and have been canvassed by our employees. The problem is, however, that this money doesn’t stay in state. It doesn’t go to help the workers to whom you’re contributing. It is, functionally, a slush fund that the national organization uses to leverage its lobbying in Washington, D.C. It is a problematic organization, but you don’t have to take my word for it. I interviewed several former employees for their opinions on the organization; one, who has also been published here in the pages of OUT FRONT Magazine, goes by the name Keegan Williams. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.
First, tell me a little bit about your experience canvassing with this organization. Every time I talk about my time at the organization with other people, it's intermixed with beautiful and terrible situations and experiences, and that was largely how I felt day-to-day working as a canvasser. I found a lot of personal pride knowing that my work could have a positive impact, and that I was working full-time for something that I care deeply about.
That being said, it was one of the harder jobs I've ever had for the payoff. The nature of interrupting folks in the public, rather than people knowingly entering a storefront, was unforgiving. As frustrated as I could get from people being rude, ignoring me, or lying to me about what they were doing as I tried to stop them, I also understood that these folks really didn't owe me anything, and that I was the one bothering them as they went about their day.
What is the compensation like for canvassing workers? I was paid minimum wage with the opportunity for "incentive pay" for anything I made over my weekly quota. I was employed with this organization for a little over a month, and I think the week I made the most money, I averaged around $13 an hour, which required me to make several hundred dollars over my quota for the week. This was not typical for me or my coworkers; the canvassers I worked with were usually stressed about making their quota for a week, and even if a canvasser was over what they needed for the week with an opportunity to fundraise even more for a larger paycheck, most of my coworkers would do what they could to help other canvassers who were under quota during a shift to ensure they weren't fired. Most of my coworkers did their best to work six days a week just to get the overtime to make a livable wage.
Can you tell me why you ultimately decided to leave their employment?
Did you ever have or hear about any negative interactions with the public?
I didn't feel like the organization was giving me anything close to what was being taken from me in that job. It was extremely mentally taxing day-in and day-out to prepare to greet every person in public to ask for their money at the expense of your paycheck and ultimately your position. I felt as if the parent organization didn't really care about the success or wellness of the staff, and that it was mostly about what they could get out of individuals while they worked for them and then while they were there.
The worst I probably ever had a was a man on 16th Street Mall who yelled back at me that being trans should be illegal after I posed my opening question. I was only there five weeks, but almost every week, I heard about a negative interaction with the public from coworkers. There were several instances with coworkers leaving canvassing shifts early, crying, and defeated, because someone threatened or yelled at them while they were working.
How do you feel about their approach to fundraising? It might be the nature of the work, but the staff was completely held hostage based on the money they made on a day-to-day. Directors acted like stops and conversations were valuable, though it was clear that none of that mattered if you didn't raise the money you needed. Getting donations from the public felt like manipulation of folks with good intentions. Many of the directors were adamant in sticking to the script, in that the phrasing was specifically designed to play off of the ethos of the people in public who stop. A lot of the tactics we learned in training were sales tactics, and as much as the organization wanted to put value on awareness and conversations, it was clear immediately that the only thing that was really relevant was the money.
I addressed during my time there that I carried a lot of privilege in the role as a white, cisgender man. My trans and nonbinary coworkers often told me about their experiences on the street with folks challenging their gender, saying something transphobic to them directly, or disregarding their rap after clocking them as not cisgender. There were certain sites where directors blatantly told me they consciously send cis people to because it's safer, and there would be more support over sending trans canvassers.
Thank you so much for sharing with me. I really appreciate your time and insight into the workings of this group. In another upcoming issue, I’ll write about what the public should do instead as a catalyst to fix this kind of broken, faux, “grassroots” fundraising model.
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Pride for ‘Pride’ A
s a trans woman, most days I find myself forced to choose between wearing a dress and risking my safety or wearing pants and battling with my dysphoria. This usually looks like changing in and out of outfits, cutting up shirts, shaving my face, rolling up pants, beating my face for the gods, adding a pair of underwear, switching my shoes, deciding instead to wear a dress, restyling my hair, changing lipstick shades to something more subtle, adding another layer of underwear. The list is abbreviated, and this is only my morning routine. Once I leave the house, I am hyperaware of my body and the way I exist
in public places. When I walk down the street because I can’t afford the ‘safety’ of taking a shared ride, I catch myself glancing over my shoulder regularly to check who is behind me. Sometimes it is just a pair of staring eyes or someone hiding their child from me, but other days, it is a slur yelled in my direction or a stranger following me home. I take caution when responding to “hellos” from strangers so I am not “clocked” by my voice. However, most people simply watch with no intent on greeting me anyway, examining my body for signs as to what exactly I am. Even as a trans woman who is ‘passing,’ binary, and femme, I am misgendered daily. When I choose to correct it, I’m often left with an exhausting
By Mar Luther
Photo by Jillian Bryan
conversation, an uncomfortable comment, or a stiffed bill, leaving me wishing I didn’t address the issue at all, because I could have really used that money for hormones. I say all of this because my experiences will not change during Pride Month or Pride Week or even on the way to a Pride party. Pride is not always easy for trans and gender-nonconforming people because of the violence we face, even 50 years since the Stonewall Riots. While we celebrate how far we have come, we must always be acknowledging how far we must go. May we remember those who have come before us, and may we continue the fight for those who are still searching for a space they can call safe.
Wearing Pride On Your Sleeve By Keegan Williams Photo courtesy of Keegan Williams
went to my first and only PrideFest in 2011. I bought a hot pink shirt, ironing on huge letters that spelled out “LIKES BOYS.” Admittedly, I copied Kurt’s shirt from the Glee episode where they sing “Born This Way.” I entered Civic Center Park, gawking at the colorful folks surrounding me and realizing this was my community, seen en masse for the first time. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I fully realized that the open space full of LGBTQ people I marveled over almost a decade ago is a short walk west of my current studio apartment in Cap Hill. Years past, I worked weekends and lived more than an hour away in Northern Colorado, but really, I just poorly planned and never secured a group to go with. I still work weekends today, and I have yet to reach out to any friends or family interested in attending Pride with me this year, but that’s not stopping me. The email to my boss asking for June 15 off reads: “I haven’t gotten to go to Pride since 2011, and I need to go now that I live here.”
Everyone at work knew I was gay day one (though I immediately brought up my other gig as a staff writer for OUT FRONT, not exactly subtle). It’s rarely hidden in my 2019 life. Looking back, the teen wearing a bold shirt outing himself was clearly not entirely comfortable with the wardrobe choice after leaving Loveland. Surrounded by queer folks at Pride? Easy. The feeling shifted when we walked around 16th Street Mall later in the day, or stopped by a Longmont Tex-Mex spot on the way home, and I was still wearing that shirt, away from the security blanket of LGBTQ strangers. I came out twice as a teenager. The first time was in 2007 when I was almost 14. Once I came to the realization, I was desperate to be open and explore this part of myself, as if being gay was some kind of eclectic quirk that everyone would love. I got support from my friends and my parents, which is far more than many can say, and stayed out for about a year-and-a-half, but I gradually learned that not everyone was as accepting. The vast majority of the U.S. at the time didn’t allow people like me to marry. We could serve in the military, just couldn’t tell anyone about our true identities. My friends celebrated me, while boys I didn’t know (but who clearly knew me as one of the few, out boys in my high school) called me a f*ggot and shoved me in the hallway.
I called take-backsies on my sexuality for about a year. My friends and family told me later on that they figured it wasn’t true, but they wanted to give me the license to figure it out for myself. I continued high school as “straight” until the beginning of 2010 when I started at community college. After my first semester, I came out for real. My more accepting peers in college and slightly matured brain were better equipped for my homosexuality, but I still think back to my faux-confidence at 17, wearing a shirt screaming to the public, all caps, “LIKES BOYS.” A lot has changed since Pride 2011. I had my first real boyfriend about a year-and-a-half later and gripped his hand tightly as we walked around in public the first time, despite the lurking feeling of dread that someone walking by would have something bad to say about it, or worse. Last Pride Month, maybe against my better judgment, I halted a conversation to call out and tell off a stranger next to me at a familiar bar for casually dropping the f-bomb several times, loud enough for me and my friend to hear. I’ve been proud to grow into a queer-and-proud adult today, though this comes with its share of asterisks. One: I’m a white, able-bodied, tall, cisgender man. Two: In my life, I’ve only lived in left-leaning, Colorado cities. Three: I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded with people who help empower me and all parts of my identity, including my sexuality. Most LGBTQ folks aren’t awarded so many benefits, and even these don’t guarantee your safety or comfort as a queer person. While I still have times and places when and where I am more cognizant of my behaviors and presentation, it is a privilege to feel like I generally don’t stifle the expression of my sexuality, that I don’t have to censor the inflections in my voice, sometimes flashy fashion and mannerisms, the publication I write for, or who I’m attracted to and the community I’m part of. That comes at a cost, for those who often wear their identity on their sleeves, just as I sported that hot pink “LIKES BOYS” shirt to PrideFest all those years ago. So many folks within the LGBTQ community, especially those who are not cisgender, go outside every day knowing that their very existence and presentation in the world is still political. It’s dangerous; it’s not always pleasant, and we still do it. In a country where same-gender couples can marry, but an episode of Arthur depicting the act is banned from public television in Alabama, or trans people are banned from the military, or our country’s VP thinks the gay should be shocked out of me, we must keep fighting, staying visible and vigilant to ensure we don’t regress as a community and that our livelihood is protected and celebrated. If I could go back to my 17-year-old self, I’d tell him that he doesn’t need to force himself into confidence he doesn’t yet have in his identity. I would’ve said, “Don’t worry about your outfit. Just enjoy being with your community today.” Soon enough, wearing that hot pink shirt unapologetically would happen every day, without even a second thought, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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with Denver Health
hen I was growing up, I never knew what to say when someone asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I couldn’t tell them the truth, of course, that I wanted to be a woman, that I was a woman already. I couldn’t tell them that what I wanted most was to have a body that matched how I felt inside, so I just told them “I don’t know” instead. I could hardly sleep the night before my surgical appointment. Some part of me felt like I was just going through the motions, like it was all just a fancy dress rehearsal and the day would never actually come. Just three days earlier, I’d received the call I’d been waiting for: my exact time to report for top surgery. I was finally getting implants. I set an alarm and took a brief nap to rest my eyes. All told, by the time I got to sleep, only an hour had passed. My partner and I got up, dressed as lightly yet warmly as possible, and headed out into the falling snow. We huddled together for warmth during our early morning journey. Starting at 3:45 a.m., we made our way to the surgical department at Denver Health. Because we don’t have a car and took public transit, we had few options:
arrive an hour early or five minutes late for my surgical time. The snow was still coming down when we arrived, just after five in the morning. We walked into Pavilion A just to get a short break from the cold. After some fussy interactions with building security who profiled us as people just coming in off the street, out of the cold, we eventually made it to Pavilion M for outpatient surgery. Everyone during intake was lovely about the reason I was there. Everyone used the right names and pronouns to refer to me, even in passing. Before I knew it, there was an IV in my arm and my nervous man sitting by my side. He would later tell me he hadn’t been able to force himself to eat. After patients who’d arrived prior to me were leaving their procedures, he’d sat nervously watching the screen for updates which only said I was still in the procedure. They gave me something for anxiety as I rolled away from him into the operating room. Soon I was extra giddy, and then, nothing. I went to sleep and woke up with a problem fixed, hopefully forever. I was hungry and nauseated all at the same time, but the pain was minimal. My chest hurt like someone had been sitting on my ribcage for a few hours. That was the worst of my complaints
by Jordan Hanson
with all the painkillers still in my system. Since then, my partner has been taking care of me. I still feel a little fragile sometimes; moving in certain ways tugs at where I know the incisions were, but that’s the worst of it. I can’t complain anymore, and my outlook moving forward is great so far. The best part is, I’m not self-conscious about my breasts anymore. That part of my gender dysphoria seems like a faraway memory, like it was from another life entirely. I can look back on it, maybe fondly someday, but for now I’m trying not to think about it at all. It feels good to take a short victory lap before I get back to work and look forward to bottom surgery. I’m starting to connect with the woman I wanted to be for so many years. That little girl who had nothing to ask for during her birthdays is finally coming to the surface. Not that I have any better of an answer, now that my biggest dreams are coming true, of course. But at least I don’t have to hide myself from anyone anymore.
By Mar Luther Photo by Jillian Bryan
Stop Hurting Us E
arly on the morning of April 28th, Amber Nicole, a trans woman, was attacked and assaulted outside a popular rooftop bar in LoDo, Denver. Weeks before in Dallas, MuhLaysia Booker, a black trans woman, was threatened at gunpoint to pay for damages of a vehicle accident on the spot. She was then almost beaten to death in front of a group of people after a bystander offered $200 to the driver to hurt her. According to the National Center of Transgender Equality, transgender folks face extraordinary levels of violence, especially trans women and trans femmes. The past several years have seen a steady increase in anti-trans violence towards trans women, specifically trans women of color. In 2018, The Human Rights Campaign reported that at least 26* transgender people were murdered in the U.S., most of whom were black women (*this number doesn’t include those whose lives weren’t reported as trans). FORGE states that over half of these victims were victims of domestic or intimate partner violence, meaning the majority of anti-trans violence is not a random incident but a hate crime. Those who attack us are more often than not our family members or our partners. These are people who vote, pay their taxes, and give money to the
homeless. They shovel your driveway in the winter; they mow your lawn in the summer. They have graduated from high school and college. They are your bankers, your politicians, your neighbors in the grocery aisle. They serve you drinks and make your food when you go out to eat. They help older folks cross the street, and they donate regularly to non-profits. They recycle, they’re vegans, they probably voted for Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, and still they attack and sometimes kill trans women and nonbinary femmes. They are not strangers; they are not suffering from mental health issues; they are not homeless, they are NOT being initiated into gangs, a recent idea I’ve heard thrown around. The people who hurt us are generally regular ‘Joes’ who just happened to be attracted to and desire the companionship of a trans woman or nonbinary femmes. These are people who, just like the rest of us living in this cisnormative society, have been conditioned to believe that being transamorous is something to be ashamed of. Straight, cisgender men who chase after trans women and nonbinary femmes often struggle with their desires, resulting in our relations frequently happening behind closed doors. Their affinity for trans women and nonbinary femmes almost always comes to a halt at lust and sexual gratification, because to actually
have a relationship with a trans person is to risk potential violence and vitriol against themselves. Society continues to question the sexual orientation and gender identity of straight, heterosexual men who date trans women and femmes, which only furthers the narrative that our identities are not real. About a month after Muhlaysia Booker was attacked, she was found dead; police have reported no link between her attack and her death. Within the same week, Claire Legato, a black trans women, died in Cleveland after being shot a month prior, and Michelle Washington was lost to anti-trans and gun violence as well. It is necessary to understand that while you may not see the violence happening towards trans people, it is happening, and specifically it is happening towards trans black women and trans women of color. That, while the rights of the trans community continue to be rescinded, it is still those most vulnerable among us who are experiencing the brunt of that violence. In 2019, there have been five lives lost to anti-trans violence, all of whom were black, trans women. Amber Nicole is fortunately alive to tell her story, but we know many in our community will not have that opportunity. How much louder must we scream until we are heard? How many more lives will be lost until you do something about it?
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// 3 7
Permission to Love
’m 32 years old and dating for the first time. Women that is, though I barely dated anyone before I married my husband ten years ago. Thank God my husband’s supportive of this. No, I take that back. Not “God,” because that’s who kept me from dating in the first place. When I was a Christian, I believed God meant for his believers to be with only one person for the rest of their lives—a perfect match ordained by the creator of the universe.
I grew up in small town Iowa in the Evangelical Church—the church that takes virginity more seriously than homelessness. I was prepped to become a godly wife to a godly man. I often shamed myself for crushes and sexual arousal. I was told to not be a “stumbling block” for my brothers in Christ—to do my part to keep them pure and sexless until marriage. I wore loose clothes and no makeup. In my world, drawing attention to yourself was a sin, because it diverted attention away from God. With all the energy put into looking out for men’s purity, I gave little attention to women, which made it easy to shove my latent feelings for them into the back of a cupboard, like a snack I knew was there but couldn’t have. Girls were only for boys to notice, and for other girls to be in competition with. If I was drawn to a girl, I interpreted it as jealousy: I wish I had full breasts to fill out my shirts and dresses. I wish I was that stylish and confident. As I heal from the fundamentalist messages I grew up with, I’ve finally been able to allow myself to open up that forbidden cupboard, reach my hand in, and start unwrapping the messages I heard about how same-sex attraction was fundamentally wrong, especially as a hetero-passing, married woman. Admittedly, part of me feels blasphemous for even writing this.
It’s been harder to come out to myself than to anyone else. My husband—a lifelong atheist (but the first person to treat me the way I’d been told only Jesus could treat me)—was un-phased and supportive when I came out to him a few years ago. My friends have also been incredibly supportive. My family—well, they won’t talk about it, other than to tell me to take my sins to “the altar” so God can take me back. But I understand this perspective, because I used to think the same way. My brain still has some of that old wiring, and after my first kiss with a woman, I felt like I’d committed a sin. I didn’t feel it in a logical sense, but in my body, subcutaneously. It takes years to leave the influence of fundamentalism and learn how to enter “secular” society without the anxiety that every new person I meet could be a temptation from Satan. Or that my peers are lightyears ahead of me in understanding who they are. I tell myself: Just because other people think something is wrong doesn’t make it truth. My coming out process has been slow, and it’s looked like this: 1.) Allow attraction to female celebrities 2.) Allow crushes on IRL girls 3.) Watch queer TV and movies like The L Word and Blue is the Warmest Color 4.) Attend queer poetry readings and drag shows 5.) Download dating apps 6.) Chat with girls on dating apps 7.) Allow myself to fantasize about girls 8.) Allow myself to masturbate to images/thoughts of girls 9.) Go on dates 10.) Journal about the process. Sometimes the old voices come back and tell me I’m wrong and bad and sinful. I get triggered and have to go back a stage or two and work forward again from there. I remind myself: You can only be where you are. This is a lifelong process, and I don’t have to rush things just to prove that I’m bisexual. I am bisexual, and that part of me isn’t going anywhere.
By Amanda E.K. Photo courtesy of Amanda E.K.
But all the same, Girl World eludes me, and I’m shy about initiating with women who seem self-aware. I feel like I don’t know half the things other women know about femininity or sexuality or self-confidence. Or makeup. I still don’t know how to wear it, and part of me still sees it as vanity and excess. But also fun and stylish. I’m a feminist, but I often worry that I don’t embody it as fully as I should (and that this will be a turn-off to the women I hope to attract). Then I remind myself that I’ve come a long way. I used to look up to men as God’s appointed leaders. I believed they were smarter, more talented, and more interesting than women. I believed they were to be the bread-winners, and women to be wives and mothers, and little else. I’m so glad that’s not where I’m at anymore. I now co-own a business and have no plans to have children. I’m learning to love women—hearts, minds, and bodies—and to not be afraid of what they know about themselves. Dating has helped with this tremendously. I’m okay with this process taking time. It all starts with permission. Permission to let myself flirt, permission to lust, permission to fantasize, permission to act out those fantasies, and permission to publicly share my story. Thank you for hearing me. And if you’re interested in learning more about my journey, look for my memoir coming out next year through Suspect Press.
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is Queering Out the Radio Waves
eaching audiences through rich, innovative, and diverse programming may sound like a lofty goal, but in the frequencies of AM/FM radio, there has emerged a queer-centric station that is pushing airwave boundaries. CHANNEL Q isn’t your parents’ talk radio, folks; they are fearlessly on-air and streaming talk, news, and music like the stations of 2019 have never seen. Beginning on October 11, 2018, CHANNEL Q made its debut on National Coming Out Day, a calculated and crystalclear choice. Entercom Communications recognized the massive gap in LGBTQ broadcasting; they chose to step up and deviate from the traditional and expected into a world of new and cutting-edge. Acting as the lonewolves of lexicon, they are a one-of-a-kind LGBTQ talk/music radio station with accessibility and versatility unlike any other station around. For CHANNEL Q, representation is of the utmost importance, and their on-air programming reflects that. Currently reaching 15 major U.S. cities like Los
Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and now Denver, they offer a unique mix of entertainment and information through diverse voices of the community. “I’d like to think we provide a nice blend of both informing and entertaining our audiences,” said Brian Holt. As program director of Entercom, he has been in radio for years and believes that they provide something that’s not only different but vital to the community. “As opposed to being just a source for news and information, or an entertainment platform, I’d like to think we have a knack for providing both information you can use and entertainment you can enjoy,” Holt said. Starting at the break of dawn, CHANNEL Q packs a punch with The Morning Beat with Jai and Mikalah, the morning show that touches on hot topics, offering a news and pop-culture combination that creates a party with a purpose. Entertainment talk blended with celebrity interviews, the dynamic duo have seen guests Halsey, Latrice Royale, Shoshana Bean, and many more come through their studio.
Diving into sanity in an insane world, Dumb Gay Politics + Everything Else dissects real issues through a comedic perspective. Let’s Go There with Shira and Ryan finds no topic untouchable or irreverent through their honest take on what’s happening. And, at last, Loveline has found a home again as Dr. Chris Donaghue imparts authentic, sex-positive, and shame-free radical therapy to listeners. These shows and many more offer empowering insight into the community that is as unique as the Pride flag we fly. In the middle of the introspective and honest conversations, queerly qualified and uber-talented DJs spin a wide variety of musical assortments, something to fit every taste. While no topic is too taboo, CHANNEL Q takes a hard look at politics, entertainment, and music through a filter that is fabulously queer. And while the lens is LGBTQ, the grand appeal reaches far beyond with their commitment to openness, discussion, diversity, and inclusion. Catch CHANNEL Q in Denver on Alice 105.9, online at radio.com, and follow them on all socials @wearechannelq.
We’re Cucu for
Cynthia Lee Fontaine A
re you ready to see some cucu? Sexy as a goddess and funny like a clown, Cynthia Lee Fontaine instantly became a fan favorite during her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8.. Even better, audiences received a second helping when Cynthia returned to the competition for Season 9. Easily one of the most loveable and admired queens to walk the runway, she wasn’t crowned Miss Congeniality for nothing. Since her time on Drag Race, Cynthia has been focusing on her health and music. In 2015, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 liver cancer. After four rounds of chemotherapy, she went into remission. Cynthia also released her first single, “Pegajosa” in November of last year, and we can expect a lot more from her in the future. Cynthia will be headlining this year’s Denver PrideFest on Sunday, June 16 on the U.S. Bank Latin Stage at 4:00 p.m. OUT FRONT had the pleasure of chatting with Cynthia about her upcoming performance and projects.
Welcome to Denver, Cynthia! Are you ready to show off your cucu? Yes, sir! I am excited!
We are so excited to have you here for Denver PrideFest. What does Pride personally mean to you?
For me, it means equality. For me, it means unity. For me, it means just to gather as a community that has something in common, but most of all, it means brotherhood and sisterhood and love. That is the best way how I can describe what Pride means to me.
What can audiences expect from a Cynthia Lee Fontaine performance? I am going to be singing live; there is going to be a lot of energy, a complete show. And, of course, I am going to present my single, “Pegajosa,” now available on iTunes and any digital platform [laughs].
Besides your music, what else have you been up to? It seems like you have been quite busy since your time on Drag Race. I am traveling right now, and especially at the beginning of this year, I have been doing motivational speeches about my cancer and my experiences and testimonies to colleges. So basically, doing a lot of traveling and motivational speeches and talking about how you can stay positive and focus on your goals and be happy with yourself.
By Denny Patterson Photos by Anthony Gareaux
How has everything been going with your health? I am doing great! It has been almost three years since the remission of my liver cancer.
That is so wonderful to hear. I am very happy for you! Thank you. I am very excited.
Perfect! Now lastly, what’s next for Cynthia Lee Fontaine? I am going to be honest with you. I can promise the future is going to be more craziness about me. It’s been going on three years sinceSeason 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. You never know; you may see me in movies and other TV shows. I am working hard, and I love the entertainment business. It’s a great time. When you love something, you pursue it and go up, up, up. I guarantee you will be seeing more of me.
We can expect big things from you. Yes! Just like my junk in the trunk! Read the full interview at outfrontmagazine.com
Denver Can’t Resist the Taste of Peppermint P eppermint is a legendary queen from NYC who became a fixture in the city’s nightlife. She was already well on her way towards success by releasing music singles and appearing on TV shows, but her career did not fully take off until she became a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Nine.
Making it to the top four, Peppermint ultimately finished in second place after she and winner Sasha Velour lip synced to Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay.” Peppermint may not have won the crown, but she won the hearts of millions. Moreso, she made huge strides and broke down several barriers by being the first openly transgender woman to compete on Drag Race. As a trans activist, Peppermint will fight to ensure that the trans community is not silenced or forgotten. Last year, she reached another milestone by making her Broadway debut in the Go-Go’s inspired musical Head Over Heels, playing the role of Pythio. She is the first trans woman to originate a principal role on Broadway. Peppermint will be performing at this year’s Denver PrideFest on Sunday, June 16 on the Center Stage at 3:30 p.m. OUT FRONT had the pleasure of catching up with her, and we cannot wait for what she brings to the party.
Welcome to Denver, Peppermint! Will you be making the Mile High City minty fresh? Oh, you better believe it, honey! You better believe it. Everybody knows that Peppermint is everyone’s favorite flavor!
We are so excited to have you here for Denver PrideFest. What can audiences expect from a Peppermint performance? You know, they can expect some fun. A little bit of hip-hop, a little bit of booty shaking. All that.
What does Pride personally mean to you? Pride to me means community. It means solidarity, and it means the future.
By Denny Patterson Photo by Jeff Eason
Yes. I mean, I think that gender identity and sexuality are often misconstrued in ways. People can understand sexuality, because everyone has a sexuality, but not everyone understands gender identity. We need to recognize that notion more. Also, just because we are all from the same community, that does not mean we all benefit from things at the same time or have access to things at the same time. I think some people are realizing more that just because something is labeled LGBT, that does not mean we have equality. Right now, a big thing for women is about their reproductive rights and the ban on abortion and the ban on people to make their own decisions with their bodies. That does not just affect heterosexual women. It also affects trans men. It affects anyone who has a uterus and the ability to bear children, which can be trans men. So, we have to talk more about how global issues affect all of us, more so with different parts of the community, and I am here to help people understand that.
As a trans activist, you believe we just need to constantly and continuously have those open conversations? Yes. It is important to focus our energy on the fact that trans people are still being discriminated against, and we still have a lot of hurdles to overcome.
What’s next for Peppermint? Any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?
Do you think the trans community is often forgotten within the LGBTQ community?
Yes! I will be performing at World Pride at the Gramercy Theatre on June 28. Other than that, I take it one day at a time, so keep checking back to see what’s coming up.
Read the full interview at outfrontmagazine.com
By Denny Patterson Photo by Veronica L. Holyfield
Denver’s Biggest Smallest Band: Wheelchair Sports Camp
alyn Heffernan may be small, but she is quite mighty. A Denver local and queer activist, she is the founder and MC of the band Wheelchair Sports Camp. Along with Gregg Ziemba on drums and Joshua Trinidad on trumpet, the group combines humor, playfulness, radical political perspectives, compassion, and undeniable musical chops into their performances. Heffernan unknowingly started the band in the summer of 1997 after she moved back to Colorado from California and was invited to attend and corrupt the 14th annual week-long Colorado Jr. Wheelchair Sports Camp. Now, the group is known as Denver’s biggest smallest band. Wheelchair Sports Camp will be performing at this year’s Denver PrideFest on Saturday, June 15 on the Center Stage at 12:00 p.m. OUT FRONT had the pleasure of chatting with Heffernan about the band and her involvement with Denver’s political scene. Heffernan recently ran for mayor in last month’s local election. Boy, does she have a story to tell.
Hi, Kayln! How exciting is it for you to perform at your hometown’s Pride festival? I am really excited. I have been going to Pride here since before I came out, and it is definitely a big weekend of the year, so I am looking forward to being able to
play. It will be weird to be working and not partying! That will be interesting. We play Saturday, and I usually go party hard on Sunday, so it will be a different experience. I am excited about it.
Is this your first time playing for Denver PrideFest? Denver Pride, yes. We played World Pride a couple years ago, and we played Boulder Pride, but this is our first Denver Pride.
Tell me a little more about Wheelchair Sports Camp. How did it begin? I started the group in college, but I was a long-time participant in the actual wheelchair sports camp here. I used to take my able-bodied friends, and we would get in trouble and do bad things, and we kind of started the rap group based on that.
What can audiences expect from a Wheelchair Sports Camp performance? We kind of switch it up, and we try to be intentional about making every show special. Since this is Pride, it will be special. We also got some new stuff we are working on. You will have to see it to believe it.
If you were elected mayor, what were some of the changes and ideas you would have liked to implement?
I wanted to declare housing as a human right. I would have overturned the camping ban day one, and I would work towards getting everybody into housing and mandating developers to provide for low income housing and housing for people without income. As somebody with a disability, I know how little we get to survive. You can’t make more than $800 on disability and an average one-bedroom apartment is like $1,400. I wanted to work on redistributing the wealth.
Do you have any desire to run for office again? It’s doubtful, but I told everybody I would never run for office in the first place. So, it’s possible, but at this point, I want nothing to do with it!
What’s next for you, Kayln? Well, Wheelchair Sports Camp started an album last summer, and I haven’t been able to work on it recently because the election took up so much space and time, so I am definitely getting back to music. We got some shows this summer, and we will be booking tours in Minnesota around St. Paul and Minneapolis. I am also still figuring out a way to keep the spirit of the campaign going and not losing touch with the 4,500 people who voted for me and our ideas. We need to figure out ways to continue to mobilize our efforts and continue moving forward. But I’m definitely going to focus back on music and the album. I am really excited to get back to music.
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By Denny Patterson Photos by Brandon Voss
Denver’s Drag Superstar
YvieOddly SHE’S YVIE ODDLY, AND ODDLY ENOUGH, HER EDGES STAY SHREDDED, BUT HER TITS ARE TOUGH–THIS PERFECTLY SUMS UP THE REVOLUTIONARY AND INNOVATIVE QUEEN FROM THE MILE HIGH CITY WHO LOVES TO PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF DRAG.
5 0 \\ J U N E 5 , 2 0 1 9
hen Yvie first walked into the Werk Room on this latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, audiences instantly knew that she was not a typical, ordinary drag queen. There was something different about her, and she did not disappoint. Best known for her outrageous and unconventional looks, Yvie describes herself as an authentic weirdo. A jack of all trades, her style can range from high fashion glam to dirty street punk, even to terrifying alien creatures. She loves to go for the shock factor that will make audiences drop their jaws on the floor. She may be weird, but you cannot deny that she is fierce. Yvie is one of the most unique queens to walk down the Drag Race runway. She will give it her all to shine like RuPaul.
Yvie Oddly performance?
Additionally, Yvie’s flexibility, strength, long limbs, and signature cackle make for entertaining and energetic performances. The ultimate goal is to give us something new and exciting. Will she be America’s next drag superstar? No matter the outcome, she will always be a star to us.
The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 will be announced almost a week before this issue comes out. If you win, what do you hope to accomplish with your platform, and what kind of impact do you hope to make?
Yvie will be performing at this year’s Denver PrideFest on Sunday, June 16, on the Center Stage at 2:00 p.m. OUT FRONT had the pleasure of chatting with Yvie about her experience on Drag Race, her upcoming Pride performance, and the several barriers and walls she has broken down within the queer community.
Hello, Yvie! How awesome is it for you to be performing at your hometown’s Pride festival? Performing for the first time is going to be awesome! Pride has always been the most important time of the year for me, and that is when I get the biggest and most exposure out of the local queens. It’s nice to bring it full circle!
What can audiences expect from an
You can’t expect anything. That is the point of what I do. You just kind of have to go in and expect the unexpected.
What does Pride personally mean to you? Pride for me personally means remembering that there is a community of people out there who, like you, aren't always understood, who aren’t always accepted and are rallying together to celebrate visibility. For me, that is exactly what Pride is, even if you are not out of the closet. I remember in high school seeing so many people gather in one space and knowing there was a future and a place for me.
I just want to use my platform to advance the art of drag and expand the perception of what it means to be a public figure, what it means to be a drag queen, and what it means to be queer in 2019. Like, without being too preachy, I want to show people the possibilities of what you can do with your life if you are willing to work hard and be open to interacting with others and just always keeping an open mind.
What initially made you want to try out for Drag Race, and was this your first time auditioning? Ever since I saw Drag Race, I was kind of hungering for it because I wanted a place to finally have my point be heard. I felt very often glossed over or ignored in the queer community, being a skinny, fem, light brown boy [laughs]. I didn’t feel heard; I
didn’t feel seen, and because how specifically the gay community is driven, I didn’t feel valued, because I wasn’t the highly sexualized object that a lot of men are. I always wanted to get on Drag Race, because I remember RuPaul being like, ‘I never intended on being a drag queen, but when I saw that drag was a way to get my voice heard, of course I jumped on it.’ That was my mindset. I knew I had to get on to make a bigger splash, and this was actually my third year trying out.
So far, how has Drag Race changed your life? I mean, so far it has been absolutely everything I hoped and expected it to be. I don’t feel invisible in the slightest anymore, and I can actually see the impact I am having on the world around me. Not even just with fans. My whole community, literally a whole city, rallied behind me, and it’s pretty magical to see people putting aside their differences to work together to help build a better future and create these open doors for everyone. I mean, it is just magical. I feel like I can do anything I can put my mind to. Like I am in some crazy, real-life Disney dream [laughs].
Now when you come back home to Denver to visit, do people treat you differently, or do they look at you as the same weird, odd kid who loves to perform? I mean, I think it’s a little and a lot. It’s a bit too complex to be ‘do they treat you differently or not?’ They have all grown up with me, and they have all seen me and know what I am capable of doing. I feel like I am for my community in Denver what it’s like for any football team for their city where people take time in loving you and supporting your journey because you are representing them. So, both and neither! OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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How does it feel to know that you have broken down barriers and opened up representation for other weird/ alternative queens who like to do their own thing? It is crazy, because I did not realize how badly we needed it. I was selfishly thinking about me when I got on the show, and I had to take a step back and realize that even now, after a decade into this show where we have had other alternative representation, it is still something that needs to be fought for. Getting on the show now, there are still people out there who are like, ‘your drag is weird.’ It is strange to me.
Another barrier you have broken is for queens with similar conditions and disorders like yours. You opened up a lot about your struggles with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Were you afraid to talk about it on the show? I wasn’t ever afraid to talk about it as much as I adamantly didn’t want to talk about it. I know that is one of my hurdles, and I needed to overcome it on the show and in life. I do not want people to pity me, and I don’t want their support in that sort of way. I want people to be really proud of what I am putting on, and if they find out at the end of the day that I am fighting through my disability, then I want them to know I am working my ass off, and I won’t let my disability overcome me. I am fighting through my disability to get to where I want to be. The show specifically has a really bad history of girls talking about their issues only when it’s to save their skin, and I knew I just didn’t want to be seen that way.
As a queen of color from a primarily white city, how important was it to represent Denver on the show? That’s another reason why I never truly felt like I represented Denver, because Denver is a mainly white city, and I didn’t even realize how truthful that was. It really shocked me and forced me to, as much as I am representing Denver, realize that I am trying to represent a future of Denver and hoping that more black, brown, and queer people in Denver get voices. That there is some equalization. That this is not a completely gentrified place and show that there is a still a bit of color and grit in the city.
Out of all the challenges, which one was your favorite? Oh, that’s hard! I think it would have to be the musical challenge. I was a theatre kid in high school, and it just felt so good going into that where I get to dance and act and have fun. I love that environment.
Watching the episodes, is there anything you wish you did more or less of?
have told me they were given the b*tch edit or portrayed inaccurately. What do you think?
Yes, for sure! I wish I had more fun, you know? [Laughs]. For real. I feel like I got caught up in the competition environment, and I think that was part of the reason I made it as far as I did, but a lot of the time I was there, I was struggling against myself and fighting all these different voices in my head that were telling me that I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t impressing RuPaul. If I had been able to just take a step back and look at things from the perspective of looking at what I get to do instead of looking at what I have to do, then I feel like I would have enjoyed the experience a whole lot more and shown people who I really am instead of who competitive me wants to be.
Well, those queens are full of sh*t! [Laughs]. I’m sorry, they have cameras on us 24/7. The edit they give you is the story that you were really telling your sisters. If the girls are all talking about how you are a b*tch, then editors and the show are going to work with that story, even if that is not how you see yourself. I personally could not be angry with how I was edited because, if anything, they did me a favor and softened some of my harder edges!
Do you feel like you were accurately portrayed? I have interviewed several other Drag Race queens, and some of them
There was also quite a bit of tension between you and some of the other girls throughout the competition, especially Silky. Have you all made peace with each other, or is there still some negative energy floating around? We definitely made peace with each other. It took all season long and even a little bit after that. I
personally now just realize that there are some places that we are never going to see eye-to-eye, but I think is what’s helped us grow and get over things, especially the rivalry we had on the show. I was only angry because I didn’t think she was committing herself fully, and when we were actually able to have a conversation about that, it, like, hatched up potentially everything for both of us.
Now, my last question for you. What’s next for Yvie Oddly? The world, darling, the world! No matter the outcome, I am here regardless, and I am just excited to try a bunch of things that are on my dream bucket list that can now be executed into reality.
Fabulous! Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Yvie. We look forward to seeing you at Denver Pride! Thank you so much! See you there! OUTFRONTMAGAZINE.COM
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The Spirit of Pride:
Miss Richfield 1981
iss Richfield 1981 is the national gay treasure we never knew we needed. Hailing from Richfield, the first suburb of Minnesota, she has dedicated her life to the friendly citizens and responsible merchants of her hometown. Miss Richfield continues to sell out at venues across the country, winning over cabaret and theatre audiences with interactive shows that combine homespun growth and edgy improv. Her original performances are truly one-of-a-kind. Additionally, Miss Richfield is a constant staple in Provincetown, filling the Pilgrim House nightly each summer.
By Denny Patterson Photo courtesy of Miss Richfield
As the spokesperson for Orbitz Travel, she is constantly on the road. This year, in honor of Stonewall’s 50-year anniversary, Miss Richfield is trying to hit up and visit as many Pride festivals as possible. Will she be making an appearance at Denver’s PrideFest? Who knows, but keep a lookout just in case. OUT FRONT caught up with this quirky queen about her hectic schedule and upcoming projects.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Miss Richfield! Of course! I am glad to be here!
Let me start off by asking, how did your drag persona begin? How did Miss Richfield 1981 come to be? Oh my word, I am glad you asked. Back in 1981 in Richfield, I was in a beauty pageant where there were 11 contestants. You had to be either single, a virgin, or under 250 pounds. I was a bit heavier, and it was a nail-biter, but I realized I skipped breakfast that morning. I only had half a danish. Anyway, this other contestant named Trudy Olsen was twirling not only one, not two, but three flaming batons! She took out all the other contestants and the front row. It was a terrible fire. I don’t know if you ever seen taffeta burn, but fortunately I was wearing 100 percent polyester. The other girls were hauled off to the burn unit, but it overall had a good ending. I got a beautiful tiara!
Your live performances have received critical acclaim, especially your act in Provincetown. What can audiences generally expect from a Miss Richfield performance? Each year, I do a brand-new show with new songs, new costumes, new videos, and usually the same jokes. This year is “Gender Fluids,” which I selected because these are some changing times we are living in with the kids making new
and exciting life decisions. The rest of us need to catch up! So, my show this year explains the wonderful genders, both old and new, along with a message of hope–or at least survival. And I adore doing this show. It is supreme happiness to hear the folks go crazy with my upbeat music, informative videos, and audience interaction! It’s also always a bonus when I remember the words to the songs!
What makes Miss Richfield so unique? Beauty! As Miss Richfield 1981, a beauty professional and pageant title holder, I know the buzz about scholarships and high school diplomas and all, but it’s a fact that only 50 percent of beauty queens can actually read and write, and virtually none of us do math. Let’s face it, beauty is skin-deep, and everybody knows that your skin is not connected to your brain, so I keep my message light and pretty.
What’s next for Miss Richfield? I have a hectic schedule this summer. Sixty shows in Provincetown, a night in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Kennebunk, Maine, and celebrating World Pride with Orbitz in New York City! Along with all that, I am trying to find a boyfriend. You know, most single gals in my stage of life are more likely to be killed by a terrorist than find love. So, I am thinking of relocating to Iraq to better my chances. Speaking of terror, I should probably end in a Bible verse. I like the one where Jesus says, “It’s important to be nice, but it’s nicer to be important!” Amen! See you soon!
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Well, Well, Well,
By Denny Patterson Photo courtesy of Leslie Jordan
It’s Leslie Jordan!
liked. We knew he was gay, and he has this business associate that he takes everywhere with him. It’s hilarious, because I know that man. That kind of man is still around. These closeted, deep south, Baptist church guys with frosted hair and being as nelly as they can be. There was one time, this church song leader was talking about his wife, and I counted him saying that 11 times. I wanted to say, ‘oh honey, we get it.’
eslie Jordan is one of the most consistently recognizable faces in popular entertainment. Appearing in several TV shows and films like Sordid Lives, American Horror Story, and The Cool Kids, Jordan will forever be known to millions for his iconic role as Karen Walker’s frenemy Beverly Leslie in NBC’s Will & Grace.
Jordan may only stand at four feet eleven inches, but his charm and personality is taller than the Empire State Building. Throughout his career, he has remained constant, relevant, and above all, funny. The stories he can tell will have you entertained for hours. OUT FRONT had the pleasure of chatting with Jordan about Will & Grace and his character in addition to upcoming projects and how he fell into the crazy world of showbiz.
Speaking of republicans, would you ever run for public office?
Why, thank you! That’s very sweet of you.
Then they decided to get rid of the finale and sort of pick up where we left off, which was the perfect decision. They got very ambitious with the finale! There was a lot going on. Anyways, I didn’t show up until episode five, so everyone else sort of had their little reunion, but Megan Mullally paid me the sweetest compliment. She said between our banter, she truly felt that Karen Walker was back. I thought that was very sweet.
Let’s start off by talking about Will & Grace. How was it getting together again with the cast for the reboot?
Beverly Leslie is a very conservative, right-wing republican. Is it challenging to play that?
You know, they had called me early on way before the reboot happened, and Max Mutchnick said that my character flew out the window 12 years ago in the finale, so they were trying to figure out how to work that out. Max said, ‘Maybe you can come back as Beverly Leslie’s evil twin, Leslie Leslie.’
It is just easier to be a buffoon! There are people who cannot play that, but I knew exactly who Beverly Leslie was. It was like Jeff Sessions before he became Jeff Sessions. He is just a buffoon! I thought it was so much fun to play that character, and it just naturally evolved.
Hi Leslie! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I am a huge fan of Will & Grace, and it is quite an honor to chat with the one and only Beverly Leslie!
It wasn’t just about being a republican or just a friend of Karen’s that nobody
Oh my God! No! I think it boils down to, I am 20 years sober, and I have been in jail and places that you could never imagine. I have so many skeletons in my closet; they wouldn’t be able to drag half of them out! I’m an actor. That’s what I do.
You have also been touring the country with your one-man show, Exposed. Can you tell us more about that? I would do these one-man shows over the years to help me supplement my income, and they have gotten so popular. Last year, I did 44 venues! I figured I can stand on stage and tell funny stories about things that are going on in my life and make money. “Exposed” is like the best of it all. That is what I am really good at. I can tell stories and go on forever.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for? I think that’s it, but I always got something clicking! Read the full interview at outfrontmagazine.com
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By Veronica L. Holyfield Photo courtesy of WASI
hy fit in when you can forge your own way, stand out, and stand for something? That’s what WASI is doing with their unique blend of punk rock meets melodic pop with a side of queer jublence for fun. In honor of the season of celebrating all those who live under the arch of the fabulous rainbow, punks Merilou Salazar and Jessi Meehan, the married and uber-queer front-runners of L.A.-based WASI, have assembled a troupe of misfits who are taking gay to a whole new level. Currently on the Love is Gay tour with Lucy & La Mer and Polartropica, the band is Denver-bound to meet up with local riot grrrl, femme punkers Rotten Reputation at the city’s own Seventh Circle Collective for a Sunday Pride celebration. OUT FRONT caught up with Salazar and Meehan to talk about genreless music, creating safe-spaces, and the importance of using their platform to end discrimination.
How did the Love is Gay tour come to be? S: Our friend Lucy La Mer throws Love Is Gay every Valentine's Day, so that kind of started as her idea. Around the last event, we reached out to her and asked, ‘Hey, have you thought about taking this to the West Coast, especially during Pride month?’ Because it's always been a hit out here in L.A. Out here, it's not even just a show, but it's a big community event where other partners and artists get involved, so we decided to try it to see how some folks would respond. People were responding really positively to it, so we we decided to do it through a bunch of cities to see what happens.
You are vocally queer; has that been problematic for the band and getting exposure? M: In recent years, not as much, but I guess it depends on what avenue it is. Before, when we were just barely coming out and playing music, we were kind of seen as the token lesbian band, and we’re kind of still tokenized in that way. It's definitely a lot more prevalent, and there's a lot more awareness around it. There's still a struggle for queer people, for visibility, and equality, but it's definitely come a long way since we started playing music.
There was an incident at a Walgreens, is that right? M: Yeah, we were on our way to L.A. Pride to shoot a video, and we stopped by Walgreens and got some food. I asked
you the restroom, and the person working opened the men's room, and I said, ‘You know, there's already a couple guys in there, I think I'd rather use the women's room.’ She said, ‘I can’t do that.’ It then became an argument about my gender expression and how they weren't going to allow me to use the women's room, because they decided I look too male to do so. I took that to the ACLU, and it took us eight months, but we got Walgreens to create a nationwide bathroom policy where people can use the bathroom based on their gender expression. It was a big campaign, and half of it was really positive, and the other half of it was really negative. Breitbart News even picked it up and said, ‘Walgreens caves to the gay agenda.’ People are so mean; we've experienced a lot of bullying and stuff all of our lives, so I wasn't so bummed out about those comments. It was very mixed, and in those comments, I was like, ‘Ok, cool, at least that’s something I haven’t heard.’ But being out and presenting gender-neutral, it wasn't necessarily negative; it had a very positive outcome.
Would you consider yourselves advocates and activists? M: I think if you are within a marginalized community in general, and you're out and open about it, there's going to be some kind of conflict. It's how you handle it that really matters, and when given an opportunity like I was, instead of saying quiet, I had to speak up and do something about it. I could have just let it, but I wanted to do something and hopefully create a safer environment for other folks that would be in the same situation.
Do you think it’s necessary for bands and people in the public eye to be out and outspoken? M: I totally think it's necessary. When people have a platform, whether it be music, or acting, or whatever platform that’s visible to a wider range of people, I think it's important to speak up, because people are listening. It's totally our duty to say something about it and to assure people we're in it together; it's important for people to feel like they're identified with. Read the full interview at outfrontmagazine.com
Florence and the Machine By Veronica L. Holyfield Rain and snow couldn't keep the crowds at home, as Florence and the Machine put on a magical performance at Red Rocks on Monday, May 20, with support from Christine and the Queens.
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By Veronica L. Holyfield Photos courtesy of Denver Zoo
Come Party With the
ride season is a time to showcase diversity in all the ways that promote expression of authentic individuality, and what better place to experience that than at a party with the wildest animals? Denver Zoo is celebrating uniqueness with their first-ever True Colors Safari, an event unlike any other before, and the zoo couldn’t be more proud. “We’ve been really focusing the last couple of years on diversity and inclusion,” said Jake Kubié, director of communications at Denver Zoo. “Our efforts around the LGBTQIA community, both here within our staff and in the community, are definitely one of our strong points, and our involvement in Pride is one example of showing that in the community.” True Colors Safari, held on June 15 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., is an adventure-packed, all-ages evening where queer folks, friends, and families can celebrate their unique and authentic selves during Pride weekend. “True Colors is a bit more of a statement event than we’ve done in the past, and we're proud to do it,” Kubié said. “It's not just
about animals and education; it’s really about presenting Denver Zoo in a different light to a different audience. We have a really, really cool place to have a party.” Sure to be a wildly festive night, a DJ will be spinning danceable tunes under the stars while zookeepers provide up-close animal encounters and demonstrations, all with delicious food and beverages from Denver’s favorite food trucks and local breweries. The milestone event is the first of its kind and a culmination of efforts over the last couple of years to show that they are representative of and inclusive to the queer community. True Colors Safari genuinely serves as a multi-faceted experience, connecting inclusivity and diversity while being educational and humane-centric. “We want people to have fun, to come and learn about our animals, and learn how they can be champions and advocates for wildlife,” Kubié said. “If people think of the zoo as a fun place to come and have a party, mingle with their peers, meet new people, and have a good drink and food, that's totally fine with us.”
With the zoo being one of the most visited cultural landmarks of the city, seeing more than 2 million visitors come through their gates each year, they understand the significance of being a space that highlights and celebrates diversity. “We have an incredible, rich, diverse group of animals that we care for, about 3,500 individual animals that represent more than 500 species,” Kubié said. “Looking at our same-sex flamingos, a lot of the ways that we're able to address diversity and inclusion is through telling stories about our animals and sharing the different types of relationships that exist in the animal kingdom.” The zoo is in a unique position, being able to use examples of nature to show the different types of relationships and family units that exist, as the same-sex flamingo pair can successfully raise a chick of their own. As the ever-evolving, 123-year-old institution continues to make efforts to be affirming to the queer community, the staff are trained on inclusivity during orientation, and True Colors Safari event will offer all-gender restrooms. While this isn’t a change that will be implemented daily, the zoo recognizes that they can continue to do work around many areas of accessibility and accommodations.
“In some cases, we’re taking educators and ambassador animals to sporting events, into classrooms, or out to community centers so that we can better access and educate people who maybe can’t make it to the zoo due to geographic reasons or financial reasons,” Kubié said. Knowing that Denver is as culturally rich as the animals that are housed at the zoo, another recent focus has been to include bilingual options as a way of outreach and inclusion. The latest addition of Harmony Hill, the state-of-the-art grizzly bear habitat, was intentionally designed as a bilingual exhibit, and the Diaz-Borda has been incorporating the Spanish language on their socials in order to more accurately represent the city. Denver Zoo is among the top-ten rated animal care facilities in the country, and while they are held to strict standards of animal care by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, being a safe and inclusive space is less of a mandate and of more of a chosen practice. Incorporating events like True Colors Safari for Pride weekend is a new and exciting way for the zoo to show the community they truly are a place for everyone, and Kubié can’t wait. “For us, it's really a feeling of responsibility that we need to be reflective of our community, so we really make every effort to be a zoo for all.”
“Denver Zoo’s model is that we are a zoo for all, and we've really taken that to heart, not just from a queer perspective, but also income level is definitely a priority here,” said Cristina Diaz-Borda. As the social media and marketing coordinator, she is aware that there can often be a lot of barriers that may make the space feel inaccessible; however, being exclusive to any demographic of person is unacceptable to Denver Zoo. “We have a partnership with Denver Health and Human Services where, from August 1 to April 30, anyone who is on SNAP benefits can come to the zoo for $1 for up to 10 people in their party,” Diaz-Borda said. Additionally, the zoo offers seven free days each year; the value of free admissions in 2017 for those days was close to $6 million. With more than 95,000 students visiting the zoo in 2018 as part of official school programming, they also have a program called “Zoo to You,” a group of animal ambassadors and educational staff that go on hundreds of different visits a year to schools and community centers all over the city.
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By Addison Herron-Wheeler
It’s Always a [Block]
Party at Charlie’s “I
t’s always a party” has been Charlie’s slogan for a while, and with good reason. Whether you’re into ballroom dancing, grinding on your partner, or just kicking back with a beer, you’re bound to have fun at this famed queer bar. Now, they’re kicking it up a notch with a block party and a partnership with The Fillmore Auditorium. “You go through so many phases in the queer community,” Brendan Sullivan, bar manager of Charlie’s, said. “One day, you’re a 21-yearold twink; then, before you know it, you’re buying a house, and you’re a professional. It’s something that’s a constant for everyone in the community, this evolution and growth.” “Evolution” is not the theme of this party by accident. As a bar, Charlie’s has gone from being the cowboy bar known as a safe haven for gay men to a queer mecca in 2019 Denver. Partnering with a major venue and taking over an entire section of street for the block party, especially during the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, represents the journey the entire community has been taking for the last half a decade. “We’ve grown up, and we've learned, so many things,” he added. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of John King, our corporate owner, and Michael Weidman, our corporate manager. I couldn’t have done this without their guidance.” The block party will be more than just a giant beer bust that stretches across the street. It will feature DJs Aaron Abikzer and John Joseph, Andrew Christian, Arad Winwin, Jon Pastor, and Lucas Leon. The big name on the bill that will surely be a draw is drag sensation Alyssa Edwards.
“She’s been huge, and she hasn’t been to Denver much lately, so being able to bring her back was pretty incredible,” Sullivan says of Alyssa’s return. “Recently, her career has blown up, and I think it's amazing, definitely a real treat for everybody that's going to come. It’s also been awesome to bring some major American and European DJs; this is the first time we’ve been able to accomplish something like that.” Even though this party is pretty big, Charlie’s is still keeping the local feel. Attendees of the event will be able to see the performers and even pay extra for a meet-and-greet. But if you can’t cough up the cash you can hang out and catch Alyssa and the other entertainers later at Charlie’s. Those who don’t get to snag an actual meet-and-greet ticket may still get to buy a famous drag queen a drink or chat with her over cowboy boots and beats. And there will be beer, not only domestic, but also some craft offerings. There will be plenty of drinks and fun, as well as live music and entertainment throughout the event. So, if you can’t get enough of the outdoor party feel of Pride, you now have one more awesome event to add to your list. Come hang out for the block party and stick around for the evening’s debauchery. It’s always a party. Evolution Block Party & Ultimate Beer Bust will take place Sunday, June 9 on Clarkson between Colfax and 16th. Doors open at 3 p.m. You can snag your tickets at livenation. com.
By Addison Herron-Wheeler Photo by Eric Pung
I’m Listening K
en Young has already made an impact on the queer community. He used to be a radio DJ, and even then, he tried to make a space to highlight queer issues. He was even on the cover of OUT FRONT back in the day. He also used to work as a VJ at JR’s Bar & Grill, a popular gay bar in the early 2000s. Now that he’s stepped down from radio work, Young has a new mission. His podcast, Listening Studio Colorado, aims to put the queer community front-and-center. “A lot of the folks I've interviewed up to this point, a majority of them are people I know who are involved with the community,” he explained. “They’ve given me feedback on what they think of the show and the format. I recently interviewed Feeding Denver’s Hungry, because certainly the issue of people not having enough money and not getting by every month is a huge issue in Denver.” From local drag stars to charities doing their best for the community, Young is trying to give everyone a voice and tell stories that matter to LGBTQ folks in Denver. “I think it's important to spotlight amazing people who are doing great things in the community,” he said. “Corky Blankenship was my first interview, and we talked about his volunteer work. I think it's important to spotlight those folks who are trying to make a difference.”
The podcast wasn’t something that Young rushed into. After his career in radio ended, he missed being on the air and doing a community spotlight segment, but it took him ten years before he felt he was financially and mentally ready to take this on as a side project while maintaining a full-time day job too. But now, he’s glad he took the plunge. “I've been so taken aback and just amazed by everybody I've spoken to so far, and just their willingness to be a part of the podcast,” he said. “I was afraid that they might think it's a little campy or not take it seriously, but so far, everyone has really gotten excited about me reaching out and wanting to have them as a guest and talk about their experience.” Young wants to do even more with the podcast, and isn’t afraid of branching
out. As a fan of the local drag community, he wants to do more to branch out. He’s inspired by the work of Jonathan Van Ness, and would like to expand and cover topics that aren’t necessarily specific to the community, but with a queer twist. “I want to provide a voice of our community in 2019,” he said. “And I hope it does progress. Five years down the road, I hope people will get involved, but right now, it’s just me. In the future, I would hope that people might be interested in maybe partnering or sponsoring it somehow. And I also hope that people look back and see this as a time capsule, a sign of what queer life in Denver was like in 2019.” Visit listencolorado.com to check out past episodes and keep up with new additions.
By Keegan Williams Photo courtesy of My 420 Tours
MY 420 TOURS PROMOTE QUEER C
olorado made history as the first state in the country to legalize cannabis for recreational use and sales, and anyone who’s been here since knows that in 2019, this ain’t your mama’s Centennial State. The revolutionary notion served as a catalyst to the boom in the state’s population, which in turn helped to shift the culture and communities already in Colorado and Denver, including our LGBTQ community. While the queer history of Denver is lengthy and rich, legal cannabis in Colorado is still in its infancy, though big players in the industry were quick to take notice of the state’s many, intersecting cultures. My 420 Tours, the nation’s first cannabis tour company and a sponsor at Denver PrideFest this year, was one of these companies that saw the overlapping cultures as inherent and exciting. “I value happiness progressing with
life, and we definitely value community, so I think it speaks for itself,” said My 420 Tours Marketing Director Logan Campbell. “All of these elements we’re looking for in our culture are very highly concentrated within the LGBTQ community.” My 420 Tours emerged six years ago, and an immediate goal of the company was for top-notch education and the safe consumption of cannabis. There is a responsibility to this work and doing it right, and part of this lies in selecting a quality staff of tour guides, many native to Colorado with vast experience in cannabis, to hold the company to the highest standard.
chauffeurs guests with a consumption-friendly limo to Seed & Smith’s facility to see the full seed-tosale process, while their concentrates class teaches folks about how flower is extracted into the delectable dabs you can purchase right after as you ride to Eufloria dispensary. “We are avid about gaining as much data as possible as it relates to the needs of our tourist and local demographics,” Campbell said. “We really reach out there to see what it is that the cannabis community would like to see.”
Being ready for any type of consumer with any level of cannabis experience, of any age, from any community, state, or country, is part of the work, and this comes through in the diverse, everchanging library of activities My 420 Tours offers.
My 420 Tours also pays attention to the contrasting seasons in the state when planning activities. You can hop onto one of their 420-friendly rides to Red Rocks over the summer for a show, but in a handful of months, they’ll provide shuttles to slope-savages in the winter racing to shred some snow, but not without properly blazing up on the way up.
No matter the season, they constantly
YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD 5-STAR DENTAL
CANNABIS CULTURE seek out the next-best thing for anyone cannabis-curious. “We’re always working on creating experiences that are unique in their own right. The sushi and joint rolling class definitely took that to the next level,” Campbell said. “It’s great for a good date night. There’s a lot of things to do in Colorado as far as clubs and bars, but pairing sushi rolling and joint rolling—it’s unique in its own right—but it gives you a fun opportunity to interact with your significant other.” This class, along with their popular greenhouse grow tour and buds and beers tour, is getting a queer makeover this month, just for Pride. This June marks the company’s third year of participation in Denver PrideFest. “The benefit of taking one of those tours, it’s gonna be super fun and super colorful. Last year was a huge success, really getting into the seasonality of PrideFest,” Campbell said. “We’re really looking forward to packing those with
tons of fun and tons of energy.” My 420 Tours is also giving a promo code to local guests with Colorado IDs interested in attending the queer-themed cannabis events in June. Anyone curious about taking a tour or class at a later time can also catch them at PrideFest over the weekend handing out good vibes and even better deals in their huge tour bus.
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Ultimately, this Pride month and all months of the year, the pioneer company is excitedly riding the state’s wave of growth and change for the cannabis culture and everyone around it. “We’re very involved in the community and the culture of the community, and that’s not just limited to the cannabis space,” Campbell said. “We’re just a proud sponsor, and we’re super happy to be involved.” To learn more about the tours and classes offered by My 420 Tours and sign up for one of their PrideFest events, check out their website at my420tours.com.
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HOW TO USE THE STARS TO EMBRACE YOUR PRIDE
June 3– New moon in Gemini June 17 – Full moon in Sagittarius June 21 – Sun enters Cancer. Summer solstice. Neptune retrograde.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEMINIS AND CANCERS!
By Joshua Lionlight
The answers are within. The solution for you this month is to let your inner child come out and play! Allow yourself some more time to connect and socialize with other people. You are empowered to take back control of your relationship life. Celebrate the romance at hand. Follow your bliss. You are being nudged and encouraged to go in the direction you are being nudged! The solution for you this month is to try a different and new approach to conversating, especially on the subject of your livelihood. You’ll be most pleased.
Many of you are being nudged to begin a new phase. The solution for you this month is to gain a broader perspective and apply some of your work discipline to your daily life. It will benefit you going forward! Embrace the boatloads of information coming your way! Learn from it. Know who your real supporters are. Which relationships are really helping you to grow? The solution for you in Pride month is to tend to things with patience while staying poised. Whatever or whomever you touch with love will shower you with great blessings!
You are being empowered to do something fresh and bold with your identity! If you’ve felt restricted in some way, a release is coming. The solution for you this month is to take your first step, pushing the fear of risk aside. You will be well-received and feel revived.
Simplify whatever part of your life that feels overbearing. The solution for you in June is to accept the return on an investment that is coming and to view things more rationally. You are being invited to travel and explore. By doing this, you’ll gain more direction!
It will do you credit to be extra mindful. You are being encouraged to be more of an observer in June. The solution for you is to surrender all inhibitions and allow your surroundings to reflect your soul’s desire back to you. You have a guardian angel at your side! Your energy and light radiates healing, and others want to be around you because of it. The solution for you this month is to show off and share your uniqueness, but do not feel guilty if you need a break from the crowd. Follow your own rhythm! Accept the hand wanting to befriend.
A voyage of the heart is taking place. The solution for you in June is to approach things with more tenderness and a more diplomatic attitude. Whomever you are feeling attracted to, you are being beckoned to invest your time with them. Honor and celebrate each other’s unique gifts!
Trust that there’s a divine plan. Are you feeling like some of your relationships have deserted you? The solution for you this month is to stand tall in your truth, even if it pushes some people away. Your feelings are valid. It’s important to surrender what was and embrace what will be. You are being called to ascend to a whole new level, even if its unknown territory! The solution for you in June is to keep pressing forward, even if you feel like you are going in blind. The universe wants to teach you something bigger. Have faith in synchronicity!
Not all who wander are lost! The gypsy lifestyle is showing up. The solution for you this month is to be more carefree in the present and to freely express your feelings! A welcome conversation comes when you’re in a free state of mind. Don’t worry about reaching an end; just enjoy the journey.
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PRIDE CALENDAR Clubs and Nightlife The Art, A Hotel 6/14 Paint Your Pride, find your flame, and ignite your Pride with an evening of drag, drinks, and dancing.
BoyzTown Come celebrate Pride at this super sexy and uber-queer male review club with hunks for days.
Blush & Blu 6/16 Performance by Lady Gang as well as dance parties and events hosted at the womxnâ€™s queer space all weekend
Buffalo Exchange 6/14 7th Annual Crosswalk Walk Off runway to strut your Pride
Gladys: The Nosey Neighbor 6/14 Starfish Gayer Pride with DJ Garth after the Buffalo Exchange Walk Off 6/15 Pillbox: Queer Overload with Tammie Brown and Meatball
Charlieâ€™s Nightclub 6/9 Evolution Block Party and Ultimate Beer Bust featuring Alyssa Edwards and DJ Aron Andrew Christian under the sun and in front of The Fillmore Auditorium 6/14-6/16 Evolution! Pride Party at the original stomping grounds
Denver Sweet 6/16 Pride Intensified with Grammy-nominated remixer/ producer Ralphi Rosario at the newest bear bar in town
Daddy’s Bar & Grill Eat, drink, and be yourself all weekend with the all-inclusive LGBTQ bar and restaurant.
El Potrero Night Club Comec check out this Latin-influenced club with live music and entertainment to practice those Salsa and Cumbia moves.
Girl Pride 2019 at Aztlan Theater 6/15 DJ Tatiana Productions presents Daniela Sea aka Max from The L Word with the official dyke march after party
Temple 6/15 Boi Femme Party for all LGBTQ folks featuring female DJs, burlesque, and hot celesbian hosts 6/16 Xtravaganza Pride After Party hosted by Ashanti, DJ Nina Flowers, and performances by Kalorie Karbdashian from RuPaul’s Drag Race
Lil’ Devils Lounge
Sip some crafted frozen cocktails at this South Broadway spot boasting a large patio and a diverse crowd.
Contemporary dance club with a massive floor to dance the nights away during Pride weekend
Ophelia’s 6/16 Sunday Peep Show: Pride Edition hosted by Kitty Crimson featuring Denver’s sultry sirens
Pride and Swagger 6/14-6/16 Pride Happens Here Block
Mile High Hamburger Mary’s
6/15 Bask in the sun in the afternoon on the rooftop patio with a pop-up food menu and specialty, Pride-themed beverages.
Mary’s Pride is celebrating island style, with Sunday morning featuring its firstever pre-parade party.
Tracks 6/11-6/16 Prismatic with nightly events like Drag Nation Pride Edition or Griz as DJ of the Sunday night closing party.
Party on Pennsylvania Street with rotating DJs and live entertainment, food trucks, and games at this totally free community event
6/14 Mear presents Throwback Pride with a party spinning favorites from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s
6/14 Bearracuda Denver Gay Pride Upgraded with GROWLr featuring DJ Del Stam, go-go bears, and more than 1,500 men
6/15 One Colorado’s Pink Party
The Phoenix 6/15 Rise: Denver Pride Sober Dance Party with good music and fun for the sober community.
The Triangle 6/14 Pride XL 2.0 One Colorado Pride Night After Party 6/16 Massive Pride Block Party and Beer Bust
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PRIDE CALENDAR Trade Come stop by this stiff-drink watering hole with freeflowing beers from your favorite bears each and every night. Pride will be no different!
The Walnut Room 6/14 Bent Improv: Pride Show is Denver’s LGBTQ improv comedy team putting on a show for all.
XBAR 6/13 Denver Gay Professionals 8th Annual Pride Kickoff Happy Hour
6/13 My Gawd Why Not?: Pride Edition with bar sales going to Transformative Freedom Fund 6/14 Pink Flamingo Dance Party
PRIDE Concerts 6/14
Aly & AJ @ The Gothic
6/15 Flamingos Gone Wild
Anderson .Paak @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
6/16 Pink Flamingo Pride Bust followed by The Kai Lee Mykels Show: Pride Edition
Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers @ Levitt Pavilion
Your Mom’s House 6/14 QueerGirl Denver Pride Party hits Denver as they tour through the nation’s Pride festivities, teaming up with DJs, dancers, and influencers from the queerfemale community.
6/14-6/15 Electric Funeral Fest IV @ 3 Kings Tavern, Hi-Dive, Mutiny Information Cafe
Pride Fashion Week
6/14 Denver Metro Bisexuals’ Social Club hosts game night at the Great Hall of Abraxas.
6/10-6/14 Runway couture every night of the week highlighting different themes at various venues throughout Denver
6/14 7th Annual Crosswalk Walk Off runway to strut your Pride.
Rapids Pride Night Tailgate
Denver Pride Kickoff
6/8 Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park
6/14 Community Event to raise funds for Urban Peak
Mercury Cafe 6/14 Open poetry reading in a queer-safe space
OUT Spokin’ 6/15 Colorado’s LGBTQ Cycling Team hits a historic society climb at High Grade and Deer Creek Canyon
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Tacocat @ Larimer Lounge
The Love Takeover Tour ft. Louis York and The Shindellas @ Soiled Dove Undergound
Rockies Pride Night with One Colorado 6/14 Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres at Coors Field
True Colors Safari at Denver Zoo 6/15 Animal experiences, drinks, and community centered around celebrating Pride.
Juneteenth Music Festival @ Five Points Neighborhood, 27th & Welton Street Natural Velvet and Church Fire @ Lost Lake Lounge Rotten Reputation, WASI, & Lucy La Mer @ Seventh Circle Music Collective
// 8 3
By Steve Cruz Photo by Kevin Preblud
Remembering the Founder of
TRACKS AND THE FOX HOLE
he name “Marty Chernoff” may not ring a bell, but many lives— gay, lesbian, and allies—have been touched by the clubs he founded and operated: The Fox Hole and Tracks. Tracks Denver celebrated its 35th Anniversary in 2015 and is still standing proud in the RiNo neighborhood. I first met Marty when the offices for Fag Mag (a temporary name for OUT FRONT) moved into a building he owned near Colorado Blvd. and I-25 in the early 1990s. I came to know him, his wife Kay, and his business partner Andrew Feinstein as friendly and hospitable people. Marty’s presence in the building was often announced by his laughter in the halls. He didn’t have the expected appearance of a gay nightclub mogul: he was married with kids rather than focused on appearances. Marty grew up in Brooklyn, graduated high school at 16, moved to Denver, and graduated from the University of Denver in 1963 with a degree in mathematics and statistics. He moved to Los Angeles and worked in the space industry as an engineer. He was literally a rocket
scientist. Five years later, he moved back to Denver. In 1969, Marty bought The Fox Hole, a bar nestled among a tangle of crisscrossing train tracks. He built up the business and sold it, but received it back when owners couldn’t make a go or lost interest. The third buyer was an attorney and gay. Marty attended opening night and, in his own words, his eyes were opened. The place was jam-packed with gay men. After the owner lost interest, Marty received the property and maintained The Fox Hole as a gay bar. Marty and Andrew built Tracks in a warehouse across the street, and it was a smash success. When Marty became aware of homeless, gay teens, cots were moved into the spare space in the Tracks warehouse, and they were allowed to bunk there. Some of them were hired to clean the clubs and maintain the lots. When Marty visited D.C. and saw that the gay clubs in that city weren’t as impressive as Tracks Denver, he and Andrew exported their club formula— and numerous employees—to D.C. where a sprawling club complex was built in a warehouse featuring indoor and outdoor dance floors, outdoor
grills, volleyball courts, and a wading pool. It operated for 15 years until the warehouse district gave way to a new stadium. Tracks nightclubs were also built in NYC and Tampa, FL. Tracks Denver is the only one still in operation. In the early 1980s, Marty, Kay, and Andrew boosted the campaign of Federico Peña to become the first Hispanic mayor in Denver. They hosted block parties and chartered buses to and from polling places. Peña became Denver’s Mayor in 1983. Andrew Feinstein posted on Facebook that “Marty recognized in the very early days of Tracks Denver (opened in 1980) how important it was to have a welcoming venue that accepted all people of all sexual orientations, races, religions, ages, and so forth. As a man who grew up without even a modicum of pretentiousness, there was no judgment from Marty about who walked through our doors.” Feinstein said in his post that Chernoff is survived by his wife Kay and their daughters Lisa and Linda. There will be a grand celebration of Chernoff’s life at Tracks on Sunday, August 4.
The Pride Show
featuring the Rocky Mountain premiere of:
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King Center Concert Hall Auraria Higher Education Center
is a Denver Drag Legend
ong before drag was a mainstream source of entertainment brought to the masses by RuPaul’s Drag Race, Nina Montaldo was out in our community entertaining Denver audiences amongst a small group of female impersonators who challenged not only the status quo for entertainment but what it meant to be gay man and represent our community. In the late 60s, when Nina began her career, it was very risky to do drag, as one had to wear three articles of men’s clothing to not violate the law. Most gay establishments were constantly under siege by law enforcement, as homosexuality was not looked upon in a good light. These rare and strong individuals found a family in the dressing rooms and on stage at the bars that are now long-gone. Nina has persevered through five decades of entertaining as a female impersonator and is still at the top of her game. She has graced the stage in countless bars, businesses, community events, and at the local, state, and national levels. Nina has never forgotten her roots, as she was brought up as an orphan and lived her childhood and young adult life at Mount St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, which is still in existence in North Denver. With her upbringing, Nina has always had a special place for serving those in need and tries to extend a hand whenever possible. Nina has helped raise thousands of dollars for a variety of charities and causes, from PFLAG and The Colorado AIDS Project to Toys for Tots, the Children’s Hospital, The Michael J. Fox Alzheimer’s Association, The National Parkinson’s Association, The Matthew Shepard Foundation, Breast Cancer Awareness, and so many more.
Nina has held several titles throughout her career. Those most closely associated with her are those with the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, where she has been an active member since its inception in 1973. She holds the titles of Princess Royal 7, Queen Mother 3, Empress 24, and was a member of the board of directors for 14 years. Nina was also crowned Miss Gay Colorado America 1980 as well as the Second Miss Gay Pride of all Colorado in 1989. Nina has endured throughout the decades by constantly evolving with the times and styles without losing her signature flare for costuming and grace on stage. She is a marvel in that she always delivers a performance at 110 percent and has in essence set the bar for all those who follow in her footsteps. She is known for her beauty and charisma on stage and has a unique way of bringing the audience along for a great night of entertainment. Throughout her career, Nina has created her own family known as “The House of Montaldo” which has close to 40 individuals whom she has chosen to be part of her legacy. Everyone within this group is honored to be part of this house as well as to help Nina’s legacy live on. Nina will be celebrating her 70th birthday in December, and it has been her wish to go on a cruise. So, 35 of her friends and family are heading out to sea in January. It is not an official gay cruise, but with Nina and her family in tow, it won’t be long before that will change on board the ship. Long live the legend, our queen, -Miss Nina Montaldo
By Nina Montaldo Photo courtesy of Nina Montaldo
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Pride as a Tool for Mental Wellness As a therapist who works primarily with queer people, I see day-in and day-out the effects of systemic oppression and bigotry on resilience. We are exhausted by society’s need for us to justify our humanity by constant misnaming, miss-pronouning, and misgendering, in addition to violence, hatred, and fear. The idea that Pride is a place where most of us feel accepted and no longer the outlier is not a novel one. But, I’m thoughtful of how we rarely validate how essential these moments are to our mental health. In my own story, I have found that being surrounded by heteronormativity and misogyny drains me. I often feel like I have this battery pack of energy that I can use to manage
those moments, and throughout the year people continuously take from it. What is essential is identifying the ways we can recharge. Is it volunteering at Rainbow Alley to give back to queer youth? Is it coffee with people in our community whom we love and trust? Is it joining queer athletic leagues or social clubs? Or is it taking time out of your year to attend large gatherings of like-minded folks such as Pride? This kind of recharge is what provides us with resilience to better cope with anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental illness. So, my question to you is, where are your recharging stations? Do you know? Are you aware of how and when your battery is being drained? If not, let’s find out. Justin R. Lewis, M.A, LPCC – The Denver Element
// 8 7
Colorado Firefighter Calendar Tryouts By Charles Broshous The Colorado Firefighter Calendar Tryouts were held at the EXDO Event Center on May 11. Firefighters from the Front Range strutted their stuff across the catwalk in hopes of winning one of the coveted spots in the 2020 calendar. Proceeds from calendar sales will benefit the Regional Pediatric Burn Center at Childrenâ€™s Hospital Colorado and other burn centers across the state.
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Miracleâ€™s Fashion Show By Veronica L. Holyfield Mile High Behavioral Health held its secondannual Miracle's Fashion Show event at the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace on April 25. The evening raised funds for the Miracle program, a program for women struggling with addiction, and the needs of women in recovery.
9 2 \\ J U N E 5 , 2 0 1 9
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// 9 3
Spring Fling By Veronica L. Holyfield The Alexander Foundation held its annual fundraiser and scholarship presentation at Colorado Automobile Dealers Association on Friday, April 26. Featuring a silent auction, food, and beverages, the event raised $2,000 for the all-volunteer foundation, which goes towards providing financial support to members of the LGBTQ community.
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HighLevelHealth.com Denver Locations
970 Lincoln St. 10th St. & Lincoln St. (303) 839-9333
Enjoy $18.27 Top Shelf Eighths Price is pre-tax. Valid at all locations. Valid through June 22nd, 2019. While supplies last. Cannot be combined with other deals. Must adhere to legal limits. Must be 21+ and have valid ID. Coupon code 5/28OF6/22
2028 E. Colfax Ave. Race St. & Colfax Ave (303) 355-9333
1620 Market St. 16th St. & Market St. (303) 953-0884
Mountain Location 1221 County Rd 308 Off Exit 234 on I-70 Dumont, CO (720) 242-8692