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No. 4 • April 6, 2017 •

Re-Design SF’s Harvey Milk Plaza

Composting Kitchen Scraps

You Bought a House! Now What?

Staying True to Your Vision

Celebrate SFMOMA’s Birthday

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page 11

page 12

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Outword California Staff PUBLISHER Fred Palmer

Is Gorsuch Dangerous to the LGBT Community?


eil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court, reportedly has close gay friends. And since his nomination, his friends of all stripes have stepped forward to defend his record. Unfortunately, very little of that record exists on paper.

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such discrimination. The nation’s civil rights laws apply equally to LGBT people. Gorsuch’s judicial views are rooted in ‘originalism’ – the belief that the Constitution should be interpreted in a manner consistent with those who drafted and ratified it nearly two and a half centuries ago. In 1789, the population of the original 13 states totaled 2.5 million people, an agrarian society in which only property-owning white men had the right to vote. The founders clearly viewed the Constitution as a living document that would evolve faithful adherent,” finding that the federal as the young nation changed. Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) Gorsuch’s originalism-based philosophy protected individuals from an undue burden does not reflect mainstream thinking. On the on their exercise of religious liberty – even if, contrary — it is far to the right of most in this case the “individual” was actually a Americans who believe that women should corporation. have the right to vote, full reproductive That’s bad news for our community. We freedom — including the right to abortion — are facing a wave of similar laws across the a separation of church and state, equal country making it permissible to protection, marriage equality for same-sex discriminate against LGBT people on couples, and a free and just legal system for religious grounds, an enormous departure all. from the nation’s civil rights laws. It doesn’t matter if Gorsuch has gay Exemptions from civil rights protections friends: his confirmation to the Supreme on other grounds would immediately be Court would put America’s civil rights deemed unconstitutional. No employer is protections in jeopardy. allowed to discriminate based on race, color, Rick Zbur is executive director of Equality national origin, sex, or disability, even if that California, the nation’s largest statewide employer claims religious beliefs that require LGBT civil rights organization. Neil Gorsuch

In fact, Gorsuch has expressed views that make him dangerous to the LGBT community and its hard-won civil rights. His views on the walls between church and state have the most serious implications for LGBT people. Gorsuch rose to national prominence with his opinions in two federal cases supporting an employer’s right to refuse to pay for contraception as part of employee health coverage if doing so violates the employer’s religious beliefs. He wrote that “it is not for secular courts to rewrite the religious complaint of a

Trump Omits LGBTQ People from 2020 Census Outword California Office

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Outword California


he Trump Administration on March 28 submitted to Congress a report of the list of categories of data it plans to collect for the 2020 Census, and the American Community Survey (ACS) that conspicuously excluded LGBTQ people.

“Today, the Trump Administration has taken yet another step to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity, by choosing to exclude us from the 2020 Census and American Community Survey,” said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force. “LGBTQ people are not counted on the Census—no data is collected on sexual orientation or gender identity. Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing

Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps. If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?” This decision is part of a string of actions by the Trump Administration to remove sexual orientation and gender identity questions from federal surveys and to stall assessment of programs targeting the LGBTQ community. The Census does collect

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data on same-sex couples through its “relationship to householder” question; this results in a very narrow depiction of the needs and experiences of our community. “We call on President Trump and his Administration to begin collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data on the American Community Survey as soon as possible and urge Congress to conduct oversight hearings to reveal why the Administration made the last-minute decision not to collect data on LGBTQ people,” said Maury.

Foothill AIDS Project Teams Up with Dining Out For Life


fter being named the Most Successful First-Time Participant in Dining Out For Life 2016, Foothill AIDS Project is working hard to make the 2017 event even more successful! The 2nd Annual Dining Out For Life — Inland Empire is on Thursday, April 27, through May 4.

The family-friendly event takes place at 14 (and still growing!) participating restaurants throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties. Restaurants agree to donate a portion of their proceeds from April 27, or from a date in the following week. In exchange Foothill AIDS Project (FAP) delivers advertising and media exposure. FAP also connects each restaurant with a host, who works with management to fill the restaurant and expose the restaurant to a new audience. Volunteers at each restaurant answer questions about FAP’s mission and services, and collect donation envelopes. Everyone who gives at Dining Out For Life gets entered into a prize drawing to win goods and services! The best part of the entire event, though, is knowing that you’ve helped change the lives of thousands of people at risk for or living with HIV and AIDS. To find a list of participating restaurants, please visit and get ready to Dine Out and Fight AIDS! When FAP was founded in 1987, an HIV diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence. NO MORE! With appropriate medication, nutrition and support, HIV does not have to shorten your life by a single day. FAP is dedicated to helping people who live with or are at risk for HIV and AIDS in 6

Outword California

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

eastern Los Angeles County, central and western Riverside County, and San Bernardino County. Their services improve the lives of thier clients and their families through comprehensive programs and support. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic evolved, so did FAP’s services. FAP now offers a full spectrum of programs and services to empower over 1,100 clients in three counties to manage their own long-term goals. Services include medical case management, substance abuse and mental health counseling, housing assistance, utility and bill payment, transportation assistance, food assistance, and health education. FAP is proud to offer these services to thier clients and to improve not just their life expectancy, but also their life quality. Who are FAP’s clients? • Over 95 percent of FAP clients live in poverty. • Over 90 percent are unable to work due to illness. • Over 80 percent are minorities. • Over 70 percent have another medical condition other than HIV or AIDS. • Over 30 percent are women, many raising young children. To learn more about the Foothill AIDS Project, visit

LA’s Truth Awards Honor LGBTQ African Americans

African-Americans in the LGBTQ community took their bows and trophies at the third annual Truth Awards Gala on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at the Taglyan Cultural Complex in Los Angeles. The black-tie affair honored African-American, men and women who have positively impacted the perception and image of the Black LGBTQ community. For more information about the Truth Awards and its honorees, visit

19th Annual California State Park’s Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup Needs Your Help

Have you visited a state park lately? Spring flowers are creating a riot of color across the sunny slopes and verdant pastures of parks around California. However, all that beauty requires some tending and the California State Park’s Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup on April 22 could use your help. Visit to find a state park near you and volunteer.

Quick Kitchen Tip I’m always looking for things that can make my life easier, especially when it comes to cleaning. In the past I wrote about using Wright’s Copper Cream to clean my stainless pans, that have copper bottoms, and I stand by that, but I have found something that works as well, and is about half the price. Barkeeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser. I originally bought it to use on my glass topped stove, but once I read the writing around the cap, I decided to give it a try on other things. It’s pretty great stuff. It does a great on the stove, and also a wonderful job keeping my stainless steel cookware looking like brand new. And anyone that has stainless cookware, knows that’s not easy to do. If you keep an eye out, you can find it for about $3 at Lowe’s or Home Depot, but be carefull, there are some kitchen stores that sell it for up to $7 a bottle! Give it a try, let me know what you think. - Ron T.

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Outword California 7

Contest to Re-Design SF’s Harvey Milk Plaza Underway



hen San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk took his bullhorn and rallied crowds at the intersection of Market and Castro Streets in San Francisco, he inspired a generation and helped forge the LGBT civil rights movement. Now, steps are underway to make this hallowed ground a fitting tribute to both Milk and the gay rights movement with a major reimagining of Harvey Milk Plaza, including an international competition to design the space. The project has gained the support of those who knew Supervisor Milk best. Author and activist Cleve Jones, who stood with Milk at rallies in the same plaza 40

construction, and maintenance of the plaza. “The city must redesign Harvey Milk Plaza and the Muni Metro station to comply with accessibility mandates,” Andrea Aiello, chair of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, stated. “With such substantial work already underway, a coalition of local residents, community groups and stakeholders asked city leaders if the same construction project could reimagine the

The current state of Harvey Milk Plaza.

years ago, expressed his enthusiasm and said, “Harvey understood that the LGBT community was part of something larger, and creating something special here will inspire others to carry on the global movement for peace and social justice.” The Harvey Milk Plaza Competition is a partnership of the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza, the American Institute of Architects San Francisco Chapter (AIASF), the Center for Architecture + Design, San Francisco Department of Public Works, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Art Commission. Initial funding of $500,000 from an anonymous donor will support the design competition and subsequent plaza development. Additional fundraising efforts are underway to secure the additional $10 million required for full funding of design,

space as a fitting tribute to Milk and LGBT rights, and the city agreed, however we still have a substantial amount of fundraising to do in order to ensure the success of the project.” “Harvey Milk was always pushing what is possible, bringing people together, and focusing on what we can do collectively to create change,” said Jennifer Jones, AIASF Executive Director. “That’s really what we’re doing with the design competition: sourcing ideas from architects and design teams who comprehend the challenges of the space, but, like Harvey, recognize that no challenge is insurmountable or outweighs the importance of creating a gathering space for a community.” For more information and to watch a video about the project, or to donate, visit April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Outword California 9

Equality California Announces 2017 Legislative Package


quality California has announced the initial 10 sponsored bills of its 2017 legislative package, part of thier continuing effort to address the disparities that LGBT people face as a result of longstanding discrimination and lack of acceptance.”

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“The LGBT community faces significant challenges in Washington and across the country with attempts to roll back LGBT civil rights along with programs that LGBT people depend on, such as the Affordable Care Act,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “At the same time, California must not just hold the line, but continue to make progress in our goal of achieving full equality and social justice for LGBT people. In the coming years, our state can serve as a beacon of hope for the rest of the nation.“ This year, Equality California is sponsoring the following bills: SB 239 – Modernizing Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws modernizes California laws criminalizing and stigmatizing people living with HIV to reflect current understanding of HIV prevention and treatment. SB 179 – Gender Recognition Act of 2017 will enable transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to obtain state-issued identity documents that accurately reflect their gender identity, making California the first state to not require people to officially identify as “male” or “female.” SB 219 – Seniors Long Term Care Bill of Rights strengthens protections for LGBT seniors living in long-term care facilities against discrimination on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status. AB 888 – Transparency in Higher Education calls attention to the unsafe atmosphere that institutionalized discrimination can create for students at colleges and universities in California, where many LGBT students have been disciplined or expelled because they are LGBT or have

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engaged in LGBT community or advocacy activities. SB 695 – Tiered System for California Sex Offender Registry replaces California’s existing universal lifetime registration requirement for sex offenses with a tiered system based on the seriousness of the crime, the risk of reoffending and criminal history. AB 800 – Hate Crimes Hotline would establish a hotline to report hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents and provide information to support targeted communities. AB 1161 – Updating Local Hate Crimes Policies would help empower local communities to safely reduce the number of hate crimes by requiring local law enforcement agencies to update their policies on hate crimes and provide guidance to strengthen those policies. SB 310 – Name and Dignity Act helps to ensure that transgender people will be legally recognized for who they are while incarcerated and increases the likelihood of their successful reentry into society upon release from custody. AB 677 – Reducing LGBT Disparities in Education and Employment directs ten agencies focusing on education and employment to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity whenever additional demographic data is collected. SB 221 – Insurance Coverage for Lipodystrophy requires that all health insurance plans governed by California law must cover medical treatment to correct HIV-associated lipodystrophy, which creates abnormal accumulations of fat in, for example, the neck and upper back areas. For more detailed information, visit

Narrow Down the Search Area When Buying a Home


inding the right property to buy can take a lot of effort. In fact, it can be a little overwhelming when you’ve got an entire city of homes to choose from. That’s why it can be very helpful to narrow down your search area.

The reason this helps so much is because it helps to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. It also helps your real estate agent because he or she can more easily focus on finding homes that perfectly meet all of your needs without going through a huge list of potential properties. The first thing you can use to narrow down your home search is price range. Most cities have neighborhoods that are more expensive than others. You may find that your budget rules out parts of the city without anything else factoring into the decision. This is especially true for many downtown areas or new neighborhoods with large homes. Style can also help you decide on where to live, although it’s often not the deciding factor. Some neighborhoods feature homes that look very similar. If you like that style, you may want to see a number of houses in that area. If you don’t, you may be able to cross off the entire neighborhood just by looking at one property. Home size can also play a major part in your decision. There are some neighborhoods where most of the houses may be larger or smaller than what you’re

looking for. Some of this has to do with the time period the houses were built in or with the average income of the homeowners in that area. You might find that the homes in one neighborhood are mostly two-story townhouses, while another neighborhood may have many houses that don’t have attached garages. You can use your preferences here to help you narrow down what you’re looking for.

Driving distance may also play a factor in where you want to live. You may want to have a fairly short commute or at least be able to avoid majorly congested routes on your drive to work. You may even want to think about the drive to the grocery store or to any other places you frequently visit. In fact, some people decide which neighborhood they want to live in based off the amenities nearby.

Drive through any neighborhood you’re thinking about moving to so you can get a feel of it. Look for things that you like and dislike. Do many homes seem to be kept up? Is there loud music playing? Do you see children outside? All of these things can help you determine if you will or won’t be a good fit for the neighborhood. If you don’t feel comfortable driving down the street, you’re not going to feel comfortable living there. You may also want to do some online research into possible neighborhoods. You can find crime reports, school assessments, and even neighborhood demographics online. This information can help you determine where you want to live and what areas you’d like to steer clear of. One thing you do want to make sure you do early on in your house search is finding a real estate agent you’re comfortable with. You want someone who understands your needs and will match you up with potential homes that match your style and personality. For members of the LGBT community, that may mean finding an agent who identifies as a part of that community. To do so, you can search the directory on www.GayRealEstate. com and learn about the LGBT agents in your area.

Composting Kitchen Scraps Is Easier & Cleaner than Ever


f you’d like to get into turning your food waste into compost for your garden, but don’t want a stinky pile of table scraps lingering in a pail in your kitchen or backyard, there are some new high-tech ways to expedite the process while reducing the odor and mess. Composting is a natural process of recycling food and organic matter and exposing it to oxygen so it can decompose into a nourishing soil amendment. Whether you let your municipality process your food and yard waste into compost, or do it yourself at home, you’re doing right by the environment. Given how easy it is to compost these days, it’s hard to believe that food and yard waste make up as much as 30 percent of the waste we send to landfills. Luckily if you want to make your own compost at home or don’t have curbside food/yard waste pickup, there are plenty of easy, low-cost ways to get started. The Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin is a great way to start recycling food waste right from your countertop. Its airtight lid and replaceable charcoal filter work together to confine any harsh smells. Another plus is the attractive stainless steel exterior, designed to last a lifetime and warrantied against scratches, cracks or chips. And all you need to clean the

Epica is water, soap and a sponge. Other products can speed up the process of making garden-ready compost right in your kitchen. For instance, the Food Cycler CS-10 ($299) employs motorized agitators to break down cooked and uncooked food waste into small particles which are then heated and sterilized. The dishwasher-safe, countertopsized unit makes ready-to-use compost within three hours. If you want to go even bigger, Zera’s new appliance-sized Food Recycler ($1,199) reduces food waste by over two-thirds its original volume and can handle a week’s worth of kitchen scraps. It makes usable compost in 24 hours, and it also connects to your home’s wifi network so you can monitor and control it remotely via an app. Yes, there’s even an app for that! Old-school (outdoor) composters you might want to check out include Yimby’s low-cost, worry-free Tumbler Composter ($81). Just

by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss, EarthTalk

insert your food scraps and/or yard waste, close the door and turn it manually 5-6 times every 2-3 days. The exterior is a recycled plastic bin with a steel frame, and can stay outside all year in any weather. The Tumbler Composter has a 37 gallon capacity, but takes two weeks or longer to turn your scraps into compost. Composting is great for fertilizing your home garden, and it’s satisfying to make something useful for free out of waste that you would otherwise just discard. and you can feel good that you’re doing the right thing by the environment. For more suggestions, visit EPA’s Composting at Home, composting-home; Zera, EarthTalk is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Earth Action Network. To donate, visit Send questions to:

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Zera’s Food Recycler lives in the kitchen and makes it easy to turn your food waste into garden-ready compost.

Outword California 11

Congratulations, You Bought a House! Now What?


uying a house does take a lot of time and effort. The first step is going through the long and sometimes frustrating pre-approval process to secure your financing. Then you have to look for a home.

You may have spent weeks or months working with a real estate agent to find the perfect home. Even after you find a home, you then have to negotiate the price, deal with anything the inspection reveals, and more. In the end, it can be exhausting, but you now own your dream home! Now what do you do?

Change the Locks

Some new homeowners immediately change the locks on the house simply because they have no idea if there are any other keys out there. You don’t necessarily have to do this, but you can if you want to be absolutely certain you know who has access to your home. You can find new lock Get Your Utilities Turned On kits at many hardware stores, and installing You may be anxious to move in, but before them is fairly easy. All you need is a you do, you need to get the electricity, gas, screwdriver and about ten minutes. and water switched over to your name and Paint turned on. You can’t really do much if you If you’re going to paint your home, do that don’t have lights, so the electricity is a must. before you start moving in if you can. It You also may not be able to be becomes much more difficult to paint your comfortable in your new home if you don’t home if you have to do it around stacks have heat or air conditioning. If you have a of boxes and furniture. It also makes gas furnace, getting the gas turned on during the settling in process much more the winter is necessary. Just make sure difficult. If you have a week to get you’ve had the furnace inspected first, your house painted before you move especially if the home has been empty for in, you’ll get it done in that week. If several months. Once you’ve got your power you have to move in first and then on, you may want to get the water flowing. paint, you may find that you end up You can spend a night in your new house doing a little painting here and there. without water, but any longer than that and Before you things become complicated.

know it, it’s been three weeks and you still have a room that isn’t finished.

Redo the Floors The same is true if you’re putting down new flooring or if you’re going to oil your hardwood floors first. Get that done as soon as you can so you’re not trying to do it around your furniture.

through. Then you’ll have to change everything back.

Hire Movers

If you’re going to hire movers, you should get in your reservation as soon as you can. Again, you may not want to make plans before the closing just in case something happens, but you’ll want to get your moving Put in a Change of Address team in place shortly thereafter. Some You’re going to be out of your old house movers do get booked up pretty quickly, so fairly soon—most people move out within a it’s always best to get things scheduled as couple of weeks of closing. That means soon as you can. you’ll need to get your address changed over. Once you’ve finished all of these tasks, You’ll want to do this as soon as you can you’ll be ready to move in and enjoy your because some changes do take a new home! If you have any questions about while to go through the anything, you can always talk to your real system. However, don’t estate agent. If you’re a part of the LGBT change your address community and want to work with LGBTuntil after the closing. friendly agents, you’ll find them in this issue You don’t want to of Outword, and on www.GayRealEstate. change it only to find com, a website specializing in LGBT real some small detail that estate. These agents will be able to help you causes the deal to fall find the perfect home and provide you with information about utility companies and more once you’ve purchased your dream house.

Buying a new home, remodeling and moving in can be a daunting task, but a good realtor can make the process a lot smoother.

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Hiring a Contractor Can Save You Time and Money


by Matthew Burlingame

f you already own your own home or are purchasing your first slice of the American dream, chances are you have a list of renovations you want to make. Yet, how do you know you’re getting the right person for the job? What questions do you need to ask and what jobs require a permit?

Joshua D. Longest, Sacramento native and owner of JDL Urbanized Custom Construction, has been in the construction field for over 12 years. A former U.S. Marine, Longest spent much of his youth in Pollock Pines where his love of construction became apparent at an early age. “I’ve always enjoyed building and creating things,” he recalls. “Erector sets, Lincoln logs, Legos, carving, sculpting, painting, drawing and also building some rather elaborate forts in the forests of Pollock Pines.” Longest learned his craft through hands-on hard work alongside some amazing builders including his Uncle Spencer who would “swat me on the back of my head when I ended up costing him money from a mistake.” So what advice does Longest have for those of us looking to do some work on our homes without a clue where to start? A lot actually! One of the first things to understand is the difference between hiring a handyman and a contractor. A handyman can legally only do a job that the labor and materials do not exceed $500. Anything over that will require a contractor. But with so many contractors out there, how do you find the one that’s right for you? Most importantly look up their California State Contractor’s License Number on the CSLB website ( Make sure they are insured, bonded and don’t have any complaints or liens against their license. “Finding a contractor is kind of like finding a tattoo artist,” Longest quips. “Research them on Yelp, Facebook, and look for customer reviews. Then get to know them so you have a good feel for their personality and know they understand your vision.” Knowing what you want before you start looking for a contractor makes their job and yours a lot easier. But what if you only have a general idea, or don’t know exactly what you’re wanting to do? “If you have trouble envisioning the project yourself make sure the contractor is willing to take the time to work with you and help find the vision you are looking for,” explains Longest.

“I’ve worked with clients that have put their faith in my design and planning to discover what style and functionality will coincide the best with their needs.” If you need help with planning, be prepared for it to cost a little more. Speaking of costs, It’s important to get everything in writing so there is less opportunity for any miscommunication about the scope of the work and the price. The same goes for any adjustments or additional work. “Most people are generally looking for the best deal and normally I would agree,” said Longest. “But when it comes to things that require skill and know how, you get what you pay for. Hiring the cheapest contractor generally means they’re going to cut corners wherever they can and buy the cheapest materials possible. When I’m paying for services at going rate or on the higher end of going rate, I expect to get what I paid for and so should you.” With all the DIY shows and videos, isn’t it just as easy to do it yourself? “There are quite a few tricks to the trade that the how to videos on YouTube don’t quite cover,” warns Longest. “When I get called in to fix or complete a project, I usually have to start over from scratch. If the quality of work changes halfway through it almost always looks worse than if it was just finished by the homeowner. Also, a contractor can only warranty the work that they actually perform.” If you aren’t confident in your knowledge and skills it might end up costing you more in the long run than if you had hired a professional to do it from the start. Attention to detail and quality of work are cornerstones to Longest’s work ethic and he is adamant that any contractor you hire should have the same. At what point do you need a license? California actually requires a permit to do just about anything to your home, even changing a toilet. A good site to find out if and how you need to apply for a permit is cityapplications. com. Learn more about Longest and his company at Matt Burlingame is an award-winning journalist and playwright turned novelist. For more information visit his website at April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Outword California 13

In the Garden: It’s Time to SPRING into Action!


ith the rainy weather seemingly decreasing, it’s time to start thinking about your outdoor environment and the beautiful climate that defines California’s long sunny season, allowing us to create stunning gardens on large or small scales.

Even though it may seem like the drought is over, water purveyors around the state are still mandating conservation schedules like last year. Many folks took this to mean that they could simply stop irrigating, and as a result we lost many legacy trees and shrubs. Remember: trees and shrubs provide countless environmental and economic benefits, and even when complying with conservation mandates they can be kept alive by slow applications of water to their roots near their drip lines, or the edge of the foliage of the tree or shrub. Check your irrigation controller (timer) to make sure you’re complying with your water purveyor’s allowed days for watering, and make sure it’s set to water early in the morning, between roughly 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., to allow water to soak in rather than evaporate. “Cycle and soak” is a good method to reduce runoff, where a sprinkler system comes on for several short applications on one day, rather than one long application where the chances of runoff and

waste are greater. If you haven’t replaced your lawn, you might consider doing it during cooler weather, or even reducing its size and replacing with shrubs and groundcover. Be careful not to over-rely on rocks and gravel, and take into consideration the context of your landscape: What’s around you? What are your neighbors doing? What’s the character of your neighborhood? Another important reminder: all landscapes require maintenance! Some may be more carefree than others, but all plants need some water and pruning, and weeds still need to be pulled! If you don’t have a yard but do have a patio, balcony or terrace, consider large pots filled with plants that will survive based on the amount of sun the area gets. Easy plants for sun or shade include succulents like agave, aloe and crassula, and annuals like impatiens and begonias. There are a ton of perennials that grow happily in pots like gerbera daisies, salvias,

gaura, artemesia and lavender. If you have sun, try herbs like basil, sage and oregano, and even tomatoes if you have the room. Oregano and sage are perennials and will come back year after year; tomatoes and most other vegetables are annuals, meaning that their lifespan is just one growing season. When consulting on-line resources for how-to’s or inspiration, be sure to search for publications that focus on Mediterranean 14 Outword California

words and photos by John H. Nicolaus

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climates like we have here. It’s easy to be wowed by abundant, beautiful garden imagery with plants that are impractical for California, so be mindful of the source and where the pictures were taken. John H. Nicolaus is a Sacramento based landscape architect who has been practicing his profession throughout California and the west for over 30 years. Contact him at

Staying True to Your Vision and Renovation Realities by Ron Robinett


merica is officially in love with home makeovers. If you’re like me and millions of others, turning on the “house porn” channels can be a very dangerous pastime. From This Old House to Fixer Upper, it’s easy to become a Rehab Addict.

Whether it’s a large scale home makeover or a smaller project, if you’re going to become part of the Renovation Nation, you really need to figure out how to NOT Flip or Flop, and stay true to the vision you have in mind. This is especially important if you’re not made of money and need to Design on a Dime.

Spend Your Time Before You Spend Your Money This is vitally important, especially when you and your partner have different tastes. Sit down together and plan, plan, plan. Home makeover programs, magazines and the Web are all wonderful sources of inspiration and can help you find your

Putting together a “vision board” before you begin can help keep your renovation or redecorating project on track — and on budget!

The Difference Between Vision & Reality

perfect design style. Working together to create a vision board While you may have a clear picture in for your project means you’ll have a solid your head of how you want your home to point of reference to fall back on any time an look and feel when you begin, the reality of obstacle presents itself. renovations and interior decorating can leave The cabinets, for instance. While you might you dazed and confused. save a bunch of money on those modern That gorgeous sofa with the amazing cabinets, a review of your board can show pattern that’s going to be the anchor for your you the cost to your original vision, so you whole room design? Discontinued, and the can decide whether or not it will be worth fabric is only available on special order from making the change. the manufacturer. Take the time up front and really dig into The wall where you envisioned cool the details. Find the paint colors, furniture French doors? It turns out to be load styles, wood, carpet and fabric swatches, bearing, so you can only have a single door. lighting samples, tiles, and other accessories Your cabinet company shows you an that really speak to you and feel right. You ultra-modern style that’s half the price of the want to create the whole picture; from top to rustic Shaker style you originally coveted. Do bottom. Believe me, it will help. Details you go back to the drawing board? make the difference for Design Stars. Years of experience with interior design I hope these tips are helpful. Now go forth (along with more homes and renovations and make YOUR vision a reality. than I’d care to admit here) have led me to Ron Robinett specializes in vision boards, one conclusion: the only way to end up with interior design, and building management. a finished space that looks like you envisioned it at the start is to have a “vision He can be reached at or board” before you begin.

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Outword California 15

A Little Something Regarding Online Home Plans


ost online home plans are lackluster, dull, lifeless, utter crap that are perfect for the Styrofoam suburbs that architects like me have come to loathe.

To understand this hypothesis, one only must drive through a new suburb and then an older neighborhood such as Sacramento’s “Fabulous 40s,” which is near my office and where I go when I’m looking for inspiration when designing a new house. The Fab 40s represent a time when a home was eloquent and classy with the charm and grace of an older dame. However, as architects we’ve moved away from this concept and are now left with something akin to the drunken prom queen passed out in the gutter with her skirt flopped up and exposing her lace panties for the world to see. There is nothing formal, eloquent, or classy about new homes, and most people buying online house plans do not understand the subtle nuances of residential design Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret: most online home plans are not designed by an architect and it shows. I know I’m likely sounding like the stereotypical snobbish architect, but really, I’m not. I don’t have horn rim glasses, wear

by Jonathan McKim, AIA, NCARB

couples who have spent thousands of dollars purchasing generic online home plans from my competitors only to find out that they now must spend thousands if not tens of thousands more to hire an architect. There is little I can do to help these folks other than to direct them to my own online home plan store where I offer prototype house plans to folks that might not typically be able to afford an architect’s fee for a custom home. More importantly, I offer education that helps them advance closer to making their Without the help of a professional architect, your home could be just another little box made of ticky-tacky. dream home a reality. Jonathan McKim graduated from only black, drive a vintage Volvo, and spend designed by non-licensed architects are more Temple University with a Bachelor of my weekend mornings in an overly priced difficult to get through a local building Architecture, holds architectural licenses in coffee shop thumbing the latest design department. Arizona and California, and is the magazines. So, when purchasing online home or founding partner of MCKIM Architectural, OK, maybe I’m guilty of the last one but house plans, understand that what you’ll I’ve digressed. receive from these huge plan stores are often LLP, a residential practice based in Sacramento that specializes in online The point is that most online house plans generic, have minimal information, are are prepared by a “building designer” and poorly designed, and in the end, you’ll likely home plans. The firm is currently revamping its online store, www. besides the obvious issues of aesthetics, or as still need an architect’s seal. Vitruvius would say (if not for being dead for In fact, this is the primary reason I’ve been which will relaunch on June 1, 2017. two thousand years), “delight,” houses contacted multiple times by frustrated

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16 Outword California

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Consider a Commissioned Piece when Choosing Art


hether you have a small apartment, or a large new house, sometimes the task of filling those blank walls with something that reflects you and your taste can be a challenge. If you are an art lover, but a novice buyer, it can be even more intimidating.

Finding the right artwork for your home doesn’t have to be daunting, especially if you enlist the help of your neighborhood gallery owner and art expert. Michael Kennedy, owner and curator of Kennedy Gallery in the heart of Lavender Heights, offers some sage advice for those who just wish to add flair to their abode or to those who are looking to build a collection. The first thing to consider is the style of the home and the already existing decor including the color palette used within the home. Once that is established artwork that has a complimentary blend of all those elements can be found. “If the house is Western Americana but the decor inside the home has Asian overtones,” explains Kennedy, who holds a masters in in acrylic painting, “then you would consider pieces that are traditional landscapes, but with Asian elements.” “If the home is contemporary,” he continues, “you would probably want to go with a minimalist feeling with abstract, contemporary or even pop art.” If you’re unsure what style your home is or what artwork may work best for that space some gallery owners offer home consulting for a small fee. This also helps to point you in the direction of artists who specialize in the style or genre you’ll be looking for. If your head spins at the thought of trying to discern Abstract Expressionism from Modern Cubism don’t let yourself get caught up in trying to speak the lingo. Just focus on what it is that you like about various pieces. That could be something as simple as liking broad brush strokes, or thick paint (impasto) or watercolors. Remember that the pieces you chose will hopefully be with you for decades to come. Take your time to find pieces you connect with. You’ll know them when you see them. Don’t be afraid to enlist someone with not only knowledge in the art field, but who works with a large variety of artists on a consistent basis. Your best bet is a gallery

by Matthew Burlingame

Choosing art for your home can be easier with help from a gallery or artist. Michael Kennedy of Kennedy Gallery can help you with those decisions. Pictured is a segment of his Transplanting the Universe, acrylic and oil on linen 4ftx6ft.

owner, or curator, many of whom will not only point you in the right direction, but will assist in exposing you to new artists and building your collection. If you are working with a limited budget in a large space or business, Giclée (fine art digital prints) may be something to consider. Most of these are priced at about one-third of the original piece. Another option is to buy a piece on consignment as some artists or galleries will accept payments over time towards the purchase of that perfect piece you simply have to have. No matter what your budget, those who may not be finding exactly what they are looking for should consider the possibility of commissioning an original piece from an artist who already uses the desired elements in their work. “Some come into a gallery thinking they are limited to whatever is on display,” explains Kennedy. “They may like the coloring on one piece, but the subject matter on another. Separately the pieces don’t speak to them, but combining those elements may create the perfect piece. An artist who will do commissioned work can

make that a reality.” One of the positive things about commissioned work is often times the artist will want to include their patron in the process. Whether pictures over the mobile, or bringing the buyer into the studio to see the development, being part of the creation process can be rewarding. Commissioned work can generally run as much as 20 percent higher than already finished pieces. On top of materials and hours spent creating the original piece, a patron is also paying for that artist’s expertise and creative expression which has most likely taken a lifetime to develop. And you get to take that masterpiece home. For those who are looking for more than just decoration but are interested in building a collection of some value, knowing how to select pieces that will not lose value over time is key. “It’s important to look at the artist’s portfolio and see that they are going to be continuing to produce at the same level that they are now,” says Kennedy. “If an artist is putting out a steady number of pieces each year, getting into galleries or exhibits or is a resident artist at a gallery they’re are on an

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

uptrend. Those are artists worth investing in. The current trend both nationally and internationally is that of the west coast markets, specifically the I-5 corridor, which includes Sacramento and the surrounding region. “Our artists tend to do a lot of layering and bright brilliant colors,” explains Kennedy. Once you have chosen your art, if you dread bringing out the hammer and nails and hoping you can balance your new masterpiece some galleries will not only deliver your art but mount it for you as well. Some may even balance your existing pieces in harmony with your new one. From start to finish, choosing the right art for your home can be a rewarding experience, and one you don’t have to shoulder alone. Kennedy Gallery is located at 1931 L Street in Sacramento, or logon to Matthew Burlingame is an author (Sorry Charley!), playwright (Paperclip Messiah), prodigious podcaster and freelance writer in Sacramento. He can be reached at matthew. Outword California 17

Appletini on the Amazon: Cruising South America in High Gay Style


ou probably think that touring the Amazon means sleeping in a dank tent and eating insects, like some tacky episode of Gay Survivor. And up until a few years ago, you’d have been right.

by Eric Poole

But these days, you can cruise the rainforest in total luxury. New five-star river cruise ships make sailing the Amazon feel like you’re staying in a floating Four Seasons hotel. And with companies like Brand g Vacations, which offers all-LGBT charters, you can do it on an all-gay ship. So instead of a mat of leaves and twigs, your bed can be a king-size super plush with 1,000 thread count sheets. Instead of foraging for digestible creepy-crawlies, you can forage for the perfect Pisco cocktail. And instead of getting mud under your toenails trying to erect a tent, you can get a mud facial in the ship’s spa. Amazon cruises are a life-changing experience. They offer the ability to get up close and personal with the unbelievable diversity of rainforest wildlife, from spiders monkeys to poison dart frogs, from brilliantly-hued macaws to bright green Anacondas. The best part is you can do it from the comfort and safety of a five-star Hot Tub on the Amazon Delfin III river cruise ship.

A suite room on the Amazon Delfin III.

vacation. Onboard your ship, rainforest tours take place on both the river and land. From the ship, you’ll be taken in skiffs, accompanied by expert naturalists, where you can interact closely with the incredible river creatures and even swim with the famous pink dolphins. And you’ll also visit eco reserves on land, like Pacaya Samiria National 18 Outword California

Reserve and its Fundo Casual jungle trails. There are, of course, many advantages to visiting an ecotourism spot like the Amazon rainforest with an all-gay group: 1) When the guide points out a school of red-bellied piranha dining on an unfortunate hatchetfish, everyone will scream and clutch their pearls at the same time.

2) When you arise early to take a morning skiff into the jungle and haven’t even had time to mainline any coffee, your guides will have a tasteful breakfast prepared for you. 3) If you drop your Clarins HydraQuench moisturizer into the Amazon, at least three other guys will have extra. The Amazon Delfin III, which Brand g

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

charters for its all-inclusive, all-gay Amazon vacations (which also include a 3-day excursion to Machu Picchu) is the epitome of river cruising luxury. The ship blends contemporary décor – hardwood floors, designer furniture – with South American influences like handmade Peruvian artifacts, to create an immersive and sumptuous experience. All rooms are suites, and all feature floor to ceiling windows that create the sense that your entire room is a nature reserve, albeit one with individually-controlled air conditioning, spa bathrobes and glassed-in waterfall showers. Meals are a special experience onboard a river ship like this. Created from rainforestharvested foods of the highest quality, every dining experience is a fabulous one: roasted meats, lightly grilled fish, fresh vegetables and sun-ripened tropical fruits. The food is so healthy you’ll hardly even feel bad about all that free-flowing wine. So, sure, you could take a camping trip to the wilds of the Amazon, and pretend you’re on Gay Survivor, eating grubs and wearing a loincloth. However, wouldn’t dancing on the deck of a five-star river cruise ship in a loincloth be a whole lot more fun? Eric Poole is Director of Marketing for Brand g Vacations, which offers all-LGBT river cruises to the Amazon, Europe, Asia, India and much more. Visit www.

Go Nuts at the 2017 California Nut Festival


ith a focus on locally grown and produced foods and beverages from the North Valley, tree nuts such as almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, pecans and pistachios take center stage throughout the 2017 California Nut Festival in Chico.

The 2017 California Nut Festival is scheduled to take place on the historic grounds of the Patrick Ranch Museum in Chico on Saturday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each year, this culinary festival showcases plentiful gourmet food offerings, alwayspopular wine and beer sampling, nutinspired cooking demonstrations, live musical entertainment on two outdoor stages, a wonderful art show featuring talented local artists and much more. New this year, there will be a spirited “Nutty Chef Competition” where festival attendees can watch as three local chefs compete on stage in succession for bragging rights and a trophy (that the winner can keep for a year). The chefs will be provided with a number of ingredients from our valued vendors — like olive oil, nuts, honey, spices, sauces, beer and wine — plus they will be able to bring some “secret” or special ingredients of their own. The “Nutty Chef” winner will be selected by a panel of local celebrity judges. The goal of the vibrant, entertaining and fun one-day festival is to celebrate the culinary delights grown and produced in California while paying tribute to the strong farming heritage in Butte County. Also, the event provides festival guests with an opportunity to connect with local farmers and growers. The event is fun to attend, and it provides

much needed support for the historic Patrick Ranch Museum. To date – and as a direct result of this event – $120,000 has been raised and donated to the newly restored mansion and working farm managed by the Far West Heritage Association. “As recent events can attest, the North Valley is an amazing community that pulls together when needed and celebrates together as well,” explains Kathy Chance, lead organizer of the 2017 California Nut Festival. “After our memorable 10th anniversary event last year, we’re excited and thrilled to continue the tradition and introduce some exciting new elements for this year. Our community can take great pride in knowing their participation and attendance helps to support the historic Patrick Ranch Museum that is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the rich agricultural history of the area.” Tickets for the 2017 California Nut Festival are available online or at participating TriCounties Bank locations. General admission tickets to the (rain or shine) California Nut Festival are $30 in advance or $35 the day of the event. Tickets for children ages 7-12 are $10 and the event is free for children six and under. For more information about the 2017 California Nut Festival, visit the official website at, call 530-519-1882 or connect via social media at April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Outword California 19

April in the Palm Springs Oasis By Brad Fuhr, e-publisher, GayDesertGuide.LGBT

Dinah, Dining and Divas, bloom in April April plants the seed of new beginnings in our minds. Perhaps that’s because the name of the first full month of spring is derived from the Latin Aprilis: to open. Think a budding flowers’ first hello. And like our wildflowers this year, the Coachella Valley is bursting with April events. That includes the eighth annual Brew at the Zoo, April 1 at the Living Desert in Palm Desert. Our opening April weekend is also Club Skirts Dinah Shore weekend welcoming the women to town. Plus, NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) hosts their annual garden party. As always, our online and mobile events calendar has complete event details, links to buy tickets and directions. Just go to GayDesertGuide.LGBT and look for our EVENTS channel. The following week, music lovers can have a wholly different experience at the 19th annual Opera in the Park at 1 PM April 9 in Sunrise Park on Ramon Road in Palm Springs. This outdoor event features up-and-coming opera singers accompanied by a live orchestra.

The Dinah

Want music that rocks this spring? The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – or just plain Coachella -- fits the bill. Held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Coachella runs April 14 through April 16 and April 21 through April 23. With such performers as Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Radio Head, The XXs and celebrity sightings galore, Coachella promises to be the biggest playdate around.

#ILoveGayPalm Springs Because…

Journalist Brian Blueskye Loves Coachella! “ By Nicholas Snow Brian Blueskye, the Assistant Editor of the Coachella Valley Independent, is a longtime journalist with an emphasis on music, so we thought we’d devote our #ILoveGayPalmSprings column to showcasing his views on the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Brian (center, in the cap and blue t-shirt with the band Skinny Lister at Coachella 2013) in his early teen years discovered a love for music and still hasn’t been able to stop collecting records… Inspired by various music journalists and writers such as Gore Vidal and Chuck Klosterman, Brian began writing blogs in 2000 on various subjects. “Music is a universal language,” writes Brian, “and I think at Coachella, there’s a lot to admire about that. The DJs that play the festival are usually big names in dance music and have hits that play in clubs all around the world, which includes gay bars. The dance music culture has always been something the LGBT community has embraced when you look at Studio 54 and the disco era and it’s continued on through the years. So I think a lot of the people who go there that are all about dance music come from all different backgrounds, ethnicity, political views and all sexual orientations. No one cares in the world of dance music and I think that’s why it’s here to stay. I’m kind of blown away by that when you walk into the Sahara Tent - it’s all these different people dancing and reacting to the music.” Well written, Brian! Find the rest of his take on Coachella at GayDesertGuide.LGBT.

In an effort to keep the valley humming with budding new talent, McCallum Theatre’s Open Call competition is scheduled for April 13 through April 15 at 7 PM with an additional performance at 2 PM April 15. The shows have a variety feel similar to America’s Got Talent with contestants vying for prizes ranging from $500 to $2,500. It wouldn’t be a Coachella Valley spring without plenty of opportunities for serious fun. By that, I mean events that offer opportunities to kick up your heels while contributing to causes that are close to your heart. And there’s plenty of loving fun to choose from. The L-Fund’s third annual Gumbo Gala will be held April 2 at the Palm Springs Pavilion. The L-Fund offers financial relief for lesbians in crisis. The fundraiser honoring novelist Katherine V. Forrest, who penned gay detective Kate Dellafield, features award-winning gumbos by Chef Betty Berrysmith. The other big food event is one we’re sponsoring – Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life on Thursday, April 27th. See our special channel on GayDesertGuide.LGBT for participating restaurants, specials and videos from the chefs who will be creating special menus. The FIND Food Bank, which addresses local hunger and food The Dinah insecurity, holds its annual telethon from 5 PM to 11 PM April 7 on CBS Local 2 News. While most of us never experience hunger, the lines outside our food banks tell a different story. Whether you support AAP’s Evening Under the Stars, The Center’s Thursday food bank, or Meals on Wheels your contributions help those in need. So “open up” and help during April.

20 Outword California

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Bongo Johnny’s

214 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs (760) 866-1905

2017 “Save the Date” Coachella Valley Events

Bongo Johnny’s Patio Bar & Grille is one of the best neighborhood restaurants in Palm Springs. Located in the middle of the Arenas area, Bongo Johnny’s is fun and relaxing with GREAT food. The menu is fresh, but it’s not just about breakfast and lunch, we’ve got dinner too. Come dine with us inside, or out on the patio, and experience a mini vacation with crave-able food, signature cocktails, and stellar service. Get Fresh!

March 29-Apr. 2 The Dinah Apr. 1 The Living Desert’s Brew at the Zoo Apr. 1 NCLR Palm Springs Garden Party Apr. 1 Desert Symphony Gala Apr. 2 L-Fund 3rd Annual Gumbo Gala Apr. 7 FIND Food Bank Annual Fundraising Telethon Apr. 9 19th Annual Opera in the Park Apr. 13-15

McCallum Theatre’s Open Call

Apr. 14-16 Coachella Music Festival –Weekend #1 Apr. 16 Easter Apr. 18 National Transgender HIV Testing Day Apr. 20 JFS of the Desert 10th Annual One Night Only Apr. 21-23 Coachella Music Festival –Weekend #2

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Apr. 22-23 PSGMC “Palm Springs Pops” Concert Apr. 27-30 Blatino Oasis Apr. 27 Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life Apr. 28-30 Stagecoach Music Festival May 5-8 Jeffery Sanker’s White Party Weekend

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April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

May 6 1st Annual East Coachella Valley Pride Festival May 6 AAP’s Evening Under the Stars May 12-14 Palm Springs Hot Rodeo May 19 Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast at PSCC May 31 Queen of the Desert Pageant Aug. 25-27

2nd Annual Comic Con Palm Springs

Oct . 26-29

Palm Springs Leather Pride

Nov. 3-5 Palm Springs Pride 2017

For More Info & Events visit GayDesertGuide.LGBT

Outword California 21

New Site Allows People Living with HIV to Say “Thank-you”


y HIV Thank You is a new a social media site that provides a platform for people living with HIV/AIDS, to share their personal stories of how someone – a doctor or other healthcare provider, friend, family member or person who has passed on – has made a positive impact on their HIV journey.

By sharing stories, in the form of audio or video, words or pictures, at, participants have an opportunity to share a moment of gratitude and help make a difference for others affected by HIV. The program is the brainchild of HIV advocates who feel sharing positive experiences is an important part of living with HIV and Napo, manufacturer of Mytesi, the only antidiarrheal studied and FDA-approved for the relief of diarrhea in HIV+ patients. “Living with HIV requires access to multiple resources, such as those provided by healthcare professionals and others living with HIV,” said Lisa Conte, CEO, Napo Pharmaceuticals. “Napo is sponsoring My HIV Thank You to advocate for the HIV community and their healthcare providers by offering a platform to highlight the inspirational moments of people living with HIV and AIDS, which has certainly inspired me.” Napo has brought together some of the leading voices in the HIV community who conceived of the campaign based on their own experiences. Josh Robbins is an HIV/AIDS activist and the founder of and “HIV Video Minute.” Josh says, “Since being diagnosed, I’ve read and heard encouragement from thousands of people on the same journey as me. My piece of advice is simple – start talking. And make that talk encouraging to others.” Joining Josh in this effort is Maria Mejia, a powerful advocate for HIV education, treatment, testing and prevention. In her own words, Maria noted, “I am one of the faces of HIV. No more shame, no more stigma! We are just human beings that happen to have the condition of HIV. It’s that simple.” To learn more about the My HIV Thank You visit

Josh Robbins

adventure by day, get cozy at night 45 minutes from downtown portland your gateway to Outdoor adventure

104 Oak St., Downtown Hood River, OR 541.506.9897 22 Outword California

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

Celebrate SFMOMA’s Birthday This Month


as it already been a year since SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) reopened their beautiful, remodeled site at Howard and 3rd Streets in the SoMA district?

You can join other art lovers for a night like no other as SFMOMA celebrates the one-year anniversary of welcoming the community into their extraordinary new home. Featuring an artful live performance by Solange and one-of-a-kind encounters with

artists Judy Chicago, Lil Buck, Jacolby Satterwhite, and more, the event will allow patrons to choose from two unique experiences unfolding throughout the evening.

The Surprise Bash: Get in early for libations, bites, and unique art experiences, including a special mural by Clare Rojas and Barry McGee. Take in live performances by Helado Negro and Les Twins before heading downstairs to continue the party at the Late-Night Bash. The Late-Night Bash: Choose your own adventure as you explore seven floors of surprises and enjoy live performances by DJ SOSUPERSAM and their headline performer, Grammy Award–winning artist Solange. Proceeds will enable SFMOMA’s continued investment in the next generation of art lovers and support the museum’s innovative exhibitions and education programs. The fun happens on Wednesday, April 26. For more information, please visit www.

by Chris Narloch

The SFMOMA marks one year of welcoming the community into their extraordinary new home, with an evening featuring an artful live performance by Solange and one-of-a-kind encounters with artists Judy Chicago, Lil Buck, Jacolby Satterwhite, and more.

Beautiful Men Strike a Dangerous Pose In Raye


n Steven L. Coard’s latest film, Raye, an African American man moves to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming a high fashion supermodel, a dream that closely mirrors his own.

Gary Lavard in a scene from Raye.

“I originally came to NYC to become a model,” reveals director Steven L. Coard, who also stars in the film as Vester V. “I was constantly told I wasn’t attractive enough or fit enough or that I didn’t have the right proportions. I would go on endless casting calls only to be left broken inside.” He eventually quit modeling. “I wasn’t strong enough to make it in the industry,” he admits. Unfortunately, giving up on his dream would become his biggest life regret. It would also inspire him to make a film, Raye, loosely based on his experience but with a happier outcome. “I wanted to make a film that was almost a male version of Diana Ross’ Mahogany,” he says. Coard took his idea to Kaylee Fleckney, a screenwriter he had worked with previously on the film, Heartbreaks and Soulmates. Together, they wrote the first draft of what would become Raye. “Kaylee did her magic, editing the script and adding the final details to polish up the story.” He chose Gary Lavard, also from Heartbreaks and Soulmates, for the lead role, because, “He is such a talented actor April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

who is always eager to work and make art. Plus, Gary’s easy to look at,” he adds with a smile. When it came to casting the other leads, Coard searched for ethnically diverse actors with real body types that would be relatable to viewers watching the film. “I wanted to show that models are not clones and that any body type can be successful in modeling.” He saved the role of Vester V for himself because he saw playing a villain as a challenge. “I can play a nice guy all day long but playing a scoundrel is something new for me,” he explains. The hardest part was bringing a likability to the character. “I wanted viewers to love to hate him.” Coard may have missed out on his supermodel dream but his new aspiration is to create a place where LGBTQ talent of varying disciplines can work together in a supportive environment to create exciting visual projects. The Color of Love Production School for Film, Theatre, and Scriptwriting was born from that aspiration. Raye is available now at Outword California 23

Rupaul’s Drag Con Is the World’s Biggest Celebration of Drag Culture


uPaul’s DragCon is returning for its third year at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The two-day convention and festival is the world’s largest event celebrating drag culture and the pop culture phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race. RuPaul’s Drag Con is presented by RuPaul and World of Wonder Productions and welcomes fans of all ages and backgrounds to unite and celebrate the world of drag in a friendly and accessible environment on April 29 and April 30th. Featuring more than 200 vendors and exhibitors where fans can shop for DragCon exclusive apparel and unique memorabilia, World of Wonder will assemble a wide range of programming including, Q&A panel sessions, screenings, autograph and photo opportunities with drag stars and icons, lip sync contests, drag “herstory” discussion groups, and fashion, makeup and styling workshops for men and women. Highlights include: • A special keynote address by RuPaul • 210,000 square feet of floor space! • Exclusive merchandise and shopping opportunities • Meet and Greets with fan-favorite drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race and more! • Live recordings of content for WOWPresents - World of Wonder’s hit YouTube channel RuPaul’s Drag Con will be held Saturday, April 29th and Sunday, April 30th, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S Figueroa St in LA, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on 4/29 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 4/30 For tickets, visit 24 Outword California

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

How Moonlight Muted Me, and Gave Us A New Paradigm For Gay Black Men


by Michael P. Coleman

s a film reviewer and blogger, I saw the Academy Award-winning Moonlight for the first time at the beginning of its initial run in theaters, last fall. I walked out having been profoundly moved, forever changed, and temporarily muted. I simply couldn’t find the words to describe the movie.

One Moonlight scene in particular brought tears to my eyes, during which Ali’s character teaches the young Chiron (played by Alex R. Hibbert) how to swim, before he gives advice on self-acceptance that we all could use, independent of sexual orientation. I was reminded of my dad teaching me to swim decades ago, and our subsequent conflict regarding my own sexual orientation years later. While Moonlight undoubtedly muted me, I dug a little deeper and realized that I’d not written an initial review due to my own internalized homophobia. As a bisexual black man, I was worried that my glowing endorsement of the film wouldn’t be taken seriously. Now, looking back to last fall, I’m not proud of that moment. In a sense, Moonlight — or my visceral reaction to it — steered me back into the closet — at least professionally — for a hot minute. I told you I’d been changed the first time I saw it. Why? Simply because I’d never seen a leading character that so closely resembled me, or the story of so many LGBT men of color told in such an honest, moving way. Both “Chiron” and “Kevin” look and act a

heck of a lot more like me than a singing, dancing Ryan Gosling, or most other leading movie characters in Hollywood’s history. Amazingly, Moonlight is the first film with an all-black cast to be awarded Best Picture, Ali is the first Muslim to win an Oscar for acting, and Jenkins is only the fourth black director to earn an Oscar nomination for his work. It’s also one of the lowest-grossing Best Picture honorees in history. Now, as I raise a glass to Moonlight’s cast and its director, Barry Jenkins, and as I download the film into my iMovie library, I prepare to revisit one of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen. See this stunning film and this year’s Best Picture winner, and do me a favor: while you’re watching it, think of me, and every other African American LGBT man, like those in your family, church, or neighborhood. After seeing Moonlight, you may never see us the same way again. Michael P. Coleman is a freelance writer and blogger. Connect with him at or on Twitter: @ ColemanMichaelP

Mahershala Ali and Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight (2016)

Scores: A Gay Man’s Story of Strip Clubs, the Mafia & the FBI

reviewed by Terri Schlichenmeyer


’m telling!” If you were ever a child, that whine is familiar to you. It indicated a tattletale nearby, a secret spilled to Mom, and somebody about to be in trouble.

Whatever. Annoying as it was, “I’m telling” never hurt much more than your pride then. Today, as in the new book Scores by Michael D. Blutrich, serious snitching could get a guy killed. How does it happen that a gay man would own a mainstream strip club? It was, says Michael Blutrich, a long story that started after he opened his law firm and, in search of an investment, purchased an L.A. nightclub. Believing that the success of his California business could transfer to New York, he recalled the excitement of a private banker who claimed he’d always wanted to own an upscale strip club. Being a closeted gay man, that wasn’t exactly Blutrich’s dream but the idea niggled at his brain. Partnering with the banker and others, they began looking for a building and batting ideas around. Scores was born, with a planned opening on Halloween night, 1991. “And then the mafia arrived.” In order to operate, the partners were told, they would need “protection,” which would involve some of New York’s biggest mafia

families in a sort of symbiotic relationship, plus a grand-a-week kickback. It would also involve skirting Big Apple laws for as long as possible, because Scores would be the city’s “first and most notorious upscale

gentlemen’s club” and there were rules against what a customer would find inside those Upper East Side doors. Because of the novelty and the entertainment it offered, Scores was successful – more successful than Blutrich had ever thought. He rode a wave that made him a rich and semi-famous man – at least, until the FBI caught up with him and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse… And, of course, that’s far from the end of the tale. What’s left to say about Scores involves rompishness, humor, surprisingly heart-pounding chapters, a little Goodfellas, a little Boogie Nights, and quite a

bit of fun. That last appeal comes in the form of overgrown tales, courtesy of author Michael D. Blutrich’s memories of what happened

April 6, 2017 - May 4, 2017 • No. 4

inside his gentlemen’s club every evening for nearly five years. Readers who remember the most infamous discos of the 70s will find something familiar in that, updated to the 1990s but no less outrageous. But this book isn’t all party: Blutrich delightfully drops names, including many you’ll recognize, but he’s deadly serious when he switches his tale from wild to wired, from dancing to danger. Indeed, though you know the risk has largely passed – he wrote a book, after all, right? – the whole of the story is one you’ve got to read. There’s an amazingly small amount of profanity and prurience inside this book; it’s there, but not as much as you’d think there’d be, given the subject matter. That restraint uniquely serves to enhance this book, and heightens the story’s value. And that makes Scores a book you’ll want to tell everyone about. Terri Schlichenmeyer is an avid reader and owner of The Bookworm Sez, a selfsyndicated book review column. She can be reached at Outword California 25

4 Homes and Gardens Special Issue  

One of our favorite issues of the year, our annual Homes and Gardens special issue. Packed with helpful and fun home-related stuff - and so...

4 Homes and Gardens Special Issue  

One of our favorite issues of the year, our annual Homes and Gardens special issue. Packed with helpful and fun home-related stuff - and so...