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Big Appeals Win on Sexual Orientation Discrimination 04

Alarm Over Anti-Gay Army Secretary Pick 14

STITCHING A GLOBAL IDENTITY REMEMBERING GILBERT BAKER Page 05 DONNA ACETO

Congratulations to all of the 2017 impact award winners! MKT XX.XXX

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FREE | VOLUME SIXTEEN, ISSUE EIGHT | APRIL 13 – 26, 2017


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April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


COVER STORY Gilbert Baker stitched together the LGBTQ world 05

PERSPECTIVE Obamacare works; ask Mike Pence 24

EDUCATION Sex ed, AIDS anti-bullying mandates dodged 09

TRAVEL Dreaming of a New York summer 34

CIVIL RIGHTS Gavin Grimm hailed 10 FAMILIES “Unique” family wins 20

2017 Gay City News Impact Awards 22

No wrong way in New Orleans 35 THEATER Living history with Harvey Fierstein 38

For security purposes, NO backpacks allowed. Random security and bag checks. An activity of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association.

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

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CIVIL RIGHTS

Seventh Circuit Advances on Sexual Orientation Discrimination Full bench concludes ’64 Civil Rights Act’s Title VII sex discrimination provisions apply BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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he full bench of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, substantially advanced the cause of gay rights on April 4, finding that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Title VII applies generally to private sector employers with 15 or more workers as well as to many federal, state, and local government operations, and, though the statute’s text does not mention sexual orientation, the court found that discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual people is a form of prohibited sex discrimination. What is particularly amazing about the unprecedented decision in Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College — the first such ruling by a federal appeals court — is that the Seventh Circuit is composed overwhelmingly of Republican appointees, many named as long ago as the Reagan administration. The lead opinion was written by Chief Judge Diane Pamela Wood, appointed by Bill Clinton, but the eight-member majority of the 11-judge bench included more Republicans than Democrats. Many of the judges in the majority could be generally characterized as judicial conservatives. Wood’s opinion was joined by Frank Easterbrook (a Reagan appointee), Ilana Rovner (George H. W. Bush), Ann Claire Williams (Clinton), and David F. Hamilton (the only Obama appointee on the circuit). Richard Posner (a Reagan appointee) wrote a concurring opinion, as did Joel Martin Flaum (Reagan), his joined by Kenneth Francis Ripple (Reagan). The dissent by Diane S. Sykes (a George W. Bush appointee) was joined by Michael Stephen Kanne (Reagan), and William Joseph Bauer (Ford). The circuit’s decision to grant en banc review clearly signaled a desire to reconsider the issue, which Rovner had called for doing in her opinion for the three-judge panel

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LINDA RUX / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Chief Judge Diane Pamela Wood.

that originally heard the case. At that time, Rovner made a persuasive case that changes in the law since the Seventh Circuit previously ruled negatively on this question called out for reconsideration. Observers who attended the November oral argument or listened to the recording of it generally agreed the circuit was likely to overrule its old precedents, the only mystery being who would write the opinion, what theories they would use, and who would dissent. The lawsuit was filed by Kimberly Hively, a lesbian who worked as an adjunct professor at the college, located in South Bend, Indiana. Despite years of successful teaching, her attempts to win tenure were continually frustrated. Her contract was eventually not renewed under circumstances that led her to believe it was because she is a lesbian. Since Indiana’s state law does not forbid sexual orientation discrimination and South Bend’s ordinance, which does, would not apply to the state college, she filed suit in federal court under Title VII. She represented herself at that stage. The trial judge, Rudy Lozano, granted the college’s motion to dismiss the case based on existing Seventh Circuit precedents excluding sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII. Hively obtained representation from Lambda Legal on appeal. The three-judge panel rejected her ap-

CHENSIYUAN/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Judge Richard Posner.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Judge Diane S. Sykes.

LAMBDALEGAL.ORG

Plaintiff Kimberly Hively and Lambda Legal’s Greg Nevins outside the federal courthouse in Chicago.

peal, also citing existing circuit precedents, but two of the judges urged that the precedents be reconsidered by the full circuit. Judge Wood found that several key Supreme Court decisions have broadened the meaning of “because of sex” in Title VII. “In the years since 1964, Title VII has been understood to cover far more than the simple decision of an employer not to hire a woman for Job A, or a man for Job B,” she wrote. In recent decades, that broadening has encompassed recognition of claims based on sexual harassment, including same-sex sexual harassment, as well as discrimination against people who do not conform to “a certain set of gender ste-

reotypes.” Like many judges writing on this issue, Wood quoted from Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the unanimous court in the 1998 Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., case, involving same-sex harassment, in which the late justice noted that “male-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace was assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII,” but added this did not mean the statute could not be interpreted to apply anyway. “Statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils,” Scalia

TITLE VII, continued on p.20

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


COMMUNITY

Gilbert Baker Stitched Together the LGBTQ World Gay man who made the Rainbow Flag the international symbol of liberation dies suddenly at 65 BY ANDY HUMM

G

ay pioneer and artist Gilbert Baker, who died in his sleep at age 65 on March 31 at his home in Manhattan, did not just create the iconic Rainbow Flag but he gave it away freely to the world where it was embraced in every corner — from its origins in San Francisco to Russia and Uganda and Kathmandu — as the universal symbol of LGBTQ liberation and the diversity that characterizes our community. Gilbert’s untimely death — due to a heart attack — came as a shock to his many friends, fellow activists, and admirers and reverberated around the world as his creation did and always will. Gilbert was not just the Betsy Ross of the community who sewed the flag and versions of it small to massive, but one of the community’s foremost front-line revolutionaries who made and carried protest banners for actions protesting the homophobia of Vladimir Putin, the once exclusionary St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and Donald Trump — to name just a few targets in recent years. Duncan Osborne, a comrade of Gilbert’s in Queer Nation, said, “He created a global movement by giving us a common symbol. You see the Rainbow Flag around the world and it has a common meaning.” At Queer Nation actions, Osborne said, “we would get a banner from him and suddenly a group of 20 people would look like a hundred. You can walk past a few people holding posters, but a 60-foot banner you couldn’t ignore. His contribution was extraordinary and done with a simple tool that you would normally look at and say, ‘What’s that going to do?’” The answer was always that Gilbert’s work made these actions pop — and he was almost invariably on hand to unfurl his banners and to join in holding them up. Gilbert’s Rainbow Flag was the only flag ever to have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, which first displayed it in 2015. Immediately after the debacle of the GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

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Gilbert Baker, at center in black shirt, holds up a banner at the vigil outside Stonewall the day after the Orlando massacre.

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Gilbert Baker at the 2016 opening of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah’s new home in Chelsea.

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“New York Loves Gay Marriage” was the message of a Gilbert Baker banner on the evening of June 24, 2011, as the Legislature in Albany completed action on the state’s marriage equality law.

2016 election, MoMA moved it to their grand entrance hall to wave over visitors and welcome them all. When the anti-LGBTQ Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence moved to a suburban Washington neighborhood during the transition last fall, many of his new neighbors tried to send him a signal of who they were by festooning their houses with Rainbow Flags. Gilbert’s Rainbow Flag has been projected on iconic buildings from the Empire State to the Eiffel Tower in celebration of LGBTQ pride. President Barack Obama lit up the White House in rainbow colors on the evening of June 26, 2015, when marriage equality triumphed at the Supreme Court. And Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself with anti-LGBTQ activists and is gutting LGBTQ rights, appropriated one to hold up at a campaign rally in a deceptive effort to soften

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The Gays Against Guns contingent in last year’s Pride March.

his reactionary image. The flag is also flown by merchants around the world to signal that they are LGBTQ-friendly — or at least want the business of LGBTQ people and our allies. When the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion was marked in New York in 1994, Gilbert stitched together a rainbow flag that was literally a mile long to mark the occasion monumentally. It took 5,000 people to carry it up First Avenue

past the United Nations. For the 2003 Key West Pride Parade — the year the Rainbow Flag was 25 years old — he exceeded his own record for “world’s longest flag” by making one that extended across that resort town from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. At the time of his death, he was active in the preparations for Stonewall 50 in 2019.

GILBERT BAKER, continued on p.12

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EDUCATION

Sex Ed, AIDS, Anti-Bullying Mandates Dodged City schools offer no data on health education, numbers showing virtually no reports of harassment BY ANDY HUMM

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equirements from the city and state that the public schools address bullying, teach about AIDS and sex, and integrate LGBTQ issues into that curriculum have been passed with great fanfare over the years, but implementing these mandates has fallen well short, according to a recent survey of students by youth activists from the New York Civil Liberties Union. While the city’s Department of Education says it remains committed to these programs, officials there would not release compliance data to Gay City News. They will, however, have to face a City Council hearing on Intro. 1028, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s proposal for a task force to address sex ed issues, on April 19. The NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project released its survey results on March 21, finding that “many students do not receive sex education until their senior year,” despite the fact that it is required in all middle and high school grades as part of health class. “LGBTQ identities and relationships are often unaddressed, with just 36 percent of [302] students surveyed having learned about LGBTQ issues and relationships,” the group said in a release. Another survey of 278 students found that despite the 2010 Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) state mandate that all schools have a designated staff member trained to deal with complaints of bullying — including that based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression — “many students are unable to identify the DASA coordinator at their school or are unfamiliar with the law itself.” Jackson Heights City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the out gay chair of the Education Committee, said he held a hearing “a year ago on the provision of sex education and it wasn’t happening frequently enough. They didn’t have the numbers, and there was no accountability.” His committee will take up InGayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

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City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, chair of the Education Committee.

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State Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, the lead sponsor of the state Dignity for All Students Act.

tro. 1028 — which would establish a Sexual Health Education Task Force, appointed by the mayor in consultation with the Council speaker and including an expert in LGBTQ health education — on April 19 at 1 p.m. at City Hall. The hearing will review curricula and implementation from kindergarten through 12th grade, make recommendations for expanding implementation as well the integration of education for LGBTQ students and about same-sex relationships. The committee will also consider Resolution 1415, calling on the State Education Department to “convene a task force to assess the cultural relevance of state

learning standards across subject areas” in all grades “and explore the grounding of standards in core content that challenges racism, ableism, and sexism and is LGB and TGNC [transgender and gender non-conforming]-affirming.” Asked to respond to the NYCLU survey results, Toya Holness, press secretary at the city’s Department of Education, wrote in an email, “We’re dedicated to providing every student, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, with a high-quality education in a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment. As part of this commitment, we require comprehensive health education, which

includes topics on sexual health in middle and high school.” Asked for compliance data to back up that commitment, Holness wrote that sex education data was “public” but did not provide a link to it. She said DASA data was also public, but when asked about the lack of reporting of incidents by students, she wrote, “In order to ensure that all students are provided with a safe, supportive, inclusive, and equitable learning environment, we have explicit protocols and robust training programs in place which require that all incidents are reported, investigated, and appropriately addressed.” Holness did provide a link to bullying and harassment incidents in city schools collected as required by DASA. The data is striking. Of the 1,800 reporting, most reported no such incidents at all in the 2015-16 school year and no school reported more than a few. One charter school, Excellence Girls in Brooklyn, reported 51 incidents but that was an extreme outlier in a spreadsheet dominated by zeroes. As my “Gay USA” colleague Ann Northrop, a former AIDS and sexuality educator at the HetrickMartin Institute, observed, bullying doesn’t occur a couple of times a year in every school but a couple of times every minute. Jake Martinez, the Teen Activist Project coordinator for the NYCLU, told Gay City News, “We’ve heard from students that they don’t report [harassment] because they are too afraid,” and LGBTQ students have an added concern that their parents will be contacted if they report it. He believes the proposed city task force “could be helpful.” Some schools, Martinez said, “do have good programs set up” to address the requirements of DASA” and “build positive relationships” among students. But he invited students whose complaints of harassment are not being addressed to contact the NYCLU directly at 212-607-3300 or go online to nyclu.org and click on “Legal Help.” Where are students getting their

EDUCATION, continued on p.49

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CIVIL RIGHTS

Judges Hail Gavin Grimm as Civil Rights Icon Even as Trump reversal dictates end of injunction on his school, trans teenager held up as hero BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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ven as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Gloucester County (Virginia) School District’s motion to vacate a district court’s 2016 preliminary injunction ordering it to allow Gavin Grimm to use the boys’ restrooms at his high school, two judges on the circuit panel saluted the 17-year-old transgender boy as a civil rights leader. The injunction had been issued at the direction of the Fourth Circuit, which ruled that the district court should defer to the Obama administration’s view that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 required schools to allow transgender students access to bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. When the new Trump administration disavowed the Obama interpretation, the Supreme Court, which had stayed the injunction while it considered taking up an appeal, declined to do so since the issue before it was the question of deference to an administrative policy no longer in force. And with the Obama policy abandoned, the district court injunction no longer had any administrative interpretation to rely on, so vacating the injunction — a move that was unopposed — came as no surprise. The Fourth Circuit, however, presumably retains jurisdiction on the underlying question of whether the district court’s original action in dismissing Grimm’s sex discrimination claim under Title IX was correct. Even as the circuit panel granted the school district’s motion, a member of the panel, Senior Circuit Judge Andre M. Davis, was moved to write a short opinion reflecting on the case. Circuit Judge Henry M. Floyd directed that Davis’ opinion be published together with the Fourth Circuit’s order, and Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who had dissented from the Fourth Circuit’s decision last year requiring deference to the Obama inter-

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Gavin Grimm (left), at a 2016 American Civil Liberties Union/ New York Civil Liberties Union event in New York, with Joaquin Carcano, a transgender man who works at the University of North Carolina’s Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases and was one of the plaintiffs who filed suit against that state’s notorious HB2.

pretation of Title IX, agreed to the publication. Davis’ eloquent brief opinion deserves to be read in full. Throughout Grimm is referred to by his initials since the case was filed on his behalf by his mother and stalwart champion in his struggle for equal rights, Deirdre Grimm.: G.G., then a fifteen-year-old transgender boy, addressed the Gloucester County School Board on November 11, 2014, to explain why he was not a danger to other students. He explained that he had used the boys’ bathroom in public places throughout Gloucester County and had never had a confrontation. He explained that he is a person worthy of dignity and privacy. He explained why it is humiliating to be segregated from the general population. He knew, intuitively, what the law has in recent decades acknowledged: the perpetuation of stereotypes is one of many forms of invidious discrimination. And so he hoped that his heartfelt explanation would help the powerful adults in his community come to understand what his adolescent peers already did. G.G. clearly and eloquently attested that he was not a predator, but a boy, despite the fact that he did not conform to some people’s idea

about who is a boy. Regrettably, a majority of the School Board was unpersuaded. And so we come to this moment. High school graduation looms and, by this court’s order vacating the preliminary injunction, G.G.’s banishment from the boys’ restroom becomes an enduring feature of his high school experience. Would that courtesies extended to others had been extended to G.G. Our country has a long and ignominious history of discriminating against our most vulnerable and powerless. We have an equally long history, however, of brave individuals — Dred Scott, Fred Korematsu, Linda Brown, Mildred and Richard Loving, Edie Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, to name just a few — who refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them. It is unsurprising, of course, that the burden of confronting and remedying injustice falls on the shoulders of the oppressed. These individuals looked to the federal courts to vindicate their claims to human dignity, but as the names listed above make clear, the judiciary’s response has been decidedly mixed. Today, G.G. adds his name to the list of plaintiffs whose struggle for justice has been delayed and rebuffed; as Dr. King reminded us, however, “the

arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” G.G.’s journey is delayed but not finished. G.G.’s case is about much more than bathrooms. It’s about a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. It’s about protecting the rights of transgender people in public spaces and not forcing them to exist on the margins. It’s about governmental validation of the existence and experiences of transgender people, as well as the simple recognition of their humanity. His case is part of a larger movement that is redefining and broadening the scope of civil and human rights so that they extend to a vulnerable group that has traditionally been unrecognized, unrepresented, and unprotected. G.G.’s plight has shown us the inequities that arise when the government organizes society by outdated constructs like biological sex and gender. Fortunately, the law eventually catches up to the lived facts of people; indeed, the record shows that the Commonwealth of Virginia has now recorded a birth certificate for G.G. that designates his sex as male. G.G.’s lawsuit also has demon-

GAVIN GRIMM, continued on p.31

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


REMEMBRANCE

Peter Shaffer’s Coming Out Celebration Late playwright’s gay life embraced in star-studded tribute at American Airlines Theatre BY ANDY HUMM

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laywright Peter Shaffer (“Equus,” “Amadeus”), who died at 90 last June, got a star-studded memorial service at the American Airlines Theatre on April 3 hosted by Alec Baldwin, who played the lead in “Equus” at the Guild Hall in East Hampton in 2010. The memorial was graced by in-person tributes from playwright John Guare and actors Juliet Mills, Jane Seymour, and Sam Underwood, videotaped tributes from London theater luminaries, and a bittersweet rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You” from Christine Ebersole, currently on Broadway in “War Paint.” But the evening was most remarkable for how it fleshed out Shaffer’s life as a gay man — something that went unmentioned in his New York Times obituary. The

UK Guardian’s Mark Lawson did mention he was gay, but noted Shaffer was part of “a generation of writers who, even after the removal of the legal jeopardy to homosexuality, neither wrote about the subject directly nor spoke about his private life in interviews.” Kevin Shancady, one of Shaffer’s three long-term male partners, wore a rainbow tie and said he was there to talk about the late playwright’s “intimate” side. The other two of Shaffer’s partners, he said, died of AIDS, including Robert Leonard, a theatrical voice teacher, whose 1990 passing was honored by the playwright leaving two-fifths of his £1.7 UK estate to the Terrence Higgins Trust, Britain’s leading AIDS charity. Shancady also talked about the unique role “Equus” played in dramatizing psychiatry and capturing the keen interest of its practitioners when it was written

in 1973, just as they were considering removal of homosexuality from their index of mental disorders. The play itself dealt with a teen male passionately into horses, several of whom he blinds after they witnessed him trying to have sex with a girl. While the boy was seeing a shrink because he committed a heinous crime, the psychiatrist struggled with robbing him of his “worship” in order to give him a “normal” life. “Aversion therapy” for homosexually oriented people was a common psychiatric practice in those days. Ian McKellen, who played Salieri in “Amadeus” on Broadway, led the tributes from London, standing on a street where he said, “There were an awful lot of homosexuals on this block. Peter lived here with his boyfriend, and I lived with my boyfriend, and Alan Bates was down the block with his boyfriend.” Simon Callow, another out actor who

was the original Mozart in “Amadeus” at the National Theatre in 1979, said Shaffer “appealed to the audience to be part of the event.” David Suchet, who played Salieri in a revival, talked about how he got Shaffer to rewrite the ending, one of several stories about the playwright revising new works as they were being rehearsed as well as older plays in revival. Attendees were also treated to a performance of an extended scene from Shaffer’s “Royal Hunt of the Sun,” which has not played on Broadway since 1965 when it starred Christopher Plummer as Pizarro conquering the Incas who worship a sun god to the horror of the invading “Christians.” The play contains the line, “What is a god but what we know we can’t do without?” For those of us who worship in playhouses, Peter Shaffer was one of those creative people we could not do without.

Bridge Defender. Mother. “I work to keep NYC’s bridges safe.”

Look out for her in work zones.

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

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GILBERT BAKER, from p.5

A vigil was held in Gilbert’s memory on March 31, the day of his death, in San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Plaza where Gilbert’s huge Rainbow Flag has flown for 20 years on a 70-foot pole. Gilbert never wanted the Rainbow Flag to fly at half-staff — even for himself. (Gilbert submitted a similarly tall display of his flag in a design competition for a memorial in Hudson River Park to those who were victims of the 2016 Orlando Pulse massacre and other hate crimes. The decision of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Task Force on that memorial’s design has yet to be announced.) Gilbert first created an eightcolor Rainbow Flag (including hot pink and turquoise in addition to the six primary and secondary colors) in San Francisco in 1978 in those heady days when Harvey Milk had been elected the town’s first out gay supervisor. (In November of that year, Milk was assassinated at City Hall along with Mayor George Moscone, by former Supervisor Dan White.) Gilbert’s activist friend Cleve Jones, an aide to Milk, helped him dye the fabric. “I knew right away this was the most important thing I would ever do,” Gilbert said in 2013. Gilbert said he got the idea in 1976 during the US bicentennial. “American flags were on everything,” he recalled. “It gave me the idea that we could have a flag because even though we’re not a nation, we’re a people.” “Flags are torn from the soul of the people,” Gilbert said in 2007. “That day when he raised the first Rainbow Flag [to fly over City Hall on Gay Freedom Day], he knew that was his life’s work,” Jones told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And for every march, every protest, every celebration, every memorial, he was always sewing and sewing and sewing. For generations to come, people will know that flag. It’s an example of how one person can have an amazing and brilliant idea that reaches not just millions, but hundreds of millions of people.” Gilbert never “patented” his flag design and it remains in the public domain, as all flags apparently do. He wanted the world to have it and was active in its promotion. At World Pride in Rome in 2000, he mounted his first exhibition of photographs

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COURTESY: JAY BLOTCHER

Gilbert Baker with President Barack Obama at the 2016 White House Pride Celebration.

Gilbert Baker helps carry his Rainbow Flag within the Gays Against Guns contingent in the 2016 Pride March in Manhattan in commemoration of those killed and injured in the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre earlier that month.

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In the 2016 Pride March, Gays Against Guns protesters take on the Republicans.

and fine art celebrating his flag. Gilbert’s longtime friend Charley Beal, a gay activist who was also art director on the film “Milk,” said, “Gilbert just finished 39 nine-color Rainbow Flags adding the color lavender for diversity for the 39th anniversary of the Rainbow Flag to be shown at a gallery in San Francisco during Pride Month. He got up and made art every day. He was relentless. He put all his passion in the stitches. One of his greatest accomplishments was when he unfurled the mile-long flag in 1994. He cut the flag into large pieces that were given to delegations from Pride organizations around the world and within a year those pieces were showing up at Pride celebrations from Brazil to China to Cuba — in effect internationalizing the flag as a symbol of the LGBT community. It was a seminal moment for our community.” Richard Ferrara, another close friend, said, “In 1985, Heritage of Pride brought the Rainbow Flag from San Francisco to New York. There were not Rainbow Flags here before that. I was the merchandizing chairperson for HOP for two years starting in 1986 promoting the flag and our Keith Haring logo.” Matt Foreman, then with HOP, said, “We just embraced it instead of the Christopher Street West version with the lambda in the upper

left corner.” “I lived, slept, and breathed that flag,” Ferrara said. He first met Gilbert at the UN press conference announcing the mile-long flag for Stonewall 25 in ’94, and they became close friends. “We spoke twice a day and there was never a conversation where he didn’t end it by saying, ‘I love you,’” Ferrara recalled. In 2013, when Queer Nation was protesting the awarding of the Sochi Olympics to the anti-LGBTQ regime of Putin, the group picketed outside a conference on US-Russian trade at the Princeton Club in Manhattan with a Gilbert-created big “PUSSY POWER” banner that incorporated tiger stripes — highlighting Princeton’s mascot — and drew attention to Putin’s repression of the radical women’s band Pussy Riot. Lesbian activist Ann Northrop, Gilbert’s friend, borrowed the banner and paraded it with friends through Manhattan during the Women’s March on January 21, hanging it from the overpass on 42nd Street at Grand Central Terminal to the cheers and delight of hundreds of thousands protesting President “Grab-’em-by-the-Pussy.” “Gilbert’s death is a huge and shocking loss for me and all who knew and loved him, and to the whole LGBT community,” Northrop,

my co-host on “Gay USA” said, praising him for “his vision and generosity. He never copyrighted the flag or made a penny off it, and he lived very simply. He loved calling himself a seamstress who spent his days slaving over a sewing machine. His enormous, beautiful, cheeky banners were a crucial element in the success of Queer Nation actions in the last few years, increasing our impact geometrically.” Gilbert gave a tremendous boost to the 25-year protest against the exclusion of Irish LGBTQ groups from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York. While hundreds protested the exclusion of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization in the 1990s, he supported the smaller continuing protest of Irish Queers in 2014 with a “BOYCOTT HOMOPHOBIA” banner that took up half a city block and delivered a message to all who disrespected the boycott. It was held aloft by a larger group in 2015 and the next year — for a variety of reasons — parade organizers relented and allowed the LGBTQ group Lavender and Green to participate under their own banner. Gilbert showed up to New York’s 2002 Pride Parade as Betsy Ross and made it a point to march right next to the new, buttoned-down

GILBERT BAKER, continued on p.13

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

GILBERT BAKER, from p.12

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, adding a note of liberation to the mayor’s more sober contingent and attracting numerous press photographers. He always knew what he wanted the picture to be and made it happen with his visual artistry. He wasn’t about attracting attention to himself, but to the cause. Gilbert was born in Chanute, Kansas, on June 2, 1951, his father a judge and his mom a teacher. He served in the Army from 1970 to 1972 and was honorably discharged, an account of which he described to the late Randy Shilts for his 1993 book about gays in the military, “Conduct Unbecoming.â€? Like many gay veterans before him who passed through or were stationed in San Francisco, Baker settled there. “I went from being a pretty dumb kid in Kansas growing up in the ‘50s and all of the bomb scare and Eisenhower and everything very Republican and always feeling outcast‌ to a place of liberation in San Francisco at the very moment gay rights was exploding,â€? he said in 2013.

Gilbert taught himself how to sew and was commissioned to create flags for visiting dignitaries and, at the behest of his friend Harvey Milk, banners for anti-war and gay rights demonstrations. Gilbert was an artist and a philosopher in his creation of the flag in ‘78, assigning meanings to each of its original eight colors: hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic and art, blue for serenity and harmony, and violet for spirit. The number of stripes and colors changed over the years, but never its overall call for LGBTQ liberation and inclusion. Irish gay and AIDS activist Father BernĂĄrd Lynch, who with Gilbert’s “beloved friend Richard Ferraraâ€? co-signed the authenticity of the Stonewall 25 flag for the Guinness Book of World Records — wrote, “Gilbert, through your Rainbow Flag you gave the world a New Covenant of Love, Peace, Freedom & Joy. We are forever in your debt.â€? Gilbert was a featured character in Dustin Lance Black’s dramatization of Cleve Jones’s memoir “When We Riseâ€? on ABC-TV, a recent four-

part saga of the history of LGBTQ liberation in San Francisco. When I saw Gilbert on the street just two weeks ago, he talked about how he was happy with his portrayal by Dylan Arnold when he was young and Jack Plotnik when he was older, but he was also full of dish about how he had to intervene at one point about what the Gilbert character was wearing because it wasn’t him — it wasn’t “fabulousâ€? enough. “Anyone can be an activist,â€? Gilbert told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in a 2013 interview, “but it’s not easy‌ You have to be free yourself, you have to have your own core values, and you have to have some courage and some steel, and that’s really hard for a lot of people. They can’t come out because of their family situation. To whatever degree that people can be first of all honest with themselves, that’s the beginning of being an activist, it’s knowing who you are. You bet it’s dangerous, and that’s why it takes a lot of love‌ You can’t do it by yourself. You have to build bridges, you have to have a loving environment, loving friends, people that you trust and support to work together to achieve it. I don’t

think individuals are able to achieve as much as the mass.� Gilbert is survived by his mother, Patricia Baker of Conroe, Texas, and sister, Ardonna Baker Cook of Cypress, Texas, and a worldwide LGBTQ community inspired by him and his work. In a written statement, Baker and Cook said, “He will be dearly missed by his family, friends, the art world, as well as the entire LGBTQ community. He led a bold and inspiring life by bringing the Rainbow Flag to the world and teaching others about the beauty in diversity. We are working alongside Gilbert’s friends and the community to plan a public memorial service in the near future.� We’re all less fabulous without Gilbert. There are not too many people in our movement who are indispensable. Gilbert was surely one. Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the epitaph to its great architect Sir Christopher Wren says, “Reader, if you seek his memorial — look around you.� No one has to look far to see the memorial to the great artist and activist Gilbert Baker. It flies everywhere LGBTQ people seek to be free.

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nylottery.ny.gov

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

13


MILITARY

Alarm Raised Over Anti-LGBTQ Army Secretary Pick HRC puts pressure on Senate after Tennessee official named to replace out gay Eric Fanning BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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GBTQ rights advocates are mobilizing in response to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Tennessee State Senator Mark Green as the next secretary of the Army. Green, a West Point graduate who spent 20 years in active military service, has been an outspoken opponent of equality, introducing legislation this year to make it the policy of the State of Tennessee “to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary” and last fall declaring that being transgender is a “disease.” In a press call on April 10, Stephen Peters, the press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and a former service member discharged under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy, termed Green’s nomination “shocking” and “appalling,” describing the Tennessee state senator as “one of the most antiLGBT politicians in the nation.” Peters, who said his husband is currently an active duty service member, warned that Green as Army secretary “would send an incredibly dangerous message down the line of command. He cannot be trusted to lead the Army forward.” If confi rmed, Green would succeed Eric Fanning, the fi rst out gay Army secretary, who has served since last spring. HRC was joined on the press call by Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), a support group for partners, families, and allies of LGBTQ service members and veterans. Broadway-Mack also charged that Green’s confi rmation would imperil morale in the Army, thereby hurting national security. “At a time of unrest around the world, all service members should have the confidence they have the full support” of the nation’s leaders, she said.

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MARKGREEN4TN.COM

Tennessee State Senator Mark Green, a stridently anti-gay Republican nominated last week to be Army secretary.

Peters emphasized the depth of Green’s hostility to the community, saying he “has spent his legislative career looking to undermine LGBT rights at every turn.” In remarks last fall to a Chattanooga Tea Party gathering, Green said, “If you poll the psychiatrists, they’re going to tell you that transgender is a disease. It is a part of the DSM-6, I think it is, the book of diagnostic psychological procedures or diagnoses.” That assertion is not true. In 2011, the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Green went on to tell the Tea Party group, “But you ask about how we fi x it — how we get the toothpaste back in the tube — I gotta tell you, it’s going to start with me being the salt and the light to the people around me. I mean, if you really want to bring

this back to who’s at fault, we got to look a little bit inwardly. We’ve tolerated immorality. And we’re reflecting light.” At the same gathering, Green also talked about his support for public officials in Tennessee ignoring the 2015 US Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing samesex couples the right to marry. In February of this year, he signed on as a “prime co-sponsor” of legislation that would make it state policy “to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.” Last year, he pushed for a law that would bar the state and localities from penalizing any business — such as in the awarding of contracts — for any of their personnel or benefits policies, such as denying same-sex spouses insurance coverage customarily available to spouses. In the wake of the criticism from advocates such as HRC and AMPA, Green sought to distance himself from his controversial politics, telling the Army Times in a written statement, “I was nominated by President Trump to do one job: serve as his secretary of the Army. If confi rmed, I will solely focus on making recommendations to him on how to keep our country safe and secure. Politics will have nothing to do with it.” Given changes in the Senate’s fi libuster rules enacted in recent years, Green can be confi rmed by a simple majority vote, meaning that opponents of his nomination must keep all Democrats on their side and woo at least three Republican senators. David Stacy, HRC’s government affairs director, suggested that is a doable task, saying the nomination “is a non-starter with Democrats, and it is a non-starter with moderate Republicans. It seems calculated to have a fight.” Then, voicing wonderment at why Trump is choosing this battle, Stacy added, “I’m not sure what the political calculus is.” Asked what feedback HRC is getting from senators, Peters and

Stacy noted that the nomination was only announced late on Friday, April 7 after a congressional recess had begun and that their conversations were in an early stage. Marisa Kaufman, a spokesperson for Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate minority leader, in an email message told Gay City News, “Senator Schumer has concerns with nominee Mark Green, particularly regarding his history on issues that affect the LGBTQ community. The Senate minority leader is strongly urging the Armed Services Committee to ask the nominee tough questions during his hearing and take a very close look at his history.” Marc Brumer, a spokesperson for New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of that committee, told Gay City News that the senator “has serious concerns about Mark Green, particularly his deeply troubling record of supporting policies that are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community. She will look to hear these concerns addressed during his confi rmation hearings.” It is a sign of how tough the sledding is on LGBTQ issues in Washington these days that advocates like HRC are focusing on the Green nomination to the Army post, while not putting significant efforts into opposing the nomination of Heather Wilson, a former Republican member of Congress from New Mexico who also has a long anti-LGBTQ record, as Air Force secretary. During her decade in Congress, she supported a federal constitutional amendment to bar samesex marriage, opposed federal anti-bullying legislation saying “we have to recognize as parents that children tease each other,” and said of LGBTQ rights generally, “There are things I’m willing to tolerate that I’m not willing to approve of.” Of the Air Force nomination HRC’s Stacy said, “We’re not a big fan of Heather Wilson, either. But Green is above and beyond.” April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ALBANY

GOP, Rogue Senate Dems Nix Pulse Memorial Funds Cuomo restores $1MM to mark Orlando slaughter, other hate crimes after Hoylman push falls short BY ANDY HUMM

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overnor Andrew Cuomo’s state budget allocated a million dollars for his proposed memorial to the victims of the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre and other hate crimes to be sited in Hudson River Park west of Greenwich Village. A design competition has already been conducted for the memorial, though no winner has been announced. The Democratic-led Assembly approved the funding, but Senate Republicans eliminated it. That led an incredulous and outraged Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay Democrat who represents the West Side district where the memorial is to be, to offer an amendment to restore it. All the Senate Republicans and their allies in the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) voted against Hoylman’s amendment, as did Senator Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, a nominal Democrat whose vote for Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan has kept the Republican minority in control of the Senate agenda for the past two terms, thwarting numerous progressive reforms coming out of the Assembly — from transgender rights to universal health insurance for all New Yorkers. “This action speaks to a deeper pattern of intolerance for LGBT issues by the Senate Republicans,” Hoylman said. “They won’t touch anything explicitly LGBT-related with a 10-foot pole. Since samesex marriage, there hasn’t been a stand-alone bill that is LGBTspecific passed nor brought to the floor — not GENDA, not the ban on conversion therapy, not LGBT data parity, nothing.” Republican Leader Flanagan’s office did not return a call for comment. “The viciousness, the malicious intent behind that is astounding,” Hoylman said. “The Senate acted cowardly to strike back at victims and their families in the dark of night and it is despicable.” Hoylman’s speech on the floor GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

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State Senator Brad Hoylman made the first push to restore the memorial’s funding but was rebuffed by Senate Republicans and the Democratic members of the IDC.

of the Senate condemning the Republican action can be seen at youtube.com/watch?v=NzF2l-8N8q4&feature=youtu.be. In the case of transgender protections sought in GENDA, or the Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act, and the proposed ban on conversion therapy on minors, Cuomo has taken executive action to put in place the advances spelled out in both measures, but these actions could be rescinded by a future governor — just as the Trump administration in Washington reversed the Obama era policy on transgender students’ access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. In the end — after Hoylman’s effort to restore funding fell short –– the governor used his control over portions of the budget to add back the money for the memorial, which he had announced at a public gathering at the Stonewall in the wake of last year’s Pulse massacre that left 49 dead, mostly Latinx and African American LGBTQ people and their non-LGBTQ friends. The Orlando tragedy was the worst such shooting by a single gunman in American history. The governor’s press office said

the governor will “suballocate” to the Hudson River Park Trust $1 million from a $200 million pot allocated to the “NY Works EDF,” or the state Economic Development Fund. One of the submissions for the memorial design came from the late Gilbert Baker, who proposed a 70-foot pole flying his Rainbow Flag, similar to the installation in Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco. Cuomo, the head of the Democratic Party in New York, will not go after the renegade IDC senators led by Jeff Klein of the Bronx, and the party itself has taken no action against them, such as trying to expel them — though some new members of the IDC, including José Peralta of Queens, Marisol Alcantara of Washington Heights, and Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn have faced protests from constituents for their

treachery, including a movement to expel Peralta. The IDC members gain perks for themselves from the Republicans whom they empower, while claiming to have the leverage to pass some reforms, such as raising the age of criminal liability. In other budget news, a million dollars was appropriated for a statewide Hate Crimes Task Force that Cuomo proposed to be made of up of representatives from the State Police, the Division of Human Rights, and the Division of Criminal Justice Services “to mitigate recent incidents of bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence in New York” that have sharply increased in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. It is tasked to work with local officials and schools to “identify and investigate hate-motivated crimes and bias-related trends, community vulnerabilities, and discriminatory practices.”

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15


FAMILIES

Nebraska High Court Ends Gay Adoption Ban Unanimous bench sets aside nonsensical arguments over what was policy, what was practice BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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he seven-member Nebraska Supreme Court has unanimously affirmed a lower court decision that the state’s 1995 published policy banning adoptions and foster placements into any household with a “homosexual” in residence was unconstitutional. The ruling also nixed an informal policy adopted more recently by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services under which “exceptions” could be made in particular cases. The high court’s April 7 ruling, upholding a ruling by Lancaster County District Judge John A. Colborn, came in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of same-sex couples who sought to foster or adopt children but were either discouraged by Department staff members or deterred by the formal policy posted on the Department’s website. The Supreme Court focused mainly on technical issues, as the state apparently conceded there was no good reason to single out gay and lesbian adults for discriminatory treatment and sought to persuade the court that the case was “moot” and should be dismissed, preferably without awarding costs and fees to the plaintiffs. The trial judge awarded costs and fees totaling about $175,000, an amount that will increase if costs

and fees are later awarded to the plaintiffs for successfully defending their victory in the State Supreme Court. The lengthy opinion by Justice John F. Wright is devoted almost entirely to refuting ridiculous arguments mounted by the state to try to convince the court it lacked jurisdiction to decide the case. The formal 1995 policy at issue applied a similar placement ban on “unmarried heterosexual couples.” The memo “directed staff not to specifically ask about an individual’s sexual orientation or marital status beyond those inquiries already included in the licensing application and home study,” according to Wright’s opinion. “The stated reason for the policy was this State’s intent to place children in the most ‘familylike setting’ when out-of-home care is necessary.” The memo contemplated that a formal regulation incorporating its policies would be adopted, but that did not happen. In fact, there is no formal statutory or regulatory ban on gay people being foster or adoptive parents in Nebraska, as such. The entire focus of the lawsuit and the court opinions was on the “policy” expressed in the 1995 memo and subsequent “practices” adopted by the Department’s directors. The memo remained on the Department’s website as a formal policy statement until after this lawsuit began. It was

used in training staff members and was referred to specifically by staff members when they discouraged one of the plaintiff couples from formally applying to get a foster child, a prerequisite in Nebraska to legal adoption. Part of the state’s defense was that even though the memo remained on the Department’s website, it was no longer actual policy since lesbian and gay applicants had been accepted. This informal policy, however, was not well publicized throughout the department, there were no formal instructions to staff about it, and no mechanism was created to appeal denials based on an applicant’s sexual orientation. Under this informal practice in place in recent years, gay applicants approved at the first level required four additional sign-offs, including from the Department’s director –– hurdles imposed on no other placements, including to unmarried heterosexual parents or to former prison inmates. One of the state’s least credible arguments was that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the lawsuit because none of the couples had formally applied and been turned down. This was a nonsense, since it was clear that any gay couple applying had to be rejected under the formal policy posted on the website and taught to staff members. When pressed about why the 1995 remained for so long on the Depart-

ment’s website despite officials’ insistence that it was no longer its “practice,” they intimated they wanted to prevent the possibility that a formal withdrawal of the memo would provoke the State Legislature to pass an explicit ban on “homosexuals” serving as foster or adoptive parents. The defense witnesses struggled to define the difference between a “policy” and a “practice,” and argued that because the complaint explicitly challenged only the 1995 memo, the court should not decide the constitutionality of the informal “practice” –– though since it was informal the plaintiffs could hardly have known of its existence. Rejecting the state’s formalistic arguments, the Supreme Court agreed with Judge Colborn that the informal practice was itself discriminatory. The defense witnesses advanced no good reason why approving gay parents involved five levels of approval under the informal practice, and, in fact, the opinion makes no mention of evidence that any gay foster or adoptive parents have been approved. Citing numerous US Supreme Court precedents, the Nebraska high court found that even though none of the plaintiffs had been formally denied, clear evidence of the denial of equal treatment as a result of the published policy and the unpub-

NEBRASKA, continued on p.32

RAISING FUNDS FOR SCHOLARS, POINT HONORS CHAMPIONS The Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship group supporting LGBTQ higher education scholarships, hosted 400 guests at its annual Point Honors New York event at the Plaza Hotel April 3. The evening fêted Uzo Aduba, an Emmy Award-winner for her role in Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, who snagged an Emmy for his news team’s live coverage of the US Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, and Dustin Lance Black, the Oscarwinning screenwriter of “Milk” and one of the

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

creators, writers, and directors on the recent ABC miniseries on LGBTQ rights, “When We Rise.” Jorge Valencia, the Point Foundation’s executive director, described the honorees as “three champions of diversity and inclusion who are role models for our LGBTQ scholars.” “Hamilton” star Javier Muñoz introduced Aduba, while Roberts was introduced by CNN anchor Dom Lemon. Black was unable to attend, and his award was accepted by Richard Socarides, who served in the Clinton White House as the president’s LGBTQ advisor.

JASON KEMPIN/ GETT Y IMAGES FOR POINT FOUNDATION

Actress Uzo Aduba, with her Courage Award, and “Hamilton” star Javier Muñoz, who introduced her to the Point Foundation audience at the Plaza Hotel.

19


FAMILIES

“Unique” Family Wins Federal Housing Bias Suit Colorado trial judge rules for same-sex couple in FHA discrimination case BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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federal district judge in Colorado granted summary judgment on April 5 under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) to a couple –– two women, one of them transgender –– turned down for renting either of two available rental residences by a landlord who cited their “unique relationship.” Judge Raymond P. Moore found that in turning down the married couple and their two children as tenants, the landlord discriminated based on their sex as well as their familial status, both forbidden grounds of discrimination under the federal law. The court also granted judgment to the plaintiffs under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which explicitly bans discrimination because of sexual orientation, transgender status, and familial status. The landlord, Deepika Avanti, owns three rental properties close to each other in Gold Hill, Colora-

TITLE VII, from p.4

wrote, “and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed.” Woods found convincing Hively’s contention, argued by Lambda Legal’s Greg Nevins, that two alternative theories would support her claim. The first argument relies on a “comparative method’ that aims “to isolate the significance of the plaintiff’s sex to the employer’s decision: has she described a situation in which, holding all other things constant and changing only her sex, she would have been treated the same way?” The second theory rests on an intimate association claim, relying on the Supreme Court’s 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling striking down state laws barring interracial marriage. There, the high court ruled that banning interracial marriage was a form of race discrimination, because the state was taking race into account in deciding whom somebody could marry.

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do, and had two vacancies — one a single family house and the other a townhouse that was half of a twofamily structure. Tonya Smith, in April 2105, contacted Avanti about the townhouse, which had been advertised on Craigslist. In her email to the landlord, Smith talked about her family and mentioned that her wife, Rachel Smith, is transgender. Avanti invited the couple and their children to view both rentals, at which time the Smith family met a different-sex couple, Matthew and Chiara, renting the other townhouse in the two-family building. After that meeting, Avanti sent the Smiths two emails. The first said that they were “not welcome to rent the Townhouse because of Matt and Chiara’s concerns regarding [the Smiths’] children and ‘noise.’” The second message said that Avanti, after discussing the matter with her husband, decided not to rent either residence to the Smiths, explaining, “they have ‘kept a low profile’ and ‘want to continue it’ that way,”

according to Judge Moore’s opinion. When Tonya Smith responded, asking what Avanti meant by “low profile,” the landlord replied “that the Smiths’ ‘unique relationship and ‘uniqueness’ would become the town focus and would jeopardize [Avanti’s] low profile in the community.” The Smiths’ lawsuit detailed how it took the family months to find an alternative home to rent, that they had to put furnishings in storage while they moved in temporarily with Rachel’s mother, and that the home they settled on was less desirable in terms of the local school district and Rachel’s commute to work. The most significant part of Moore’s ruling relates to his finding on the federal sex discrimination claim. Federal law does not expressly forbid sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, but courts are increasingly willing to apply bans on sex discrimination to claims brought by LGBTQ plaintiffs. Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development during

the Obama administration took the position that the FHA should be construed to apply to sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, the Trump regime has not yet voiced its view. Moore’s opinion, then, may have broken new ground by granting summary judgment in favor of the Smiths on their sex discrimination claim. Looking to 10th Circuit Court of Appeals precedent, which governs federal courts in Colorado, Moore noted that in employment cases litigated under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “discrimination against a transsexual based on the person’s status as a transsexual is not discrimination because of sex under Title VII,” and that “Title VII protections” do not extend to “discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.” The 10th Circuit, however, has recognized the possibility that a gay or transgender plaintiff might claim

Similarly here, an employer is taking sex into account when discriminating against somebody because that person associates intimately with members of the same sex. After briefly describing these two theories, Judge Wood wrote, “Although the analysis differs somewhat, both avenues end up in the same place: sex discrimination.” Woods pointed to two rulings — in 1986 and 2008 — by other circuits that adapted Loving’s interracial marriage analysis to a Title VII employment claim, finding race discrimination where an employer discriminated against people in interracial relationships. These citations — coming from the 11th and Second Circuits — carried irony, since both circuits in recent weeks rejected sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII even though the plaintiffs in both advanced the Loving analogy. Lambda is seeking full circuit en banc review in the 11th Circuit, and the plaintiff’s counsel in the Second Circuit is thinking about doing the same. Wood, however, was emphatic in

her conclusion. “It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation,’” she wrote. “The effort to do so has led to confusing and contradictory results.” Woods pointed to the law’s basic inconsistency whereby a person can enter into a same-sex marriage on Saturday and then be fired without legal recourse for having done so on Monday. That is where the law currently stands in a majority of the states. Since Hively’s original complaint was dismissed without a trial, Wood noted, she must return to the district court to prove her factual claims. What passed unspoken in the majority opinion is that the college might petition the Supreme Court to review this ruling, though Ivy Tech’s immediate reaction was that it had not discriminated against Hively and is ready to take its chances at trial. Judge Posner submitted a rather odd concurring opinion, somewhat in an echo of his oral argument questioning, where he asked the college’s attorney, “Why are there lesbians?”

Appointed by Reagan as an economic conservative and social libertarian, Posner has evolved into a forceful advocate for LGBTQ rights, having satisfied himself that genetics and biology play a large part in determining sexual and gender identity and that it is basically unfair to discriminate without justification. He wrote the circuit’s 2014 decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage in Indiana and Wisconsin. Here, he takes on the contention that it is improper for the court to “interpret” the language adopted by Congress in 1964 to cover sexual orientation discrimination. “Interpretation,” he insisted, “can mean giving a fresh meaning to a statement.” For more than 30 years, he noted, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 “has been interpreted in conformity to the modern, not the nineteenth-century, understanding of the relevant economics.” Courts, he argued, have “updated” Sherman to keep it relevant. The same approach, he asserted,

UNIQUE FAMILY, continued on p.32

TITLE VII, continued on p.21

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


TITLE VII, from p.20

should be brought to interpreting Title VII, adopted more than half a century ago. After reviewing the revolution in the understanding of human sexuality and public opinion about it, he concluded it was time to update Title VII to cover sexual orientation claims, even though “it is well-nigh certain that homosexuality, male or female, did not figure in the minds of the legislators who enacted Title VII.” “Nothing has changed more in the decades since the enactment of the statute than attitudes toward sex,” Posner wrote, citing in detail the history of litigation that led to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage equality ruling in 2015. He also included a long list of “outstanding intellectual and cultural contributions to society (think for example of Tchaikovsky, Oscar Wilde, Jane Addams, André Gide, Thomas Mann, Marlene Dietrich, Bayard Rustin, Alan Turing, Alec Guinness, Leonard Bernstein, Van Cliburn, and James Baldwin — a very partial list)” from LGBTQ people. Instead of pursuing Judge Wood’s line of reasoning, Posner was ready to declare that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination without such detailed analysis. “The most tenable and straightforward” analysis, he wrote, is that “while in 1964 sex discrimination meant discrimination against men or women as such and not against subsets of men or women such as effeminate men or mannish women, the concept of sex discrimination has since broadened in light of the recognition, which barely existed in 1964, that there are significant numbers of both men and women who have a sexual orientation that sets them apart from the heterosexual members of their genetic sex (male or female), and that while they constitute a minority their sexual orientation is not evil and does not threaten society.” In his concurring opinion, Judge Flaum took a narrower approach, noting that Title VII was amended in 1991 to provide that “an unlawful employment practice is established when the complaining party demonstrates that… sex …was a motivating factor for any employment practice, even though other factors also motivated the practice.” GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

In other words, discrimination does not have to be “solely” because of sex to violate Title VII. It is enough if the individual’s sex was part of the reason for the discrimination, and here Flaum — and Judge Ripple, who joined his opinion — looked to the Loving analogy regarding discrimination against employees in interracial relationships. Flaum also noted, “One cannot consider a person’s homosexuality without also accounting for their sex: doing so would render ‘same’ and ‘own’ meaningless.” Judge Sykes’s dissent looked back to the early years of Title VII litigation and rejected the majority’s method of statutory interpretation. “The majority deploys a judgeempowering, common-law decision method that leaves a great deal of room for judicial discretion,” she wrote. “So does Judge Posner in his concurrence. Neither is faithful to the statutory text, read fairly, as a reasonable person would have understood it when it was adopted.” This, she asserted, is a “circumvention of the legislative process by which the people govern themselves.” Sykes conceded that sexual orientation discrimination is wrong, but she was not ready to say it can be found illegal through an interpretation of a 1964 statute adopted by a Congress that could not possibly have been intending to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people. With the possibility of appeals now arising from three circuits that came to different conclusions on the issue, Supreme Court consideration of this question is highly likely. Congress has, in the past, stepped in to amend Title VII in response to high court interpretations — such as when the court held that it did not protect pregnant women on the job — and the right wing could press Republicans to curb rather than expand rights through legislative amendment if the Supreme Court adopts the Seventh Circuit view on this question. Still, public opinion polls generally show overwhelming support for prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace — something that could serve as a brake on Republican legislators whose response to such a Supreme Court finding might otherwise be to amend the foundational 1964 Civil Rights Act to write out the LGBTQ community.

BRINGING MANHATTAN to BROOKLYN 943 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11230 646.494.7227 | AtlasSteak.com 21


IMPACT AWARDS

An Evening of Recognition and Community-Building Hundreds gather in Park Slope at 2017 Impact Awards for leaders from widely diverse fields BY DONNA MINKOWITZ

“S

ilence really does equal death,” said Paul Schindler, Gay City News’ editor-in-chief, to several hundred people gathered to build community under the rosy pink, yellow, and blue lights and romantic cherub paintings of Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall on March 30. The occasion was Gay City News’ 2017 Impact Awards, where queer and trans activists came dressed to the nines to honor artists, radicals, bar owners, and a bishop. The event, which donated a portion of proceeds to the Hetrick-Martin Institute, was organized to recognize the advocates and fighters, queer, trans, cis, and straight, who have built and continue to build this community by creating healthcare spaces, battling in the courts and the streets, writing poems, and pestering officials. A large contingent from the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!), the queer-, female-, and people of color-focused arts space in the East Bronx, came to honor writer Charles Rice-González, its co-founder. Rice-González, whose 2011 novel “Chulito” won an award from the American Library Association, told the crowd, “I’m proud to be black, I’m proud to be Latino! I’m proud to be from the Bronx, I’m proud to be working class!” Looking resplendent in a salmoncolored shirt and beautifully fitted black suit, he was easily the bestdressed man in the entire Grand Prospect. Rice-González told Gay City News that BAAD! recently began

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Gay City News publisher Jennifer Goodstein greets former Governor David Paterson.

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Charles Rice-González.

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Lisa Cannistraci.

Staceyann Chin, flanked by presenter and marriage equality pioneer Michael Sabatino, the minority leader of the Yonkers City Council.

a series called “Courageous Conversations,” where artists, writers, and activists help queer community members build resilience in the post-Trump era. The writer, who teaches English at Hostos Community College, said he is finish-

ing a novel called “The Hearts of Hunts Point” and just embarking on a new book that will be both a memoir and a historical account of queer activism in the Bronx. Lisa Cannistraci, co-owner of Henrietta Hudson, gave a fiercely

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activist speech: “The old concept of intersectionality is more important now than ever!” In her sexy, raspy voice, she added, “The most important thin-

IMPACT AWARDS, continued on p.23

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22

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


IMPACT AWARDS, from p.22

gis protecting our Muslim brothers and sisters, our trans community, and people of color — for every reason!” Cannistraci, honored for her advocacy for youth, seniors, and queer people as a member of Community Board 2 and as vice president of Marriage Equality USA, told attendees, “When we won marriage equality, I did relax a little bit of time, but that was stupid! Now I’m resisting! I’m all about boycotting North Carolina [for its anti-LGBTQ law], just like we boycotted Colorado!,” for Amendment 2 in the 1990s. Speaking directly to Gay City News’ Paul Schindler, she said, “We’re looking to you to rise and resist!” Bryan John Ellicott, a 27-yearold bisexual trans man from Staten Island, was honored for his scrappy activism, including suing the city Parks Department when he was forced to leave a Staten Island public pool for changing in the men’s locker room, and fighting the tampon tax and anti-choice politicians. Ellicott serves on the staff of out gay Brooklyn City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, whom he called his “best friend,” as well as on the board of BiNet-USA. Ellicott told event-goers, “I wasn’t allowed to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Staten Island, because I’m bisexual and transgender. I want us to fight so that the trans community and the bisexual community will not be erased going forward.” Former New York State Governor David Paterson, one of the most pro-LGBTQ officials ever to serve in the State Senate, was the first honoree of the evening. In a thoughtful aside, Paterson told Gay City News that he thinks it’s urgent that progressives develop the “patience” to learn how to organize and change

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Honoree Edie Windsor (center) with Gay City News’ editor-in-chief Paul Schindler and presenter CathyMarino Thomas, a 2016 Impact Award honoree.

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Honoree Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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Honoree Robyn Streisand, a marketing executive who founded Titanium, a collective of 17 of what she terms “best-in-class, client-centric companies who also happen to be certified-diverse.”

Honoree Therese Rodriguez (right), executive director of the Apicha Community Health Center, with Wendy Stark, executive director of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, a 2016 Impact Award honoree and one of the evening’s presenters.

the minds of many who voted for Trump. “There’s a very great amount of education that needs to be done. Some of our hysteria is getting in the way of organizing” among those who mistakenly thought that voting for Trump would be in their interests, the former governor said. “We need a more thought-out strategy than just reacting.” Competing with Paterson for most mobbed awardee of the evening were celebrated U.S. v. Wind-

sor litigant Edie Windsor and performance poet, actor, and author Staceyann Chin. Windsor, looking gorgeous in a little pink hat with a black band that matched her pants suit, beautiful long diamond earrings, and black fingernail polish, was approached by so many well-wishers that her spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor, practically had to fend them off with a stick so the 87-year-old Windsor could get to her seat. Introduced by presenter Cathy

DONNA ACETO

Marino-Thomas, former head of Marriage Equality USA and a 2016 Impact Award honoree, as “a dynamo in a small blonde body,” Windsor said from the stage, “Given the circumstances, there’s a surprising joy in this room tonight, and the joy is there because it’s a room full of gay activists and their supporters, and we’re all present and not hurt! I can’t tell you how you thrill my heart.”

IMPACT AWARDS, continued on p.33

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GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

23


PERSPECTIVE: The Nation’s Health Care Debate PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

jgoodstein@cnglocal.com FOUNDING EDITOR IN-CHIEF & ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER PAUL SCHINDLER

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Obamacare Works — Just Ask Mike Pence

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A

s governor of Indiana, Mike Pence slashed state health spending, eliminating Scott County Planned Parenthood — the only place for residents of that rural area to get tested for HIV. Shortly afterwards, HIV began to spread throughout this community, in large part due to an injection drug use epidemic. As the crisis spiraled out of control with 20 new cases of HIV being diagnosed each week, Pence turned to Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid program to help Scott County residents get medical care, HIV tests, and substance abuse treatment, which worked to curb the outbreak and eventually brought the number of new infections down to zero. Last month marked a victory in preserving the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid expansion, which has been a life-saver for millions of Americans. If the GOP had succeeded in replacing the ACA with the American Health Care Act, 24 million people would have lost their health insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office estimate. People across the political spectrum mobilized to oppose this ill-conceived plan that would have taken away coverage or made it harder for people to get it. Why should we consider a proposal where even one person could lose their insurance? Why should Americans who work hard and struggle to make ends meet have to worry about a need as basic as access to health care? In the battle to preserve this fundamental human right — a right, not a privilege — we must remain vigilant. Many components of the American Health Care Act are bound to resurface. They will affect every American — and they will be particularly catastrophic for people living with chronic conditions. About half of all US adults have one or more chronic condition, including diabetes, HIV/ AIDS, arthritis, and

heart disease. Everyone knows someone living with a chronic condition and how crucial it is for their health to maintain regular, comprehensive care. Without it, people living with chronic conditions are hospitalized and visit the emergency room more frequently, require costly nursing homes, rack up high bills, and get pushed into poverty. Those burdensome costs are ultimately passed on to the government, insurers, and taxpayers. At Amida Care, New York’s largest Special Needs Health Plan (SNP) for people with chronic conditions such as HIV, we’ve seen first-hand how maintaining health care leads to dramatic cost savings to the government and taxpayers. We’ve achieved a 75 percent viral suppression rate among our HIVpositive members, saving more than $110 million from 2008 through 2015 from in-patient cost-savings and other averted health care costs to New York State. Preventing just one HIV infection can save between $400,000 and $500,000 in estimated lifetime medical costs, usually borne by state Medicaid and federal programs. Clearly, when people lack adequate coverage and access to preventive care, we all pay for it. If the ACA had been repealed, topline estimates include a loss of $140 billion in federal health care funding for 2019 and the loss of 2.6 million jobs. States that haven’t expanded Medicaid will also be affected by the national market: collectively, the 19 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are estimated to lose about 338,000 jobs in 2019, even though they do not receive the direct federal matching funds for Medicaid expansion. The president promised a replacement plan that would cost less and cover more. But lowering federal spending shifts cost to state and local government. This is not solving the problem; it’s pushing the problem downstream. We need a plan that will confront the real reasons for increased cost in health care — for instance, the high cost of prescription drugs. In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo

introduced a proposal to protect New Yorkers from soaring prescription drug prices. Similar measures should be advanced nationwide. Limiting Medicaid or changing Medicaid funding via block grants or a per capita cap would severely undermine states’ ability to respond to a crisis. Natural disasters and recessions leave many unemployed, and Medicaid would no longer be able to scale up quickly to meet demand and help those affected. Likewise, it is important to maintain standards for the essential health benefits that comprehensive health care should cover so that insurers don’t exclude much-needed services and people don’t bear the burden of gaps in coverage that leave them vulnerable when illness strikes. When winning at any cost is the goal, all of us lose. We are not living up to our nation’s potential to uphold one of our most dearly held values — equal opportunity, the bedrock of the American Dream. In the wealthiest country in the world, having a chronic condition or simply aging shouldn’t bankrupt you. Hard-working Americans shouldn’t be forced into poverty because they are unable to afford care. Taking insurance away from millions of people will not make America great. In my Wisconsin home, with a banker father and a mother whose parents were union organizers, I witnessed how the right and left can work together to find solutions. We’ve made huge progress with the ACA. It is not broken; it can and must be improved to maximize what it achieves for the American people. We need smart, collaborative leaders to design a health care system that works for us all — leaders who recognize that access to healthcare for all is a win-win for everyone. Doug Wirth is the president and CEO of Amida Care (amidacareny.org), a private nonprofit community health plan that specializes in providing comprehensive health coverage and coordinated care to Medicaid members with chronic conditions. April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

Don’t Mention Gender or Race BY KELLY COGSWELL

F

or the next four years our only strategy on the national level can be to persistently say, “No!” And, “No!” And, “No!” No! to every single thing Trump does or that the Republicans propose — from Supreme Court candidates to financial reform and next season’s wars. Odds are we’ll still lose. But as bad as things seem, they’ll be worse if we sit at home with our mouths closed. Of course, there are also proactive things we can do on the local level if we can just get out of bed. Many of the rights and privileges we’ve already seen stripped away can be restored or protected, at least in part, by the states. Let us then work in our hometowns for access to health care and education and jobs, for righteous police forces, immigrant rights, environmental protection, fair voting districts. Not to mention gender and racial inequalities. Really, seriously, don’t bother mentioning those at all. We’ve known since before the election that Trump voters actually had a higher income than Clinton voters. And now that it’s over, studies confirm that having strongly bigoted ideas predicted Trump voters much more closely than in-

come. But no, let’s continue to dissect the Democratic campaign and its “failure” to reach white working class voters. Especially don’t contradict that large minority on the left still asserting that Sanders would have won “if the Dems hadn’t rigged, rigged, rigged the primary in favor of that horrible bitch.” They still believe everything Sanders said in his speeches. Nothing that Clinton did. Believe none of the criticism about their white-haired masculine savior. Believe every single attack on that girly-bitted, establishment cunt who dared talk about race or gender when it’s only class that matters. Especially the heart-breaking struggles of former factory workers and coal miners who just happened to be white. And male. It’s almost funny to watch the contortions of the white, masculinized left as they try to hide their scorn for the really, truly, actually poor. Like, for instance, immigrant women of color trying to survive in service jobs, turning up as home aides even if they can barely walk themselves after years of caring for heavy bodies, and no time off or decent insurance to fi x that back, that knee. The French are no better. I was out with a friend at a bar when he suddenly became monstrous in his hardline lefty manliness explain-

ing that poor people shouldn’t be polled on political issues because they weren’t educated, didn’t have time to be informed or the intellectual tools to think deeply about their conditions. And when I asked if he really meant that poor people couldn’t be trusted to serve as experts even on their own lives, he actually said yes. That’s patriarchy. That’s paternalism. That’s my ticket to the nuthouse. All those men who won’t let poor women stand in their way as saviors of the working class. They are all just victims themselves. Losing ground in politics, in business. Even the arts. Take that cute little animation film “Alike,” by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez, which has picked up zillions of prizes for its heartfelt observations about how society grounds out your creativity. But in the midst of the sappy music and all the manipulated feelings, nobody seems to have noticed that every single one of the hundreds of carefully universal figures whose creativity has been — let’s say it — emasculated by society was male. For the entire seven minutes, females didn’t exist at all. Weren’t in the identical dead-end cubicles, weren’t staggering down the streets to gray jobs. Weren’t among the children learning how to be gray adults.

Perhaps the animators thought our bodies would have introduced a degree of difference that would have ruined the aesthetics of their metaphor, which also carefully made the men all blue-gray and “alike” in their white collars and ties, because race would also have distracted us from talking about what really matters: the freedom and happiness of those poor disappointed men of the ruling class who expected more out of life than all this horrible sameness — that they themselves willingly reproduce. We’ve got plenty of similar men in the LGBTQ community. Some even think Trump’s not such a big deal. And maybe he’s not —for them. You’re not really a fag if you’re a white, straight-acting top, can put on a collar and tie. The one they’ll come for is the guy who swishes a little. Giggles. Or snickers and snipes. Maybe even has a few curves. Or wears colors outside the golf course. Or is of color. Or erodes the assumption that there’s something inherently “universal” or “superior” about being born with a dick. In short, challenges the idea of just what a man is or should be — an endeavor that is as worthy as calling your senator or rep. And taking to the streets one more time. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

A Fortnight’s Raucous Roundup BY ED SIKOV

I

t’s been a slow news cycle here at Media Circus, where we count news cycles as the two-week periods between issues of Gay City News, not the usual overly speedy 24-hour time frame favored by the mainstream media. So we’re going to do a roundup of all the snippets that caught our eye lately rather than focus on one or two major news stories. We’re calling the first one: “Homophobic Pig Cheats on Wife, Faces Impeachment, Resigns.” Those of us who take GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

pleasure in the exposure of gross hypocrisy have probably been following the case of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, known for his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage and for his adultery. “I have always believed in the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Bentley piously declared after the Supreme Court ruled that we were entitled to the same rights as everybody else. Ah, but nobody asked him at the time about his belief in the Ten Commandments, with its strict injunction against coveting thy neighbor’s ass. In this case,

the ass appears to have belonged to his aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a big-boned tart who broke up the governor’s marriage. Here’s what Rachel Maddow had to say about Bentley last year when the story broke: “He has been a crusading family values politician who has campaigned on the superior morality of his own marriage, his own family, and his own family values, and how he’s going to save Alabama from other people’s terrible, immoral family choices because his values and his family are superior.” Impeachment proceedings were to have begun this week, but the

governor struck a plea deal and ignominiously resigned. The story comes to us via NewNowNext.com, a most entertaining website aimed at perverts like me –– and, presumably, you and the New York Times. Just so we’re not accused of focusing only on the moral crimes of the homophobic pig community, our next piece is called “Piggy Gay Mayor Allegedly Paid Boys for Sex.” According to the accounts of three different men, the openly gay mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray, had a habit in the 1980s of picking up street kids and — as NewNowNext puts it — having “his way

RAUCOUS ROUNDUP, continued on p.31

25


RAUCOUS ROUNDUP, from p.25

with them.” (This locution always calls to mind the Burger King jingle, “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us… have it your way.”) Preying on homeless teenagers is just plain disgusting; Murray denies the accusations, of course. “‘These allegations, dating back to a period of more than 30 years, are simply not true,’ he said, adding that the suit would not deter him from seeking reelection,” NewNowNext reports. Who cares how old the stories are? Only one of the accusers has chosen to remain anonymous; the other two, Lloyd Anderson and Jeff Simpson, tell remarkably similar stories about their alleged encounters with Murray, and they see no need to shield their identities. “You don’t do no dirt to nobody and think you’re going to get away with it, you know,” one of the men told the Seattle Times, adding one too many negatives to his comment, just to confuse us. The remarkable Vice media empire just keeps growing and get-

GAVIN GRIMM, from p.10

strated that some entities will not protect the rights of others unless compelled to do so. Today, hatred, intolerance, and discrimination persist — and are sometimes even promoted — but by challenging unjust policies rooted in invidious discrimination, G.G. takes his place among other modern-day human rights leaders who strive to ensure that, one day, equality will prevail, and that the core dignity of every one of our brothers and sisters is respected by lawmakers and others who wield power over their lives. G.G. is and will be famous, and justifiably so. But he is not “famous” in the hollowed-out Hollywood sense of the term. He is famous for the reasons celebrated by the renowned Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, in her extraordinary poem “Famous.” Despite his youth and the formidable power of those arrayed against him at every stage of these proceedings, “[he] never forgot what [he] could do.” Judge Floyd has authorized me GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

ting better. Now there are 14 different Vice “channels,” including Vice Sports, Munchies, and Motherboard — which runs stories on tech and science issues — like, for instance, “Why Your City Smells Like Jizz and Vomit Every Spring.” Answer: foul smelling trees in bloom. An example: “The Callery pear smells like straightup semen… So many people have called it the ‘semen tree’ that it warranted an entry in Urban Dictionary, aptly defined as the odor of ‘used sex rags.’” I love Vice. On one Vice channel, Broadly, is a terrific but disturbing story about the difficulties faced by the large but still harassed LGBTQ community in India. It’s not exactly illegal to be gay on the subcontinent; you just can’t act on it. A law dating from colonial times, thrown out in 2009, but then reinstated by the nation’s high court in 2013 threatens up to 10 years in jail for anyone who engages in “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” a myth kept alive by bigots who remain deliberately unaware

to state that he joins in the views expressed herein. N. S. Nye, “Famous”: The river is famous to the fish. The loud voice is famous to silence, which knew it would inherit the earth before anybody said so. The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds watching him from the birdhouse. The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek. The idea you carry close to your bosom is famous to your bosom. The boot is famous to the earth, more famous than the dress shoe, which is famous only to floors. The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it and not at all famous to the one who is pictured. I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back. I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.

that about 1,500 species have exhibited homosexual tendencies. Specifically, oral and anal sex are no-nos. Thus are Indians discouraged from enjoying two of the most fun activities known to humankind. There are no gay bars per se in India’s major cities, but a lot of straight bars regularly hold gay nights. And the Internet is rife with resources; websites such as Gay Bombay, Salvation, and Gaysie Family provide information and camaraderie to India’s obviouslynot-in-hiding LBGTQ community. Dating and hookup apps such as Grinder and Gaydar also serve as ways to announce gay events to people, but as in, say, Russia, users run the risk of meeting not a sex partner but a blackmailer or worse. Violently worse. The article’s author, Jeena Sharma, tells the harrowing story of a 22-year-old woman named Akanksha, who met someone she thought was a new friend on a dating site only to find out that she was actually a family “friend” threatening to extort money to keep her from informing AkankHOUSE HOUSE CALLS CALLS

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sha’s family. “‘We Exist’: Inside India’s Secretive Gay Nightlife Scene” is an excellent piece. Ending our little roundup of what’s been in the media lately is a heartwarming justice-is-served piece from Queerty we’re calling “What Goes Around Comes In Their Asses, or Hunky Hunkies Soon to Become Bodybuilders’ Bitches.” Seems that two rather good-looking Hungarian men who ran a sex slave ring in Miami and New York were recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for their crime. They and a third man, who got off easy with only an 11-year sentence, lured unwitting young Hungarian men to this country with the promise of free flights to the U.S., visas, and legal escort work they were told would earn them $3,500 to $5,000 a month. Instead, they got sex slavery. The young men were forced to perform sex acts with each other on webcams or with “clients” from 18 to 24 hours a day. They were

RAUCOUS ROUNDUP, continued on p.46

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lished practice was sufficient to prove injury. “If a discriminatory policy is openly declared,� wrote Wright, “then it is unnecessary for a plaintiff to demonstrate it is followed in order to obtain injunctive or declaratory relief. We thus find immaterial any dispute in the record� about whether it was the policy or the practice that was in effect and what the meaning of the 1995 memo’s withdrawal from the Department’s website was. “A secret change in policy or procedure cannot moot an action based on a published policy statement that has been cited by the agency as excluding the plaintiffs from eligibility.� In the final section of his opinion, Wright intimated what the state’s appeal was really all about. Nebraska was not actually contesting Judge

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or Call: Cynthia Soto

   

NEBRASKA, from p.19

UNIQUE FAMILY, from p.20

sex discrimination because of gender stereotyping, relying on the Supreme Court’s 1989 Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins ruling that held that discrimination against a woman for her failure to conform to the employer’s stereotyped views of how a woman should act and present herself could violate the statute. This was enough for Moore. “The Smiths contend that discrimination against women (like them) for failure to conform to stereotype norms concerning to or with whom a woman should be attracted, should marry, and/ or should have children is discrimination on the basis of sex under the FHA,â€? he wrote. “The Court agrees‌ such stereotypical norms are no different from other stereotypes associated with women, such as the way she should dress or act (e.g., that a woman should not be overly aggressive, or should not act macho), and are products of sex stereotyping.â€? Moore also stated agreement with the Smiths’ argument that “discrimination against a transgender (here, Rachel) because of her gender-nonconformity is sex discrimination. In other words, that discrimination based on applying gender stereotypes to someone who was assigned a certain sex (here, male) at birth, constitutes discrimination because of sex.â€? Moore took care to emphasize that

Colborn’s conclusion that the policy or practice is unconstitutional. Rather, it doesn’t want to pay court costs and attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs! The state’s lawyers argued that Colborn abused his discretion in awarding costs and fees and should have declared the case moot and dismissed once the state removed the 1995 memo from its website. The district court, in late 2015, had awarded the plaintiffs $28,849.25 in costs and $145,111.30 in attorneys’ fees. Lead attorneys for the plaintiffs are Amy Miller of the ACLU of Nebraska, Leslie Cooper of ACLU’s national LGBT & HIV Project, and cooperating attorneys Garrard R. Beeney and W. Rudolph Kleysteuber of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Amicus briefs in support of plaintiffs were filed by the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Child Welfare League of America.

his ruling was based on the issue of stereotyping, not “solely because of Rachel’s status as transgender [or] that the Smiths were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or identity.� The court, then, was not explicitly holding that discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity per se violates the FHA’s ban on sex discrimination. Still, Moore embraced such a broad view of sex stereotyping that his opinion appears to have much the same effect. Moore’s finding on the “familial status� discrimination claim was more straightforward, given clear precedent that it violates the FHA for a landlord to have an “adults only� policy and discriminate against prospective tenants because they have children. And the court found it relatively simple to rule in the Smiths’ favor on their state law claims, since Colorado specifically forbids housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is defined to include “transgender status.� The next stage of the lawsuit will be to determine the damages or relief that the court might order. The Smiths are represented by Karen Lee Loewy and Omar Francisco Gonzalez-Pagan, from Lambda Legal’s New York office, and cooperating attorneys from Holland & Hart LLP’s Denver office, Matthew Paul Castelli and Benjamin Nichols Simler. April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


DONNA ACETO

NYC AIDS Memorial co-founders Paul Kelterborn (left) and Christopher Tepper (second from right) with Gay City News’ Paul Schindler and Dr. Ross Hewitt, the associate medical director for HIV Services at MetroPlus Health Plan, the evening’s presenting sponsor.

IMPACT AWARDS, from p.23

Chin, the Jamaica-born Drama Desk Award-winner and “Def Poetry Jam” veteran, wore maroon tights and a purple-and-black cloak above a pink and white dress. The performance poet riveted the crowd’s attention in her talk. “We have to get back to being a radical community,” she said. “Being a dyke for me has always been political, just like being black and

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

being Caribbean has always been political for me. One of magical things about being gay is that we are disruptive of this white heteronormative narrative.” Chin, who now has a five-yearold child, noted that when she came to New York, she thought, “this is a place where a dyke could be a dyke and have sex with other dykes!” While being interviewed by Gay City News outside the hall,

DONNA ACETO

Honoree Leo Preziosi, founder and executive director of Live Out Loud.

Chin was approached by many fans, including a Russian immigrant on the Grand Prospect Hall waitstaff who asked with great interest about “what year lesbians really started to come out in New York,” and a very young African-American woman who asked shyly if Chin was on Instagram. (She is.) Chin told the newspaper she’s working on a piece in response to the gentrification of Crown Heights,

DONNA ACETO

Novelist, essayist, and author Christopher Bram.

the neighborhood she lives in. And she told the attendees, “It’s time to connect with people who are not middle-class and white, and with people who are being forced out of their house due to gentrification. It’s time to pull in all the voices that are invisible.” For profiles of the 2017 Impact Award honorees, visit http://gaycitynews.nyc/2017-gay-city-newsimpact-awards/.

33


TRAVEL

Dreaming of Summer New York State offers unique getaway opportunities for every LGBTQ traveler BY ROSS D. LEVI

I

t’s hard to believe, with snow a not so distant memory, but it’s only a matter of weeks until the unofficial start of summer. A great way to get there quicker — in your mind, at least — is to have a summer getaway booked and just awaiting your arrival. This is particularly important for destinations that sell out soon after summer gets underway. New York State offers one-of-akind, world-class vacation opportunities for every interest –– from sun and sand to natural outdoor beauty, culinary delights, arts and culture, special events, and so much more. For many, summer is synonymous with the beach, and some of the world’s best are found on Long Island. You can’t go wrong with Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Hither Hills, or Montauk Point, especially when paired with a tour of scenic wineries or the historic Gold Coast mansions that inspired “The Great Gatsby.” The Fire Island beach communities of Cherry Grove and The Pines are particular favorites for LGBTQ visitors. Families also make their way to Splish Splash Water Park, which the Travel Channel rated one of the nation’s best. In New York State, beaches mean more than just the ocean, with beautiful fresh water beaches throughout the state. The Thousand Islands alone feature Sandy Island, Selkirk Shores, Southwick Beach, and Westcott Beach State Parks. The region has other water adventures, from cruises to historic island castles, to rides aboard antique wooden boats, to some of the clearest shipwreck scuba diving in the nation. Outdoor beauty in New York isn’t limited to the waterfront. The high peaks of the Adirondacks beckon hikers of all skill levels, while some prefer pampering at one of the posh resorts of Lake Placid or Lake George, along with visits to the Adirondack Museum or to the Wild Center nature museum.

34

DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT

Boldt Castle in the 1000 Islands region in the St. Lawrence River along the Canadian border.

The Catskills offer a natural getaway close to the city, along with charming towns for shopping, cultural activities like the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and outdoor adventures like North America’s highest and longest zipline. Fun resorts include the boutique Woodbury Hotel with rooms inspired by movies and TV shows, and retro cabins at Kate’s Lazy Meadow, created by Kate Pierson of the B-52s. Niagara Falls belongs on every bucket list, and you can experience them up close whether on board the Maid of the Mist or walking the Cave of the Winds’ Hurricane Deck at Niagara Falls State Park. Tour masterworks of Frank Lloyd Wright in nearby Buffalo, where they are celebrating the architect’s 150th birthday in 2017. New York State is a foodie’s heaven. Central New York is gaining a reputation as the nation’s Craft Brew Central, with tours, tastings, festivals, and concerts at breweries from Cooperstown to Utica. The Finger Lakes are known for their beautiful lakeside wineries, some with farm-totable cafes or romantic overnight accommodations. And you can do more than taste — with classes, demonstrations, workshops, and more at places like the New York Wine & Culinary Center in

DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT

The Fire Island National Seashore includes the beach communities of Cherry Grove and The Pines.

DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT

The thrill of the mist at Niagara Falls.

Canandaigua and, in the Hudson Valley, at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture and the granddaddy of them all, the Culinary Institute of America. The Hudson Valley also offers the opportunity to see art in unique settings. Dia: Beacon has contemporary art in a converted cereal factory, while sculpture parks like Storm King Arts Center and The Fields at OMI allow you to enjoy works of art and the summer weather in pastoral natural settings. On the other side of the state, the lakeside Victorian village that is the Chautauqua Institution comes to life every summer,

bringing art lovers from across the world for musical and dance performances, lectures, and more. Nearby, in Lucy’s hometown of Jamestown, is the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz National Center of Comedy, celebrating Desi’s 100th birthday. In the Capital Region, visitors take a break from watching the thoroughbreds at stately Saratoga Race Course to take in performances under the stars at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, summer home to the New York Ballet and site of concerts from classical to rock.

NEW YORK TRAVEL, continued on p.36

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


TRAVEL

No Wrong Way In New Orleans The Big Easy celebrates a storied history and an openness to everything new

KELSY CHAUVIN

For beignets, a stop at Café du Monde in the French Quarter is a must.

BY KELSY CHAUVIN

W

hether you’re a New Orleans first-timer or a deep fan who can’t get enough, this city seems ever ready to charm you anew. Yes, it’s a historic place — one of America’s oldest cities, in fact — and its heritage is a huge point of pride for locals. But part of its legacy is welcoming travelers and inducting them into the Big Easy spirit. That may involve vintage dives, hidden haunts, or the next generation of cultural and culinary hotspots. More than anything, it’s an easygoing destination where people can relax and be themselves. That’s a major reason why LGBTQ travelers love New Orleans. This city loves color, whether on a Rainbow Flag, Mardi Gras beads, or the whirling feather boas of Southern Decadence. Classic Gay Revelry So much of what we know and love about New Orleans hinges on the French Quarter. It’s home to Café du Monde for beignets, Preservation Hall for live jazz, the French Market for souvenir browsing, and Fiorella’s Café for po-boys. They’re the kind of classic spots whose flavor long ago earned National Historic Landmark status for the Vieux Carré (“old square” in French).

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

Today’s Quarter is just as lively as it was back when pirates and smugglers were among the city’s savvy entrepreneurs. Duck into one of their original buildings, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, for a drink inside a landmark dating to the 1720s. Or head to its LGBTQ neighbor bar down the block, Café Lafitte in Exile, opened in 1933 and claiming to be the country’s oldest gay bar. It’s open 24 hours a day, so you can sip strong drinks among the sprits of past patrons like Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams at literally any time, day or night. Café Lafitte in Exile is part of the New Orleans Fruit Loop, an online community calendar for the French Quarter’s gay bars and the all-night diner that feeds their latenight patrons, Clover Grill. (FYI, its chicken-fried steak will ease any hangover.) The local queer community gets to enjoy carousing countless ways, including a spring Pride festival and nighttime parade, this year over the weekend of June 9-11. The parade happens that Saturday, marching right through the Quarter and back to the neighboring Marigny, where the party is sure to hit longtime LGBTQ outpost the New Orleans Country Club. Come fall, Southern Decadence continues its now 45-year-old annual queer celebration with a long Labor Day weekend of parties and

KELSY CHAUVIN

A horsedrawn trolley in the French Quarter.

KELSY CHAUVIN

Rainbow flags on Bourbon Street.

a Bourbon Street procession that’s raunchier than Pride. Yet it feels almost necessary in a town like New Orleans, where free-form bacchanalia is essentially a way of life, at least during festivals. The French Quarter has always been the main tourist zone, so hotels here are easy to come by for any budget. The centrally located Royal Sonesta is elegant and affordable with the bonus of a rooftop pool and courtyard. Big chains offer packages with discounts for longer stays and bookings well in advance. For something more personal, New Orleans Hotel Collection operates six gay-friendly boutique hotels around the Quarter, each with

their own historic character, prime locations, and quiet courtyards (the Bourbon Orleans, Audubon Cottages, and Dauphine Orleans with swimming pools, too). Bonus: This year the company is waving its LGBT banner high for its “Decadence Festival Sweepstakes Getaway,” with a grand prize of airfare, four nights in a balcony suite, dinner, bar tab, paddlewheel steamboat tour, and other perks over Southern Decadence weekend. Enter the drawing by June 30 online at neworleanshotelcollection.com/southern-decadencenew-orleans-vacation-getaway.

NOLA, continued on p.36

35


NEW YORK TRAVEL, from p.34

As if all this wasn’t enough, 2017 is a year of special New York milestones. Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, is the epicenter for the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, with Convention Days activities that include glassmaking aboard a barge by an all-female team from the Corning Museum of Glass. New York’s Erie Canal turns 200 years old, and in addition to canal cruises and even the opportunity to rent and pilot your own canal barge for an overnight excursion, there are events like Water Music, with the Albany Symphony Orchestra playing from a barge at waterfront venues. Literally hundreds of historic sites across the state will host

NOLA, from p.35

Outside the Quarter Hop on the famous St. Charles streetcar to check out neighborhoods like the Garden District, where you can pass a whole day strolling, shopping, sipping, and snacking along Magazine Street. While you’re in the area, drift over to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, an emporium of gastronomic history and artifacts that also houses the Museum of the American Cocktail. Grab lunch or a drink there, too, at Toups South, helmed by “Top Chef” fan favorite Isaac Toups, and featuring a magnificent 1851 bar recovered after Hurricane Katrina. The Warehouse Arts District is the culinary and gallery area that continues to see incredible restaurants and stylish hotels flourish. The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery has been a trendsetting hotel for the city, incorporating local art and music within its handsome interiors, plus one of the best restaurants and cocktail menus in town at Chef Nina Compton’s Compère Lapin. The Ace Hotel recently joined the scene, too, adding its hipster flair to the district along with rooftop bar Alto, the “cocktail-friendly oyster bar” Seaworthy, and the city’s first Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Naturally, seafood is a staple here. The more modern Annunciation Restaurant capitalizes on

36

DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT

DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT

A lighthouse on Fire Island.

The Millbrook Winery in Dutchess County, up the Hudson River from the city.

events in connection with Path Through History Weekend, June 17-18. Get the idea? It’s all here, and only here in New York State. Are

you ready for the summer?

the Gulf coast’s seasonal bounty, mixing daily catches with hints of Asian flavors, like its zingy crab claws marinated in light vinegar, topped with crisp peppers. Chef Jacob Cureton also seduces diners with standards like gumbo, etouffee, and grilled fish. Venture closer to the convention center and you might be surprised at the real-deal Cajun dishes served at Grand Isle, from classic boiled shrimp and crawfish to alligator-sausage po-boys and an unforgettable fisherman’s stew. If you’re over seafood, don’t worry, they also serve St. Louis ribs. Or head to Cochon, the inventive, pork-centric restaurant that some say kicked off the Warehouse District’s culinary buzz back in 2006. There’s no easy way to summarize New Orleans’ unique appeal to travelers. If it seems like there’s something for everybody, yes, there is. But everyone has their favorite bits. Being there in the flesh is the only way to understand what’s so beautiful and warm about this city. It’s a place where authenticity is effortless, and discovery is intimate. Anything goes, and everyone gets to enjoy it. Kelsy Chauvin is a writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, specializing in travel, culture, and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kelsycc.

Ross D. Levi is vice president, Marketing Initiatives, Empire State Development/ NYS Division

of Tourism, and coordinator of I LOVE NEW YORK LGBT. More information on planning a New York State LGBT vacation is available at iloveny.com/lgbt.

KELSY CHAUVIN

An impromptu assemblage of musicians at Jackson Square.

KELSY CHAUVIN

Chef Jacob Cureton offers up a diverse medley of treats at the Annunciation Restaurant in the Warehouse District.

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


would like to extend a special thank you to our 2017 Impact Award Sponsors Presenting Sponsor:

Our other Sponsors:

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

37


THEATER

Living History Crucial queer issues examined through sharp, unforgiving lenses BY DAVID KENNERLEY hen it comes to queer theater, no one is more talented — or eminently influential — than Harvey Fierstein. “Torch Song Trilogy,” “La Cage Aux Folles,” “Hairspray,” “Casa Valentina,” “Kinky Boots” — these are just a few of the iconic works he wrote or starred in (or both). And remember, he was one of the first-ever out gay celebrities and has long been a driving force for LGBTQ causes. At age 62, the gravel-voiced virtuoso shows no signs of slowing down. Somehow, between adapting the book for NBC’s upcoming live broadcast of “Bye Bye Birdie” (starring Jennifer Lopez) and re-jiggering the text for the first-ever Broadway revival of “Torch Song” (starring Michael Urie), Fierstein has returned to his downtown OffBroadway roots in Martin Sherman’s “Gently Down the Stream,” courtesy of the Public Theater. The delicate drama is a meditation on 75 years of the gay rights crusade, chronicling its highs and lows as filtered through Beau (Fierstein, in top form), a cocktail pianist who witnessed many of those events. Both personal and universal, intimate and epic, the play, directed by Sean Mathias, is nothing short of astonishing. Not that the endeavor comes off as a history lesson. It’s actually a poignant love story between Beau, born in New Orleans and now living in London, and an eccentric young lawyer with bipolar tendencies named Rufus (Gabriel Ebert, who appeared in “Casa Valentina”). The romance starts in 2001 as a Gaydar hookup and continues for well over a decade. Never mind that Rufus ends up taking another lover, Harry (Christopher Sears), a tattooed performance artist, on the side. Rufus insists that Beau recount his personal stories against the backdrop of landmark moments in gay history, even videotaping them for posterity. In the 1960s, Beau played piano for legendary cabaret singer Mabel Mercer, a cherished gay icon who sang torch songs about elusive male lovers written by homosexual men like Cole Porter and Noël Coward. Rufus suggests the era of secrecy

W

38

JOAN MARCUS

Gabriel Ebert and Harvey Fierstein in Martin Sherman’s “Gently Down the Stream,” directed by Sean Mathias, at the Public Theater through May 21.

JAMES LEYNSE

Ryan Spahn, Lou Liberatore, Leland Wheeler, and Matthew Montelongo in Michael McKeever’s “Daniel’s Husband,” directed by Joe Brancato, at the Cherry Lane Theatre through April 28.

and furtiveness was a romantic time, much better than now. “So it seemed, but it wasn’t,” Beau replies. “Everyone was in pain, my dear. Someone like Mabel confirmed our misery and mythologized it, but misery it was. And as a result, everyone was drunk.” Beau recalls the heady gay scene in Times Square (the Astor Bar and the YMCA, in particular) during World War II, where sailors and soldiers would make discreet contact. Once the war ended, McCarthyism put a stop to all that. He tells how he lost his lover, George, an energetic director of an avant-garde theater troupe, to AIDS in the 1980s. The most affecting recollection concerns his beloved Kip, a hippie activ-

DANIEL’S HUSBAND Primary Stages Cherry Lane Theatre 38 Commerce St. Btwn. Barrow & Bedford Sts. Through Apr. 28 Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. $70; PrimaryStages.org 95 mins., no intermission

ist who perished in the infamous 1973 UpStairs Lounge arson attack in New Orleans, along with 31 other gay men. Beau was at the scene that night, but survived. When civil unions become legal in

GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. Btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Through May 21 Tue.-Sun. at 7:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 1:30 p.m. $85; PublicTheater.org 100 mins., no intermission

the UK, Rufus asks Beau to make their relationship “real, under the law.” Beau will have none of it, declaring, “We’re supposed to be outlaws inventing new

LIVING HISTORY, continued on p.51

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


IN CONCERT

La Ross Returns The Empress of Pop at City Center, showing us how it’s done BY DAVID NOH iana Ross — that diva of divas, from a day when the real thing existed (acclaimed as such by critics and public, not presumptuously describing themselves as such, like Demi Lovato did recently on James Corden’s show) — is coming to town! On April 24 - 29, she will be in residence at City Center for a series of concerts that will give both old and new fans a chance to revel in all of her big-haired, Mackiesequinned, Motown-Billie Holiday-”Mahogany”-”Touch Me in the Morning” fabulousness. A lifetime fan of hers — hello, I’m gay! — I saw her first in my living room in Hawaii on TV in black and white on “Shindig,” I believe. And, boy, did she stand out from the other two Supremes, with her enormous eyes, wraith-like, hunched-shoulders posture, and fluent, oh-so sexy voice, belting out “Baby Love,” a song that a young Maggie Smith used to drive Dame Edith Evans mad with in their adjoining dressing rooms during a West End run of “Hay Fever.” “Who’s that pretty Hawaiian girl?” my eternal cut-up of a Dad commented. Hit after hit followed, and then came “Lady Sings the Blues,” which also really introduced me to Billie Holiday — though their voices couldn’t have been more dissimilar. I finally saw her live in a surprisingly intimate venue, the showroom of Chicago’s Palmer House. She was hugely pregnant and wore a be-plumed gown that made her look like Big Bird, she said. I was present at both of her legendary Central Park concerts, and will never forget the look in her eyes, as, immediately after her entrance in a resplendent Issey Miyake multi-hued fringe coat, a blanket of thick black storm clouds rolled toward her, ruining a perfectly sunny day and her first gig in the park. Ross turned 73 last month, and I truly hope the lady owns it, because if that’s what a septuagenar-

DIANA ROSS

D

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

New York City Center 131 W. 55th St. Apr. 24-29 $59.50-$357; nycitycenter.org

feel about it today? DR: So many “Endless Memories” and so much beauty and talent. It may be time to write another book. DN: You are the fashion icon for all time. We all loved “Mahogany,” and especially your designs. DR: I always keep creating. I love designing my own costumes. I love glamorous gowns on stage.

AL WATSON

Diana Ross.

ian looks like, I say bring it. How high did I jump at the chance to interview her, when it arose? Ain’t no mountain… DAVID NOH: Your voice is a miracle. Do you do anything to care for it, vocalize or coach or does it just come naturally? DIANA ROSS: That is so sweet of you. It’s a wonderful compliment. I do think, vocally, my voice has my heart in it. I do try to care for my vocal cords gently. I like tea and local honey. DN: This is for Gay City News and of course you have always been so important and an idol to our community. In these encouraging in so many ways, yet troubled times, how do you feel about your gay support and is there anything you’d like to say to us in particular?

DR: You’re beautiful and I love you! DN: Your daughters are enjoying such splendid success. I’ve already interviewed Rhonda [Ross Kendrick] about her singing career. And Tracee [Ellis Ross] is genius on “Blackish.” How do you feel about them and all your children’s talent? DR: I have a huge smile on my face all the time. I love them dearly, and they know it. DN: Although largely put down, “The Wiz” has really come to be appreciated for all the wonderful things in it — your passionate, funky interpretation of the songs, Quincy Jones’ elegant arrangements, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, the glamorous High 1970s look of the Oz scenes set in the World Trade Center. How do you

DN: Is there an archive of all your outfits somewhere on the planet and if so how is it maintained? DR: My daughter Tracee will not let me give anything away, so I have pretty much kept everything. I have of all of my stage costumes and some very special items that I’ve kept over the years in storage. And she has a lot of them, too. We both love clothes and designing. Evan [her son by Arne Naess, her second husband] and Ashlee [Simpson, Evan’s wife] love great style, too. Each of my children has their own personality and their own personal style. All different, unique, and special. DN: What is a typical day like for Diana Ross? The fantasy of course is you wake up in a perfumed bed of roses, with champagne and caviar for breakfast — all of it impossibly glamorous and fab. DR: Yes, of course, yes! I found this body pillow that I can hug all night long. Especially when sleeping alone. [Laughs.] Caviar is not something you have all the time, only when it’s free. [Laughs.] I love caviar. In the morning, I get up very early before the sunrise. I drink a full bottle of water with lemon

SUPREME DIVA, continued on p.46

39


FILM

Animating the Mythology of High School Dash Shaw brings colorful verve to familiar tropes about adolescence BY STEVE ERICKSON artoonist, writer, and director Dash Shaw’s “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” is a complete delight, but it works almost entirely on the level of style. A takeoff on ‘80s teen movies, it dramatizes Dash’s own adolescence in animated form, elevating it to apocalyptic form. Yet all but a handful of the characters seem completely disposable. There’s enough gore that if the film weren’t animated, it would certainly be rated R. Shaw manages to pull off a rare balance of tones: there’s something really nihilistic about his film, yet it feels cheerful and optimistic (and not because of the storyline about teenagers reconciling and surviving an earthquake together). He may be the Quentin Tarantino of American animation. “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” was hand-drawn over the course of several years, mostly by Shaw and his partner Jane Samborski in their kitchen. A few other animators were involved and rather than try to make the different artists’ work merge together seamlessly, the

C

GKIDS

A scene from Dash Shaw’s animated feature “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea.”

film revels in the clash of different styles. Shaw’s own drawing tends to be crude, even ugly. But even so, there are odd moments of beauty even at the bleakest moments –– as a character is drowning, we see a lovely rendering of their lungs against a carefully drawn backdrop of cross-hatched lines. As Shaw’s film begins, Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and Assaf (Reggie Watts) are best friends about to start their sophomore year at Tides High School. They’re united by their love of journalism; together, they write for a newspaper edited by Verti (Maya Rudolph). However, no one reads the pa-

per, despite stories written by Dash about a haunting at the high school, and its journalism grows ever more yellow until Dash becomes envious of Assaf and Verti’s increasing intimacy and turns on them. None of this, however, matters once an earthquake strikes their school, which was irresponsibly built without proper protections. As water builds, Assaf, Verti, Dash, a small group of their classmates, and the lunch lady (Susan Sarandon) brave danger to climb the school’s levels — the structure refers explicitly to video games — and try and escape. Shaw shows a knowledge of art

history belied by the simplicity of many of his images. “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” refers to Abstract Expressionism and offers up spinning colored grids and circles out of Op Art. The film’s sensibility also suggests a familiarity with psychedelic drugs, or at least the culture inspired by them. In an interview with Thomas Beard, Shaw points to Japanese animator Osamu Tezuka and his “Astro Boy” cartoons. The cast of characters in “My Entire High School Sinking Into the

HIGH SCHOOL, continued on p.41

A Search for Transcendence Falls Short James Gray’s ambitious, faltering examination of colonialism in South America BY STEVE ERICKSON ames Gray’s films have always pleased a cult following, particularly in France, but they’ve never really connected with a wide audience despite his talent. While he began making gangster films set in Brooklyn’s Jewish community, he became a major filmmaker when he left genre behind and began drawing on life — his own and that of his ancestors. But this didn’t bring him an audience either. According to The New Yorker’s Richard Brody, his last fi lm, “The Immigrant,” earned $4 million worldwide on an $18 million bud-

J

40

AMAZON STUDIOS/ BLEECKER STREET

Charlie Hunnam and Tom Holland in James Gray’s “The Lost City Z.”

get. It didn’t help that its American distributor barely promoted it, despite the stunning lead performance by Oscar-winning ac-

tress Marion Cotillard. Gray has now stepped outside his comfort zone entirely — though he continues to shoot

exclusively in 35mm — by setting a fi lm completely in Europe and South America. Inevitably, the conditions of its production replicated some of what its characters go through. I wish this all had led to another fi lm as good as “The Immigrant,” but “The Lost City of Z” is the closest he’s come to making a middlebrow arthouse fi lm in the MerchantIvory vein. Inspired by the true story told by David Grann’s history of the same name, “The Lost City of Z” begins with Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) as a relatively young

LOST CITY, continued on p.41

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

HIGH SCHOOL, from p.40

Sea� is as multi-racial as you’d expect from a moderately woke 2016 film, with substantial parts given to Watts and Rudolph. But Shaw’s style questions the whole concept of how race should be represented. Even his white characters rarely have pink skin. The teenagers of this high school change skin color in the blink of an eye, as if they were dancing under a wild light show that only exists in Shaw’s imagination. White and black people alike turn shades that have no basis in reality, like bright red. On one level, this is a purely abstract fantasy; on another, it raises a huge number of question marks about the idea of “realistic� depictions of whiteness and blackness. After all, some clueless Americans have claimed that characters in Japanese anime aren’t really meant to be Asian because they have blonde hair. “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea� knows just how smart it is, name-checking Samuel R. Delany, Margaret Atwood, and Ursula K. Le Guin and –– for the skeptics

MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA Directed by Dash Shaw GKids Opens Apr. 14 The Metrograph 7 Ludlow St. Btwn. Canal & Hester Sts. metrograph.com

in the audience –– offering its own negative reviews at the end: “corny as hell.� Shaw may be inspired by ‘80s John Hughes films, but his tale of teenage angst and broken friendship really isn’t that interesting in and of itself, nor are his liftings from disaster movies. What’s great about “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea� is the notion of setting these narrative banalities in a visual landscape that’s anything but banal, with constantly shifting style, color, and perspective. Mythologizing one’s adolescence has rarely been driven home with such imaginative force.

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LOST CITY, from p.40

man in the earliest years of the 20th century. On an exploration to Bolivia, he interacts with indigenous people and discovers artifacts from an unknown culture that he dubs Z. He starts to think of Z as a lost paradise, akin to the Spaniards’ Eldorado. When he returns to England, he neglects his wife Nina (Sienna Miller) — his anti-racist sentiments against slavery and the common British view of native peoples as “savages� do not extend to challenging his own sexism — and slaps his son Jack (played as an adult by Tom Holland) around. As decades pass, he returns again and again to the Amazon, eventually with the grown Jack in tow. Z remains elusive. Gray has always worked as though he were the last ‘70s fi lmmaker left standing, even though his actual peer is Sofia Coppola, not her father. This isn’t a postmodern gesture, like Quentin Tarantino’s mixmaster approach to old movies derived from his days as a video store clerk or Guy GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

THE LOST CITY OF Z Directed by James Gray Amazon Studios/ Bleecker Street Opens Apr. 14 Landmark Sunshine 143 E. Houston Btwn. First & Second Aves landmarktheatres.com AMC Lincoln Square 1998 Broadway at W. 68th St. amctheatres.com

Maddin’s insertion of explicit sex fantasies into images drawn from silent fi lms made in much more prudish times. He simply loves that period of American cinema and goes on working as though nothing had changed since 1979. His inability to fi nd a wide audience reminds me of certain musicians who draw on oncemainstream sounds that would have made them major stars 35 years ago, but now struggle to land their albums in the bottom reaches of the top 40. There are moments of bril-

䉴

LOST CITY, continued on p.42

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FILM

A Failed Meditation on Acting Bruno Dumont’s comedy/ mystery falls dismally flat

to be movie stars as Binoche or Mathieu Amalric. As a director of landscapes, Dumont still has considerable skill, especially since he’s almost as interested in dirt and muck as beauty. As a director of actors, his ability seems to have gone to hell. “Slack Bay” begins just as summer vacation gets underway. The apparent existence of a family of cannibals who prey on tourists around Calais casts a pall over the festivities, and Inspector Machin (Didier Després) seems rather incompetent, he and his parents wandering over the beach. Meanwhile, the extended and rather eccentric Van Peteghem family (whose adult members are played by Binoche,

Fabrice Luchini, and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) settles in for a boisterous time. There are many elements of Dumont’s previous film, “Lil’ Quinquin” (actually a TV miniseries distributed theatrically in the US), present in “Slack Bay”: a duo of cops investigating the central mystery, the constant presence of ominous-acting, if not downright evil children. To me, “Lil’ Quinquin” resembled a Coen brothers reboot of a Robert Bresson film. With “Slack Bay,” Dumont has ditched the Bresson influence but kept the overly broad performances, tendencies toward caricature, and condescension toward the characters that often mar the Coen brothers’ work. Showing a 300-pound man fall over once is slapstick. Having him do it over and over again is cruel. The fat man/ thin man pairing of cops nods to Laurel & Hardy, and “Slack Bay” desperately aspires to the wit of silent comedy. Instead, it’s painfully unfunny.

Humor constantly loses out to bizarre bits of business. Dumont thinks that directing Binoche to yell makes her performance funnier. The rest of the time, his influences seem to be his own previous work — he repeats the levitation scene from “Humanité” several times. He depicts a transgender girl, Billie (Raph), fairly respectfully, but even so she doesn’t escape getting bashed. The ideas about acting implicit in “Slack Bay,” to the extent that they have any real merit, were expressed better in the avant-garde films of Andy Warhol in the ‘60s and Philippe Garrel in the ‘70s (particularly “Les hautes solitudes,” which was revived by the Metrograph a few months ago). Warhol gave amphetamine addicts a platform to speak for half an hour, while Garrel captured the quickly fading spirit of “Breathless” star Jean Seberg. Their work raised questions about the boundaries of documentary and performance that filmmakers like Robert Greene have based most of their careers on. At his best, Dumont too was probing what it means — in aesthetic and political terms — to give someone like the previously unemployed Emmanuel Schotte center stage at Cannes. It pains me to say this — having admired almost all his previous films and considered him one of France’s greatest living directors — but now he’s just making freakshows.

out of the film’s grasp, and deliberately so. It may be a way to redeem Britain’s whole colonial project or finally treat native people on human terms. None of the film’s many indigenous characters are fully developed. Without calling the film racist — much of its point seems to be the impossibility of whites approaching native people as equals — I’d be quite curious how it plays to mestizo audiences in Latin America. While “The Lost City of Z” takes place over a 20-year stretch in the fi rst three decades of the

20th century — Hunnam is subtly aged over its two hours and 20 minutes —it throws together the ‘70s and 1910s. As always, Francis Ford Coppola is a big influence on Gray: the dim lighting of the scenes set in England evokes Gordon Willis’ cinematography in “The Godfather,” while the raft trip down the Amazon recalls “Apocalypse Now.” Werner Herzog, a director whose fascination with the native peoples of Latin America has sometimes stretched into ethically dubious territory, also hovers over Gray here.

But the spiritual yearning that makes up such a big part of this fi lm seems to come from the real Fawcett; after all, Gray is drawing from life as much as he did with “The Immigrant,” which was inspired by his grandparents’ arrival in the US. It’s too bad that Gray never quite fi nds a satisfying way to express this longing for transcendence — it could add a fascinating new element to his aesthetic and ethos. Instead, “The Lost City of Z” remains an odd object: half lament for the damage done by colonialism, half nostalgia trip.

BY STEVE ERICKSON ometimes films turn out to be something completely different from what they promise. French director Bruno Dumont’s “Slack Bay” purports to be a comedy/ mystery about a series of disappearances in 1910 Calais. In reality, it’s about the nature of acting. Dumont has long used non-professional actors, casting them with a brave disregard for both male and female standards of beauty. In the past, I’ve seen this as an implicit — and progressive — political gesture. The Best Actor Award given to Emmanuel Schotte at Cannes in 1999 for Dumont’s “Humanité” shocked many critics. Even if one thinks “Humanité” is a masterpiece, as I do, Schotte’s performance is so odd that it makes one wonder if his character was intended to be mentally ill. It also destroys any chance of taking the film literally as a detective story. In “Slack Bay,” Dumont mixes non-professionals and some of France’s biggest stars. Juxtaposing Juliette Binoche, even if her character is supposed to be out of her mind, with a man who looks like he was made up to play Popeye and a woman who seems to have just posed for an anti-meth ad does the latter two no favors. In previous Dumont films, ordinary people existed in their own world and they had as much right

SLACK BAY

S

LOST CITY, from p.41

liance in “The Lost City of Z,” especially a three-minute scene that succinctly describes the horror of World War I and compresses everything that’s good about Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” into the length of a pop song. There’s also a transcendental element in “The Lost City of Z” new to Gray’s work, but it doesn’t quite suit him. To Fawcett, Z means something more than an anthropological and archeological curiosity. What exactly that is seems just

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Directed by Bruno Dumont In French with English subtitles Kino Lorber Opens Apr. 21 Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater 165 W. 65th St. filmlinc.com

KINO LORBER

Juliette Binoche in Bruno Dumont’s “Slack Bay.”

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Joined at the Heart Katell Quillévéré’s tale of a medical miracle rises above the sentimental BY GARY M. KRAMER eal the Living,” about a handful of lives that are changed as a result of a car accident, could have been maudlin and soapy. However, in the careful hands of director Katell Quillévéré, this is truly a lifeaffirming drama. Quillévéré and Gilles Taurand adapted Maylis de Kerangal’s celebrated 2014 novel. The story is told in two connected parts. It opens with 17-year-old Simon (Gabin Verdet) leaving his girlfriend Juliette’s (Galatéa Bellugi) bed to meet his buddies for some early morning surfing. The luminous deep blue of the waves mirrored by the road the boys drive home on, in a visual gimmick, has the road “becoming” the wave just before the car crashes. Two of the teens wore their seatbelts and had minor injuries, but Simon hadn’t. He lies in a comatose state in intensive care with head trauma. Doctors Pierre Révol (Bouli Lanners) and Thomas Rémige (Tahar Rahim) soon explain to Simon’s parents, Marianne (Emmanuelle Seigner) and Vincent (Kool Shen), that their son is brain dead. Thomas asks them to consider organ donation. It is a tough decision, and Quillévére gives her characters time to let the impact of the choice sink in. A scene in which Marianne and Vincent both hug the comatose Simon is among the most moving in the entire film. Quillévéré also generates emotion by humanizing the members of the medical staff. She reveals their idiosyncrasies: Révol sings along to rap music in his car; Rémige looks at videos of goldfinches on his computer; Jeanne (Monia Chokri) a new ICU nurse, has a sexual fantasy during a brief elevator ride. The effect adds shading to these characters, who help the patients and their families cope with unexpected tragedies like Simon’s accident. That viewers feel compassion for all the characters allows “Heal the Living” to plumb the depths of the humanity on display, not gloss over it. It brings this fragile story of life lost and regained into bold relief.

HEAL THE LIVING

“H

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

Directed by Katell Quillévéré Cohen Media Group In French with English subtitles Opens Apr. 14 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com

COHEN MEDIA GROUP

Anne Dorval in Katell Quillévéré’s “Heal the Living.”

The second and weaker half of the film chronicles Claire Méjean (Anne Dorval), a woman with a degenerative heart disease. Claire has two college age sons, Maxime (Finnegan Oldfield) and Sam (Théo Cholbi), as well as an ex-lover, Anne (Alice Taglioni), with whom she reconnects one night after Anne’s piano concert. Claire feels fragile about her tenuous existence, and is trying to reconcile her life with her kids and her ex should she suddenly pass away. The film’s title, of course, suggests how Claire’s story will be connected to Simon’s. Quillévéré generates modest tension as Claire waits for the call that a donor is ready, and she spends considerable screen time showing Claire’s team fly out to get Simon’s heart for her, with overlong scenes focused more on a stressful process than the emotions involved. Similarly, the graphic scenes of Simon’s heart being harvested and implanted in Claire, are potentially off-putting in a film that is otherwise made with such sensitivity and grace. Another minor drawback is the ambiguity of Claire’s story. Quillévéré leaves an issue between her and her son Sam unresolved, and it’s unclear whether Claire’s sons know about her relationship with Anne. Given a lovely flashback involving Simon’s courtship with Juliette — where he drops her at a funicular and then bikes to the top to kiss her when she arrives — the underdevelopment of Claire’s storyline seems strange. Still, “Heal the Living” tackles its sensitive and ethically complex subject of organ donation with aplomb. Quillévéré succeeds in showing the

preciousness of life, coaxing strong performances from her entire ensemble cast. Seigner is heartbreaking as Marianne; a scene where someone mentions the seatbelts to her triggers a powerfully effective emotional response. Dorval makes Claire a sympathetic woman, and it’s quite touching when she asks an usher to carry her up a grand staircase so she can

attend Anne’s concert. In support, Rahim gives a fine performance as Dr. Rémige, and Oldfield is particularly compelling as Claire’s son Maxime. An episode where Claire plays a cruel joke on Maxime illustrates just how devoted he is to his mother. “Heal the Living” does not break new dramatic ground, but it is an engrossing film — even if its vivid medical moments are not for the faint of heart.

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The Bronx’s Real King of Comedy New doc celebrates Robert Klein’s rich life and career BY DAVID NOH ou won’t see a funnier film this year than “Robert Klein Still Can’t Stop His Leg,” the hilarious and heartwarming documentary about the veteran comedian. One of the very few who I can always, always count on to make me laugh, he also proved a dream of an interview, totally forthcoming and utterly delightful. “I enjoy this film, myself,” he told me. “My director, Marshall Fine, had written a profile about me and was also the head of the New York Film Critics Association for a long time, a very quiet, laid back Jewish guy from Minneapolis. My basic input was the material. When Marshall got all these people [Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Jay Leno among them] to say these things about me, I said, ‘The material has got to be the best.’ We put in most of what we wanted to, except for a couple of really good bits where I talk about my father being upset when I was watching Little Richard in the 1950s: ‘What is this “Tutti Frutti” a code word for you kids?!’ It baffled him. And later on when my kid was 11, listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers — ‘What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mamma’ — it created the same parental anxiety. We couldn’t use it because the damn Chili Peppers wanted $15,000 to use four bars of their song. I actually used it in one of my HBO specials, but we had a much more limited budget on this film. “I told Marshall from the start that it can’t be some ultra-serious bio. There was my lousy divorce — the only negative and sad thing about it. It was disgusting for two years — the ulcers and wasted money — but I wanted the movie to be funny. Marshall finally put together a sizzle reel of about four and a half minutes. He was at some film festival — Dubai, I think — and Harvey Weinstein said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and it’s wound up at Starz. I’m happy it landed where it did and we’re getting good feedback.”

Y

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COURTESY: FALCO INK.

The veteran comedian in “Robert Klein Still Can’t Stop His Leg.”

I told Klein that, watching him, George Carlin, and David Steinberg on TV as a kid, it seemed to me that they were the only really hip comedians around, the others’ presentation and material were so much more conservative in a countercultural time. “Johnny Carson, who was so generous — sometimes only he and the band knew what I was talking about — sent me a note through the producers saying he wanted me to wear a coat and tie. But then he relented. There was a certain stereotypical look comedians had, with the cufflinks and tuxedos. “But there were some good ones among them, too. I was pleased to work with Don Rickles, who is not an intellectual comic by any means. His body is failing, but his mind! [Just days after this interview, Rickles died.] Marshall goes up to him and says, ‘Mr. Rickles, I’m doing a documentary on Robert Klein,’ and he said, ‘Are you that much in need of money?’ “I did a thing with Jonathan Winters and the same thing. He was in such bad shape, and he died about a year later. I was honored to speak at his memorial, was so honored. His mind to the end was as sharp as a tack. And for me that’s a template for old comedians. I occasion-

ally go to the Friars Club and for years Henny Youngman would hold court at lunch, but then he started to lose his acuity at the lunch table. He’d be babbling or forget what he was talking about. He still knew all his jokes, but then they started to fade. So, when I start foaming at the mouth and babbling that I’m Abraham Lincoln, then it’s time to hang it up.” A memorable early film role for Klein was “The Owl and the Pussycat” in 1970: “That was the happiest set. We shot in it in New York. We’d take long lunches, Streisand, [George] Segal, and me, at Nathan’s, which had a big restaurant on 43rd Street. Nobody seemed to be in a rush. She’s purported to be difficult, but not with me. I worked with her in Vegas for three weeks and the movie. She was always a doll with me. “Here’s a little trivia, David. This pretty blonde who was supposed to be my date with no lines turned out to be Marilyn Chambers, the porn star. Her name was Marilyn Briggs, poor thing died in the early 2000s; most of them do, pimped out. She was a very young woman and had the face of an angel. She was actually the face on the Ivory Soap box. We were in bed a lot, during the shooting — there was

no hanky panky and we were not nude. But she said, ‘Oh, my father’s going to kill me when he sees this. He’s very strict.’ Wah-wah... I didn’t even know until six years later when Buck Henry pointed it out to me. “I‘ve been in over 40 films and get a handsome pension from SAG. It’s tedious to repeat things over and over, but then it’s there. I’ve done about six Broadway shows, which I wouldn’t want to do anymore: you have to show up eight times a week. For a live audience, I get satisfaction from doing stand-up. I did a show Sunday night and on Saturday in Rhode Island and maybe do 45 standard comedy shows a year. I get all the feedback and the energy. I think a lot of these movie and TV stars want to do Broadway to show they can do it and sign short contracts. Jeremy Piven was terrific in that play [‘Speed-thePlow’ in 2008] but then claimed to be poisoned by sushi. What he was was going crazy by repeating the same lines every night.” Nurtured in show business by Rollins and Joffe Management, Woody Allen’s team, Klein remains a New York chauvinist. “I became an honorary Angeleno

ROBERT KLEIN, continued on p.46

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


OPERA

Romantic Triangles and Mislaid Letters LoftOpera steps up with Rossini’s “Otello”

ROBERT ALTMAN

Bernard Holcomb and Cecilia Violetta López in the LoftOpera production of Rossini’s “Otello.”

BY ELI JACOBSON n late March, LoftOpera upped its game with a vital, musically ambitious revival of Rossini’s 1816 version of “Otello” presented at the LightSpace Studios in Bushwick. Often with LoftOpera one takes the rough edges with the smooth — the atmosphere is loft party meets art happening and the action often spills into the audience space. The youth of the performers and audience alike makes up in enthusiasm for some clumsiness in execution and primitive ad hoc design and direction. Music director Sean Kelly had difficulties maintaining orchestral balance and ensemble in an open space with high ceilings and reverberant acoustics. But the beauties of Rossini’s music emerged clearly all night despite passing flubs. The artistic whole was greater than the sum of the parts as a committed ensemble worked together to bring a seminal 19th century masterpiece to vibrant life in the 21st century. John de los Santos’ bare bones production reset the action to the Italy of the 1950s, with the men in business suits and the women in elaborately brocaded cocktail

I

GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

gowns. The direction strove for economy and elegance and, at its best, succeeded. Francesco Maria Berio di Salsi’s libretto streamlines Shakespeare, eliminating the fatal incriminating handkerchief and the role of Cassio. A mislaid, unaddressed love letter from Desdemona to Otello replaces the handkerchief as the catalyst for murder. Rodrigo, a very determined suitor for Desdemona’s hand, is conflated with Cassio. Iago is a much less complex figure and less dominant in the plot than his Shakespeare or Verdi counterparts. Iago, like all the male principals a coloratura tenor, has no solo aria, just duets with Otello and Rodrigo, relegating him to near comprimario status. The LoftOpera production attempted to restore these lost elements: the handkerchief was reintroduced by Otello presenting it to Desdemona during the overture. After Iago steals it, the handkerchief enfolds a lock of Desdemona’s hair enclosed in the misdirected love letter, further proving her perfidy. Iago (Blake Friedman) is played as a sexually ambiguous Waldo Lydecker society dandy dressed in velvet jacket and ascot. The musical-

LOFTOPERA, continued on p.46

45


SUPREME DIVA, from p.39

and then have my coffee. One scoop of caffeine, that’s all. For a light breakfast, hard-boiled eggs and I can love me some bacon, but I don’t have bacon all the time! But, secretly, I love it. If I’m rushing around, I’ll have a protein shake. Then, of course, I get glamorous.

ROBERT KLEIN, from p.44

because I was in both earthquakes, 1971 and 1994, while working there. I’ve spent an awful lot of time there and twice I rented places out there to do a series and they didn’t work out. But at this stage in my life, I don’t want to sign away seven years of my life and relocate. “I love living here, here in Westchester County, the Lower Hudson River Valley. I also have a little place in the city, which I love, born and raised there. I love stepping out into the fresh air with a beautiful view of the Hudson, so I get a bit of both. “Personally, I’ve been alone for 28 years. I was married once to an opera singer, Brenda Boozer, a very pretty girl who sang at the Met for nine years. I’ve had a few relationships since then. But I enjoy my life. My bucket list is not to climb Mount Everest but to get up

LOFTOPERA, from p.45

ly and dramatically more prominent Rodrigo (Thor Arbjornsson) is recast as the primary villain portrayed as a Patrick Bateman preppy psychopath acting as Iago’s co-conspirator and manipulator. Some scholars have surmised repressed homosexual desires underlying Iago’s hatred of Othello. This Iago seemed to be obsessed with Rodrigo. The singing was a mixed bag with one absolute star turn. In the title role, Bernard Holcomb revealed a sweet full lyric tenor that sometimes conquered the heroic colora-

RAUCOUS ROUNDUP, from p.31

given little food and no money for their work; the pimps, meanwhile, made up to $40,000 a year. As Queerty’s Graham Gremore

46

DN: Who was/ is the great love of your life? DR: All my husbands? I love my family, all of them. I love my friends, all of them. I love all of my

DN: You have an amazing family and friends and fans, but, as I have heard other stars say, does it ever get lonely? DR: Never! I’m always excited about being in New York City. The energy of New York is amazing. I

have so many incredible memories of my time performing here. Central Park. The Apollo. Radio City Music Hall. I love looking out into the audience and seeing your faces and your smiles. Life is wonderful, and I am so very blessed and grateful. I have so much appreciation for my life every day, it’s a gift. I’m happy to be back in New York. Let’s have some fun!

in the morning, read the Times, and have a good bowel movement. And you’re breathing. I want very simple things, David.” His long career has brought Klein in contact with the most extraordinary people, like Barbara Harris, who has always fascinated me, on Broadway in “The Apple Tree.” “Oh I was so in love with her! She was at Second City four years before me and had been married to Paul Sills, its original director. Then they were breaking up yet still working together. She had a thing with Alan Alda, and there was no animosity between Paul and Alan. “She was very fragile, and that was my first Broadway show, directed by Mike Nichols. She was so vulnerable. I took her up to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and we talked. It was like a kid brother thing, with her saying, ‘Oh, Warren Beatty won’t leave me alone!’ “And then the Tony Awards hap-

pened, on a Sunday night when we were dark, at the Shubert Theater. She was going to perform a scene from our show, and she was like ‘I can’t go on!’ And Alan Alda tried to calm her down, while Larry Blyden, her co-star, was furious, saying, ‘There are millions of people waiting to see you!’ Anyway, she won the Tony and the very next day, during the first act, I’m in my dressing room upstairs and the squawk box is on — you hear the performance day after day and get used to it. But there were these silences that shouldn’t be there, and we all ran downstairs to see what was the matter. “Barbara was suddenly babbling to the audience, completely in another world. Finally, Jerry Adler who was Hesh on ‘The Sopranos,’ but then the biggest stage manager on Broadway, rings down the curtain in the middle of the first act. A call went out to Phyllis

Newman at the Beresford, who was Barbara’s understudy, because her voice couldn’t take eight shows a week. Carmen Álvarez, the second understudy, suited up and finished the first act. She did the second act, and Phyllis did the third. “Barbara was out about two months, and it more or less finished her. I hear she lives in Phoenix. If you listen to the original cast album of ‘On a Clear Day,’ she may not have had Streisand’s virtuoso voice, but her interpretation is beautiful. She was an incredible talent, improvising at Second City, but a victim of what I guess you call mental illness. I wrote about this in my book, ‘The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue.’ That incident was heartbreaking to see, with Alan Alda not knowing what to do. And he always seemed to be the kind of guy who knows exactly what to do, Alan. Hopefully, she’s found some peace.”

tura and sometimes stumbled over it. His stage demeanor lacked gravitas and menace, particularly in the later acts. Arbjornsson’s Rodrigo cut a handsome figure and confidently handled the high tessitura and florid writing but his timbre is dry and less than ingratiating. Iago’s music is lower and less showy but Friedman possessed the smoothest vocal emission of the male leads. Isaiah Musik-Ayala as Desdemona’s father Elmiro impressed with a velvety but booming bass tone. The role of Desdemona made the reputation of such great 19th century bel canto divas as Isabella Colbran,

Giuditta Pasta, and Maria Malibran. Cecilia Violetta López proved a worthy successor as Desdemona –– not a tragic noble victim in the Pasta mode but a passionate spitfire in the Malibran manner. The end of Act II where Otello denounces Desdemona’s supposed betrayal and goes off to duel with Rodrigo occasioned a multi-part bravura coloratura meltdown for Desdemona that López tore into with unhinged abandon, not missing a grace note. She openly defied Otello in her death scene, daring him to kill her. López’s agile soprano is sweet and creamy on the surface but underlaid with

dark smoky spinto colors. Rossini’s version of “Otello” brings Romantic intensity to the opera seria format that stresses classical order and formalism. In Act III’s murder scene, the closed musical forms loosen and the orchestra equals the vocal line in musical importance. Dramatic intensity trumps formal structure and Romantic opera emerges. Composers throughout Europe followed Rossini’s lead.

put it, “The abuse continued for years until the victims were moved from New York to Miami, where neighbors of the house they were being held captive in grew suspicious of the never-ending pa-

rade of luxury vehicles constantly parked in the home’s driveway, along with a sign advertising $5 car washes on the home’s front door. Police determined the car wash business as a front.”

It obviously took outstanding police work to come to that conclusion.

I take two hours to put on my face and hair before going out into the public. [Really laughs.] That’s a big lie! I love comfort at this time in my life. No spiked heels for me.

associates, musicians, and people that I work with. I love you. I am a “love child,” for sure.

In a web exclusive at gaycitynews. nyc, Eli Jacobson writes about Opera Philadelphia’s recent production of Rossini’s “Tancredi.”

Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook. April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

drive on the correct side of the road. s7ATCHOUTFORPARKEDCARS Oftentimes, drivers exit their VEHICLES AND DO NOT CHECK for oncoming traffic or cyclists. You can be hit by a swinging car door. s -AKE YOURSELF AS NOTICEable as possible. This could include using a light or horn ON THE BIKE TO SIGNAL YOUR presence to drivers. s !LWAYS WEAR A HELMET and other applicable safety equipment.

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47


THEATER

Girls On Fire “Miss Saigon” and “Joan of Arc” light up the stage BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE iven its original decade on Broadway and the passion its fans have for “Miss Saigon,” criticism is as pointless as it is effete. Rather, the revival of the 1989 blockbuster now at the Broadway Theatre, as with the current production of “Cats” and the recent return of “Les Misérables,” provides an opportunity to appreciate the power of popular entertainment financially and, to no lesser degree, artistically. The fact of the matter is that while some shows are struggling, “Miss Saigon” is currently packing the house. Before the advent of movies — so, roughly from the 12th century BCE to the last century or so — the theater was where people went for entertainment. Even the Greeks at Epidaurus (in a theater, by the way, dwarfing the largest Broadway house by many thousands of seats) knew the fundamental rule of showbiz: Please the masses. For the Greeks’ predominantly illiterate audiences, three theatrical rules applied: accessible and recognizable characters, dramatic situations, and spectacle. All these years later, those elements still work. And “Miss Saigon” is the proof. With its soaring, operatic score by Claude-Michel Schönberg and its “Madame Butterfly”-inspired book by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Alan Boubil, the show is largely a series of set pieces that tell the story of a young American soldier, Chris, in 1975 Vietnam, Kim, the local woman he loves and by whom he fathers a child, their grief as they are torn apart, and their tragedy as Kim sacrifices herself so her son can have a better life. It pushes all the buttons. No matter how sophisticated we may think ourselves, there is something elemental and human that gives this story its power. Noël Coward was being arch when a character in his “Private Lives” says, “Strange how potent cheap music is,” but his point was no matter how above it all we see ourselves, none of us is immune to basic emotional triggers. In fact, we seek them in entertainment. As Sondheim wrote in “The Frogs,” “Eventually we’ll

G

48

JOAN MARCUS

Jo Lampert in title role of David Byrne’s “Joan of Arc: Into the Fire,” directed by Alex Timbers, at the Public Theater through April 30.

MISS SAIGON Broadway Theatre 1681 Broadway at W. 53rd St. Mon., Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m. $39-$165; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 40 mins., with intermission

get to the catharsis and depart.” This new production hits all the marks. Directed by Laurence Connor, the show retains the monumental scale of the original. Alistair Brammer as Chris sings the role powerfully and acts quite well. The character is not complex, but Brammer imbues him with passion, a good man amidst chaos and destruction. Eva Noblezada is excellent as Kim with a clear, strong voice. Connor’s direction underscores that Kim and Chris are outsiders in Saigon’s world. Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer brings a humanity and dimension to a role that has previously been more of a caricature. It may be a trick of memory, but the original production coming a mere 14 years after the events portrayed seemed more harrowing than this revival. Still, for fans of the show, this will be a very welcome return, and those new to it will inevitably be swept up into a timeless

JOAN OF ARC: INTO THE FIRE The Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. Btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Through Apr. 30 Tue.-Sun. at 8:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. $90-$120; publictheater.org Or 212-967-7555 TodayTix lottery: $20

story of tragic love. With “Joan of Arc: Into the Fire,” David Byrne solidifies his position as a new and exciting voice in musical theater. Coming on the heels of the magnificent “Here Lies Love,” the new show is also the story of a strong woman, an historical figure up against seemingly insurmountable odds who is, in large measure, the author of her own tragedy. Whereas “Here Lies Love” –– a tale of Imelda Marcos –– was an immersive experience that swirled around the audience who stood throughout, “Joan of Arc” is staged more traditionally, but like its predecessor is not bound by the traditional constructs of musical theater. Indeed, “Joan of Arc” is more a classic oratorio than a traditional show, and even its religious theme is consistent

MATTHEW MURPHY

Eva Noblezada and Samuel Li Weintraub in the Broadway revival of “Miss Saigon,” directed by Laurence Connor.

with that form. With this second show, it’s now possible to hear Byrne’s style more definitively, and it remains innovative, harmonically sophisticated, and exciting. Joan’s journey from visionary child to martyred woman is underscored by music that becomes more intense as the story progresses. Dark as this tale of deception, political maneuvering, and fear is, as with “Here Lies Love,” the final song offers a hope for healing.

JOAN OF ARC, continued on p.51

April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


EDUCATION, from p.9

sex education? “Over half said their information was from their friends,” Martinez said. “Secondarily, they are going online. Eleven percent surveyed said they had no one to ask.” Is the information students are getting accurate? That is not something the survey assessed. The state’s failures on AIDS education and implementation of DASA led out gay Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, an Upper West Side Democrat and DASA’s lead sponsor, to write Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia in September to press her to step up training for staff to develop “positive, inclusive school culture,” things he noted were found lacking by CUNY’s Queering Education Research Institute in its report on the law’s implementation. O’Donnell also cited a report from trainers from the Pro Bono Dignity Implementation Task Force that “found that the greatest area of confusion and most number of questions from the audience were on LGBT issues, and especially transgender issues.” O’Donnell urged the commissioner and the state Board of Regents to replace the “inadequate six-hour pre-serve requirement” of training for staff “with a full semester course that places the social patterns of harassment, bullying, and discrimination in an appropriate context of multicultural education.” He also wants the HIV/ AIDS education requirement amended to require “current medically accurate information about the nature of the disease.” Commissioner Elia responded to O’Donnell on February 7, acknowledging that the current training on DASA may be inadequate and promising to “re-establish the task force” to make recommendations to the Regents on “the amount of training as well as the quality and content of current DASA curriculum.” She also agreed that the 1987 HIV/ AIDS education requirement “needs to be updated” and “modernized.” Questions remain for both city and state education officials, and perhaps the Council, at the April 19 hearing, can get some answers Gay City News could not — specifically, (1) whether there is any qualitative assessment on whether students GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

are acquiring the knowledge they need about sexuality and LGBTQ issues in age-appropriate lessons; (2) whether the city Department of Education still has a city and state requirement that six AIDS lessons be taught annually in every grade, and, if so, whether there are data on schools’ compliance and qualitative assessments on whether students are learning what they need to know about HIV/ AIDS; and (3) whether free condoms are still being made available in every high school and, if so, whether there is data on that and on students being made aware of this availability. Complying with mandates is the least of it. The schools also need to determine whether or not their educators are becoming effective at creating supportive learning environments free of bullying and harassment and educating students who understand sexuality and its joys and risks enough to lead fulfilling lives while avoiding serious sexually transmitted infections. Dromm, a former elementary school teacher in Queens who has made the advancement of LGBTQ issues in the schools a priority, said, “One of my frustrations as chair of the Education Committee is that I can’t tell people what to do, but I can draw attention to it.” O’Donnell said he was “incredibly proud” when he passed DASA, especially since it was the first state law to protect transgender New Yorkers. In an email, he wrote of his efforts to “ensure its proper implementation,” including a 2015 symposium with education experts at Hunter College’s LGBT Social Science & Public Policy Center to assess its effectiveness. “We reached the same conclusion as NYCLU’s survey: the proactive and preemptive goals of DASA are not being effectively carried out,” O’Donnell wrote. “DASA is intended to not only require reporting of instances of bullying, but to more importantly proactively prevent bullying and create inclusive school environments. As such, Commissioner Elia and I are working on improvements to DASA, such as including a threecredit course in diversity training as part of teacher certification requirements, so that teachers are better equipped to incorporate diversity in their classroom and actively prevent bullying.”

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April 13 - 26, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


LIVING HISTORY, from p.38

rules, not imitating the old conventions,” mirroring sentiments also voiced in “Daniel’s Husband.” Further evoking the power of the past is Derek McLane’s majestic set of Beau’s cluttered London flat, with walls lined with shelves stuffed with musty old books, brica-brac, and other mementoes of a life richly lived. What makes this nostalgic yet unsentimental drama truly sublime is that these stories are told by the masterful Fierstein. Not only are we learning these stories vital to queer history, beautifully told, but we are witnessing a slice of history itself. When the Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2013, paving the way for federal recognition of same-sex marriage, all the gays across America cheered. Well, not quite all of them. “Daniel’s Husband,” perhaps the most intriguingly titled play on the New York boards this season, shines a light on this rarely examined minority. But does the insightful dramedy, by Michael McKeever, live up to the promise of its tantalizing title? Absolutely. Daniel and Mitchell, both in their 40s, have been together for seven years and share a jaw-droppingly stylish mid-century modern home (impeccably designed by Brian Prather). Daniel, an architect, yearns to get married and Mitchell, a successful novelist, flatly refuses. It’s not that he doesn’t love his partner; he simply doesn’t believe in gay marriage. “As a gay man, I relish not being like everyone else,” Mitchell declares. “And it makes me cringe just a little bit, whenever I hear a gaggle of insipid queens — desperate to assimilate — going on about how they’d cater their gay wedding with their Tiffany

JOAN OF ARC, from p.48

Directed by Alex Timbers, the show has the feel of a Medieval Mystery Play, which is appropriate considering the subject matter and the time. Yet it’s doubtful that a 15th century director would come up with some of the astonishingly beautiful images Timbers achieves with just a handful of actors, some flags, lighting, and a rotating set of stairs that is the ingenious design of Christopher Barreca. The company is equally extraordinary. An all-male ensemble takes on the various roles of warriors, royalty, members of the court, and religious figures. Individually, each is excellent, notably Sean Allan Krill as the bishop who seems to want to save Joan, Adam Perry as the Priest, and Kyle GayCityNews.nyc | April 13 - 26, 2017

rings and their matching Dolce & Gabbana pinstripe suits.” Mitchell says this early on, during a jovial albeit awkward gathering that includes his dear friend and agent, Barry (Lou Liberatore), yet another of Barry’s feisty boytoys, Trip (Leland Wheeler), and numerous glasses of wine. It’s not long before the tone abruptly shifts and this light comedy turns pitch dark. When tragedy strikes (no spoiler, here), the formerly perfect couple must confront the consequences of their divergent views on matrimony. Complicating matters is Daniel’s pesky mother, Lydia, who insists on hijacking their lives. And she’s got a boatload of money and lawyers on her side. Director Joe Brancato has elicited fine performances from the gifted ensemble. The increasingly distraught Mitchell is rendered with astute emotional elasticity by Matthew Montelongo (“The Ritz”) in a deeply felt, heart-rending turn. His Mitchell proves to be the emotional core of the drama. Ryan Spahn brings a dynamic vigor to the conflicted Daniel, who resents his domineering mother. Equally impressive is Anna Holbrook, who adds layers of warmth and humanity to Lydia, a character who is essentially a villain. As despicable as Lydia’s actions appear, she manages to earn our respect, if not our sympathy. Not that that “Daniel’s Husband” is solely a meditation on the complexities of gay marriage. It also considers the vagaries of maternal bonds, the challenging role of caregivers, the perils of taking hard-won civil rights for granted, and much more. If there’s any doubt about the playwright’s personal stance on the “to wed or not to wed” question, consider this: This summer, McKeever plans to marry his partner of 13 years in a fabulous villa overlooking the Amalfi Coast.

Selig as the Dauphin. Together, they deliver some of the best choral singing you’ll hear in New York right now, both in terms of tone and technique. The only other woman besides Joan in the company is her mother Isabelle, played with expansive heart and clear intention by Jody Gelb. At the center of the piece is Jo Lampert as Joan, and she is a revelation. Her versatility and power as a singer are matched by the fiery ferocity she gives the saint-in-the-making. Lampert’s diminutive size amid the ensemble’s hunky men provides the ideal physical expression of Joan’s fervor. It’s a bravura performance that, like the rest of this sometimes challenging, yet consistently thrilling show, will burn in your memory as a highlight of the season.

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