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Chelsea Manning’s Release


Cuomo Goes Left, But Catholic


James Franco Is Michael Glatze 24

Original Photos by Gage Skidmore (Mike Pence); Don Irvine (Steve Bannon); Twitter (BETSY Devos); (Tom Price); Gage Skidmore (Ben Carson); Michael Vadon (Donald Trump)

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FREE | voLUME SIXteen, ISSUE TWO | January 19 - FEBRUARY 01, 2017


Tackling diverse needs in NYC health care 09

Et tu, France? 15 Cooking up rebellion 18

Austin Pendleton’s daddy issues 25

Love in real time


Remembering Willa Kim


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January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


Obama Okays Chelsea Manning’s Release in May Key figure in early Wikileaks release faced brutal treatment as trans woman in men’s prison BY ANDY HUMM


he l s e a M a n n i n g , t h e Army private convicted of leaking classified information on US military and diplomatic operations in 2010, had already served more time — almost seven years — than any whistleblower in American history. But President Barack Obama’s commutation of her sentence from 35 years to a release this May 17 was due in large part to the extra suffering Manning, now 29, had u n d e rg o n e a s a t r a n s g e n d e r woman in a men’s prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She had made two suicide attempts in the past year — actions that precipitated further punishment. More than 117,000 people signed a petition for Manning’s release. Manning became a cause-célèbre in the LGBT community when she

announced that she was transgender the day after being sentenced in 2013, particularly among the antiwar left but also among many sympathetic to her as a transgender woman in a hostile environment. Kristin Beck, a transgender former Navy Seal, initially branded Manning a “traitor.” But within a few months, she wrote in the Guardian that the military “is dutybound to ensure Manning is not punished in ‘cruel and unusual’ ways. It is also obliged to ensure Manning’s safety.” M a n n i n g ’ s defense lawyer, David Coombs, worked long and hard for her commutation. He told NBC News last week, “After this case, I had to tell Chelsea: ‘I’ve represented murderers. I’ve represented rapists. I’ve represented child molesters. And none of them received 35 years.’” Manning was also represented

by Chase Strangio, himself transgender and a staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT Project, which initiated a lawsuit in 2014 over the lack of transition care for Manning in prison. The ACLU also got 12 major LGBT groups to sign a letter in December calling for clemency for Manning. Strangio praised Obama for the commutation and said in a release, “This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.” Manning enlisted in the Army as Bradley Manning in 2007 and experienced bullying from other soldiers and superiors, but was not discharged — instead becoming an intelligence analyst. While stationed at Fort Drum in New York, Man-


Chelsea Manning.

ning began a relationship with Tyler Watkins, who introduced Manning to the hacking community in the Boston area. In 2009, Manning was deployed to Iraq and stressed over being unable to come out as a gay man or as the transgender woman she was beginning to understand herself as. (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was not repealed until 2011 and open


MANNING, continued on p.4


Sentencing Postponed Again for Taj Patterson Assailant Mayer Herskovic, convicted in brutal Williamsburg beating of gay black man, requires surgery BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


he sentencing of a Brooklyn man who was convicted last year in a brutal 2013 attack in Williamsburg that left a gay black man blind in one eye was postponed a second time after his attorney said his client was suffering from a medical condition that required surgery. “He has a serious medical issue that requires medical attention,” said Stuart Slotnick, the attorney for Mayer Herskovic, 24, following the January 18 proceeding. “We’re thankful that Judge Chun is allowing him to seek medical attention.” On September 23, Danny Chun, the judge who heard the non-jury trial, convicted Herskovic on second-degree assault, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, and menacing charges in the December 1, 2013 attack on Taj Patterson, now 26. Herskovic’s attorney at trial was Israel Fried. Sentencing was first scheduled for November 14, but Slotnick made his first appearance on that date and asked for sentencing to be adjourned until January 18 so he could file a motion to vacate the verdict. That motion was | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017


Mayer Herskovic being escorted from a courtroom in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after being found guilty on September 23.

never submitted, and it was unlikely to succeed because it would ask Chun to set aside the verdict he had just delivered. On January 18, Slotnick told the court that his client had developed the medical condition in December and was scheduled for surgery on February 8. He has a second illness that may require a second surgery, though details of his condition were not detailed in open court.

After the conviction, Tim Gough, the assistant district attorney in the Brooklyn prosecutor’s office who handled the case, asked that Herskovic’s bail be revoked and that he be jailed pending sentencing. Chun increased the bail amount, but declined to revoke bail. At the January 18 proceeding, Gough did not oppose Herskovic’s effort to stay out of prison due to medical reasons. “Based upon the documents provided by Mr. Slotnick, the people have no objection at this time,” Gough said. “The people’s lack of opposition is not going to go on forever.” With the failure to file the motion to vacate, it appears that Herskovic does not have any legal avenues that will allow him to avoid sentencing. On January 18, Chun told Slotnick that he would not now accept a motion to vacate. Herskovic can appeal once a sentence is imposed, and Chun could allow him to stay out of prison until an appeal is decided. Sentencing is scheduled for March 16. Herskovic faces a minimum sentence of three-and-a-half years and up to 15 years in prison when sentenced.


CRIME, continued on p.12



Cuomo Tacks Left, But Picks Dolan for Interfaith Panel Pledging big tuition breaks, bulwark against Trump, governor looks to Catholic archbishop on tolerance push BY ANDY HUMM


ew York Governor Andrew Cuomo, up for re-election next year and among those mentioned as a possible Democratic nominee for president in 2020 despite his protestations to the contrary, opened 2017 by tacking left on some issues. He stood with Bernie Sanders announcing free tuition at public colleges for students whose families make under $125,000 a year. And in the wake of Trump ascendancy and his band of right-wing cabinet appointments, Cuomo has said he wants New York to be “a safe harbor for our progressive principles and social justice.” But in his State of the State message, Cuomo has also picked Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a longtime opponent of LGBT rights who will give the invocation at President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural, to head a state panel on intergroup relations. “We will enforce our anti-discrimination and our hate crimes laws in every instance of prejudice,” Cuomo said. “I am proposing a new State Police and Department of Human Rights Education and Enforcement Task Force because hate and discrimination have no home in New York and no infraction will be tolerated, period. We will also come together as New Yorkers under Cardinal Dolan’s efforts to organize interfaith religious leaders and congregations to share and educate New Yorkers about the commonalities in our different faiths because religious freedom and individual liberty are New York hallmarks and we need to focus on commonalties as opposed to artificial distinctions.” The Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s Catholic bishops, including Dolan, in Albany, has consistently opposed LGBTQ rights initiatives over the years, including the


MANNING, from p.3

service by transgender people was not allowed until this past year.) The classified information Manning sent to Wikileaks in 2010 exposed the fact that the United States was grossly underestimating civilian deaths in the Iraq War. A video among the leaks was dubbed by Wikileaks “Collateral Murder,” showing US soldiers in helicopters firing on men in Baghdad who included Reuters reporters carrying cameras mistaken for guns and other innocents. It made Wikileaks a household name.




Governor Andrew Cuomo addressing a 2015 World AIDS Day event at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will head up Governor Andrew Cuomo’s interfaith panel to promote tolerance and understanding.

hate crimes law, adding sexual orientation to the state human rights law, and opening marriage to same-sex couples in 2011 through legislation championed by Cuomo. The bishops also oppose transgender rights, want abstinence education restored, and want “religious liberty” laws to protect Catholic hospitals from having to recognize what they call “same-sex ‘marriage.’” As head of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan refused repeated requests to meet with Dignity, the LGBTQ Catholic group. Dolan has been credited with finally allowing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan to allow an open LGBTQ contingent last March after 25 years of resistance from Cardinal’s John O’Connor, Edward Egan, and Dolan himself. Details on the Dolan panel have yet to be revealed, but Alphonso David, the out gay counsel to the governor, told Gay City News that it

would include LGBT clergy. He said that the need for the panel grew out of concern for the rise in hate crimes based on religion, particularly against Muslims. “Hate crimes are a direct result of a lack of information, indifference, and ignorance,” David said. “We want clergy to break down barriers and be proactive in identifying commonalities among faiths. It has a different impact coming from clergy rather than the state.” Asked about Dolan’s record of opposition to LGBT rights, David said, “We’re not supportive of any position that would discriminate,” but said the cardinal “is being supportive of an initiative that will be beneficial to the LGBT community.” Dolan gave the invocation at Cuomo’s State of the State, he noted.

The thousands of diplomatic cables that Manning leaked are widely credited with sparking the Arab Spring as local populations rose up against leaders exposed as corrupt in the cables. Manning famously wrote, “I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald, an out gay man and principle reporter on the Edward Snowden leaks, called Manning’s revelations the most important since Daniel Ells-


berg leaked the Pentagon Papers — secret files on US conduct of the Vietnam War — in the 1970s. He wrote of Manning, “These leaks showed us the true face of American conduct in the world.” Manning was named a grand marshal of the San Francisco Pride parade in 2013, but organizers later withdrew the honor to widespread protest, including by Daniel Ellsberg, sparking a huge contingent of Manning supporters to march there and in New York and Chicago. The following year, Manning was officially named an honorary grand marshal in San Francisco.

CUOMO, continued on p.21

Obama did not pardon Manning for her acknowledged crimes, but shortened her sentence. The stiff sentence Manning got was attributed at the time to the massive leaks in 2013 by Snowden, who escaped apprehension by fleeing first to Hong Kong and then Russia. Snowden was charged in absentia with espionage and faces 30 years in prison. He publicly lobbied for Obama to commute Manning’s sentence even at the expense of one for himself. Obama spokesperson Josh Earnest called Snowden’s leaks “far more serious and far more dangerous.”

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |






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Prescription for a New Presidency:RESIST With a hard-right cabinet, LGBTQ advocates, progressives face unending, multi-front war BY PAUL SCHINDLER

DONALD TRUMP It’s difficult to adequately summarize the new president’s unfitness for office — his bigoted and inflammatory language about immigrants and Muslims, his casual disrespect for the African-American community (including his racist questioning of President Barack Obama’s birthplace), his history of derogatory and abusive language toward women, his indifference to relationships with allies coupled with his unfettered admiration for Vladimir Putin, his loose talk about nuclear weapons, his thuggish encouragement of violence on the campaign trail, and his demonstrated lack of any coherent policy thinking. Among the immediate concerns to the LGBTQ community is his repeated pledge to install right-wing justices on the Supreme Court, with the first name he mentioned publicly being 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William H. Pryor. As Alabama attorney general in 2003, Pryor, whom Lambda Legal termed the “most demonstrably anti-gay” appointment in memory when George W. Bush named him to the 11th Circuit, wrote a friend of the court brief in support of the Texas sodomy law that compared gay sex to “polygamy, incest, pedophilia, prostitution, and adultery,” noting that the courts in his state “never recognized a fundamental right to engage in sexual activity outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage, let alone to engage in homosexual sodomy.” Such a right, he wrote, “would be antithetical to the traditional relation of the family that is as old and as fundamental as our entire civilization.” A troubling sign of what Trump might have in mind in considering someone like Pryor came in an answer to Fox’s Chris Wallace, who last year asked him if he would “try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage”: “I would strongly consider that, yes.” Trump has also pledged to overturn President Barack Obama’s executive orders, prominent among them a 2014 order that barred private sector contractors doing business with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. On the campaign trail, he was asked about the military’s decision to end its ban on open service by transgender service members, to which he responded, “We’re going to get away from political correctness, and we are going to have to do that… We have


a politically correct military, and it’s getting more and more politically correct every day.” The new president’s attacks on Planned Parenthood signal his hostility toward women’s health care, which is surely no good sign regarding the new administration’s posture toward improving care for the LGBTQ community. And, of course, Trump’s overheated rhetoric and threats on the question of immigration pose a significant danger toward many LGBTQ people.

MIKE PENCE Prior to his pick as Donald Trump’s running mate, the last time the nation heard from Mike Pence he had signed a so-called religious freedom bill that was in reality a license for discrimination against the LGBTQ community. The outcry from businesses in the state — not to mention the condemnation from elsewhere — in short order forced Pence and the Legislature to “repeal and replace” the measure. In 12 years in Congress, starting in 2000, Pence racked up a conservative record consistently, getting zeroes on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. Pence opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, marriage equality, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Since his election as vice president, Pence has hastened to assure far right radicals that the new administration’s heart is with them, reiterating Trump’s pledge to roll back Obama administration executive orders, and specifically assuring Focus on the Family’s James Dobson that the current Education Department directive that public schools allow transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity would be reversed.

STEVE BANNON The new president’s chief strategist and senior counselor is the man who managed to make’s despicable, no-holds-barred politics even more outlandish in the years following the death of the site’s founder, Andrew Breitbart, in 2012. Though Trump himself disavows the “alt-right,” Bannon, at this summer’s Republican Convention, bragged, “We’re the

platform for the alt-right.” Bannon is also not shy about acknowledging he’s a “nationalist,” though he insists his nationalism has nothing to do with racist “white nationalism.” Tell that to the white nationalists themselves: Immediately following the November election, an exuberant crowd of alt-right activists meeting in Washington closed with Nazi salutes and shouts of “Heil the people! Heil victory.” Bannon is not specifically responsible for everything his admirers think or do, but it is difficult to separate’s nationalism from white nationalism. The site has been a haven for Islamophobic hyperbole and extremists and has also hyped untrue claims about the African-American community, including attacks on “black privilege” and warnings about both “black-on-black” and “black-onwhite” crime. A famous Breitbart headline last year termed conservative Trump critic William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, a “renegade Jew.” Back in 2011, Bannon himself wrote a telling defense of conservative women: “There are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England. That drives the left insane, and that’s why they hate these women.” Beyond Bannon’s odious beliefs and associations, it’s also worth looking at his view of what kind of government the US should strive for. Looking back on the Russian Revolution, he said, “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

JEFF SESSIONS Donald’s Trump nominee for attorney general, currently a US senator from Alabama, has the distinction of having been rejected for a federal judgeship by a GOP-controlled Senate committee. The allegations raised in 1986 involved Sessions, as a US attorney, calling an AfricanAmerican subordinate in his office “boy” and warning him to watch how he spoke to “white folks,” having agreed with the statement that a white attorney was “a disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases, and joking that the Ku Klux Klan would be fine but for its members’ use of marijuana.


RESIST, continued on p.20

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO Just days after Republicans in Congress approved a parliamentary measure that would allow them to move forward with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without the Democrats in the Senate having the ability to mount a filibuster that would require repeal advocates to secure 60 votes, Americans gathered in more than 70 cities nationwide on January15 to show their support for President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Columbus Circle, a crowd of more than 1,000 turned out for a rally organized by Rise and Resist and joined by numerous LGBTQ leaders, including Jeremiah Johnson (right, middle), a Rise and Resist organizer, and Jay W. Walker (upper right), an activist with Gays Against Guns as well as Rise and Resist, seen here making an impromptu speech. Other queer activists – including Tim Murphy (above), Jackie Rudin (bottom right), and Mark Milano – were among a group of about 15 | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017

who staged a “cough-in” inside the hotel's restaurant, chanting, “We need Obamacare, Trumpcare makes us sick.” The show of support for the ACA came as the GOP was showing a divided face on its pledge to undo the law. Congressional leadership is hell-bent on repeal, regardless of the state of its deliberations over any replacement. President-elect Donald Trump, meanwhile, has insisted that alternative legislation be enacted at roughly the same time, going so far over the weekend to pledge – with no back-up detail provided – that his approach would insure “everybody” with lower out-of-pocket deductibles for patients. Disarray among Republicans grew on January 17 when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of Obamacare repeal that showed it would lead to 18 million people losing their insurance in the first year – a figure that would grow to 32 million by 2026 – and a doubling of insurance premiums. — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler.



Trans Employee Can Sue If Surgery Benefits Refused US judge says denying breast augmentation coverage could be sex discrimination BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


oes a transgender employee who seeks coverage under her employer’s benefit plans for breast augmentation surgery have a legal remedy if her claims are denied? US District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater ruled on January 13 that a trans woman employed by L-3 Communications Integrated Systems may pursue a sex discrimination claim under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, having alleged she was denied such benefits because of her gender. She cannot, however, pursue an anti-discrimination claim under the Affordable Care Act. Judge Fitzwater rejected discrimination claims against the insurance company that provides the coverage and administers the plans on L-3’s behalf, finding that neither the ACA nor President Barack Obama’s executive order governing gender identity discrimination by federal contractors applies in this situation. Nor can the insurance company be sued under Title VII because it is not the plaintiff’s employer. Fitzwater declined to grant summary judgment motions from either the employee or the insurer regarding her claim that denying health and short-term disability benefits violates her rights under L-3’s employee benefit plans, setting that claim down for further legal proceedings. According to Charlize Marie Baker’s complaint filed in the Northern District of Texas federal court in Dallas, she is an L-3 employee participating in the company’s health and short-term disability programs, both administered by Aetna Life Insurance Company. Baker began transitioning in 2011, obtained a legal name change, and had her gender designation changed to female on all government-issued documents. She scheduled breast implant surgery in 2015 after her doctor determined that it was medically necessary to treat her gender dysphoria. Baker filed claims for coverage of the surgery and her recovery period


under the company’s two benefit programs. She alleges that coverage for the surgery was denied because “the plan does not cover breast implants for individuals with a male birth gender designation who are transitioning to the female gender, although the plan covers individuals with a female birth designation who are transitioning to the male gender and seeking a mastectomy.” Her claim for short-term disability was denied because surgery to treat gender dysphoria does not qualify as “treatment of an illness” under the company’s plan. In his ruling, Fitzwater focused on motions by L-3 and Aetna to dismiss discrimination claims brought under the ACA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and Title VII. The ACA incorporates by reference Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex.” ERISA does not specifically ban discrimination “because of sex,” but broadly prohibits discriminating against an employee to prevent them from getting benefits to which they are entitled under a company benefit plan. None of the statutes under which Baker filed her claims explicitly prohibits discrimination because of gender identity. Responding to L-3 and Aetna’s motions to dismiss, Baker relied heavily on a regulation published by the Department of Health and Human Services last spring stating that the ACA bans discrimination because of gender identity by insurers and health care providers. HHS’s regulation tracked interpretations of Title IX by the Department of Education and the Justice Department, which in turn looked to the view of Title VII adopted by some federal courts as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Baker also relied on the specific terms of Obama’s 2014 executive order that bans gender identity discrimination by federal contractors. Her attorneys, Michael J. Hindman and Kasey Cathryn Krummel of Hindman/ Bynum PC, noting that L-3 is a federal contractor, urged the


A federal judge in Texas has given Charlize Marie Baker the go-ahead to pursue a discrimination claim against her employer for denying her coverage for her breast augmentation surgery and her after-surgery recovery.

court to make “a good faith extension of existing law” that the discrimination is “also discrimination in violation of ERISA in this context.” Fitzwater, however, concluded that Baker failed “to point to any controlling precedent” that the ACA gave her a cause for action and noted that the HHS regulation only took effect this January 1, long after she was denied benefits. As well, one of Fitzwater’s colleagues on the Northern District of Texas bench, Judge Reed O’Connor, has issued two rulings — on August 21 and December 31 of last year — rejecting the argument that Title IX, the source of the ACA non-discrimination policy regarding sex, should be “construed broadly to protect any person, including transgendered persons, from discrimination.” It’s unclear if the incoming Trump administration will pursue the appeals of O’Connor’s rulings that have been announced by Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department. While federal courts grapple with the question whether laws and regulations banning discrimination “because of sex” should apply to gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination, there is no consensus yet among the appellate courts. The Supreme Court has a case pending on the gender iden-

tity issue under Title IX — in transgender high school student Gavin Grimm’s effort to use the bathroom appropriate to his gender identity in his Virginia high school — but it has yet to be scheduled for argument. The closest the appeals courts have come are decisions finding that “sex stereotyping” violates Title VII and perhaps by extension other sex discrimination laws, based on a 1989 ruling by the Supreme Court in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, where the high court ruled for a female employee denied a partnership because she was deemed insuf ficiently feminine. Some courts have used the “sex stereotyping” theory to protect transgender employees in Title VII cases. Fitzwater was correct, however, in observing that as of now there is no “controlling precedent” — from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that has jurisdiction over federal trial courts in Texas — supporting Baker’s claim that gender identity discrimination violates the ACA. Aetna also moved to dismiss Baker’s discrimination claim under ERISA, contending the law does not ban gender identity discrimination in the administration of employee benefit plans. Fitzwater agreed with Aetna, finding that “as Baker acknowledges, this claim is not currently recognized. It is for the Congress, not this court, to decide whether to create in ERISA a protection that the statute does not already provide.” The judge made no finding on Baker’s claim that she was denied benefits due her under L-3’s benefit plan, leaving the question of Aetna’s ERISA liability for later. On the Title VII claim, which ultimately preserved Baker’s right to sue, Fitzwater rejected her argument that Aetna should be liable to suit for sex discrimination under Title VII as an L-3’s “agent” in administering the benefit plans, noting that the Fifth Circuit has found that Title VII does not apply in the absence of an employer-employee relationship.


EMPLOYMENT, continued on p.13

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


Tackling Diverse Needs In NYC Health Care Gay pediatrician talks about serving young adult, LGBTQ patients BY PAUL SCHINDLER


r. Mark Baehser has worked in pediatric medicine for eight years, first in his residency at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and, since 2011, at NYC Health + Hospitals, which is the nation’s largest municipal healthcare system. Like Health + Hospitals, Baehser is aware that there is no clear-cut point at which a patient appropriately transitions from pediatric care into adult care. Along with many other practitioners in a variety of social service fields, Baehser and his colleagues have come to appreciate that becoming an adult — a category he termed “emerging adults” — represents a unique life phase, where individuals have different needs than they might have at either 14 or 28. “For someone 19 or 20, maybe adult care is not appropriate,” said the out gay pediatrician in explaining the new Bridge Program he oversees at the Judson Health Care Center, a Spring Street unit of Gouverneur Hospital, a Health + Hospitals facility headquartered on the Lower East Side. Emerging adulthood is now widely recognized by the mental health field, Baehser explained, and it carries it own challenges in the delivery of all medical services. Young adults may no longer live with their parents and are often not connected to regular health care or working in a job where health coverage is one of the benefits. Often living on their own for the first time, these young people may be confronting challenging choices about their sexual lives, their use of alcohol or drugs, their diet, and other significant health questions. Young adulthood, Baehser said, is a “riskier period” than adolescence, a time when individuals are more “autonomous” than they’ve ever been. And, in 2017, they are also engaging with the world in a dif-


Dr. Mark Baehser.

ferent way than young people did even a decade ago. Explaining that the Bridge Program employs practices such as text messaging with young adult patients, Baehser said it is important that the effort create a “more fluid relationship with the patient” than has typically been the case in the medical world. Gouverneur’s Bridge Program at the Judson Health Care Center is Health + Hospitals’ first initiative in formally “transiting” patients from pediatric to adult care, Baehser said, and he noted that his leadership of the effort represents his own transition beyond the traditional bounds of pediatric medicine. It is a part, he said, of Heatlth + Hospitals’ commitment to tailor its services amidst a sprawling health care delivery system that serves diverse populations in all five boroughs — a mission formally laid out in its Plan to Enhance Equal Care. As a gay doctor, Baehser voiced particular pride in Health + Hospitals’ accomplishments in becoming a leader in the delivery of care to the LGBTQ community. “I’ve been here five years,” he said. “I am a gay male, and I’ve seen lots of changes since I’ve been here.” The advances made within the system are due to training, at all levels including, Baehser said, “senior executives,” both online and in-person workshops. Those | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017


GOUVERNEUR, continued on p.13



Wielding Words So as Not to Yield Poets Protest Against Trump draws resistors nationwide tionalized as white. It has never been white.” ALICE ESPINOSA-CINCOTTA

Maria de Los Angeles reads “Who Am I?” as poets Alan Kaufman and Tom Savage look on.



n November 9, 2016, I woke up numb. Then I wrote a poem. Social media exploded with rage and argument. My Texas poet buddy Justin Booth and I made a pact to post poems, lyrics, and quotes. Diane di Prima. Amiri Baraka. Bad Brains. I sought to commune with other artists. Quoting the early 19th century English poet Percy Shelley, Hoboken poet Danny Shot said, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” and then added, “In this time of potential darkness, we will have to work that much harder to bring light into the world.” Poets Protest Against Trump, a nationwide action that took place this past weekend, was definitely a light force. Alan Kaufman, novelist, memoirist, and poet, organized the event “as a result of my own shocked disbelief at this election. My response to fear has always been to act in defiance of it. The greater the fear, the larger the action. I needed someone with an existing organization in place, and contacted Michael Rothenberg of 100 Thousand Poets For Change, asking him to join me in rallying the nation’s poets to rise up. Together, we contacted poets from New York to San Francisco and in no time poet protests sprang up in cities and towns across the US — from Austin to Chicago, San Francisco to Oakland, St. Louis to New Orleans.” “I feel that it is my job to do what I can to enable and empower all of these poets and artists’ actions,” Rothenberg told me, “and to bring our resources together. We must move away from empire building and toward unity.” On January 15, a group of poets gathered at 1 p.m. on the front steps of City Hall. Kaufman opened the reading with his poem, “Let Us,” dedicated to “the poets of January 15 and the women of January 21,” who will gather in Washington and nationwide to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration. After his reading, Kaufman invited people to “just jump in.” In freewheeling fashion, everyone got the chance to offer his or her unique perspective. Maria de Los Angeles, a visual artist, brought a poem, “Who Am I?” “I am here with words to show diversity,” she said. “We are a diverse country that is fic-


When you see me, what do you see? I feel like an Undocumented artist…. But I see an American who is Free. Queens resident Ron Kolm, a founder of the Unbearables, a collective of underground artists and writers, provided a humorous note in “Hitler Was Wrong (And Donald Trump Is Too).” He shared with me his theory that Hitler came to power due to his resemblance to Charlie Chaplin, and sees a similarity in Trump’s election. There probably Wouldn’t have been A Bill Clinton Without Elvis, Or a Donald Trump Without the Terminator. Another Unbearables founder, Jim Feast, presented a new work never before read: “Trump Regnant”: Trump lay sleeping on a burning bed, not aroused ‘til flames touched his head. He leapt to the floor, his hair aflame, looking both for water and for someone to blame. Poet/ per former love I.E.D. provided a change of pace in the rhythm and musicality of his piece, “dex”: More bars more stars, more bars more scars so the few can sip on their pinot noirs, on their decks built upon the bodies of the dark-skinned … the more people you put behind bars the more blood you put in your cars “It’s important that we gather in these spaces so we see each other’s faces, smell each other’s bodies, touch each other,” he said. “This is how we keep politics real. We realize through dance, poetry, painting, and song, that our emotions are not wholly private, but shared with others, the very medium through which we communicate and move from solipsism to solidarity.” Nancy Mercado’s poem “I Told You” included a refrain that exemplified her concerns. “Writers can, and often do, pose a threat to such regimes as they expose their unscrupulous practices,” she noted. “As Trump’s political apparatus becomes reality, writers and poets who document these times will be

of great importance. It remains to be seen whether their work will be met with paying the ultimate price.” I told you that McCarthy Would miraculously Come back from the dead Danny Shot provided an interesting piece called “Mr. Know It All,” consisting of a series of paragraphs addressed to the title figure. Dear Mr. Know It All, How long am I allowed to grieve? The gathering was not large, but it was high-spirited with a sense of community — and knowledge that similar readings were taking place across the nation. Kaufman expressed satisfaction with the outcome. “This was a great cross section of poetry representing many demographics,” he said. “This is just the beginning. We must keep organizing and build a collective sense of community so that people do not feel alone.” From City Hall, some performers headed up to a PEN America event held on the steps of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. WRITERS RESIST: Louder Together for Free Expression was organized as “a collective stand to defend free expression, reject hatred, and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.” Steve Dalachinsky, who read a particularly moving piece, “heavy sleep,” at the Poets Protest Against Trump gathering, said the PEN America event was larger, but that “both events were of equal weight in emphasizing the importance of fighting against a corrupt and dangerous government. Both put forth valuable messages and insights into what is happening or could happen in a Trump/ Republican-dominated world.” That evening, I heard from my Texas friend, Justin Booth, who reported “a huge success” at a reading he organized at Austin’s Malvern Books, with poets there “vowing to continue their vigil, not wavering in calling Mr. Trump out on behaviors that are dangerous as well as dishonest.” As love I.E.D. said in “dex,” the poem he performed: we climb this ziggurat of bodies that reaches the sky we climb with harnesses made of flesh and rope made from human hair we climb sticking our fingers in the sockets of the skulls and using the ribs as toeholds we climb, we climb, we climb. January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


Grabbing Trump’s Attention With Pink Pussyhats Preparing for January 21 protests, women plan their headgear BY LINCOLN ANDERSON AND TEQUILA MINSKY


ptown to Downtown, East Side to West, from art openings to religious services, in store windows and atop heads, “pussyhats” are popping up everywhere. Mostly women are wearing them, but some men, too. They’re part of the Pussyhat Project, which aims to knit, crochet, and sew up to 1.17 million of the pink, cat-eared caps by January 21, the day of the massive Women’s March on Washington. That’s the number of protesters the Capitol Mall is said to be able to hold. So far, more than 110,000 people have registered on Facebook to say they will participate, and organizers are estimating that 200,000 people or more will actually march.

According to the group’s website,, “The idea is to blanket the Mall at the Women’s March in a sea of pink pussyhats, a response to the president-elect’s attitude toward women and their bodies.” The hats will provide the marchers with a “means to make a unique collective visual statement that will allow activists better to be heard,” and also give people who can’t be on the mall “a way to represent themselves and support women’s rights.” People can a volunteer to knit hats for others, with a pattern and instructions provided on the website. And cap crafters can also “register” their pussyhats, then add them to an online Hat Anthology. The project’s organizers admit that “pussyhat” is “a loaded word” because it includes a “derogatory” term for a part of women’s bod-



Pussyhats on sale at The Hat Shop on Thompson Street in Soho.

A participant at January 15’s PEN America WRITERS RESIST event sports a pussyhat.

ies, but say they want to “reclaim it” from Trump, who during the fall campaign was caught on a tape bragging about his freedom as “a star” to “grab [women] by the pussy.” Not surprisingly, pink wool has been flying off the shelves at knitting shops, like Purl on Broome

Street. Stacy Rosenstock, a Village resident, said she ordered her wool and found a hat pattern online, but then went to Purl to buy circular needles. It took her a while to get it right on the first hat, but she figures it will now only take a day to knit a second one for her daughter.


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LGBT Advocates Endorse Eviction-Prevention Subsidy Community Center, Ali Forney, The Door sign onto Andrew Hevesi’s Assembly measure BY PAUL SCHINDLER


he New York City LGBT Community Center is among the latest advocates to endorse a plan by Queens State Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi that would provide a rent subsidy for households on public assistance that are at risk for eviction. “It’s no secret that LGBT people face shocking health disparities and much higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, and we see this first-hand every day at the Center,” said Glennda Testone, the West 13th Street institution’s executive director. “Home Stability Support [HSS] will help us and others in the LGBT movement offer our most vulnerable community members a way to secure safe, affordable housing and get on more stable footing to address other basic needs, like employment.” Noting that there are currently 60,000 New Yorkers in homeless shelters every night, Hevesi, who chairs the Assembly’s Committee on Social Services, estimated that as many as “80,000 households are on the brink of homelessness” across the state. According to figures provided by both Hevesi and the Coalition for the Homeless, New York City spends



Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi discusses homelessness and ways to prevent it at a City Hall press conference this month.

more than $38,000 a year to house a family of three — increasingly in hotels that are filling the gap given the insufficiency of the shelter system. The cost of keeping the same family in their home, the assemblymember and the advocates say would be just over $11,000. Hevesi pegs the cost of the HSS program at $450 million statewide, but yielding considerably greater savings. The coalition has said the proposal could prevent about 5,000 evictions citywide each year, and factoring in costs related to housing court, law enforcement, and providing shelter space to runaway youth, it estimated the city could save about $250 million a year in that way alone.

CRIME, from p.3

Herskovic was among a group of 20 men, some of whom belonged to a neighborhood patrol organized by the Satmar community, who pursued Patterson on Flushing Avenue in the early morning attack. Videos played during the trial show men chasing Patterson on foot with others in cars racing along the avenue, with some cars pulling into the lane for oncoming traffic on the two-lane avenue. Once caught, Patterson was punched, kicked, knocked to the ground, and had a thumb jammed in his eye. No witness identified Herskovic, but his DNA was found on Patterson’s sneaker, which police recovered from the roof of a low building next to where the young man was assaulted. Patterson testified that the man who punched him in the face, jabbed a thumb in his eye, and kicked him in the face as he lay on the ground


LGBTQ youth are at particular risk for homelessness, with estimates in New York and elsewhere suggesting that 40 percent or more of all young people living on the streets identify as queer. Counting the homeless population is difficult, but estimates in New York City have ranged from 8,000 (a figure former City Council Youth Services chair Lew Fidler told Gay City News) to 20,000 (based on a survey by the Coalition for Homeless Youth) in recent years. LGBTQ youth advocates and service providers, along with the city, have made strides over the past decade in providing safe housing for this population, but the need remains great and providing these young

was the same man who pulled off his sneaker and tossed it onto the building. At trial, Fried attacked the DNA evidence, including bringing in his own expert witness, but Chun was clearly knowledgeable about DNA evidence and was not swayed by the defense. The DNA was found using high sensitivity DNA testing, a process that is used by the city’s medical examiner’s office. While many labs across the country use high sensitivity DNA testing, the city’s medical examiner’s is the only US lab that uses such testing to develop evidence in criminal trials. High sensitivity DNA testing uses samples that are measured in picograms, or trillionths of a gram. These samples could include as few as five or six skin cells. The medical examiner’s office analyzes the test results with proprietary software called the Forensic Statistical Tool, which produces a ratio indicating how likely it is that a particular individual contributed to a DNA sample.

people with stability once they find housing is a key policy priority. In line with that priority, two leading service providers to LGBTQ youth — the Ali Forney Center and The Door — have also endorsed Hevesi’s measure. The measure also has broad support from other quarters. In the Assembly, Hevesi has 110 endorsers of the legislation, currently being drafted, more than enough to secure passage. Bronx Democrat Jeff Klein, whose breakaway Independent Democratic Conference shares power in the Senate with the Republicans, has also endorsed the measure and is expected to introduce the legislation in his chamber. Whether he can convince his GOP partners to allow a floor vote — which could well mean passage since there are actually 32 Democrats in the 63-member Senate — remains to be seen. At this point, Hevesi is pressing Governor Andrew Cuomo to incorporate the program into his budget that must be approved by April 1. The Queens Democrat also also lined up endorsements from more than 30 members of the City Council, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Congressmember Joe Crowley, the powerful leader of the Queens Democratic organization.

Taj Patterson, after suffering an assault by a gang of men in Williamsburg in December 2013.

Before Herskovic’s trial began, Pinchas Braver and Abraham Winkler pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in the attack. Charges against Aharon Hollender and Joseph Fried were dropped. January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


EMPLOYMENT, from p.8

Still, the judge refused to dismiss Baker’s allegation that denying her coverage for her surgery and recovery period under her employer’s benefit plans constituted sex discrimination under Title VII by L-3 itself. “Baker plausibly alleges that she was denied employment benefits based on her sex,� he wrote. “She asserts that L-3 ‘engaged in intentional gender discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment by denying her a medically necessary procedure based solely on her gender,’ that the company’s ‘conduct constitutes a deliberate and intentional violation of Title VII,’ and that this conduct ‘has caused [her] to suffer the loss of pay, benefits, and prestige.’� Interestingly, Fitzwater’s opin-


GOUVERNEUR, from p.9

trainings, like others aimed as serving Health + Hospitals’ diverse patient base, must be renewed on an ongoing basis, he added. Health + Hospitals’ outreach to LGBTQ patients involves not only the services provided — including medical and psychosocial care for men, women, and adolescents, gender transition and hormone therapy services, and HIV and STD prevention, screening, and treatment — but also the manner of delivery. Patients are encouraged to indicate their preferred gender pronoun, gender-neutral private bathrooms are available, and patients are able to access multi-stall facilities in line with their gender identity. “We really want to embrace the LGBTQ community,� Baehser said in explaining the climate he encourages and has experienced at Health + Hospitals. That effort has not gone unnoticed by advocates for LGBTQ health. Twenty-one Health + Hospitals units, in all five boroughs, are recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality, a status that reflects across-the-board compliance with the objectives measured by the group’s annual Healthcare Equality Index. The index ranks hospitals and other health care centers according to four criteria — patient nondiscrimination, equal visitation, employment

ion does not explore explicitly whether Title VII applies to gender identity discrimination claims as such — making no mention of the EEOC’s 2012 decision to that effect — choosing instead to treat this as purely a matter of sex discrimination, presumably because Baker would have been covered for the procedure had she been identified female at birth. At this point, then, Baker continues to have a claim under ERISA against Aetna, based on her allegation the insurance company’s refusal to cover her procedure and recovery period violated the terms of the benefit plans, and a sex discrimination claim under Title VII against L-3, based on her allegation that the employer’s benefit plan discriminated against her because of her sex.

discrimination, and training in LGBT patient-centered care. Nearly 2,100 institutions voluntarily participated in HRC’s 2016 survey (a fraction of all such facilities), and 496 earned the Leader status that the 21 Health + Hospitals facilities were given. LGBTQ New Yorkers are fortunate, the survey indicates. Only California, with 83 Leaders identified, outranks New York State, which has 71 such facilities. Two states more populous than New York — Texas and Florida — have only 13 and 20 institutions, respectively, that earned perfect scores. Other large states — including Illinois with 25, Pennsylvania with 24, Michigan with 10, Ohio with 29, and North Carolina with 16 — also lagged behind. Baehser is not alone at Heath + Hospitals in emphasizing the importance of the system having a fully open door policy to the queer community. “NYC Health + Hospitals is a leader in LGBTQ issues and is fully committed to providing responsive, compassionate, and respectful health care in a welcoming environment with a positive patient experience,� Dr. Ram Raju, who recently stepped down as he system’s CEO and president, said at the time the HRC rankings were announced. “We train our staff to have zero tolerance for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and we honor open visitation rights for all LGBTQ patients.� | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017

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s we face what already seems an exhaustively daunting challenge wrought by Donald Trump’s presidency, the first thing we can agree on is that each of us should do something. A critical corollary to that is that we each need to try not to fritter away too much time — and, more importantly, psychic energy — passing judgment on what other people decide something is. Each of us is unique. We have different passions, skills, free time on our hands, and, frankly, levels of commitment. But there’s room for all kinds of activism, and even an incremental increase in Americans’ engagement in civic life could have a profound effect. When I warn against passing judgment on the activism of others, I’m not suggesting we be uncritical in our thinking about how to proceed. But I am urging us to not be unduly harsh or petty. A couple of examples can make this point. I heard about a recent organizing meeting at which several people indicated that, though not of the Islamic faith, if the Trump administration were to establish a Muslim registry they would step forward. They were summarily informed that such pledges were meaningless because given data networks already in place the government would have no trouble identifying Americans who are Muslim. It might, in fact, be the case that Trump could nefariously exploit technology to establish a Muslim registry without making any public notice at all. Whether or not that’s the case, however, there’s no good reason to step all over earnest shows of solidarity at this early stage in our coming together in resistance. Similarly, earlier this week, an activist I respect very much decried the call to post images of the Obamas as Facebook profile pictures on Inauguration Day as “fake activism.” It’s true that social media often fools

us into thinking we are contributing to a movement simply by executing a couple of computer clicks between phone calls at work. Still, the impact of a blizzard of Baracks and Michelles online Friday in reinforcing just how many of us are mindful of our responsibility to resist should not be ignored. Changing your Facebook profile picture and getting arrested at a Senate confirmation hearing are not mutually exclusive. And who knows, for even the most casually engaged person, the effort could just prove to be “gateway activism.” We would also be wise to avoid getting caught up in every outrage moment to moment. Trump’s tweets often spawn visceral reactions of anger, despair, or befuddlement, but they’re not the main event. In fact, they’re more often calculated to be a distraction from what’s really important at the moment. It’s fair to debate whether attending the Inauguration inappropriately legitimizes a man who has no credibility for the job he’s about to assume, but the level of hot type I’ve seen about this in recent days makes me wonder whether we’re adequately preparing ourselves for what is going to be a long haul. Each of us has a part to play, and we’ll be most effective if we can look inside and make an honest selfappraisal of where we can make a contribution. The large number of impressive turnouts at street protests reminds us that there is a strong appetite for direct action, which is encouraging. As New Yorkers, however, we should remember that many decisions will be made a long way from Midtown Manhattan. Marching on Trump Tower is empowering and does grab media attention, but civil rights leaders sitting in at Jeff Sessions’ Alabama offices made a particularly poignant display of defiance. ACT UP was often most successful when it brought its truth to the source of power — whether at pharmaceutical headquarters, the NIH, or Jesse Helms’ North Carolina home. For many people, giving money is what feels most comfortable — and

money is needed to mount a defense against Trump. There are many credible organizations representing our community, but don’t neglect those that speak for and serve the most vulnerable among us — such as the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Ali Forney Center, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Transgender Equality, or the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity. Nor should we forget that perils posed by the new Washington regime are so all-encompassing that the full range of progressive groups — prochoice, health care access, immigration rights, labor, environmental defense, criminal justice reform, educational opportunity, and more — deserve our support. Coalition, intersectional politics have never been more critical to America’s future. Finally, we need to think about our relationship to elected officials in power, particularly the Democrats. Republican officeholders often resisted Obama by threatening to close down government, defund programs, or otherwise obstruct the normal course of business. Democrats are at a bit of a disadvantage in this regard since they tend to believe government can be a force for good in our society. Allowing the workings of government to grind to a halt will have real, damaging impact on the lives of real people — especially those already poorly served by society. Democrats will have to be careful as to how and when they obstruct. But they must be willing to stand up to Trump. In Washington, no Democrat has greater leverage in doing so than New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who as minority leader can use the filibuster to curb Republican abuse, at least in some situations. He will be an insider where most of us will be on the outside. Understanding that we all have different roles to play is not the same as a free pass. In 2016, both in the presidential race and in congressional contests, the Democrats, faced with a Republican ticket headed by a woefully unqualified candidate, threw away an historic opportunity to build on the last eight years. Their sorry performance demonstrates the need to step up their game big time. And we need to remind them we’re keeping our eye on that ball.

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


To Bounce Back, Democrats Must Take on Income Inequality BY NATHAN RILEY


emocrats should choose between the voters and its donors. A party that represents the cosmopolitan and successful will fail unless it listens to the grievances of those on wrong side of income inequality. Roosevelt made the Democratic Party the party of working people. Obama managed to sustain that link in his two presidential runs, but it was lost during the campaign of 2016. Will Democrats win it back in 2018? The metaphor of the glass ceiling illuminates the dilemma faced by the party last year. A University of California Hastings College of Law professor in San Francisco offered this explanation for Clinton’s failure to win the votes of white working-class women. They

“saw Hillary Clinton as another privileged white women wanting to break the glass ceiling,” said Joan C. Williams. “That metaphor makes sense if your central goal is to gain access to jobs that privileged men have. Hillary’s feminism was not about them.” The brouhaha about Russian hacking is a distraction. What will elect Democrats in the 2018 congressional races is fighting income inequality. And the battle must be waged in states now run by Republicans. Unless Blue candidates can capture congressional majorities, the nation will endure continuing dischord while racist, even dictatorial forces control the public dialogue. Making Putin the issue while neglecting income inequality is a recipe for defeat. Eight years after the Great Recession started, the economy is still not running at full capacity.

“Labor force participation rates remain significantly below their 2000 levels — in fact, lower than they have been since 1978,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, urging a spending program that would tighten the labor market and raise wages. “More rapid growth accompanied by higher employment would reduce inequality and increase future growth potential,” he asserted in a report for the Nation Institute originally commissioned to prod a presumed Clinton presidency in a leftward direction. But stimulating the economy is opposed by conservatives, who argue that after years of gradual growth the economy is at full employment and inflation is dangerous. The Democratic Party must cut through the noise of these claims. Only new spending will generate

a rise in wages, and advocating for that will show that Democrats are behind a populist economic approach to help both people of color and whites who currently face long odds in the job market. For too long, Democrats have accepted neo-liberal arguments that in order to stay “competitive,” the nation must keep wages low. Beware of those leaders who voice empathy for Americans who are struggling without talking money. Empty promises will not sway those at the bottom of the ladder. Their votes for Trump show their deep hunger for results. Higher education must not only be tuition-free, it must also include stipends that defray living expenses. We did that under the GI bill following World War II, and we must do it again if we are to retrain blue collar and poor Americans for the 21st century. Political donors — to both parties — must pay a greater share of the freight. Social Security deductions should continue past the current cutoff of $118,500 a year


LONG VIEW, continued on p.23


Trump Redux in France? BY KELLY COGSWELL


n France, we’re gearing up for a presidential election where the likely victor, François Fillon, is as friendly with Putin as Trump is and has policies as disastrously conservative as Pence. There will be no saviors from the floundering left. The incumbent Socialist president, François Hollande, is so unpopular he isn’t even going to run. The half-dozen men who want to take his place promise change without change. The impossible return of factory jobs. A retreat from a Europe demonized by the populists of the right and the left. The left’s frontrunner: old globalization foe and Chávez admirer Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Mélenchon’s sudden fondness for the environment is getting him an unusual bump in the polls, but he has little chance of winning the presidency. More likely he’d play Ralph Nader, fatally splitting the left vote on the first round of the general elections (only the two top vote-getters will go on to the second and final round.) Right now, the likely final round contenders are expected to be the extremely | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017

tive Putin pal François Fillon and Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right, populist-nationalist National Front. Fillon’s base is a surging hardline Catholic movement that was built opposing same-sex marriage. They despise queers, feminists, trans people, and anything that smacks of multiculturalism and gender equality. They want back French society pre-student revolution of 1968 if not earlier, and Fillon promises to give it to them — along with a slash and burn of the state health care system, just like Donald Trump. Worse than Fillon, but only in some ways, there’s the smiling Le Pen, another Putin admirer — and lately, a vocal Trump fan — who’s spent the last decade or so normalizing the National Front, the nearly neo-Nazi party founded by her charismatic father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Softening the rough edges of overt racism and anti-Semitism and masking the hatred of immigrants, people of color, and queers, she’s successfully courted former Commie and antiglobalization voters, dug up gay apologists, and even found supporters in communities of color, who don’t want to find themselves vying for crappy jobs with new waves of refugees.

Le Pen’s base is the disenfranchised white working class in former industrial areas that used to vote for the Communist Party. Like Trump, she presents herself as their champion, but unlike him, or Fillon, she swears to protect Social Security, secularism, and abortion rights. She’d pull France out of the European Union, NATO and the Euro-zone immediately. People who used to scoff at her viability are having nightmares since Trump made everything seem possible. Then there’s Emmanuel Macron, who was the minister of the economy for a while under the current Socialist president, Hollande, before he left to begin an independent grassroots movement, En Marche. He’s the only one who really stands a chance against Fillon, and might knock out Le Pen, but he still faces long odds with most lefty voters because he used to be a banker and wants to liberalize the economy. Like in the US, many on the left would rather cast their votes for a pure, but unelectable candidate than even give Macron’s platform a look. I actually like him. He’s had the nerve to tell French voters that the world has changed, and they have to as well. Automation is a fact, like globalization. And they are never getting their


DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.18


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Cooking Up Rebellion

Sweetness, tenderness, and determination in the age of Trump



n times of trouble, cooking makes me whole. I may be tired, irritable, I may have gotten home late, I may even be sick, but I stand at my fry pan tossing in onions, that base of almost every culture’s cooking. To me, it might as well be the base of life itself, as I stand there trying to make something tasty and satisfying and warming out of a few teensy bits of vegetables and some shreds of meat. Cooking, which I came to only in my 40s and disabled, like someone clutching a lifeline, reminds me of the sacredness of the act of creation. It feels like making something out of nothing: whatever’s assembled on my cutting board — a little mess of garlic bits and bitter vegetables and cheese snips — always seems so poignantly small to me as the basis of a hot dinner that will somehow sustain two adults. The process that transforms these scraps into a whole always seems mystical to me: what god created this eggplant parmigiano pasta? Certainly not me. With cooking, as with writing, providence comes in and accomplishes what we ourselves, with our conscious minds, can barely accomplish. When I say providence, I don’t exactly mean God. Who made this dish? It was the fire (which reshapes molecules and “denatures” proteins and



Individual cooks don’t create the art of cooking, and individual actors don’t create entire movements.

divinely caramelizes eggplants). It was the balsamic vinegar in all its oddness, sour, acid, musty, sweet, powerfully itself, and shaped by hands and minds other than my own. It was the traditions of a million years of hominids cooking (while humans have only been around and making dinner for 200,000 years, our hominid ancestors have been cooking for even longer). It was my innumerable memories of meals out and Food Network snippets and halfremembered recipes, plus glimmering images in my brain (my mother’s ancient Italian friend’s fresh sausage and tomato sauce), and, maybe most of all, dumb luck and inspiration! It was also me, yes, along with all of these. It was my own arm

DYKE ABROAD, from p.15

old jobs back. I even agree with his solution, which is not to reject globalization but figure out how to make it equitable, harness it so that it can benefit modest people for a change. As for women, queers, immigrants, and disenfranchised minorities, he’s far more progressive than most on the traditional left, even calling into question these labels of “left” and “right,” when the real chasm is between “conservatives” and “progressives” who can be found in either category. Recently, he actually had the audacity to tell a crowd deep in Le Pen’s white working class territory, “Never accept those who promote


strength and my thinking mind, saying “Now! A dab more tomato paste!” and “Now! I want sesame oil and more parsley!” In point of fact, I feel really butch when I cook, much more butch than I do when writing, say, or making love. Turning the flame up and down, I am Hephaestus at the forge; I am Casey at the switch. I feel powerful, capable, gripping my 11-inch pan and smelting tomatoes, refining wine, building skyscrapers out of flour and beef. I am doing this for my family that consists of my partner and me, making things to keep us good and warm inside and feeling loved. I am blending tahini in a machine noisy as a cement mixer, making a sauce so sumptuous it can make steamed zucchini taste

exclusion, hatred, or closing in on ourselves!” The problem is that time is running out. The first round of the French presidential election is April 23, only three months away. And although Macron himself is getting big crowds all over the country and campaigning vigorously, he still has not hired a campaign manager. And his young, one-year old “participatory-democracy” movement, En Marche, is still a work in progress. It now has more than 3,000 neighborhood committees and an army of volunteers, but no public funding. They’re also still processing last year’s findings when those grassroots volunteers went door-to-door asking citizens about their prob-

good. I am butchering squashes and making rebellious Jewish bricks out of walnuts, apples, and wine that will make our conquerors choke. I am constructing fantasy universes out of ground turkey and breadcrumbs and spices and egg. The turkey meatballs I make will make our hearts happy as we eat them in a radiant red sauce before going to the demonstration. So, gentle reader who loves the taste of food, dear one who loves kimchi, posole, and democracy: go to the demonstration. There are a lot this week, and there will be more the week after, and the week after that. Keep going. Eat something hot before and after. Take care of yourself. Take care of other people, too. There is no contradiction between activism and compassion, no contradiction between activism and tenderness or sweetness: remember that. What I am trying to say is: everything we do, whether we are masters or novices, we do in the context of other people. I’m no great chef by any measure, but I learned to make a damn good dinner, and so can you. Individual writers don’t create literature, individual cooks don’t create the art of cooking, and individual actors don’t create entire movements. Everyone is needed, and everyone needs others. Everyone is important in cooking up this struggle, even and especially you.

lems and concerns. Now, they’re crowdsourcing ways to address the problems — creating a political program and policies, with help from sympathetic experts. Or, as they say, creating “a contract with France” which, if elected, Macron and En Marche promise to fulfill. Which is exciting. But I wonder what all this networking and movement building will translate to if En Marche itself doesn’t concentrate more on getting out the vote. And Macron fades in the first round. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press. January 19 - February 01, 2017 | | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017



RESIST, from p.6

Sessions denied some — though not all — of those charges at the time, and some of his Senate colleagues today insist all that is old news and he is not a racist. His harsh opposition to both voting rights protections and immigrants’ rights, however, raises timely questions regarding his current qualifications to lead the agency charged with protecting the civil rights and liberties of all Americans. Sessions’ record on LGBT rights is abysmal; he has consistently received a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign — with the exception of one twoyear session when he earned a 15 percent for voting in favor of a gay nominee for the federal court in Manhattan. During the George W. Bush years, it was Sessions who recommended the nomination of William H. Pryor, Jr. — now on Trump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court — to the federal bench in Alabama, an appointment Lambda Legal termed the “most demonstrably anti-gay” pick it could recall. Sessions is a strident critic of marriage equality, and, in warning against “very dangerous… secularization,” he now embraces a radically far reaching religious exemption law that would gut any LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections.

BETSY DEVOS Trump’s selection for Education Secretary is a former Republican state chair in Michigan known — and controversial — for her advocacy for school vouchers, DeVos and her husband, Dick, gave $200,000 to the successful 2004 push to ban samesex marriage in Michigan, which they led according to That story reported that a foundation run by Dick DeVos’ parents gave $540,000 to the anti-gay Focus on the Family and that they separately gave $100,000 to the effort to ban same-sex marriage in Florida. Betsy DeVos’ mother gather $450,000


to Focus on the Family, according to rawstory. Despite her family’s support for organizations that champion so-called conversion therapy, GLSEN noted that in her confirmation testimony this week DeVos rejected that longdiscr edited practice. At the same time, according to GLSEN, she dodged questions about the Department of Education’s recent advocacy on behalf of transgender students — which Pence has pledged the administration will overturn — and said that civil rights protections for other students, including those with disabilities, from communities of color, and from religious minorities should be referred “back to the states.” “We’ve seen where that leads, and we know that all students require more protection if we are to be a country that provides meaningful opportunity to all children,” said GLSEN’s executive director Dr. Eliza Byard. The National Black Justice Coalition echoed the concerns of other LGBTQ advocates about DeVos’ posture toward the queer community, but also focused fire on her for helping to make Michigan “ground zero for the destruction of American public education.”

TOM PRICE Speaking out on the nomination of the Georgia congressmember as secretary of Health and Human Services, LGBTQ advocacy groups have emphasized his adamant opposition to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Lambda Legal ter med the ACA “the most effective piece of legislation in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the history of the epidemic,” while the Center for American Progress noted that Obamacare has brought healthcare coverage to

the most “economically vulnerable LGBT people.” The Congressional Budget Office’s new report on the devastating impact of the law’s repeal (see page 7) underscores the dangers its supporters highlight. The Human Rights Campaign has detailed how Price, in his years in Congress, walked alongside Pence and Sessions in embracing the most anti-LGBT range of policy positions. He opposed enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it included specific protections for LGBTQ domestic violence victims. Price is also a champion of the federal First Amendment Defense Act, which would give religious optouts to those unwilling to abide by federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws and policies. As the Obama administration has joined some states and localities in guaranteeing transgender people open access to public accommodations including bathrooms and locker rooms, he termed that effort an “abuse and overreach of power.” A letter from the Family Research Council warning its members about the dangers of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act quoted its “good friend” Price as saying, “If the homosexual Left succeeds and ENDA becomes law, you can just let your mind run wild and see the consequences: They are remarkably negative.”

BEN CARSON Aside from the fact that the former neurosurgeon has no demonstrated fluency in housing policy and that his business manager,

Armstrong Williams, said he hesitated to accept Trump’s nomination because “he feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency,” there are other reasons to worry about Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity about his view of marriage equality, he said, “Marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition.” And in a statement he later tried to pull back, Carson, questioned about whether he viewed homosexuality as a choice, said, “Absolutely… Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask you that question.” An outspoken supporter of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, on which Mike Pence as governor was forced to retreat after signing it, Carson would be in charge of a federal agency that currently enforces nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in federally-financed and insured housing, by landlords who receive federal funds, and in any lending decisions regarding a federallyinsured mortgage. HUD also currently protects people living with HIV from housing discrimination, requires that transgender homeless people have access to sexsegregated shelters based on their gender identity, and is being pressed to support more LGBTQfriendly housing for homeless youth. None of these objectives are ones Carson can be counted on to advance.

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


CUOMO, from p.4

Out State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan said, “I am concerned generally about keeping the lines between church and state clear,” adding the Archdiocese of New York has been “blurring” those lines in its lobbying for an education tax credit to parochial schools “or sending money to lobby against the Child Victims Act,” his bill to partially lift the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. “That said, there’s been a surge in hate violence against religious and ethnic monitories and LGBT people and if men and women of faith can transcend that and offer solutions to increase acceptance,

“There's been a surge in hate violence against religious and ethnic minorities and LGBT people and if men and women of faith can transcend that and offer solutions to increase acceptance, that's a positive.” that’s a positive,” Hoylman said. David also highlighted Cuomo’s support for further initiatives in the End of AIDS campaign and a renewed effort to remedy a Court of Appeals decision three years ago that said the state human rights law does not apply to students in public schools. Many of Cuomo’s progressive initiatives have good chances of passing the Democratic-led Assembly along with many bills initiated by the Assembly itself. But these bills are often blocked in a Senate that is still led by Republicans even though a majority of Democrats were just elected to the Senate. Democratic Senator Simcha Felder of Brooklyn caucuses with the GOP to keep them in power in a body that has 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans , and the seven members of the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), led by Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx, cut deals with the Republi-

cans to gain leadership posts rather than maintain solidarity with their fellow Democrats. Allen Roskoff, president of the LGBTQ Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, said, “Members of the IDC and Simcha Felder should be rebuked, condemned, and thrown out of the Democratic Party. They have betrayed the party and prevented progressive issues passed by the Assembly from becoming law, including transgender rights, universal health care, and budgetary priorities. They are scoundrels and double-dealers.” Scott Klein, co-president of the LGBTQ Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, spoke this month of leading demonstrations against IDC members such as Klein and Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn. Regarding control of the Senate, Hoylman said, “I believe people should act in good faith based on how they were elected. I have good relationships with my Democratic colleagues no matter where they sit in the chamber because we will need them when a vacancy occurs. I believe they will come back because we agree on more issues than the Republicans,” especially “in the era of Trump.” He added, “There will be opportunities this year and beyond [to work together] on the governor’s proposals [and others] including a millionaires tax, raising the age of criminal responsibility, and a DREAM Act for children of undocumented.” Assembly Health Committee chair Dick Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, has passed universal health insurance for New York several times, but it is always blocked in the Senate, now controlled by a Republican minority aided by the rogue Democrats. “We will continue to be the progressive capital of the country no matter who is in the White House,” said David, and that will include making up for potential federal cuts to health care. On another front, the winner of Cuomo’s competition to design a memorial in the West Village portion of Hudson River Park for the victims of last year’s Pulse massacre in Orlando and other hate crimes will be announced “in the very near future,” David said. “We received dozens of applications from artists throughout the nation and are finalizing the selection process.” | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017


The second annual Gay City News Impact Awards will recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions to New York City’s LGBTQ community, its progress, and its achievements

Honorees are being celebrated at the Gay City News Impact Awards Gala on March 30 To Get Your Tickets Today, Visit or Contact Jennifer Stern

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LONG VIEW, from p.15

if we are to raise Social Security payments; tax loopholes must be closed; trades in stocks and bonds must be taxed just as the pur chases of soda and batteries are taxed. Making a government of the people, by the people, for the people requires increased revenue. Part of the increase in social spending can certainly be accomplished by lower expenditures on defense and prisons. A wholly unnecessary plan to modernize atomic weapons should be scrapped. This is the language of a Democratic Party that will succeed by abandoning neo-liberalism and insisting that those whose incomes have leapfrogged aver age Americans’ give back to their communities.

“Clinton enjoyed wide support in the big cities, while Trump won voters from all classes outside the big cities... Electoral geography matters more than ethnic or class aggregates.”

Har v a r d p o l i t i c a l s c i e n t i s t Michael Sandel pointed out that the defeat of the Democrats mirrors the fate of center-left parties in Europe, which must change “their mission and purpose,” as well. They must all demonstrate the discipline to “learn from the populist protest that has displaced them — not by emulating its xenophobia and strident nationalism.” The new task is taking “seriously the legitimate grievances.” It means “recognizing that the grievances are about social esteem, not only about wages and jobs.” Still, wages and jobs are no small part of the picture. Between 2004 and 2014, US manufacturing jobs fell by more than two million, according to the federal Bureau of

Labor Statistics, and now account for just over eight percent of total employment, continuing a long slide since the 1950s. Calling Trump voters fascists or seeing them as hostile aggressors rather than people whose communities have been passed over by the digital economy will drive voters into the Republican Party. My friends who bought coops on the Upper West Side on the cheap in the 1970s and now sell them for prices above $1.5 million live in a different economy from those in Youngstown, Ohio, home to Representative Tim Ryan. When he challenged Nancy Pelosi in November for leadership of the House Democrats, he pointed out that property values in his town have stagnated over those same years. Even after decades of home ownership, these hard-working Americans saw no increase in their wealth. “The election exposed an enormous gap between big city voters and non-big city voters,” Harvard University sociologist Theda Skocpol has pointed out. “Clinton enjoyed wide support in the big cities, while Trump won voters from all classes outside the big cities. America is actually a federated polity where electoral geography matters more than ethnic or class aggregates.” The LGBTQ community has a big part to play in helping the Democratic Party reshape both its policies and its image. Few communities have made more progress in changing the social esteem they enjoy, even while dealing with challenges from a deadly epidemic to issues like substance use that today affect broad swaths of American society. And queer people have a large voice in the nation’s cultural conversation — from art to the stage to television and film. Plays and art should represent a broader range of experiences, and new television shows need not all be about people living in white bread suburbs and chic gentrified urban enclaves. Unless we can change the conversation about how progressive politics are joined to the lives of Americans facing economic dislocation, the Democratic Party will be confined to a small number of states, with reduced influence over how the nation is governed. | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017


The second annual Gay City News Impact Awards will recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions to New York City’s LGBTQ community, its progress, and its achievements

Honorees are being celebrated at the Gay City News Impact Awards Gala on March 30 To Get Your Tickets Today, Visit or Contact Jennifer Stern

718-260-8302 Post your congratulations message in the special keepsake issue profiling the honorees on March 30, 2017 Contact Amanda Tarley For More Information: 718-260-8340 | | 23


From Gay Men to God James Franco plays Michael Glatze, in crisis and then seeming peace BY GARY M. KRAMER


he title character of “I Am Michael” is Michael Glatze (James Franco), a gay activist and former managing editor of X/Y magazine, who in 2007, renounced his homosexuality, became an antigay poster child, and then went on to become a Christian pastor. How could someone who encouraged youth to embrace their same-sex desires — even making documentaries about rural queer youth — not only no longer identify as gay, but also have contempt for the gay people he once wanted to help? Kelly’s engaging, provocative film chronicles Glatze’s transformation, which angered and confused many members of the LGBTQ community. “I Am Michael” presents a series of defining episodes in Glatze’s life, from the murder of Matthew Shepard that inspired his documentary work with queer youth, to his grief over his late parents, to a health crisis that prompted his seemingly sudden turn toward God and religion. As he reads the Bible, explores Christianity and Buddhism, and eventually attends Bible college to become a pastor, Glatze finds himself being, in his words, “shook up and woken up” to who he truly is. Franco is entirely convincing in the role. The actor is thoughtful and restrained here, making Michael’s journey and his decisions credible, even as they generate anguish and consternation from his ex-boyfriend, Bennett (Zachary Quinto), and their mutual lover, Tyler (Charlie Carver). In a recent phone interview, Kelly spoke with Gay City News about “I Am Michael.” GARY M. KRAMER: “I Am Michael” is based on Benoit Denizet-Lewis’ New York Times Magazine article entitled “My Ex-Gay Friend.” What was your strategy in telling this story and depicting the characters? JUSTIN KELLY: The goal was always to try to be as non-judgmental as possible. I appreciate Lewis’ tack to understand what happened rather than attack and vilify. It wasn’t easy, but everyone involved felt it would be more interesting and reveal more and incite more conversation if we could try to understand why Michael did what he did, and treat him the way he [once] asked to be treated by Christians, which would be not to assume, judge, or vilify gay people. GMK: You show that being lost, alone, and confused is how Michael sees gay youth as they come to accept their sexuality, but he himself, is lost, alone, and confused when he



James Franco and Zachary Quinto in Justin Kelly’s “I Am Michael,” based on the life of Michael Glatze.

comes to accept religion. Can you talk about your thoughts about the ideas of community, congregation, being, and belonging? JK: This ties in a little to your first question for me. People read the article and think: How did this happen? But we wanted to tell a story that’s something that happened to one person, and show in the film that he was a comfortable, out gay man and he was a comfortable Christian man. But at no point was he a comfortable ex-gay man. I wanted people to understand why he went down each path, and how he was being perceived — that’s what drove him. GMK: What can you say about the film’s themes of fear, control, and shame? Fear is what the Bible college teacher discusses, but it is the flip side of what gay youth are told. Can you discuss how these themes are two sides of the same coin? JK: That’s why this story is so fascinating. We’re used to hearing the other version, someone who didn’t feel comfortable and grew up with messages of shame. But Michael went out himself, on his own dime, and spread a message to gay youth to not fear being alone and afraid. Then for him to go to the other extreme and be a Christian who is following the rules of the Bible, which is the word of God… How the people Michael fell in with imposed upon him the strict rules of fearing himself. For him to

I AM MICHAEL Directed by Justin Kelly Opens Jan. 27 Brainstorm Media Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St.

be free and accepting of his past would be running with the Devil. GMK: In the conversation between Michael and Bennett there’s a line about “repressing who you truly are,” which has a double meaning. Can you talk about balancing the two sides of Michael’s character? JK: A lot of that came from something Michael himself wrote or ideas I was interested in getting across from my own life experience or conversations with friends about this story. I think it’s common that we hear stories about an anti-gay political figure or church figure who gets caught blowing someone in the bath-


GLATZE, continued on p.25

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |

Daddy Issues


An aging, booze-soaked artist and the devoted agent who comes to his rescue BY DAVID KENNERLEY


hen I first read that Austin Pendleton was starring in a modest, Of f-Of f-Br oadway production at the 99-seat TBG Theatre, I did a double take. Surely it wasn’t the Austin Pendleton — the legendary actor, playwright, librettist, director, and acting teacher. The man who in 1981 directed Elizabeth Taylor in “The Little Foxes” (nabbing a Tony nom), the recent, acclaimed “Between Riverside and Crazy,” and scores of other plays in between. The author of “Booth” and “Orson’s Shadow.” The actor who lent his offbeat charisma to the hit movies “Catch-22,” “The Front Page,” “What’s Up Doc,” and “Finding Nemo,” and such TV shows as “Oz” and “Difficult People.” The recipient of a special Drama Desk Award for “Renaissance Man of the American Theatre.” Indeed, it’s the one and only Austin Pendleton. And he’s perfectly cast as a dissolute, monstrous artist named Paul Harold trying to salvage the remaining scraps of a spotty career in “Consider the Lil-


ies,” a heady, chaotic drama written and directed by Stuart Fail. Pendleton brings a frantic urgency to Paul, who is so insecure about his latest paintings that he bolts from the opening of his show in a Paris gallery. This stunt does not sit well with his agent, David, who has developed a peculiar crush on his needy client. Paul, it should be noted, claims he has always been a ravenous bisexual. When he’s not cruelly insulting David, he makes passes at him every chance he gets. He even brings home a swarthy young stranger (Alec Merced) for sex, but he is brutally beaten and robbed. The 76-year-old veteran actor, who sports a mad-scientist mop of white hair, imparts a wonderfully edgy physicality to the role, adding well-timed, nervous mannerisms like head scratching, arm flailing, and stuffing his hands in pants pockets. He’s constantly shuffling and fidgeting, reflecting Paul’s unsettled mental state. As David, Eric Joshua Davis does a fine job holding his own opposite Pendleton. Paul accuses David, who claims to be in love with his ex-girlfriend, Angela (Liar-

CONSIDER THE LILIES Red House Theatre Company TBG Theatre 312 W. 36th St., Third Fl. Through Jan. 28 Wed.-Sat. at 7 p.m.; Sat., Sun. at 3 p.m. $18; Or 800-838-3006 Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission TALYA CHALEF

ra Michelle), of being a closet case. David skirts the issue, though admits that Paul is his “soulmate.” The two men bicker like a married couple. “We’re lovers without the sex,” says Paul. “It’s all that tension that needs to be released.” Not that “Consider the Lilies” is concerned only about sexual dynamics. The turgid drama also contemplates the fickleness of the art world, the misery of advancing age, the complexities of parental attachments (in one of many stray plot threads, Angela gets pregnant and David may be the father), suicide, and scads of other topics. All way too much to digest. Although the play was originally estimated to run two hours includ-

GLATZE, from p.24

room. There is this interesting thing where the more outwardly anti-gay a person is, the more repressed homosexual they are likely to be. So talking about these issues, I wanted to discuss what it means to repress. Is Michael repressing who he is — a gay man who wants to be straight so badly that he is willing to lie to others and himself about what he wants and who he is? Or is he able to erase a part of him he’s no longer interested in? GMK: Do you think Michael was a narcissist? JK: Yes, I do think there is a little narcissism involved. He always liked to be the center of attention. At X/Y magazine, the main goal was to help gay youth, but a part of that was to speak and be in charge. He wanted to run the show and be a ringmaster. I do think that drove him, and that’s why the final scene is Michael on a stage in front of an audience. | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017

GMK: Why do you think — or do you think — Michael is sympathetic? JK: I think he’s sympathetic because of this universal, relatable desire to belong and be accepted and find your place in this world. The struggle for identity he goes through — and while I disagree with so much he said — this story feels like a hero’s journey. He set out to find himself, and he does. Whether he is true to himself is up in the air, but he set off on this mission and went to Hell and back to find happiness and who he really wants to be. I sympathize with him for that. I am in a bit of awe and proud of him for trying so hard to find what he’s looking for in ways other won’t do. GMK: The film, like your subsequent feature “King Cobra,” is more focused on identity than sex. What can you say about the themes of gay identification that are discussed through “I Am Michael?”

Eric Joshua Davis and Austin Pendleton in Stuart Fail’s “Consider the Lilies” at the TGB Theatre through January 28.

ing intermission, the night I saw it, the running time was over two and a half hours. Judicious cuts must be made. The set of Paul’s shabby Paris and New York apartments, by Sara Watson, strikes the right note of sadness and disarray. A forlorn bookcase contains only four books; valuable paintings are carelessly left on the floor. Also noteworthy is Peter Collier’s turn as Zack, a brash young artist who admits to being influenced by Paul’s most famous painting that


Lilies, continued on p.35

JK: The overall issue and theme is: What does it mean to identify as gay? I have endless conversations with my gay friends about this. There’s not an answer. There are plenty of opinions. I don’t know where I fall, but I do like to talk about it. GMK: What message do you want folks who see “I Am Michael” to take away? Is this a cautionary tale? Should we be more open to change and identity? JK: Ultimately, the film isn’t seeking to send out any particular message. It’s one man’s story — what he went through and what we can learn from it and the conversation it elicits. The film can be interpreted in many different ways, but Michael forcing himself to fit into a mold of who he really is — or isn’t — on the power of belief, in this political climate… It’s thinking about how organizations or leaders can cause people to believe something so badly they feel the need to change who they are when they don’t need to.



Love in Real Time

Anonymous sex and HIV fears spark a Parisian romance BY GARY M. KRAMER


aris 5:59: Théo & Hugo” by gay filmmakers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau is a remarkable romance. The film opens with an astonishing, explicit, and nearly wordless 18-minute sequence set in an after-hours Parisian sex club. Théo (Geoffrey Couët), who is smitten with Hugo (François Nambot), coordinates an erotic encounter with him. After climaxing, the guys go off together into the night in a state of bliss. However, Hugo, who is HIV-positive, kills their post-coital buzz by realizing they had unprotected sex. He urges Théo to immediately get post-exposure medication. During the rest of the night, the two guys get to learn more about one another and fall in love in the process. “Paris 5:59” is a sweet, serious, and enchanting love story that captures the guys’ nascent romance by following the characters in real time as they bike through the streets, share a meal, and stare at


François Nambot and Geoffrey Couët in Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s “Paris 5:59: Théo & Hugo.”

one another, lovingly, on the metro. Couët and Nambot have fabulous chemistry together, and they are quite sexy sans clothes. Ducastel spoke via Skype with Gay City News about making his superb sexy film.

GARY M. KRAMER: How did you conceive of this film, which takes a relationship from the explicit to the intimate, and from the public to the private? OLIVIER DUCASTEL: It was important for us to tell a love story

between two young guys, and that one of them would be HIV-positive. That they meet in a public space informs how we told the story. If we begin the story with the sex, the characters would know a lot about each other without speaking. That interested us. Théo and Hugo begin with sex, and then they fall in love. It’s good that we end with the guys in a small space. It’s the appropriate place for the characters, because it gives the feeling of closeness between them. GMK: What can you say were the challenges of creating that 18-minute opening sequence? OD: It was a lot of work! We had a lot of things to figure out because we have never done a sex scene like that. We’ve had few sex scenes in previous films. We knew we didn’t want it to look like a porno scene, but we wanted to film the sex in a very direct and sincere way without porn grammar and close-ups. We could have rehearsed it, but as the film had a small budget, there was no possibility to rehearse on location with the supporting actors. It was a small space, but we invented everything with the actors and the supporting actors on the set. The first two hours were strange


PARIS, continued on p.27

When the Wolves Grab Center Stage Alain Guiraudie’s further adventures of men on the prowl for men BY STEVE ERICKSON


Damien Bonnard in Alain Guiraudie’s “Staying Vertical.”


bservers as different as Edmund White and Gaspar Noé have noted that France seems to have little use for America’s style of identity politics. The characters of gay director Alain Guiraudie’s “The King of Escape” and his new film “Staying Vertical” are too busy enjoying a pansexual utopia where almost every man is queer to worry about same-sex marriage or civil rights laws. Guiraudie made a breakthrough in 2013 with “Stranger by the Lake,” a serial killer thriller that, to my eyes, resembled William Friedkin’s “Cruising” remade from a gay perspective but with most of the homophobia and puritanism left in. I was much more excited that in the wake of the modest success of “Stranger by the Lake,” “The King of Escape,” originally made in 2009, got a brief release in New York. “Staying

Vertical” takes us back to its universe, but with weaker results. In the south of France, filmmaker Leo (Damien Bonnard) searches for images of wolves. He meets a shepherd, Marie (India Hair), who hates the animals and spends her days with rifle in hand, guarding her flock from them. The two fall in love and begin having sex. Nine months later, Marie gives birth to a baby (in an extremely explicit scene). She immediately succumbs to post-partum depression and abandons the baby to Leo’s care. He becomes distracted from his work by various complications, many of them sexual. Leo seems to be bisexual from the very first scene of “Staying Vertical,” in which he tries to pick up a young man standing by the road. An old man scares him away. From there, he goes


VERTICAL, continued on p.27

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |

PARIS, from p.26

because we had to put all this energy together, but after the first take it was fluid and not so complicated. The two actors really wanted it to be perfect. GMK: Did the leads have concerns about the explicit sex and nudity? OD: We had an open discussion with them about the project, how we would film the sex, and what we expected from them. After the meeting, if they agreed and were not afraid and had confidence in us, we’d do the film with them. They really wanted to do the film. However, a producer was afraid that although the actors agreed to be filmed naked, with erections, and giving/ getting blowjobs, that after we started shooting, they would not want to do it, so we had to reassure him. There is a frontier for actors to appear full frontally naked, but erections and blowjobs are often things actors will not do in front of a camera. GMK: It’s a really astonishing, erotic sequence. What made you decide to have the characters meet in a sex club? OD: It’s the energy — friendly and generous — of this club. We asked everybody to be sensual with each


PARIS 5:59: THÉO & HUGO Directed by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau Wolfe Releasing In French with English subtitles Opens Jan. 27 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.




other. I wanted to show this place was like that. For gay people who know sex clubs — and for people who don’t go to sex clubs — there’s this idea that they are rough or unpleasant places. Of course, you can have those kinds of sex clubs, but it’s also a place where you can find love. It was important to have this moment where the characters fantasize in the club — to have this moment be more abstract. It’s a little idealized, but it’s realistic. Since we made the film, we regularly have people testifying that they met their boyfriend in a sex club. GMK: This is one of several films you have made, including “Jeanne and the Perfect Guy� and “The Adventures of Felix,� that address HIV. Why is this a theme that runs through your work?


PARIS, continued on p.35

VERTICAL, from p.26

on to a heterosexual relationship, but he’s constantly pursued by gay or bi men and often gives in. Everyone’s sexuality seems beyond labels and up for grabs. One might think that the old man sitting by the road is a cranky, homophobic codger, especially given the way he throws around the word “faggotâ€? (as well as the N word), but he too turns out to be gay. The young man in the first scene is not the old man’s son, but appears to be his partner, despite the nasty way they treat each other. Marie’s father, Jean-Louis (Raphael ThiĂŠry), also makes a move on Leo. One problem with this sense of backwoods France as a queer playground is that it excludes women, which wasn’t the case in “The King of Escape.â€? There, the protagonist slept with everyone from old men to teenage girls. Here, the main female character tosses aside her baby and


STAYING VERTICAL Directed by Alain Guiraudie Strand Releasing In French with English subtitles Opens Jan. 20 Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St. IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.












gets ejected from the story. From that point on, “Staying Vertical� takes place in an almost entirely masculine universe. The same was true of “Stranger by the Lake,� but the absence of women made more sense there, since it took place at a gay male cruising ground. Guiraudie creates a fairy tale atmosphere out of this playful sex- | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017


VERTICAL, continued on p.30



Willa Kim's Searing Signature

The two-time Tony-winning costume designer was formidable, in fashion and friendship BY DAVID NOH


multitude of adjectives could be used to describe designer Willa Kim, who passed away in late December at the age of 99 on Vashon Island, Washington, but, somehow, “redoubtable” springs first to mind. She and I were both full-on Cancers, with no Earth in our charts, according to her. We shared the same tastes in most things, sometimes uncannily so, as when she told me she had the matching skirt to the Gaultier top I wore once. We were close for a good long time. And then we weren’t. Doesn’t every gay man have a moth-and-flame experience with some high diva, whether famous or not? Some queens make it a life for themselves, becoming factotums for the famous. I just could not, the occasional singeing too great a price for me. Though dressed by Sonia Rykiel and Tom Ford as she swanned through town with such hustling élan, she could be amazingly naive, even childlike — though that is the mark of so many great artists. “David, what is the ‘blues?,’” she asked me once, for she had been hired to design a Dance Theatre of Harlem ballet with the word in its title. This says so much about her for she was strictly — like Merman, like Gielgud, like any Broadway obsessed show queen in Hell’s Kitchen — all about the theater and, apart from politics, art, and fashion, with which she kept up assiduously, she only knew what she needed to, music never being her strong suit. Regardless, her ballet designs were typically brilliant, vividly hued, and moved like a dream. She was pure Korean but American-born in LA, and although the Korean-American community embraced her as the living legend she was, her cultural roots meant little to her, preferring the Chinese/ Japanese aesthetic (as do I). I was shocked when I once called her “yobo” — the most common Korean form of endearment — and she had no idea what I was saying. “David, what is a ‘yawbo?’” She could be the most fun — when you were out with her, Manhattan literally glittered in high-low situations. New Year’s was special, indeed, with her, and she got me into legendary gatherings at Betty Comden’s (with its photos of Bernstein and Judy Holliday atop the baby grand, while the hostess sequestered herself in her bedroom watching a football game, attended to by a solicitous Wendy Wasserstein), Tommy Tune’s (where Lauren Bacall refused to leave her seat on his terrace for fear of encountering an all-too-eagerly awaiting Sylvia Miles, and Al Hirschfeld first beheld the vision that is Amanda Lepore. “Wouldn’t she make a great drawing?” I asked him. “She’s already drawn.”)



Willa Kim.

At an all-female lunch celebrating Kim, the divine Tony Walton gave a brilliantly effusive speech that beautifully nailed her and mentioned what a thrill it was “for me and David to be honorary ‘Women of the Theater’ today.” She was always ready for adventure and to party — and the last to leave if the vibe and chatter were right, which they usually were. That childlike thing arose in a different way at a Ballet Hispanico opening night fête when she noticed that one of the achingly young dancers had a tongue piercing. “Let me kiss you, to see what that feels like,” she said. (Or was it so innocent? You’ll notice it was “let me” not “can I?”) Having worked with or met nearly everyone, she was a marvelous, witty raconteur, and, being completely her own indefatigably selfdirected person, she could be spectacularly irreverent, summarily dissing certain work of Walter Plunkett and Cecil Beaton, for example. And, as most who knew her can attest, she was usually right. I had a thrilling, off-the-cuff moment with her once when, driving back from the Wadsworth Atheneum, we swung into Hartford for the opening night of a play starring Estelle Parsons, whom she had dressed. We went directly into the star dressing room to see Parsons, completely transformed into the wealthy, chic character she was playing, in Willa’s all-black cocktail frock and turban. But no jewelry, and Parsons had none of her own to wear. In a trice, Willa ripped off the bracelets — a Peretti and some deco bakelite — on her wrist and clasped them onto the actress, who went onstage for the curtain, completely dressed. She won Tonys for two recreations of the 1920s-30s era she adored most: “Sophisticated Ladies,” where she had to tell the gor-

geous Amazonian Phyllis Hyman to put down the fried chicken wing as the bias cut satin she was fitting on her was $500 a yard, and “The Will Rogers Follies.” On the latter, she ripped of Adrian’s ostrich-trimmed “Dinner at Eight” negligee for Jean Harlow (when she stole, it was from the best) and turned then dancer/ now choreographer -director Jerry Mitchell completely out as an Indian, barely cover ing his nakedness with a few strips of leather and some feathers. Mitchell later told me that designer Valentino was so taken with him after the show he sent him a costly watch and an open invite to yacht with him in the Mediterranean. Mitchell re-wore the costume in his earliest efforts with the charity event he founded, “Broadway Bares,” as well as a more recent comeback strut across the stage of Roseland. Kim’s long, rich life divulged constant piquant surprises, stories of people you’d never imagined she’d known — like a brother who was among the most decorated American officers of World War II, or how her very first job as an assistant designer was making the paper patterns for the mink skirt that Ginger Rogers wears in “Lady in the Dark.” Before she ever designed, she told me, she was a chorus dancer in some Hollywood movie I’ve never been able to track down. If you watch the film “Blood on the Sun,” you will have an idea of her incredible personal style because young designer Michael Woulfe dressed Sylvia Sidney’s Eurasian character in looks he copied from Willa’s wardrobe. When I was curating “Stage Struck,” a show about theater design at the Leslie-Lohman Museum, I went to her breathtaking Upper West Side seraglio to see what she had. So typical, Willa pulled out from the bottom of a closet, unseen for decades, her mentor Raoul Pène du Bois’ original sketches for Merman’s “Gypsy.” At a dinner party she threw, one madly oenophile guest espied rare vintage bottles she had lying about. When told she’d had them for years, he insisted she crack open a particularly valuable one. She did — but it was so old it had turned to black powder. Her enflamed guest insisted on her opening all the others, which had languished chez Kim for decades. All powder. She could be ruthless — her nickname in the industry was “Killa Whim — and though I don’t want to believe the story of how she baked live turtles for their shells for a belt accent, I feel she was capable of that. This ruthlessness — doubtlessly a survival mechanism necessary in her field, along with inordinate generosity to other designers and vice-versa — made her completely unsenti-


WILLA KIM, continued on p.35

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


What They Did for Love Vittorio Grigolo, Diana Damrau impulsive, impassioned young lovers in Met’s “Roméo et Juliette” BY ELI JACOBSON


assionate women who go to extreme lengths for love eventually making the ultimate sacrifice are the lifeblood of opera. The winter opera season brought us several shattering portraits of women who live and die for love. Only a few hours before 2017 began, Juliet Capulet died for love in the New Year’s Eve Gala premiere of the Metropolitan Opera’s new p r odu ction o f Gouno d’s “Roméo et Juliette.” When I say “new production,” it is somewhat misleading since Bartlett Sher’s staging has already been seen at Salzburg, La Scala, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Sher doesn’t go for anything too intellectually sophisticated here — but then neither does Charles Gounod! Michael Yeargan’s handsome realistic unit set surrounds the stage with carved stone building façades. Multi-level tiers of arched doorways with balconies sur round a large open central courtyard where most of the action takes place. The unit set can be redressed, which eliminates stage waits for scene changes, and there is only one intermission after the wedding scene. The action has been updated to the 18th century, evoking Casanova’s Venice in carnival season with sumptuously detailed period costumes by Catherine Zuber. Since Gounod’s score sounds more 19th century France than early Renaissance Verona, this allows the drama and the music to meet halfway in a sensible compromise. The wide frame, outdoor unit set works reasonably well in the first half for the Capulet ballroom and especially well for the Balcony Scene and the street duels (excitingly staged by B.H. Barry) in the Verona town square. In the second half, the wide open space fails to provide intimacy for Juliet’s bedchamber — the large white drapery could have been suspended as a kind of pavilion rather than used as a gigantic bed linen. Juliet wraps herself in this


Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo in Bartlett Sher’s staging of the Charles Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” at the Met.

white drop as a kind of wedding dress/ winding sheet for her faked “death” scene, and then she seems to revive and zombie-walk into her own tomb. It would have been more convincing if she had been carried unconscious by supers on a litter. The unit set is scarcely better adapted to the Capulet tomb. Gounod’s adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy has been described as one big love duet. Two charismatic leads with romantic chemistry can rescue any production of “Roméo et Juliette.” The Metropolitan Opera provided just such a pair. Vittorio Grigolo certainly possesses the Italianate good looks for Roméo, and his lean bright tenor that blossoms on top suits the French repertory. Even Grigolo’s vocal mannerisms, so unsettling in Italian opera, actually work here. The quivering vibrato, hint of pop croon in the middle register, and “hooking” into high | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017

notes sound stylish rather than alien. He capped the Act III duel scene ensemble with a ringing high C. As an actor, Grigolo has almost too much temperament but his excitability and tendency to overact register as teenage exuberance, naiveté, and Latin bravado. This Romeo climbs up the wall to Juliet’s balcony, and we love him for it. Diana Damrau, in another role debut at the Metropolitan Opera, is an equally impulsive Juliette hurling herself headlong into passion and death. Damrau counteracts her own physical and vocal maturity with high-energy acting that borders on hyperactivity — lots of dashing around the stage, head bobbing, and frenetic gestures. Grigolo and Damrau share the same manic energy, seem magnetized toward each other, and have to be forcibly separated in the wedding scene.

Damrau’s Juliette is artistically finished with excellent French diction, musicianship, and style. I wish her vocalism had been on the same level. The coloratura of her Act I entrance and waltz song had a hard edge with effortful high notes. The more lyrical sections in later acts were marred by hollow tone with only occasional glints of silvery beauty. I hope this is due to a lingering indisposition and not vocal decline — Damrau had canceled her December 10 recital due to bronchitis. As a partnership, Grigolo and Damrau are greater than the sum of their individual performances. The rest of the cast was a mixed bag. Elliot Madore’s Mercutio was a blank cipher. Diego Silva’s slim tenor made for an unthreatening Tybalt. Handsome in stage presence and baritone voice, Virginie Verrez looked and sounded nervy and darkly attractive in the trouser role of Stéphano. Mikhail Petrenko’s grainy, shallow light bass was barely adequate to Frère Laurent. Laurent Naouri sang a suavely idiomatic Capulet. Maestro Gianandrea Noseda gave a passionate reading of the score that balanced lyrical sweetness and symphonic grandeur with dramatically propulsive tempos. Sher’s production will return in March with two younger, less experienced leads — Stephen Costello and Pretty Yende. We will see if Sher’s production is just a handsome, sensibly staged backdrop for star performers or has the dramatic integrity to propel two new star-crossed lovers into creating star-making performances of their own. They will have a tough act to follow. “Roméo et Juliette” will be transmitted live in HD at 12:55 pm on January 21 ( In an online exclusive at, Eli Jacobson writes about the Met’s “The Barber of Seville” plus the Prototype Festival that includes “Breaking the Waves” and “Mata Hari.”



When Prison May Be an Escape Mehrdad Oskouei offers harsh critique of Iranian society in stories of teenage inmates BY STEVE ERICKSON


he Iranian government likes to put up a façade of moral rectitude. As one might guess, this façade is paper-thin to actual Iranians, like the teenage girl prisoners profiled in Mehrdad Oskouei’s documentary “Starless Dreams.” I’ve never seen such a harsh and pitiless view of the Islamic Republic. In an interview included in the film’s press kit, Oskouei expresses his gratitude for the fact that none of his films has been banned in Iran. Ironically, “Starless Dreams” goes much further in critiquing Iranian life than some films that have been banned in that country, like Jafar Panahi’s “Offside.” He must have earned some protection from the fact that he’s a documentarian: censorship of non-fiction in Iran is much less strict than the procedures narrative filmmakers have to go through for approval. In a lesser director’s hands, “Starless Dreams” could have turned into tabloid trash — the “women in prison” film, with inevitable lesbian overtones intended to please straight men, was a staple of exploitation cinema. That kind of B-movie has morphed into TV shows like “Lockup” and “Women Behind Bars.” But Oskouei achieves an intimacy never reached by such programs. He also refrains from portraying juvenile jail as Hell on Earth. His subjects get to draw comics, keep diaries, throw snowballs at each other and build snowmen, dance to Iranian pop music, and get HIV tests and information about the disease. When they see an imam, they deluge him with gender-based questions about Iran’s institutional sexism instead of



Two teenage inmates in an Iranian prison.

listening quietly to his talk about the need for calm and peace in the country. “Starless Dreams” suggests that the real prison is Iranian family life. The lessons “Starless Dreams” teaches about why girls wind up in jail apply equally to American culture. Almost every girl Oskouei interviews describes a wildly dysfunctional family. At least one parent is a drug addict, and most girls were both physically and sexually abused by a parent or other relative. This sets up a recipe for disaster: given such wonderful role models and so much pain, why not turn to meth or crack? One of the film’s memorable subjects has named herself “651,” after the number of grams of cocaine she was busted carrying. Judging from what the other girls

VERTICAL, from p.27

uality, the presence of animals, and the music of Pink Floyd (whom the old man loves). But the real world keeps intruding. In “The King of Escape,” the protagonist and his teenage lover


say, she might have received the death penalty if she were over 18. The film begins in winter, and at first it seems fairly cheerful. The girls fool around like average teens who could be at boarding school. Then Oskouei films them getting fingerprinted and starts inter viewing them. While he remains off-screen physically, his voice is often heard, and the girls refer to him as “Uncle Mehrdad” and discuss the fact that he makes a living as a college professor. The horrible tales of abuse begin and don’t let up for 20 minutes or so. When we reach the end of that portion of the film, it becomes far more observational and less reliant on formal interviews. Oskouei films his subjects mostly in close-ups or medium shots, evoking a certain claustropho-

were sent on the run by cops. In “Staying Vertical,” Leo comes to realize that the wolves he romanticizes are a genuine threat to the placid landscape he has come to love. There are hints of menace sprinkled throughout the film, but they’re easy to ignore amidst genuine handjobs

bia in the jail. At the same time, there’s a certain amount of freedom in that space, and the director never demonizes the guards or the women who work there. “Starless Dreams” makes quite a contrast with the Chinese documentary “‘Til Madness Do Us Part,” which is set in a mental hospital for the involuntarily committed. That film presents its setting as horribly oppressive — patients are given drugs and left with nothing to do all day but watch TV — and makes it clear that every gram of freedom snatched by patients is very hard-won. It’s possible that Oskouei is sanitizing this jail, but judging from the girls’ stories, it seems safer than life on the streets or most of their homes. “Uncle Mehr dad” has been working for 17 years, but “Star less Dreams” is his first feature, as well as his first film to get major attention on the festival and arthouse circuits. (An earlier, hour-long film about plastic surgery, “Nose, Iranian Style,” did get a small amount of festival play.) The great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who made several documentaries and a larger body of work mixing fiction and non-fiction, passed away last year. After seeing “Starless Dreams,” I think the torch has been passed.

STARLESS DREAMS Directed by Mehrdad Oskouei The Cinema Guild In Farsi with English subtitles Opens Jan. 20 Museum of the Moving Image 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria

Guiraudie included, among other explicit sex. Only in the final scene do we realize that the title doesn’t refer to erections. Also, only in the end does the film establish its own mood: a mixture of the hope of “The King of Escape” and the danger of “Stranger by the Lake.” January 19 - February 01, 2017 |



Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.


Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per- | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.


Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.


Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.


No Mrs. Lloyd Richards Here “As Bees in Honey Drown” to “Rectify,” J. Smith-Cameron has juggled career, family life BY DAVID NOH


lthough Celeste Holm, in “All About Eve,” famously described herself as “the playwright’s wife, the lowest form of celebrity,” the same cannot be said of J. SmithCameron. She may be the wife of currently white-hot playwright/ film director Kenneth Lonergan, now gathering raves and award nods for “Manchester By the Sea,” but Smith-Cameron has, for years, also been one of New York’s most beloved stage actresses, dating back to her star-making turn in 1997 in Douglas Carter Beane’s “As Bees in Honey Drown.” Of late, she has been a more prominent presence on TV, starring in the Sundance Channel’s first scripted series, the Southern Gothic “Rectify,” playing Janet Talbot, the mother of a man released from prison after 19 years when his wrongful conviction for raping and murdering his teenaged girlfriend is overturned. “‘Rectify’ actually ends this Wednesday night,” the wonder fully warm, smart, and very fun Smith-Cameron said, settling into a booth at the Hudson Diner. “The way people watch TV right now, I don’t think it’s even begun to tap its audience. “I’m always trying to get a TV pilot or series to help contribute to my family financially. A lot of times it’s really hard, because they’ll tell me, ‘Well, we’re shooting the pilot in so-and-so, wherever, but we don’t know where we’re gonna shoot the series.’ I’m very loath to go to, say, Vancouver, as it would be big deal to be separated from my family and having to go back and forth. “My agent submitted the ‘Rectify’ script to me because the show had been already picked up for six episodes in Atlanta, which is a relatively short flight and there are lots of them so I can envision doing it. I auditioned for it, and don’t know how I got it. One reason the show is so good is because its creator, Ray McKinnon, had so much creative control over all the elements of it. There were many writers on his staff but he would always weigh in



J. Smith-Cameron in Sundance TV’s “Rectify.”

on everything very thoroughly. “Janet is just a very specific character. I’d known women like that growing up, who were kind of super demure, self-conscious, and quiet. They have a lid on, but inside you felt great depth of feeling — still waters run deep. I’m from Kentucky but I grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, so I decided it was that kind of character. The way it starts is arresting, and I was reading it thinking, ‘That’s interesting,’ and by about page five of the script I couldn’t put it down, a page turner, which is usually not the case.” Smith-Cameron plays a very different type as Sarah Jessica Parker’s divorce lawyer on HBO’s “Divorce.’ Though she’s not yet seen that show's first season finale, she described her role as “a fun part I really enjoy, and I do hope it’s ongoing. It’s what they call a recurring part — they write it as they go along. I had never worked with Sarah Jessica Parker, although I have worked with [her husband] Matthew Broderick, who has been best friends with Kenny since high school. We’ve spent many a major holiday with them. “Their son was born a grade behind our Nell, 15, so we have kids approximately the same age. We were West Village neighbors for years but moved last February to Charlton Street. We’re still not unpacked because I did ‘Rectify,’ and then we traveled all summer,

on Kenny’s European press junket. We’re a gypsy family. “‘Manchester By the Sea’ opened at the London and Rome film festivals and he did press in Paris. It was so exciting to fly on someone else’s coattails [laughs]. He’s busy giving interviews and being photographed, but we are just in nice hotels, going to the museums, and having great meals, and there’s the red carpet. All on somebody else’s dime! It doesn’t happen very much, so you feel a little like ‘Sweet Charity’ — if they could see me now!” With an actress possessing the iridescent talent of Smith-Cameron, one might think Lonergan would be writing play after play for her, instead of works focusing on guys or younger characters. I teased her about this, and she smilingly answered, “He definitely does not write to order. He’s also not like Richard Nelson, who is so prolific, a new play like every six months. Kenny is the opposite: sort of painstaking, his plays gestate a long time, and he’ll often write a short play or a scene, put it away, and keep it in the back of his mind. He also used to spend a lot of time making his living doing rewrites on films, which is how he made money for a long time. “He wrote that part in ‘The Starry Messenger’ for me and I think the germ of that idea predated him meeting me. He’s always writing things but they tend to evolve with actors like Matthew Broder-

ick, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hamilton, or Casey Affleck, all fitting into his anti-hero hero type characters, soulful, sort of lovable fuck-ups, I call them, who might have done the wrong thing, but there’s something funny, appealing, and dear about them. He wanted me to be in ‘Manchester,’ but it conflicted with ‘Rectify.’” Affleck in “Manchester” won the Golden Globe Best Actor Award, and I told Smith-Cameron I’d admired his natural talent and sun-kissed beauty ever since reviewing his teen film “Race the Sun” in 1996. “Casey is so talented. He’s very natural, and I feel in recent years I’ve seen him in a number of indie movies, which don’t get released everywhere and are not on the awards track, but he’s blown me away several times in a row before this. He’s really building up steam and is a really accomplished actor. He did Kenny’s ‘This is Our Youth’ in the West End, and I remember thinking, ‘He’s amazing, really, really good.’” New York theatergoers haven’t been enchanted by Smith-Cameron in a while. “I’ve just been doing much less theater,” she explained. “My mother’s been ill and I just didn’t think it a good idea to commit to eight shows a week and not being able to go spend time with her in Virginia with my father’s family. Once ‘Rectified’ ended, I was offered two really cool plays straight away. One I said yes to very early on, but as it got time to start rehearsals, last fall I had a very bad feeling in my chest, like don’t do this because Nell, who was starting high school, Kenny, and your mother all need you. “It’s such an exhausting and exhaustive, thorough commitment to be in a play. Even if you have a big part in a film or TV show, it’s different every day. There’s whole days when you’re not shooting, or on a TV show you might have a very heavy episode but they do most of your scenes in two days. It’s a lot of work and you have to be


IN THE NOH, continued on p.33

January 19 - February 01, 2017 |

IN THE NOH, from p.32

studying when you’re not in front of the camera, but you have some flexibility, unlike a play where you have to be rested, concentrate, and there’s no cutting and going back and starting again. “Sarah Jessica, who’s a really good mother, a natural at it, is also so busy with her businesses. She’s somehow trying to burn the candle at both ends constantly, but she’s kind of bionic. I don’t know when she sleeps, but she’s a bit of an unusual case. This is my second marriage, and I didn’t try to have a kid until I was older. I had had some miscarriages and I wanted to really get the full-on experience. We did have a nanny but it’s a big thing to miss bedtime. I get offered more theater than I do, which I am not saying in a boastful way. I just had to make a choice to be more available, also for my mother who is in a hospice, not terminal, but for the care, as she is in her 90s and you never know.” I’ve not heard a more charming, more New York courtship story than that of Smith-Cameron and Lonergan. She was doing the film “In and Out,” which had a long, four-month shoot, in which she was often idle. Her friend Patrick Breen had put together an evening of short, one-scene plays and had asked her to be in one. Lonergan was performing in another short play, “not his but someone else’s, and he was really funny and adorable.” Smith-Cameron recalled, “The best play of the evening turned out to be in the second half of the program, and turned out to be written by him, this cute boy. It was a one-scene, set in a diner between a brother and sister, a version of what eventually became the film ‘You Can Count on Me.’ I’d been around New York for a while, and wondered how could there be an actor of his age who I’d never laid eyes upon? ‘Oh, he’s really a writer,’ I was told. “I tried to strike up a conversation with him but he was really curmudgeonly, and I got flustered and said, ‘Your play reminds me of a William Inge play.’ I don’t know why I said that. I didn’t even think that. And he said, ‘Oh.’ ‘Oh, you don’t like Inge?,’ I asked. ‘I don’t know who that is.’ ‘You don’t know?

“Picnic?” Did you go to college?’ He went, ‘Yes, I went to college.’ And I said, ‘Well, I didn’t, and I know who William Inge is.’ He said, ‘Don’t act proud of it!’ That was literally the way we met. “So then I had to miss a day of the show because of shooting the movie, and the next night was the last night of our little one-week run. I was on the subway, coming down from Washington Heights, where I lived then, and said, ‘I’m just going to try flirting with that grumpy boy gain. What have I got to lose?’

"I'd been around New York for a while, and wondered how could there be an actor of his age who I'd never laid eyes upon?"

“So I came in early and we finished, and he was standing there, holding some roses he’d brought for his actors, waiting for his cast, real shy. I said, ‘Are those for me?’ ‘No.’ ‘Well, I wasn’t here last night.’ ‘I noticed.’ ‘Did you miss me?’ Brazen, just brazen. He said, ‘Are you kidding?’ ‘Well, you don’t have to be rude!’ He went, ‘No, I mean are you kidding? Can you doubt it?’ “And his cast came out, and I tur ned around and was like ‘Whooo!’ We went out and watched his play, and there was no place to sit except on the steps. Our knees are touching and I had my friend Allison Janney in the audience, who left me a message: ‘I’m at Nadine’s [a defunct landmark Bank Street restaurant] — come meet me.’ “There was a little party and I was hoping to talk to Kenny and exchange contact info. We were flirting — this is more information than you asked for, David. I said, ‘Allison, not yet. Can you just come to the party for like 20 minutes?’ ‘I’m really hungry. I wanna go to Nadine’s. Tell him to come.’ ‘No, I can’t. I don’t know him yet! We can’t go now. I have to flirt with the boy at the party!’ | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017


IN THE NOH, continued on p.35

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January 19 - February 01, 2017 |


LILIEs, from p.25

features brilliantly melancholy lilies. Collier’s insightful, rambunctious Zack injects a welcome shot of adrenaline into the proceedings. One question is whether Paul and David will end up as a true couple. Even more pressing is why the overly dedicated David contin-


ues to tolerate such a despicable prick. “I don’t understand why you put up with me,” says Paul. Try as it might, this ambitious enterprise fails to make sense of this knotty relationship. Lucky for us, we are often distracted from the play’s flaws by Pendleton’s eccentric, masterful performance.

WILLA KIM, from p.28

mental. She was not a fan of tragedy or being depressed in any way. Was that a particularly Korean thing of her generation? My Dad was like that, too, never down or sad a day in his life. When a very old and dear friend mourned his lover of decades for what she thought was an inordinate amount of time, Kim was beyond curt with him. In a way that made him definitely rethink her, as I had to. She was way rich and beyond cheap. Ask anyone who knew her. In the most severe weather, taxis were still anathema to her. It was all about the bus or subway, no matter how long the wait. When it came to splitting a check, it was down to the penny; she would charge interest on loans to friends. A close mutual pal literally gagged when I once told her that Willa had taken me for supper at Cafeteria. “She paid?” When her “Romeo” ballet by MacMillan and my clothes being exhibited


IN THE NOH, from p.33

“She said, ‘Tell him to come to Nadine’s.’ I said, ‘No! I can’t. I have to play it cool!’ She was like, ‘Go right now. Go tell him. Now.’ And I got scared of her — she’s tall — and said, ‘Hi, Kenny. I have some friends at Nadine’s. If you wanna come over…’ “And he went, ‘Well, is Brian going to be there?’ because I had been dating Brian McDevitt six months before, and we were just friends by then. ‘I don’t think so,’ but I had no idea he knew that. So at some point it came out that I was not dating Brian and his face lit up: ‘Well, I have someone also I have to go out with, afterwards, but I’ll look in afterwards, and if you haven’t left yet, I’ll come and see if I can squeeze in at your table, if that’s all right.’

PARIS, from p.27

OD: For “Felix” it was obvious. We wanted to tell the story of an HIV-positive guy. For this project, it came from being asked to do a prevention short film, and while that film wasn’t done, “Paris 5:59” came from that. We are conscious that young people are not very interested in this question. It’s difficult to answer why, but it follows us. We didn’t decide to do this as a new story with an HIV-positive character. But when we edited the film, we realized that from

in the disco exhibition at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle coincided time-wise, we went out there and road-tripped a lot, driving in the pissing rain to Vancouver, where I caught a glimpse of her passport and was awestruck by her age, something she’d be most displeased to see mentioned in her obits. At the disco opening night party, she was my guest but she had a guest list of plus-five of her own. On our road trips, she never contributed for gas or paid for a meal. Until at a diner breakfast, I said, “Willa, you can pick this one up, right?” (Probably the first to ever do so. I am Korean, too.) As with all great artists, she was greedy, too. For life, fun, pretty things and, especially, food — when she remembered to eat. “David,” she once said. “I enjoy food much more than you do!” But she was, for the most part, truly worth it. In Manhattan, Seattle, the Pines, she was roaring good company and always, visually, a true work of art. She was an uncanny mix of

“And I thought, ‘Well, this will never happen because he had to go somewhere and someone came to see him.’ So I was sitting in Nadine’s, and then he came in, looking around, and you know how Nadine’s was really crowded. Allison kicked me under the table: ‘Go get him, go get him!’ I said, ‘No, I’ll just wait.’ ‘Go! Go get him!,’ and she pushed me out of my chair. “I had to walk over, like an asshole, and he told me afterwards, much later, ‘The fact that you got up and walked over to me was so impressive to me.’ And I said, ‘Well, you can thank Allison Janney, because there was no way I was gonna get up. I was trying to play it cool.’ “That was fall of 1996, 20 years ago, married 16.” Smith-Cameron and Lonergan were married in Bridgehampton, | January 19 - February 01, 2017, 2017


“Jeanne” to this film, it has been 18 years, and in that time the attitudes toward HIV have changed and this film is recording that. GMK: What do you want audiences to get from the experience of seeing “Paris 5:59”? OD: I think the most important thing for me is that everybody knows that you forget that love is so important in life. You should catch every chance to fall in love. We forget that — and say I’m too old or too busy. Love is very important.

the most exquisitely sensitive — in her work, personal aesthetics — insensitive. Her bluntness could be ferocious, as when once, in the company of others, I was musing aloud about having an Italian getaway place, she said, “David’s a pauper.” An overweight friend, one of her closest, once said she needed to get a dye job desperately, as her black hair was showing its white roots. “Oh don’t!” Willa cried. “You look like Mount Fuji!” Kim aspired to being a fine painter. She stopped talking to a dear friend for years after she removed and took home a painting she had done and given to that friend right off the friend’s wall during a party when she thought no one was watching. Now what are you gonna do with a dame like that? But it was all sure, rich fun while it lasted. I do wonder what became of the priceless mechanical toy collection she’d acquired from her collector/ writer husband, Billy du Bois.

in a big house with a huge lawn they’d rented for the summer. “It was both wedding and honeymoon, a Monday night, with last minute catering and a big tent. We got a really great band, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, and it was very old school, easy, no crazy planning. Great, because we were fully adult and planned it all. Sometimes when people are younger, it’s all for the bride’s mother or parents, their party.” Asked about her dress, SmithCameron laughed, “It was my second marriage, so it was sort of off-white, not a bride dress per se but a pretty, flowy Morgane Le Fay dress I love.” Then reminded that Parker preceded her in her choice of bridal designer, she said, “You’re right! I remember Sarah Jessica also wore Morgane Le Fay, and it was black,

at their wedding! That’s so funny you knew that, so good of you! They got married before us — we were dating when they wed. And then much later, she was like, ‘One thing I would do over,’ but I think she just wanted to wear a chic black dress. She looked amazing, of course. “ O u r s o n g w a s ‘ T h e Ve r y Thought of You.’ ‘Shut the fuck up! That’s your song, too?! We love that song, so sweet: ‘how slow the moments go ‘til I am near to you…’ The Nighthawks came and put down a dance floor, in their tuxes with their instruments and funny microphones. We haven’t gone to hear them in a long time and it was kind of beautiful, a lot of classic ‘30s music and so many talented friends who sang or gave toasts. Neither Sarah or Matthew sang, but he gave a great toast.”


The Martin-Fitch House is waiting to be Your Dream Home

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January 19 - February 01, 2017 |

Gay City News January 19-February 1, 2017  

Gay City News, January 19-February 1, 2017 Inauguration Special –– Resist!

Gay City News January 19-February 1, 2017  

Gay City News, January 19-February 1, 2017 Inauguration Special –– Resist!