Page 1

Supreme Court Punts on Trans Rights, For Now 03

St. Pat's For All Bigger, Stronger than Ever 04

E A Push for

RESISTANCE

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FREE | VOLUME SIXTEEN, ISSUE SIX | MARCH 16 — 29, 2017


HUMAN RIGHTS HIV-positive gay Mexican's asylum bid revived 09

THE LONG VIEW Gavin Grimm, in his own words 18

MEDIA CIRCUS The alt-world where Walt Disney is Harvey Milk 20

2

FILM A drag ball on screen at Anthology 28 Foreign secrets from François Ozon 30

GALLERY Beautfiul Edo boys at Japan Society 32

Queer debuts uts shine at New Directors ors 27

THEATER Paula Vogel's “Indecent” hits Broadway 34

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


CIVIL RIGHTS

SCOTUS Punts on Trans Bathroom Access For Now Whether sex discrimination protections cover gender identity won’t be heard this term bathroom regulation because that regulation was ambiguous on the question of transgender students accessing facilities and the administration’s interpretation was a “reasonable” one. The dissenting judge on the appeals court panel agreed with Doumar that Title IX did not forbid the school district’s policy.

BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

I

n sending transgender high school senior Gavin Grimm’s lawsuit seeking the right to access the boys’ bathroom in his Virginia public school back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the US Supreme Court has chosen not to decide — in this court term — whether Title IX of the Education A mendments of 1972 and a Department of Education regulation adopted under its provisions require schools receiving federal money to allow transgender students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity. Title IX states that federallyfunded schools may not discriminate because of sex. The DOE regulation at issue allows schools to provide separate restroom and locker room facilities for boys and girls so long as they are “equal.” The high court’s action, vacating a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Grimm case that it had earlier agreed to review, came in response to a February 22 letter from the Trump administration advising the court that the DOE and the Department of Justice had “withdrawn” two federal agency letters issued during the Obama administration interpreting the statute and the related regulation to require schools to allow transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The March 6 action by the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit for “further consideration in light of” the Trump DOE-DOJ guidance pulling back from the Obama policy. The case had been scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court on March 28. Though both Grimm and his school district in Gloucester County, in the wake of the February 22 Trump administration letter, had asked the Supreme Court to go ahead and consider the underlying question of whether the 1972 law and the subsequent DOE regulation required the school to

GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

ACLU.ORG

Virginia high school senior Gavin Grimm.

accommodate Grimm’s request, the court’s response to the Trump administration letter was not wholly unexpected. Origins of Gavin Grimm’s Lawsuit The case dates back to 2015, when Grimm and his mother informed school administrators of his gender transition and they agreed to let him use the boys’ restrooms, which he did for several weeks with no problems. Soon enough, however, complaints by parents led the school board to adopt a resolution requiring students to use restrooms consistent with the sex indicated on their birth certificates — so-called “biological sex” — regardless of their gender identity. The school provided an alternative, unacceptable to Grimm, of using a single-user restroom that he found inconvenient and stigmatizing. Grimm sued the school district, alleging a violation of his rights under both Title IX and the 14th Amendment. At the request of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama DOE sent a letter informing the US district court that the department interpreted Title IX and the bathroom regulation as “gener-

ally” requiring schools to let transgender students use facilities consistent with their gender identity. The Obama administration took the position that laws against sex discrimination protect people from discrimination because of their gender identity, a posture on which it was following the lead of several federal courts as well as the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The district judge, Robert Doumar, in September 2015, rejected the Obama administration’s interpretation and granted the school district’s motion to dismiss Grimm’s Title IX claim. The judge reserved judgment on his alternative claim that the school’s policy violated his right to equal protection of the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Doumar wrote that in adopting Title IX four decades ago Congress had not intended to forbid gender identity discrimination. The ACLU appealed Doumar’s ruling to the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit, where a three-judge panel on April 19 last year voted 2-1 to reverse. The panel, relying on Supreme Court precedent, held that the district court should have deferred to the Obama administration’s interpretation of the

The Obama Administration’s Response Shortly after the Fourth Circuit issued its decision last spring, the DOE and DOJ jointly sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to school administrators nationwide, advising them that the government would interpret Title IX to protect transgender students and providing detailed guidance on complying with that requirement. The letter informed recipients that failure to comply might subject them to DOE investigations and loss of federal funding. That letter stirred up a storm of protest, led by state officials in Texas, who filed a lawsuit joined by 10 other states challenging the Obama administration’s interpretation as inappropriate. A second lawsuit, filed in Nebraska by state officials there and joined by several additional states, made the same argument. This past August, in response to the Texas lawsuit, US District Judge Reed O’Connor in Wichita Falls, Texas, granted a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking federal agencies from undertaking any new investigations or initiating any new cases involving gender identity discrimination claims under Title IX. The Obama administration filed an appeal with the Houston-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that court to limit the scope of O’Connor’s injunction to cover just the states that had joined the Texas lawsuit, pending litigation on its merits. In Virginia, meanwhile, Judge Doumar reacted quickly to the Fourth Circuit reversing his ruling, issuing a preliminary injunction on

SCOTUS, continued on p.16

3


COMMUNITY

St. Pat’s For All Bigger, Stronger than Ever Year after LGBTQ Irish group joins Fifth Ave parade, Queens diversity celebration timelier still BY KATHLEEN WARNOCK

S

ome asked Brendan Fay a n d K a t h l e e n Wa l s h D’Arcy, the co-chairs of the inclusive St. Pat’s for A ll Parade in Queens whether they’d stop marching in Sunnyside after last year’s decision to let an openly LGBT Irish group march in the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Their answer was a resounding “no!” and the 18th annual parade stepped off from Skillman Avenue on March 4, with the largest number of participants in its history and an unofficial theme of “resist.” This year’s grand marshals were iconic TV talk show host Phil Donahue and disability activist Anastasia Somoza. “St. Pats for All 2017 is cultural space for hope and hospitality in a time of stress and fear and prejudice,” said Fay, who started the parade in 1999. “Early in the morning I went from checking the delivery of the portable toilets and stage setup to singing ballads with Malachy McCourt, Edie Windsor, and Phil Donahue.” The parade climaxed a weekend of celebrating Irish and Irish-American heritage. Many attendees were also at the previous Friday night’s annual fundraising concert at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan (see sidebar, page 5). Brisk weather on Sunday kept the proceedings moving. Before the parade, as speakers and officials gathered at Claret Wine Bar (where Donahue and Windsor joined McCourt for a rousing rendition of “Danny Boy”), out gay Jackson Heights City Councilmember Daniel Dromm reminisced about his longtime association with the parade and with the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, or ILGO, which in 1990 launched the effort to open up Manhattan’s parade to LGBTQ participation. “I love being at this parade,” Dromm said. “Last year, we took a trip to Ireland and met with members of the Irish community, and I see this parade as being an intersection of all these cultural and

4

MICHAEL SHAIN

The St. Pat’s for All banner carried by Irish Consul General Barbara Jones, Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Sister Mary Lanning, one of the parade organizers, former State Senator Tom Duane, parade co-chair Brendan Fay, marriage equality pioneer Edie Windsor, and Windsor’s spouse, Judith Kasen.

MICHAEL SHAIN

A stilt-walker in a parade that has everything.

progressive movements here and in Ireland that have made great changes and educated people. With the president we have, I don’t think he understands that.”

Dromm was accompanied by Council Speaker Melissa MarkViverito, a long-time regular at the parade even before she was in public office, who remarked, “It’s a great

symbol of inclusion: something wonderful that came out of being excluded. And a great reminder for the climate we find ourselves in now.” The subtext — and text — of much of the parade reflected a protest against anti-immigrant discrimination in a borough where some 40 percent of the inhabitants were born in another country as well as an outcry against the rise of hate crimes and hate speech. “I think that the lesbian and gay leadership represent what are fundamental values of identity, inclusion, and equality that must be practiced everywhere, all the time,” said Barbara Jones, consul general of Ireland in the United States. Jones brokered the agreement last year between the Lavender & Green Alliance and the Fifth Avenue parade, which allowed the LGBTQ group and its allies to march in Manhattan. “I believe that St. Pat’s for All values these important qualities,” she continued. “Regardless of the political climate, there’s the soul of soci-

ST. PAT'S, continued on p.5

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


IRISH HERITAGE CELEBRATED IN MUSIC AND WORDS

W

hile the St. Pat’s for All Parade is held on the first Sunday in March every year (see main story, page 4), the celebration begins the Friday evening before, with the Concert for St. Pat’s for All, which serves as a fundraiser as well as a chance for supporters to get a taste of what’s coming and consume food, words, and music at the Irish Arts Center on Manhattan’s West Side. Each year, the concert brings back favorite guests and adds new participants, who may reflect on world, national, and local events that occurred over the previous year. Patrons perusing the concert and parade program could find, amid the usual banner ads from politicians, businesses, and social groups, a half-page display that read: “St. Patrick’s Day Message to President Donald J. Trump from Irish American Democrats: I summon today all the powers Between me and those coils, Against every cruel and merciless power That may oppose my body and soul, Against incantations of false prophets — St. Patrick The concert, organized and hosted by playwright and novelist Honor Molloy (whose play, “Crackskull Row” is currently running at the Irish Rep Theater), began with a welcome from Irish Arts Center leaders Pauline Turley and Aidan Connolly,

ST. PAT'S, from p.4

ety we must think of.” Somoza, who in the first St. Pat’s for All Parade — pushed in her wheelchair by Hillary Clinton, who volunteered for the job when Somoza’s motorized wheelchair was broken — said that in her years with the parade, “I’ve noticed how much more support and involvement we’re getting from the grassroots up. That’s the best kind of change. GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

who described St. Pat’s for All as “emblematic of our values.” “It’s an amazing and challenging time,” Brendan Fay, co-chair of St. Pat’s for All, told the audience. “We know what it’s like to be immigrants, refugees, people on the move.” In December, Fay and his cochair, Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, received awards from the president of Ireland in December for “sustained and distinguished service to Ireland and Irish communities abroad.” Last March, Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for the first time, allowed an openly LGBT Irish organization to march in it, the culmination of more than 20 years of perseverance by a group that included the founders of St. Pat’s for All. One of this year’s grand marshals, disability activist Anastasia Somoza, a native New Yorker and daughter of immigrants who has participated in the parade since its founding, talked about how she was afraid she couldn’t be in the first parade in 1999, because her motorized wheelchair was broken, and she wasn’t sure she could make it all the way through. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, there with then-aide Bill DeBlasio, volunteered to help, and pushed Somoza, who marched with her sister Alba, the entire parade route. “I learned the lessons of activism,” Somoza said, “from being around people like Brendan Fay, and his husband Tom Moulton, and learned the lessons of equality and love.” The program featured several readings by women writers (a

response to the “Waking the Feminists” movement that began at the Abbey Theater in Dublin, and spread to the US). Several young athletes from the Shannon Gaels — Liam Abernethy, Niamh Maguire, Ronan O’Leary, Conor O’Leary, and Audrey Ward — read selections from Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” poems by W.B. Yeats, and “New Colossus,” the famous poem by Emma Lazarus, which includes the lines “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and is inscribed at the base of the Statute Of Liberty. Singer Mary Deady urged the audience to “Make Them Hear You,” (a song from the musical “Ragtime”). Actress Aedin Moloney read a passage from “The Green Robe” by Anne Enright, and actor and playwright Erin Layton performed a selection from her solo show, “Magdalen,” about the journey of an Irish immigrant to America. The first act ended with a story and a song from Honor Finnegan, and a singalong to Bernice Johnson Reagon/ Sweet Honey in the Rock’s “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest,” led by Shannon Harris. The audience returned for some music and dancing, with renowned Irish fiddler Tony DeMarco, drummer Brian Fleming, and Niall O’Leary on accordion. O’Leary brought on several students from his School of Irish Dance, who performed traditional reels and jigs. Filmmaker Sheila Brosnan showed the trailer for her upcoming documentary about St. Pat’s for All. Actress Maeve Price read a powerful passage from Kevin Holahan’s

This parade was an important step. If it weren’t for St. Pat’s for All, we might not have been able to march on Fifth Avenue.” Somoza, the daughter of Irish and Nicaraguan immigrants and a native New Yorker who spoke eloquently on the rights of disabled people at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, said that she sees a “larger resistance movement that’s now forming and pushing back. And that’s part of the mes-

sage we are sending today.” Donahue said he was initially contacted to join the parade by a fellow member of the Notre Dame/ St. Mary’s Alumni/ae Association, which also marched in the parade. Donahue, who hosted one of the first television shows to welcome openly lesbian and gay guests starting in the early 1970s, said that his Church still has “a lot to atone for. It promotes homophobia and makes it easier for homophobes to beat ‘em

novel “The Brother’s Lot,” set in a Magdalen Laundry asylum, then a filmed greeting from the SAOL project (an organization that helps women out of poverty and addiction in Dublin) was shown. Playwright and actress Florencia Lozano presented a scene from her Off-Broadway play “underneathmybed,” with Vanessa Aspillaga and Irene Lucio. Lozano then read “Gauntlet,” a poem by Jackson Heights poet K.C. Trommer, which included the lines, “Be brave: the race is not yet done by half…” The evening culminated in Irish writer, storyteller, and activist Malachy McCourt holding forth with observations from his 85th year. He concluded — as he always does — with a traditional Irish song: “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?” (also known as “Wild Mountain Thyme”). The evening’s artists and the parade committee were joined by the parade grand marshals, Somoza and Phil Donahue, and honored guests, including marriage equality pioneer Edie Windsor, piled onto the stage to join in the song, with McCourt urging them all to “Sing, children! Sing!” Many knew the song well, and others managed to follow along, singing this chorus: And we’ll all go together To pluck wild mountain thyme All around the blooming heather Will ye go, lassie, go? Word had it there was an afterparty of traditional music singing at a nearby pub, but most of the crowd headed home in the biting wind, with preparations still to be made for Sunday’s parade. — Kathleen Warnock

up. Homophobia can be lethal, and the concept of ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ is condescending.” He added, “I’m encouraged by [Pope] Francis saying, ‘Who am I to judge?’ It took a lot of moral courage to do that, but it also took long enough to get there.” Fay welcomed many friends of the parade to say a few words. In addition to Dromm, Mark-Viverito,

ST. PAT'S, continued on p.43

5


COVER STORY

A Push for Resistance at June Pride Parade Activists opposed to Trump, GOP press Heritage of Pride to highlight their voices BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

he organization that produces New York City’s a n nua l pr ide pa rade, rally, and related events is under pressure to put groups that are taking a lead in pushing back against Republican Party control of the White House and Congress at the front of this year’s march. “One way or another, these resistance groups are going to take over this parade,” Cathy Marino-Thomas, the former head of Marriage Equality who is currently active in Gays Against Guns, told the leadership of Heritage of Pride at HOP’s March 13 general meeting. “I predict that if there is no give here, this will be the first time there will be arrests.” Members of Gays Against Guns, ACT UP, Rise + Resist, and United for Action packed the meeting, which was held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. The meeting is typically attended by just HOP leaders and volunteers, but was standing room only, with 50 to 60 people in one of the Center’s smaller rooms. All four groups have held recent protests in New York City. They also participated in the protests in Washington, DC, on January 20 when Donald Trump was inaugurated and the Women’s March on Washington on January 21. They are seeking a spot at the start of this year’s pride march, which comes on June 25. They want the parade, which began in 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, to highlight the resistance to Congress and the Trump administration. They also want the parade to send a message to LGBTQ people across the country that the community is united in rejecting the current leaders in the nation’s capital. “This parade has to not be a parade,” said Mark Milano, a member of ACT UP, the AIDS activist group. “It has to be a march saying ‘We refuse to give one inch.’” HOP has contended with demands to alter the line of march in recent years. In 2011, after marriage was enacted in New York, a

6

DONNA ACETO

Jay Walker, a member of Gays Against Guns and Rise + Resist.

DONNA ACETO

ACT UP member Mark Milano.

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

Chris Chapman, a member of Dykes on Bikes, which has traditionally had a lead spot in the parade, speaks up for activists getting a featured place at the front this year.

Heritage of Pride co-chairs Maryanne Roberto Fine and David Studinski hear out the activists on March 13.

massive contingent led by Governor Andrew Cuomo was a late entrant in the parade. Last year, HOP initially resisted allowing Gays Against Guns in the parade in the spot reserved by City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who invited the group in. Registration for the 2017 march is still open. Gays Against Guns was founded following the killings last June 12 of 49 people, most of them LGBTQ and Latinx, in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub. Its contingent in the 2016 parade numbered in the high hundreds and featured some striking visual elements. Members see this year’s political climate as requiring a response. “Now it’s not about one example of the community being under siege,” said Jay Walker, a member of Rise + Resist and Gays Against Guns, said at the HOP meeting.

“It’s about our entire community being under siege.” Other speakers at the March 13 meeting noted that Muslims, LGBTQ youth, and transgender people of all ages feel particularly affected by the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. Their testimony was powerful, as two were reduced to tears as they spoke. While the parade began as a political act commemorating the LGBTQ community’s best known act of resistance, it has become something closer to party or a celebration. The HOP leadership has tended to guard that non-confrontational tone. In 2012, HOP complained to Gay City News after the paper covered that year’s parade by following the Occupy Wall Street contingent and noting that the group was followed by an undercover police officer for

most of the route. “I really wish you would have focused on something other than OWS in your coverage,” Tish Flynn, then HOP’s spokesperson, wrote in a 2012 email. “There were thousands of gorgeous costumes & groups involved that would have been a better choice.” At the March 13 meeting, HOP’s posture was that it was listening to the groups and interested in coming to a resolution. “It’s without a doubt that all of us are affected by this,” David Studinski, one of two co-chairs at HOP, said at the meeting. “We want to open that dialogue… I’m confident we can pull something together that works.” At the close of the discussion, the matter was referred to Julian Sanjivan, HOP’s march director, who will be chairing a meeting of his committee on March 21 at the Center. March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


HEALTH

Protesters Target Cuomo on Housing Promises Blockade of Third Avenue leads to 10 arrests

COURTESY: VOCAL-NY

One banner activists carried onto Third Avenue focused on homelessness and income inequality.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

A

March 13 protest by A IDS a nd housi ng advocates outside the Midtown office of Governor Andrew Cuomo ended in 10 arrests, as demonstrators unfurled two banners across Third Avenue, blocking traffic. The demonstrators focused on what they say are inadequate efforts by both the state and city to curb a spiraling rate of homelessness as well as Cuomo’s failure to follow through on the funding of supportive housing, some of that housing assistance targeting HIVpositive New Yorkers. According to the protesters — whose platform has the backing of service and advocacy groups including VOCAL-NY, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, ACT UP-NY, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, the New York State Coalition for

Homeless Youth, the New York State Council of Churches, and FIERCE! — New York’s homeless population grew by 41 percent in Cuomo’s first four years in office and now stands at 88,000. “If our governor thinks he can be president, then he needs to start by tackling our state’s worst issues first: homelessness and glaring income inequality,” said Corey Bates, a leader at VOCALNY. “Right now, Governor Cuomo’s inaction to confront these crises shows the governor’s true priorities and lack of commitment to address the needs of poor New Yorkers.” Since last year, the advocates have faulted the governor for failing to deliver completely on a pledge to fund 20,000 units of supportive housing for homeless New Yorkers who have other other social service needs as well. At a press confer-

CUOMO, continued on p.43 FRIEND OF POINT

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7


EMPLOYMENT

Lesbian’s Bias Claim Fails on Appeal in US Court 11th Circuit allows her to argue gender stereotyping

LAMBDA LEGAL

Jameka Evans’ claim of sexual orientation bias was rejected, but Lambda Legal will seek re-argument before the full 11th Circuit.

BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

T

he At la nt a-based US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a divided ruling on March 10 holding that a lesbian plaintiff suing for discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could file an amended complaint alleging she suffered discrimination because of sex stereotyping, but upholding a district court’s dismissal of her claim that sexual orientation discrimination per se violates the statute. A dissenting judge on the threemember panel, agreeing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which submitted an amicus brief in the case, and Lambda Legal, which was appointed to represent the plaintiff on appeal, argued that Jameka Evans should be allowed to pursue her sexual orientation discrimination claim, as well. Lambda Legal immediately announced that it would petition for rehearing “en banc” before the entire 11th Circuit bench. Unsurprisingly, the judges rejecting the sexual orientation claim, Circuit Judge William Pryor and Florida

8

District Judge José Martinez, were appointed by President George W. Bush. The dissenter, Circuit Judge Robin Rosenbaum, was appointed by President Barack Obama. This case is one of the appeals recently argued in three different federal circuits presenting the question whether sexual orientation discrimination claims are covered as “discrimination because of sex” under Title VII. The Chicago-based Seventh Circuit heard argument en banc in November, and a three-judge panel of the New York-based Second Circuit heard argument in two different appeals in January. So far, no federal circuit court has ruled favorably on such a claim, although many have ruled that gay plaintiffs may be able to sue under Title VII on gender-based sex stereotyping claims. There are older court of appeals precedents in most circuits rejecting sexual orientation discrimination claims, as such, under Title VII. The Supreme Court has never directly ruled on the question.

BIAS CLAIM, continued on p.40

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


HUMAN RIGHTS

HIV-Positive Gay Mexican's Asylum Bid Revived Ninth Circuit panel finds conditions on the ground can contravene formal legal advances BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

R

eviving an HIV-positive g a y M e x i c a n m a n’s claim for refugee status to rema in in the US, an 11-judge panel of the San Francisco-based federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, on March 8, reversed rulings by a three-judge panel of that court as well as from the Board of Immigration Appeals and an Immigration Judge. Carlos Alberto Bringas-Rodriguez, born in Veracruz State, was, according to Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw’s summary of his testimony — deemed credible by the Immigration Judge — “horrifically abused by his father, an uncle, cousins, and a neighbor, all of whom perceived him to be gay or to exhibit effeminate characteristics.” Bringas testified that his uncle raped him when he was four, and that three of his cousins and a male neighbor “physically and sexually abused him on a regular basis while he lived in Mexico.” He also suffered regular beatings from his father, who told him, “Act like a boy. You are not a woman.” He claims his uncle told him when he was eight that he was being abused because he was gay. “His uncle, cousins, and neighbor never called him by his name,” wrote Wardlaw, “referring to him only as ‘fag, fucking faggot, queer,’ and they ‘laughed about it.’” Bringas lived briefly with his mother in the US when he was 12, but returned to Mexico because he missed his grandmother, who had been raising him since he was nine. The abuse intensified when he returned. “On one occasion, when Bringas refused to comply with his neighbor’s demand for oral copulation, the neighbor beat and raped him, leaving Bringas with black eyes and bruises,” and his abusers “also threatened to hurt his grandmother, with whom he was close, if he ever reported what was happening,” wrote Wardlaw. “Fearing that they would follow through on their threats, Bringas did not tell his mother, teachers, or anyone

GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

UNIVERSIT Y OF CALIFORNIA (IRVINE) LAW SCHOOL

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California (Irvine) School of Law, argued Carlos Alberto Bringas-Rodriguez’s appeal.

else about the sexual abuse.” He fled back to the US in 2004 when he was 14. Entering the country illegally at El Paso, he made his way to Kansas where he lived with his mother for the next three years. Then he moved out of his mother’s home, moving elsewhere in Kansas and then to Colorado, holding several jobs. In August 2010 he pled guilty to “attempted contributing to the delinquency of a minor” in Colorado. According to his account, as related by Wardlaw, “he had been at home drinking with some friends when another friend brought over a minor who became drunk.” Bringas served 90 days in jail, “during which time he attempted suicide and was hospitalized, which precipitated his finally telling a doctor and then his mother about his

childhood abuse.” His conviction triggered a flag at the Department of Homeland Security, which immediately issued him a “Notice to Appear.” The next year, at age 20, he applied for asylum as well as two other statuses that would keep him in the US — withholding of removal and protection under the international Convention against Torture. Asylum claims normally have to be filed within a year of arrival in the US, but he claimed he was “unaware” at age 14 that he could apply for asylum and only learned of this when he spoke with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in connection with the 2010 Notice to Appear. Bringas’ asylum claim described the abuse he suffered in Mexico and “explained that he feared persecu-

tion if he returned because he was gay and that the Mexican police would not protect him,” Wardlaw wrote. “Bringas also credibly testified about his gay friends’ experiences with police in Veracruz. Those friends went to the police to report that they had been raped, but the officers ignored their reports and ‘laughed [on] their faces.’” Bringas also submitted US State Department country human rights reports on Mexico from 2009 and 2010, as well as newspaper articles documenting violence against gays in Mexico, which showed that violence was rising even as “Mexican laws were becoming increasingly tolerant of gay rights.” Wardlaw cited guidelines issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, explaining that “legal improvements and widespread persecution are not mutually exclusive.” An Immigration Judge found Bringas’ factual testimony to be credible, but denied his application, as the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) did as well. Though the Immigration Judge found that his asylum claim was untimely under the one-year rule, the BIA ignored that, considering his asylum claim on the merits. The BIA concluded that although Bringas suffered “serious abuse” as a child, he did not show that the “abuse was inflicted by government actors or that the government was unwilling or unable to control his abusers.” This was a critical finding, because the basis for establishing refugee status is to show persecution at the hands of the government or private actors the government is unwilling or unable to control. Purely private abuse is not considered to be “persecution” under relevant statutes and treaties. Having found that Bringas had not established “past persecution,” the BIA approved the Immigration Judge’s finding there should be no presumption he had a reasonable fear of future persecution in Mexico, because he had “failed to show a pattern or practice of persecution of gay men in Mexico.” The BIA wrote

ASYLUM, continued on p.21

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2017 HAS FLAVOR OF RESISTANCE

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

O

on Ma rch 8, gat he r i n g s of w om e n , with the support of allied men, marked International Women’s Day, by calling for gender equalit y a nd a n end to v iolence against women. With Donald Trump in the White House, the events carried a strong message of resistance – on i s sue s f r om r e pr o duc t i ve choice to immigrant rights. O ne g r oup m a r c he d f r om Columbus Circle near Trump International Hotel to Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. Later, as dusk approached, demonstrators gathered in Washington Square Park.

GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

13


HEALTH

HUDSON GUILDTHEATRE COMPANY

Reaching Poz People LA PAZZA VITA Where They Live MetroPlus’ mission to “get out into the community” BY PAUL SCHINDLER

E A CIRCUS AND DANCE SPECTACULAR INSPIRED BY THE FILMS OF FEDERICO FELLINI

FEATURING A COMPANY OF SOME OF THE GREATEST ACTORS, DANCERS, CIRCUS ARTISTS, AND STAGECRAFT MAGICIANS IN ALL OF CHELSEA!

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ven as local HIV health care advocates push to get b ot h Ne w Yorker s w ho a r e p o sit i ve a nd t hose who wa nt to st ay negative into doctors’ offices, they are finding out that getting out of their own offices is an important part of that mission. That’s the conclusion of Dr. Ross G. Hewitt, who is the associate medical director for HIV Services at MetroPlus Health Plan, a subsidiary of NYC Health + Hospitals that offers low to no-cost insurance to city residents eligible under a variety of Medicaid and Medicare programs. When Hewitt arrived at MetroPlus two years ago, his mandate was to take “a fresh look” at how the organization was serving its HIV-positive members, many of whom participate in its HIV Special Needs Plan. “We were primarily a telephonebased care delivery service,” he said of how MetroPlus interacted with its HIV-positive members. That approach enabled the organization to serve about 40 percent of its HIV-positive members, but left a majority unengaged. “We had to get out into the community,” Hewitt explained, noting that a telephone-based

METROPLUS HEALTH PLAN

Dr. Ross G. Hewitt, who oversees delivery of HIV services at MetroPlus Health Plan.

approach is “limiting.” Some members among the income-limited population MetroPlus serves don’t have phones or are on minute-based plans. Perhaps most importantly, “HIV is a very private matter,” he said. Establishing initial rapport with a member over the phone is difficult, and might even seem intrusive or intimidating. Hewitt arrived at MetroPlus with a strong background in HIV care and science. A Brooklyn

POZ PEOPLE, continued on p.15

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Tickets: www.gaycitynews.nyc/impact 14

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

POZ PEOPLE, from p.14

native, raised in the Bronx, he was a 1983 graduate of NYU’s medical school and, at Bellevue Hospital, worked with some of the city’s earliest AIDS patients. Later, in Buffalo, he spent nearly two decades running the AIDS Designated Center he created at Erie County Medical Center. There he was a principal investigator in AIDS clinical trial groups that studied the first 15 antiretrovirals that came to market. At MetroPlus, he knew that moving service delivery beyond a telephone-based model would take significant training. “We set out to make sure the skills of our staff were up to date and broad enough to handle the situations that can arise,� Hewitt explained. The approach, he said, was to send MetroPlus “health and wellness advisors� into the city clinics and hospitals where its roughly 8,600 HIV-positive members typically access care. “We are meeting them right at the clinic,� Hewitt said. “Tradi-

tionally managed care is looked at by consumers as a way to avoid providing care. That’s not our philosophy. We believe more contact means better health outcomes and, as a result, a lower cost of care.� Though its HIV-positive members are spread across the organization’s insurance products, about 4,000 — or nearly half — belong to the HIV Special Needs Plan. Another 500 belong to a MetroPlus Medicare Plan. The overriding goal of its outreach effort is to ensure that its HIV-positive members are getting treatment and then complying with their drug regimen. Antiretroviral treatments are highly effective when taken correctly, and will generally suppress the virus to undetectable levels, not only keeping an HIV-positive person healthy but also eliminating the risk they could infect someone else. Hewitt noted that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s End the Epidemic blueprint, which has been endorsed as well by the city, relies in significant ways on managed care organizations hooking

their members up with care and treatment. Hewitt offered a measure of the progress of MetroPlus’ more proactive approach. At the end of 2015, the organization’s statistics showed that 75 percent of its members were virally suppressed. One year later, that number had risen to 82 percent. When Hewitt arrived in 2015, a key concern at MetroPlus was engaging members who were not virally suppressed or, in some cases, not even in care at all. The organization’s End the Epidemic Program had identified about 700 such people as of August 2015. The most recent health numbers for that group indicated that 32 percent now show zero viral load. Moving that number is the toughest sl og for M etr oP l us’ health and wellness advisors. “There is no question but that homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health or ongoing psychiatric situations are the biggest barriers to getting those who are not virally suppressed into care,� Hewitt explained. That means working with city

agencies, community organizations, and health care providers across a broad spectrum. The city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration qualifies HIV-positive New Yorkers for housing assistance, though MetroPlus may work with a case management group such as Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Housing Works, or Harlem United in connecting its members to HASA. On mental health and substance abuse issues, MetroPlus partners with Beacon Health Options, which provides clinical management on behavioral health issues. Hewitt said that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s focus on improving mental health care access in the city has also enhanced the availability of services for his organization’s members. In addition to his management of MetroPlus’ services for HIVpositive members, Hewitt has also taken the lead on the organization’s efforts to get at-risk members who are HIV-negative to look at pre-exposure prophylaxis, or

䉴

POZ PEOPLE, continued on p.43

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15


SCOTUS, from p.3

June 23 requiring the Gloucester school district to allow Grimm to use the boys’ restrooms while the case proceeded on the merits. After the Fourth Circuit panel, on July 12, denied the school district’s motion to stay Doumar’s injunction, the Supreme Court, on August 3, granted an emergency stay while the district petitioned the Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision. It takes five vote to grant this type of stay, and the court typically issues no opinion explaining its action. Here, however, Justice Stephen Breyer issued a one-paragraph statement explaining he had voted for the stay as a “courtesy,” citing an earlier case in which the conservative justices had refused to extend such a courtesy in a death penalty case presenting a serious Eighth Amendment challenge. On October 28, the high court agreed to review the Fourth Circuit decision. In its petition to the Supreme Court, the Gloucester school district asked the Supreme Court to consider three questions: whether its doctrine of deferring to agency interpretations of regulations should be abandoned; whether — assuming the doctrine was retained — it should be applied in the case of an “unpublished” letter submitted by an agency in response to a particular lawsuit; and finally whether the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX and the regulation was correct. The court agreed only to address the second and third questions.

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The Shift to a Trump Presidency A week later, Donald Trump was elected president. During the election campaign, he repeatedly pledged to revoke Obama administration executive orders and administrative actions, so speculation immediately focused on how the new administration’s actions would affect the Gloucester County case, especially given Republicans’ strident criticism of the Obama policy on transgender students. The appointment of Jeff Sessions, a longtime foe of LGBTQ rights, only strengthened the view the president would retreat on the bathroom access question and likely on transgender rights generally. Trump’s

nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education fueled even more speculation, given her family’s notorious and substantial financial support for antiLGBTQ organizations. Survival of the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance for very long seemed exceedingly unlikely under Trump. The boom was lowered on February 22, though numerous press reports suggest that DeVos does not share her family’s anti-gay sentiments and opposed withdrawing the guidance. (On March 8, the education secretary met with a group of LGBTQ advocates, including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the National Center for Transgender Equality.) All available evidence points to Sessions as the player who insisted the Obama administration policy be withdrawn. In a White House showdown with DeVos, the attorney general won the president’s support. The February 22 “Dear Colleagues” letter the Trump administration sent to the nation’s schools — and advised the Supreme Court about — was curiously contradictory. While announcing that the prior letters from Obama officials were “withdrawn” and their interpretation would not be followed by the federal government, the letter did not take a position directly on whether Title IX applied to gender identity discrimination claims. Instead, the joint DOE-DOJ letter said further study was needed on the Title IX issue, while asserting that the question of bathroom access should be left to states and local school boards. Schools, the letter noted, were still obligated by Title IX not to discriminate against any students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That point — at least suggesting that the 1972 law provided some protections based on those categories — was seemingly an attempt at a compromise between DeVos’ position against bullying and discrimination and Sessions’ opposition to a broad reading of Title IX encompassing gender identity discrimination claims. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the question of Title IX’s interpretation was still being considered by the administration.

SCOTUS, continued on p.17

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


䉴

SCOTUS, from p.16

The Supreme Court Steps Aside, For Now Since the Obama administration interpretation to which the Fourth Circuit panel had deferred was no longer operative, one of the two questions the Supreme Court had agreed to review was now moot. Even though both parties in the case urged the court to forge ahead to address the second question — the underlying issue of Title IX’s interpretation — it is not surprising that the justices decided not to do so. The Supreme Court’s usual role is review of a lower court ruling on the merits of a case. Here, the Fourth Circuit ruling was not one on the merits as such, since its decision was based on deference to an administrative interpretation. The Fourth Circuit held that the Obama administration’s interpretation was “reasonable,� but not that it was the only correct interpretation of the regulation or the statute. The only ruling on the merits in the case so far is Judge Doumar’s original 2015 ruling that Grimm’s complaint failed to state a valid claim under Title IX. So it was not surprising that the Supreme Court rejected the two parties’ request to decide the issue of interpreting Title IX and instead sent it back to the Fourth Circuit to reconsider in light of the Trump administration’s February 22 letter. The court usually grants review because there are conflicting rulings among the nation’s courts of appeals that need to be resolved. Here there are no such conflicting rulings under Title IX and the bathroom regulation, since the only other decisions on this question are by federal trial courts, not appeals courts. After issuing its February 22 letter, the Justice Department abandoned the appeal filed by the Obama administration regarding the scope of Judge O’Connor’s nationwide preliminary injunction in the Texas case. Both that case and the Nebraska case will now be withdrawn as moot. The Legal Terrain Elsewhere Even as the Grimm case moves back to the Fourth Circuit, there are several other relevant cases pending. The Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit and the Philadelphiabased Third Circuit will be considGayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

ering appeals from district court rulings on transgender student rights from Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively; there are cases pending before trial courts elsewhere; and there are multiple lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s HB2, which among other things mandates that transgender people use public restrooms consistent with their birth certificates. One case challenging HB2 was filed by the Obama Justice Department and may be abandoned by the Trump administration. The Fourth Circuit will shortly hear arguments on an appeal filed by three transgender plaintiffs who are students or staff members at the University of North Carolina, who won a preliminary injunction when the trial judge in their case, filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, deferred to the Obama administration guidance as required by the Fourth Circuit’s Grimm ruling. That judge, however, declined to rule on the plaintiffs’ claim that HB2 also violated their constitutional rights. The plaintiffs’ appeal is focused on their constitutional claim and their argument that the preliminary injunction, which was narrowly focused on the three of them, should have been broadly applied to all transgender people affected by HB2. The case pending in the Third Circuit also focuses on a constitutional claim, as a trial judge in Pittsburgh ruled that a western Pennsylvania school district violated the 14th Amendment by adopting a resolution forbidding three transgender high school students from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Whatever happens next in the Gavin Grimm case, then, the issue of transgender people and their access to public facilities consistent with their gender identity will continue to be litigated in many federal courts in the months ahead. The question may well be back to the Supreme Court soon, perhaps as early as its 2017-18 term. By then, the court is likely to be restored to a five-member conservative majority, assuming the Senate either confirms Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch or, if that stalls, another conservative nominee. It is even possible that Trump may have a second vacancy to fill before this issue gets back to the high court.

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PERSPECTIVE: The Long View PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

Gavin Grimm, In His Own Words

jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

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18

T

he spitefulness of Republicans — and it’s a problem t hat goes much deeper than just Trump — toward t he v ulnerable is breat hta k ing. Whether it’s cutting medical care for millions at the low end of the economic scale or food assistance for the hungry — the GOP majority seems determined to make bad situations worse. And in their attack on the transgender community, their aim is particularly pernicious — taking on not the adults who are increasingly numerous and outspoken, but those who have the greatest moral claim on society’s support and nurturing — trans youth. On March 6 — just weeks after Attorney General Jeff Sessions prevailed on Trump to pull an Obama administration policy ensuring that transgender school students get the dignity they deserve by gaining access to bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity — the Supreme Court ducked the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high school student fighting to uphold that principle. A high school senior, Grimm is soft-spoken but exceptionally selfpossessed, and in a recent interview with Norfolk’s ABC affiliate (youtube.com/watch?v=c2qmA-pQEl0), where he was joined by his mother, he described the transformation — “exhausting” at times — he’s undergone in his young life. It’s clear that his courage and strong sense of self have made his example a public document demanding fair and equal treatment for all his trans peers. Going to school has given him migraines, he told WVEC-TV’s Laura Geller in a half-hour interview. “They’re like… I-came-homeand-crashed type headaches,” he explained. “I have always had a problem in school since elementary school, having been bullied and sort of outcasted and not really fitting in.” He is certain the migraines are related to school because they seldom happen during summer vacation. When first entering elementary school, he recalled, “I didn’t identify with my female peers.”

YOUTUBE.COM

High school senior Gavin Grimm, here speaking to WVEC, the ABC affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, has made his example a public document demanding fair and equal treatment for all his trans peers.

As he became more certain he was a boy, he said, “I had been, you know, slowly gearing my wardrobe toward the boy’s section.” At 12, the transformation was completed; he got his hair cut short. For him, the fashion choice was momentous step: as if it were time for a Bar Mitzvah. Now he was a young man. His family barely noticed. In middle school, he continued, “I had been living my life in certain friends’ circles as a as a boy and that was what was comfortable for me, and… going into female-oriented spaces felt just wrong.” At 14, a tongue-tied young man tried to explain all this to his mom and the words wouldn’t come — just tears exposing how gut-wrenching the conversation was for him. His mom, Deirdre, pushed him to open up. She might have expected her child to say, “I’m a lesbian,” but was amazed to learn she had a son. “You know, I was, like, I’m a nurse so I thought there’s nothing I can’t handle but then when he told me what the real story was, it was like, oh, I have to get educated because I don’t know,” Deirdre said in the interview. Gavin had the foresight to have

a book ready to recommend, and Deirdre spent three nights becoming familiar with transgender issues. “One of the first things I read was the suicide rate of these kids,” she said. “That’s all I really needed to read… to be supportive, you know. I didn’t want my child to become one of those statistics.” Another lesson learned turned conventional parenting on its head. Doctors told her “that school is not the most important thing when you’re in this situation but the child being healthy is the most important thing.” The best medical advice on preserving a trans child’s health, she said, is that parents shouldn’t insist their child go to school — unless and until that school is safe for them. The struggle to give trans youth access to public facilities like the bathroom is a campaign to change attitudes so that it is safe and healthy for children to be in school. Gavin was uncertain how his announcement would be received by his family. “Absolutely this household was homophobic,” he said. “… Not to the point that I would have gotten kicked

LONG VIEW, continued on p.19

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

The Temptations of Direct Action BY KELLY COGSWELL

R

ight before it happened, I’d turn on the news and watch a black or brown woma n inter v iew ing the likes of Al Sharpton, or Margarita Lopez, who was the first out Latina dyke on the New York City Council. It didn’t seem remarkable then, seeing so many women, so many people of color on the tube. And queers, even. But after September 11, suddenly the newscasters were all white straight men with a certain, forced gravitas, their interviewee the pale-faced Mayor Rudolph Giuliani available 24 hours a day complete with a NYFD or NYPD ball cap. Bush Jr. was there, too, surrounded by grimacing white congressmen. In her book, “The Terror Dream: Myth and Misogyny in an Insecure America,” Susan Faludi argued that those terrorist acts actually launched a new attack on feminism. Focusing on the post-attack media, politics, and popular culture, she showed how they were all committed to elevating “traditional” manhood and gender roles, celebrating cops and firemen, sidelining women from nearly every heroic narrative of September 11. I can feel it happening again. Not just because a pussy-grab-

LONG VIEW, from p.18

out or harmed… It was not a friendly, open, accepting environment in a lot of ways as far as LGBT is concerned.” In public, Gavin could walk to up to a cashier and be accepted as a boy. He could walk into a restaurant men’s room without comment. “Well, I started going to men’s rooms, I think, even at the end of middle school because I knew I knew who I was,” he recalled. In school, things were a little more difficult. At 15, his mom fully onboard, Grimm went to court to get a legal name change and then they visited the school principal, who was professional and open to GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

ber’s sitting in the White House. But because a large minority of the besieged left, apparently emasculated by Hillary Clinton’s successful primary campaign, is still going on about how Bernie “Big Dick” Sanders would have beaten Trump for sure. Our current problems are all Hillary’s fault and the Dems that anointed her. So much for all those votes she got, all the people she mobilized. And now that the white nationalist kleptocracy is in full swing, that’s somehow the fault, too, of girly liberals like her for not destroying it while we had a chance. What we need are more broken windows. More burning cars. More radicalized radicals taking names and kicking ass. Down with the effete failure of liberal democracy. Up with a vaguely defined utopian working class state that will rise magically from the ashes of what we have now. Just for the record, I’m all for holding demos and blocking airports and streets, along with Trump and his truly horrifying agenda. Direct action is perfect to voice a giant, “No!” And has always played an important role in social change, not just because it disrupts the steamrollers of power, but because a vibrant, visible left gives teeth to more modest, yet crucial measures like letter-writing, phone calls, voting, running for office — the things

that take root. When politicians have to compromise, and they always do, crowds in the street mean they can bargain from a position of power and won’t have to give up so much. Direct action as a tactic is also one of the few ways to make things visible that society wishes to remain hidden — an AIDS epidemic, for instance, lesbians, police brutality, the erosion of abortion rights. Activism can also transform those of us who have never tasted power before, never had a public voice. There’s something intoxicating about confronting your fear, stepping into the street, and feeling the adrenaline kick in with an amazing whoosh. You feel good, powerful for a change, as your voice is amplified by all the bodies around you. The problem is that this power can also corrupt, especially those young straight men who were born to it. Who, after all, already dominates the street? Ride the subway after 10 p.m., it’s almost all men. Women are home taking care of the kids. Or they’re just scared to go out alone. Pretty soon young men aren’t satisfied with waving a sign and chanting, but take a brick and toss it through the nearest McDonald’s window in the name of the working class and a healthy environment. You get a positively explosive

meeting Gavin’s needs in the new school year. For weeks, he used the boy’s bathroom, then adults in the community protested to the school board, which overruled the principal and demanded that Gavin use a private bathroom. That started Gavin’s life as a pioneer in the movement for trans high school students affirming their right to access public spaces of their choice and appropriate to their identity. The opposition insisted that safety required that the sexes be separated and refused to acknowledge that Gavin is a boy. A US district court backed the school board, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the Obama policy, based on the conclusion that gen-

der identity discrimination is a form of illegal sex discrimination, should be respected. Now that the Trump administration has overturned that policy, the nation’s high court has sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit, which could now consider whether the Obama policy was not only deserving of deference, but in fact the correct interpretation of the law and the Constitution. Gavin will have graduated by the time this issue has any chance to get back to the Supreme Court, but in a critical respect, Gavin’s life has already been changed for the better. He has done TV interviews and appeared with Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” — experiences

formula when you mix this temptation to violence with the activist tendency to imagine that getting arrested for blocking traffic is somehow more noble than making a phone call. Or that a sympathizer in the Senate who knows how to compromise and wrangle votes is nothing more than a turncoat. Like the alt-right, the alt-left is going beyond rejecting the conservative nature of our institutions, to rejecting the institutions themselves, despite the fact that they consolidate our gains and have the resources to protect them, if only we insist on it. They never see the change democracy permits, only its failures. They think stability is always bad. And demand bulldozers and steamrollers. So even as I rejoice at the vast numbers on the streets blocking everything Trump conceives of, I remember that revolutions so many activists are calling for have always and only benefited men — particularly white men — in multiracial societies. Women are sidelined, along with disenfranchised people of color who were deluded to believe this was ever for them. As usual, the Puritans of the left will also purge queers, if not for our sex lives, then for out liberal alliances, not to mention the tasteless jokes we make when we despair of the world. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

that, whatever the stresses — have surely enriched his life. He will certainly find many colleges happy to open their doors to him, and Trump or no Trump, he has found the support systems available for those young trans people fortunate enough to find them. In that sense, Gavin is privileged among transgender Americans. He’s learned to speak up for himself, he has his family’s full-throated support, and he’s learned a lot about the world. Meanwhile, in 2016, there were at least 24 murders of transgender people in the US, most of them women of color. Barely two months into the new year, already seven more such murders have occurred.

19


PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

The Alt-World Where Walt Disney is Harvey Milk BY ED SIKOV

“P

r e side nt T r u mp has chosen open homosexual and ‘g a y C h r i s t i a n ’ advocate Rick Grenell to be the US Ambassador to NATO, according to several news reports. “The appointment, not yet confirmed by the White House, would make Grenell the highest-ranking open homosexual serving in the Trump administration.” Well, well, well! If there’s one thing sure to outrage the religious right about Donald Trump’s behavior, it is certainly not boasting of grabbing pussy or his treachery with Russia but rather the appointment of an openly LGBTQ person to an important position. These people are delusional. I saw a Facebook post recently that depicted Trump seated at his desk in the Oval Office while a swirling baroque Jesus swept in protectively behind him. To this, the HOUSE HOUSE CALLS CALLS

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poster had commented, “Finally we have A MAN OF GOD in the White House.” A man of God?! I don’t have a personal relationship with the Creator, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t smile upon pussy grabbers. The announcement of Grenell’s likely appointment came in LifeSiteNews.com, a website that makes Fox News look like The Progressive. The author of the piece is the notorious clown Peter LaBarbera, president of an organization that is actually called Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, the website of which contains this hilarious parenthetical aside: “(LaBarbera has been falsely accused of being a repressed homosexual more times than he can remember.)” This calls to mind the immortal statement of what constitutes proof: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, and lays duck eggs, then it’s probably not a straight guy.” SAME DAY SERVICE AVAILABLE

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On LifeSiteNews.com, LaBarbera continues: “But there is another side to Grenell: ‘gay’ advocate. As LifeSiteNews reported after he was floated for Ambassador to the UN (a job that eventually went to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley), Grenell advocates for homosexual ‘marriage’ as a ‘conservative’ issue. He criticizes ’loud religious right activists’ who oppose homosexuality and touts Trump’s uniquely proLGBT credentials as a Republican. He was an early Trump supporter. “On LGBT issues, Trump has disappointed social conservatives by a series of actions that include reinstating an Obama executive order forcing federal contractors to have pro-LGBTQ policies; proclaiming that the homosexual ‘marriage’ issue is ‘settled’ in the courts; and appointing top advisers like Betsy DeVos and Anthony Scaramucci who are pro-homosexual.” By “forcing federal contractors to have pro-LGBTQ policies,” LaBarbera is evidently referring to Trump’s continuation of an executive order issued by President Barack Obama that prevents federal contractors from arbitrarily firing gay people for being gay; these contractors are not by any means forced to be pro-LGBTQ. I find this stuff to be incredibly annoying, not because LaBarbera’s views on gay people come unfiltered from the Cro-Magnon period of proto-human history, but because of his insistence on setting apart words that trouble him by sticking them in quotation marks. Come on, Peter! Is all

of this because your first name is a synonym for penis? Did the other boys in middle school make fun of you? Is that what this is about? I’d be only too happy to arrange a circle jerk for you the next time you’re in New York. You could make up for lost time. It would be genuinely reparative therapy. Wait! Wait! There’s more! “A Mississippi attorney who identifies as a homosexual is objecting to the ‘gay’ content” in Disney’s live remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” citing children should not be exposed to adult topics that seek to destroy their innocence, according to the Christian News Network. In an Orlando Sentinel column, Joseph R. Murray II said the company is straying away from Walt Disney’s original vision to “entertain children” and is now pushing a political agenda. “The vision for Walt’s world was clear: Entertain children,” Murray wrote. “Disney characters were about hope, optimism, and, above all else, making sure children were able to enjoy their innocence for as long as the outside world would permit. And Disney understood that part of its mission was to provide a buffer for as long as possible. ‘Somewhere along the line, Disney went off course. No longer did it see itself as a defender of children’s innocence. Instead, it saw itself as a conduit to social change. Walt Disney became Harvey Milk.’ Harvey Milk?! I think we’re get-

ALT-WORLD, continued on p.21

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March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ASYLUM, from p.9

that “the record did not demonstrate widespread brutality against homosexuals or that there was any criminalization of homosexual conduct in Mexico.” The BIA, instead, credited the Mexican government for having taken “numerous positive steps to address the rights of homosexuals.” The three-judge Ninth Circuit panel that first heard the case focused on a 2011 circuit ruling about applicants whose abusers were all private citizens, which held that in establishing the government was unwilling or unable to control the abusers, the victim had to have reported the abuse to officials. “The panel majority reasoned,” Wardlaw wrote, “that where a victim fails to report abuse, even as a child, ‘there is a “gap in proof about how the government would have responded,”’ and that petitioner bears the burden to ‘fill in the gaps’ by showing how the government would have responded had he reported the abuse.” The three-judge panel emphasized the part of the State Department country reports that discussed how Mexican law had improved for gay people, and highlighted both a new “specialized hate crimes prosecution unit” and an official “national day against homophobia.” Bringas’ testimony about his gay friends having reported their abuse to police but getting no help was “insufficient,” the panel found. “Even if the friends’ reports were credited, the panel majority explained, those reports failed to

ALT-WORLD, from p.20

ting a little carried away. First of all, Murray is flat-out wrong. Disney characters are scarcely all “about hope, optimism, and, above all else, making sure children were able to enjoy their innocence for as long as the outside world would permit.” No. Far from thinking that kids needed a buffer, Disney went out of his way to terrify toddlers. Did this schmegegge never see “Bambi?” “Man enters the forest,” the film’s narrator darkly intones, and almost immediately the titular fawn’s mother gets shot to death. GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

establish that police practices in the city or state of Veracruz could be linked to police practices in Tres Valles, Bringas’ hometown,” Wardlaw wrote. As had the Immigration Judge, the three-judge panel also suggested that the issue here was not narrowly sexual abuse because of homosexuality, but rather the more general phenomenon of sexual abuse of children. There was no evidence, the panel found, that Mexican law enforcement authorities would be indifferent to reports of child sexual abuse. Judge William Fletcher, the dissenter on the three-judge panel, expressed discomfort about the 2011 precedent the majority relied on, pointing to the circuit’s “ample precedent that does not require victims of private persecution, especially child victims, to contemporaneously report their abuse to government authorities in order to become eligible for asylum.” The 11-judge panel majority, reversing the three-judge panel, embraced Fletcher’s criticism, citing extensive evidence about the psychological and practical problems a child victim of sexual abuse would have in reporting abuse to authorities, especially if they or their loved ones were threatened with retribution, as happened in Bringas’ case. Going further, the larger panel overruled the 2011 precedent regarding the requirement that abuse must have been reported to authorities in order to establish “persecution” for purposes of asylum or withholding of removal. While it was clear that Bingas’

asylum claim was filed too late, the court determined that his claims for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture must be reconsidered by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Bringas’ testimony — found credible by both the Immigration Judge and the BIA — was sufficient to establish he had been subjected to past persecution and was entitled to a presumption of further persecution, the panel found. The court sent the case back to the BIA, saying the remaining issue was whether that presumption of future persecution was rebutted by the government’s evidence that conditions have changed in Mexico. Since the BIA issued its opinion, Bringas learned he is HIV-positive, and he had asked the Board to reopen his case based on that factor, but was refused. The Ninth Circuit panel ordered the BIA to allow Bringas to supplement the record to include his HIV diagnosis. A dissent by Judge Carlos T. Bea, joined by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, focused on the court’s failure to accord sufficient deference to the BIA’s decision, emphasized the weak points in Bringas’ testimony, and accused the majority of mischaracterizing the 2011 precedent it was overruling. He also argued that the situation facing Bringas at age 14 was very different from the situation he would face today as an adult if returned to Mexico, pointing out further that the record showed that conditions for gay men in Mexico varied. If returned to Mexico, Bringas would not have to live in Veracruz, but could instead locate in Mexico

City, a jurisdiction that has legalized same-sex marriage, supports gay pride marches, and is notably gay-friendly. Bea was appointed to Ninth Circuit by President George W. Bush, while O’Scannlain is a Ronald Reagan appointee. Wardlaw was named to the court by Bill Clinton. The majority in the three-panel ruling were George W. Bush appointees, while Judge Fletcher, the dissenter, was a Clinton appointee. It will be interesting to see whether the Trump administration seeks Supreme Court review of this ruling. Since this ruling may make it easier for Mexican asylum applicants to win the right to remain in the US, the administration may seize on an appeal as a vehicle to tighten up on the asylum process. Assuming Judge Neil Gorsuch or an alternative right-leaning nominee wins approval by the Senate, this case, if it goes to the Supreme Court, would arrive after its conservative majority is restored. The Bringas case was considered a big deal by immigrant rights and civil liberties advocates. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California (Irvine) School of Law argued the appeal, working with pro bono attorneys from major California law firms. Several amicus briefs were filed in support of Bringas, including by Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the HIV Law Project, and the Transgender Law Center. Williams & Connolly LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of Alice Farmer, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

(And Dad doesn’t step in to provide any now-missing cuddles; he’s a distant, intimidating figure seen only in long shot.) And what about the Evil Queen in Snow White, who poisons the eponymous heroine out of insane jealousy? Or Cruella de Vil in “101 Dalmatians,” who wants to rip the skins off a bunch of cute little puppies and stitch them together for a coat? And Dumbo, without a doubt one of the druggiest movies ever made, features a mother who gets thrown into a madhouse, leaving her baby frightened, alone, and at the mercy of a bunch of mean boys straight out of a gay teen’s night-

mare. All of this hysteria comes from a short interview that “Beauty”’s director, Bill Condon, gave to Attitude magazine. Name drop alert! Bill happens to be an old friend of mine; he’s the openly gay writerdirector behind the gay-themed “Gods and Monsters,” which he adapted for the screen from the novel by Christopher Bram, winning an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in the process. Nevertheless — and try as he might (no, actually he didn’t try) — he did not turn Walt Disney into Harvey Milk. Despite the subtlety of the gay character’s depiction, a theater in

Alabama has refused to show the film. As the owner wrote in a Facebook post, “If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.” My question: does Jesus like His popcorn with “butter flavor” or does He prefer it plain? That artificial “butter flavor” is a truly nasty yellowish oil that sure puts on the pounds. That’s probably why the Son of God doesn’t partake of it. When was the last time you saw a depiction of Jesus the Christ as a fat man? Follow @EdSikov on Twitter.

21


FILM

Queer Debuts Shine at New Directors/ New Films Traditional South African rituals, French road chase highlights of Lincoln Center, MoMA festival BY GARY M. KRAMER wo queer debut features at this year’s New Directors/ New Films festival showcase exciting new talents in world cinema. From South Africa comes gay director/ co-writer John Trengove’s remarkable feature debut, “The Wound” (Mar. 25, 1:30 p.m., MoMA Titus 2; Mar. 26, 9:30 p.m., Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center). The film opens in Johannesburg, where Xolani (out gay musician Nakhane Touré) works a factory job. X, as he is known, soon heads out to the mountains in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where he will be a caregiver for Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini), a “soft” — read queer — initiate in a manhood ritual involving circumcision. The early scenes have an almost anthropological quality to them that is fascinating (if slightly uncomfortable to watch), providing an intriguing backdrop that sets up themes of masculinity and hierarchy that play out over the course of the film. As X reconnects with his childhood pal Vija (Bongile Mantsai), another caregiver, the two friends soon head off to a secluded place where they have sex. It is clear from the way that the closeted X looks at Vija that he loves him deeply and longs to be with him. But Vija, who is married and has three children, is not gay. The observant Kwanda figures out the secret dynamic between X and Vija pretty quickly, and he’s comfortable enough in his own skin to taunt Vija — even though X warns Kwanda to stay away from him, perhaps out of jealousy. X himself is preoccupied with finding ways to be alone and intimate with his part-time lover. A scene of the friends together in a field is fraught with sexual tension; another sequence of them at a waterfall is full of passion. “The Wound” builds to a powerful (though not entirely unexpected) climax as X must make some

T

GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

NEW DIRECTORS/ NEW FILMS

Bongile Mantsai and Nakhane Touré in John Trengove’s feature debut “The Wound.”

NEW DIRECTORS/ NEW FILMS Film Society of Lincoln Center 144-165 W. 65th St. Museum of Modern Art 11 W. 53rd St. $16; $12 for students & seniors newdirectors.org

difficult decisions and grapple with what it means to be a man in his Xhosa culture. While the setting is distinctive and specific, “The Wound” is compelling throughout because Trengove makes the story accessible. He deftly captures the shifts in power among the three men as Vija toys with X’s affections and tangles with Kwanda, who is on to Vija’s games. The filmmaker elicits a magnificent performance from Touré who conveys X’s fear and desire through his facial expressions and body language. “The Wound” is an extraordinary first-time achievement. French filmmaker Jérôme Reybaud’s “4 Days in France” (Mar. 21, 6:15 p.m., MoMA Titus 2; Mar. 22, 6:15 p.m., Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center) opens with Pierre (Pascal Cervo) walking out on his Parisian lover Paul (Arthur Igual) without a word. Getting in his white

NEW DIRECTORS/ NEW FILMS

Pascal Cervo and Mathieu Chevé in Jérôme Reybaud’s “4 Days in France.”

Alfa Romeo, Pierre lets chance — and Grindr — guide him. He picks up a woman (Fabienne Babe) whose car has broken down. Later, he spends the night with Mattieu (Mathieu Chevé), a handsome and horny 20-year-old, who wants to go to Paris, and gives Pierre a package to deliver to a woman in the countryside. Paul, meanwhile, is bereft. He rents a car and tries to find Pierre, also utilizing Grindr as well as maps and his instincts. Reybaud’s intriguing film is alternately serious and absurdly funny as Pierre and Paul encounter the same (or different) people on their parallel journeys. The film is alternately hypnotic and — unfortunately — tedious as the men traverse similar territory in Paul’s

hope to reunite with his partner. “4 Days in France” is a long (140 minutes), leisurely paced, and lowkey chase movie. Reybaud does not reveal much about his characters, and viewers may not care if they even get back together. But it is the journey, not the destination that matters here. The film addresses themes of the past and how decisions we make, either spontaneous or carefully planned, can sometimes have lasting repercussions. Pierre is using his trip to explore his loneliness, and as he meets other characters who are equally isolated or forlorn — such as a thief (Laetitia Dosch) — he forms momentary connections with them. One particularly memorable encounter Pierre has is with a salesman (Bertrand Nadler) who checks into an adjoining motel room. In exchange for a chance to drive Pierre’s Alfa Romeo, the salesman allows Pierre to kiss him. Later, back at the hotel, the two strangers have an erotic encounter on opposite sides of their shared wall. It is an astonishing sequence that captures the affection each man craves. Reybaud uses the French countryside to add to the sense of isolation. The lush greenery and mountains are palpable in defining the sense of space the characters experience, as when the salesman shows Pierre his territory from a lookout. Pierre may have left Paris with no intention of returning, but he is often referred to as “the Parisian” by other characters, emphasizing his outsider status. He does cut a curious figure, never changing his clothes (but occasionally taking them off), and he is often lost, both literally and figuratively, as he wends his way through the countryside. Cervo gives a touching performance in the central role; viewers will feel his every emotional beat. “4 Days in France” is one of those films where the parts are greater than the whole, but it is a journey still very well worth taking.

27


FILM

A Drag Ball on Screen Anthology Film Archives looks at gender illusion over the years BY GARY M. KRAMER celebr at ion of cros sdressing in cinema unspools at Anthology F i l m A rch ives Ma rch 23-31. The films, an international mix of features and documentaries, show how men in women’s clothing and women in men’s clothing are often played for laughs. John Epperson (aka Lypsinka), who guest curated the program, will be on hand March 23 to present “Wigstock: The Movie,” both the 1995 documentary and the 1987 short of the same name. This joyful chronicle of the onceannual New York City drag festival is a fabulous film, featuring enjoyable performances by Lypsinka, RuPaul (long before his “Drag Race”), Jackie Beat, Mistress Formika, Joey Arias, Candis Cayne, the Lady Bunny, Tabboo, Deee-Lite, and many others. Some of the most poignant scenes showcase the late Alexis Arquette, who is amusing in and out of drag. “Wigstock: The Movie” is inspiring because it shows the strength men get dressing in female clothing. Drag is liberating and empowering; a message repeated throughout the film is: put on a wig, a dress, and heels and then strut. Or, as one interviewee exclaims, “You feel so much more fabulous when you’re in drag.” Gay director George Cukor’s 1935 comedy “Sylvia Scarlett” (Mar. 24 & 30, 7 p.m.) features Katharine Hepburn in a cross-dressing performance as the title character, a young woman who masquerades as a boy, Sylvester. “He” works with his father (Edmund Gwenn) and a stranger, Jimmy Monkley (Cary Grant), to swindle others. They have mixed success, but then “she” falls for a painter, Michael Fane (Brian Aherne) and reveals her ruse. Cukor’s film is a mixed bag. He coaxes fine performances from the leads and displays flair in some of the film’s madcap comedic moments, but overall, “Sylvia Scarlett” doesn’t quite work. Its portrayal of gender roles was ahead of its

CROSS-DRESSING ON SCREEN

A

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Mar. 23-31 Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. at Second St. anthologyfilmarchives.org

COURTESY: ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES

Katharine Hepburn in George Cukor’s 1935 comedy “Sylvia Scarlett.”

COURTESY: ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES

Jessie Matthews in “First a Girl,” a 1935 remake of the German film “Viktor und Viktoria,” made two years before.

time but the film never quite engages the emotions. A trio of films — the 1933 German film “Viktor und Viktoria” (Mar. 25, 4:30 p.m.; Mar. 29, 6:30 p.m.), the 1935 British remake “First a Girl” (Mar. 25, 7 p.m.; Mar. 27, 9 p.m.), and the 1982 Blake Edwards update, “Victor/ Victo-

ria” (Mar. 25, 9 p.m.; Mar. 29, 8:45 p.m.; Mar. 31, 6:30 p.m.) — are variations on the same genderbending plot in which a woman impersonates a man impersonating a woman. “First a Girl” is a witty version of this story in which Elizabeth (Jessie Matthews), a wannabe showgirl

meets Victor (Sonnie Hale), a music hall performer. When he can’t go on one night, she arrives as “Bill” a man, who will impersonate a female. The show is a slapstick success, and the pair go on tour. The film features several eye-popping musical numbers. “Bill” and Victor eventually catch the eye of Princess Miranoff (Anna Lee) and her fiancé, Robert (Griffith Jones). A scene of “Bill” smoking cigars and drinking Robert under the table is a comic highlight. In contrast, a scene of Victor trying to get “Bill” into bed strains for humor. “First a Girl” is notable not just for the cross-dressing, but for how gender roles and social and sexual conventions played out in the 1930s. This film is particularly significant for how the characters lie and deceive one another for their own ends. It’s a fun film. “Outrageous!” (Mar. 26, 8:30 p.m.; Mar. 31, 9:30 p.m.) made 40 years ago, may be a bit dated, but it’s still a terrific showcase for Craig Russell and his female impersonations. Robin (Russell) is a gay hairdresser in Toronto who takes in Liza (Hollis McLaren), a schizophrenic who has left her mental institution after eight years. They provide comfort for each other, and the pair’s heartfelt chats form the emotional core of the film. The film’s second half, which involves some lucky breaks and plot contrivances, has Robin moving to New York to perform in drag. There are extended scenes of his impressive Carol Channing, Mae West, and Judy Garland impersonations — so many, in fact, that

DRAG BALL, continued on p.37

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


WONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T YOU JOIN US?

>`SaS\bSRPg

The second annual Gay City News Impact Awards will recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions to New York Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s LGBTQ community, its progress, and its achievements

Honorees are being celebrated at the Gay City News Impact Awards Gala on March 30 A portion of proceeds will be donated to not for proďŹ t local LGBT and community organizations

To Get Your Tickets Today, Visit gaycitynews.nyc/impact or contact Jennifer Stern

718-260-8302 or jstern@cnglocal.com >`SaS\bSRPg(

Post your congratulations message in the special keepsake issue proďŹ ling the honorees on March 30, 2017

A^]\a]`SRPg(

Contact Amanda Tarley For More Information: 718-260-8340 amanda@gaycitynews.com

gaycitynews.nyc GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

29


FILM

Foreign Secrets François Ozon explores how French soldier’s visit changes German family grieving after World War I BY GARY M. KRAMER rançois Ozon’s latest film, the beguiling romantic drama “Frantz” — a period piece set largely in 1919 Germany and shot almost entirely in black and white — in some respects seems like an almost complete change of pace for the gay French filmmaker. Still, this compelling drama explores many of the writer/ director’s key themes. The film, a reworking of Ernst Lubitsch’s “Broken Lullaby,” is set in Quedlinburg, where Anna (Paula Beer) visits the empty grave of her fiancé, Frantz Hoffmeister (Anton von Lucke), who was killed in World War I. One day, she spies Adrien (Pierre Niney) — a Frenchmen who has come to meet Frantz’s parents, Hans (Ernst Stötzner), and Magda (Marie Gruber) — at Frantz’s grave. Anna, who lives with the Hoffmeisters, develops a friendship with the Adrien, despite the small town’s disdain for the foreigner. As their relationship develops, Adrien eventually reveals his connection to Frantz, which sets in motion the rest of the story. In a recent interview, Ozon explained that what appealed to him about the story was not the idea of remaking “Broken Lullaby” but rather his interest in creating a film about secrets and lies. “I discovered a play written by the French writer Maurice Rostand,” the director said. “It was written after World War I, and it was about a young French solder who put flowers on a grave. I decided to make an adaptation. Then I realized that another director had made an adaptation in the 1930s, and it was Lubitsch. I was shocked and depressed. How could I remake Lubitsch? His film is strong and I enjoyed it, but since it was made in the 1930s it was done from another perspective. My approach was to show the point of view of a German and the girl. Lubitsch and the play were from the point of view of

F

30

JEAN-CLAUDE MOIREAU–FOZ/ MUSIC BOX FILMS

Pierre Niney and Paula Beer in François Ozon’s “Frantz.”

FRANTZ Directed by François Ozon Music Box Films In German and French with English subtitles Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. Btwn. Sixth Ave. & Varick St. Filmforum.org Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com JEAN-CLAUDE MOIREAU–FOZ/ MUSIC BOX FILMS

Filmmaker François Ozon.

the French soldier. So in the play and in Lubitsch’s film, you know Adrien’s secret from the beginning. It was important for me not to give away the secret first, so the audience could discover it like Anna does in the middle of the film.” Many viewers may suspect that Adrien’s relationship with Frantz is sexual, and scenes of the two men together have a tenderness that borders on romantic. Ozon acknowledged that he emphasized that element in his film. “I think it was important for me to play with that,” he said. “You don’t know in the first part of the film who Adrien is and what his relationship with Frantz is. In today’s eyes, everyone projects something gay between the two guys. I like the journey of the film — you figure it’s an Ozon film,

so it’s a love story between soldiers. But then you realize it’s something else.” Ozon appreciates the complexity of Adrien’s — and by extension, Anna’s — situation. Their bond, he said, is essentially a “necrophiliac” love for Frantz. “Adrien doesn’t know his desire or identity,” the filmmaker observed, praising Niney for his superb, layered performance. “Pierre was obvious to cast, because he’s famous in France and he’s a workaholic,” Ozon continued. “He had to learn German, how to dance and play violin. He was fragile and feminine. I saw him in ‘Yves Saint Laurent,’ and he was touching in the part. He was perfect for Adrien. He understood the ambiguity of the character. It’s complex

because Adrien is ‘acting’ all the time.” Adrien is “acting,” Ozon explained, because he is a stranger to Anna and the Hoffmeisters. He infiltrates their household, changing all their lives. This narrative was also used in Ozon’s 2012 film, “In the House” and his dark 1998 comedy “Sitcom.” The filmmaker laughed at that connection, insisting, “It’s not the same tone as ‘Sitcom!’ It’s not uncommon to put a foreigner in the family and change everyone. Pasolini did it in ‘Teorama.’ In ‘Sitcom,’ it was a pet rat in the house. In this case it’s a French soldier entering this German family who are suffering. I like the idea that people are suffering so much they accept life and want a beautiful story about their son and they believe what Adrien says. I love the idea that a foreigner can change people. It’s a paradox. ‘Frantz’ is about how to unite a family; ‘Sitcom’ about disturbing and destroying the family.” The film underscores the mood of xenophobia in both Germany and France at that time. The parallels to today are impossible not to notice, but Ozon demurred on the question of whether that was his objective. “I didn’t know when I began to work on the script that the film would be political,” he said. “That Brexit or Trump would happen. But I felt there was a rise of nationalism and fear of foreigners and new borders and building a wall, so a story of the past can resonate today.” He continued, “Since history repeats itself, it’s important to understand the past to see what happens today in the world. I realized how the film touches young people today because when you see what’s happening in the world, there are many reasons to be afraid of the future. After World War I in Germany, there were the roots of the Nazis, which destroyed all Europe during World War II. So it’s important to look at the past to look at the present.” March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Behind the Wall, Tabs Were Kept

WONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T YOU JOIN US?

Probing a father who couldn't survive East Germany's demise >`SaS\bSRPg

This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s honorees include:

BOND/ 360

A still from a Stasi film of Petra Epperleinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s childhood classroom, with her eyes the only ones not blacked out in this image.

BY STEVE ERICKSON

KARL MARX CITY a r l M a r x C it y â&#x20AC;? opens with home movies, presumably from co-director Petra Epperleinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s childhood in East Germany. The images show innocent fun, but a voice-over (delivered by a young girl) declares that the movies were shot by the Stasi, the former Soviet satelliteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s secret police. The film, made by Epperlein and her husband Michael Tucker, is a documentary, but it comes close to being a genre film, exploring the mystery behind the suicide of Epperleinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father, Wolfgang. He killed himself within a few years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, hounded by anonymous letters claiming he was a Stasi agent. He left an odd suicide note for Petra ending with â&#x20AC;&#x153;best regardsâ&#x20AC;? and claiming he was killing himself because he couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stand life in Germany anymore.

"K

GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

Directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker Bond/ 360 In English and German with English subtitles Opens Mar. 29 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. Btwn. Sixth Ave. & Varick St. filmforum.org

Governor David Paterson

Anthony Nicodemo

Ana MarĂ­a Archila & Andrea Batista Schlesinger

Eunic Ortiz Elisa Padilla

Christopher Bram

Leo Preziosi, Jr.

Lisa Cannistraci

Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Staceyann Chin

Manny Rivera

JD Davids

Doug Robinson

AndrĂŠs Duque

Therese Rodriguez

Bryan John Ellicott

Allen Roskoff

Ashley C. Ford

Robyn Streisand

Suzanne Goldberg Oriol R. Gutierrez

Christopher Tepper & Paul Kelterborn

Bishop Zachary Glenn Jones

Jennifer Flynn Walker

Howie Katz

Jillian Weiss

Terrance Knox

Edie Windsor

Donna Lieberman

Mel Wymore

Carmen Neely

Emanuel Xavier >`SaS\bSRPg(

List in formation

A^]\a]`SRPg(

Epperlein and Tucker start their film by investigating whether it could really be true that her father was a Stasi agent. Although the voice-over, as far as I could tell from the press kit, is delivered (in a half-German, half-American accent) by Epperleinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter, Matilda Tucker, not Epperlein herself, the co-directorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presence dominates the film. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Karl Marx Cityâ&#x20AC;? could almost be a spiri-

ä&#x2030;´

STASI, continued on p.38

Post your congratulations message in the special keepsake issue proďŹ ling the honorees on March 30, 2017 A portion of proceeds will be donated to not for proďŹ t local LGBT and community organizations

Contact Amanda Tarley For More Information: 718-260-8340 | amanda@gaycitynews.com

gaycitynews.nyc 31


GALLERY

Beautiful Edo Boys Japan Society show focuses on Japan’s 17th century so-called third sex BY DAVID NOH

o enter Japan Society’s exquisite new exhibit, “A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints,” is to be swept back in time to the Edo Period (1603-1868 ) and the “f loating world” (ukiyo), a universe of pure pleasure and escape from humdrum ordinary life, reflected in outlets like Kabuki theaters and red light districts. The exhibit, originally organized by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, includes more than 70 images and objects and is the first in North America to focus on representations of wakashu and the attendant issues of mutable gender and sex in ancient Japan. Wakashu refers to male youths during the years between their sexual maturation and their formal acceptance into adulthood, which is marked by the genpuku ceremony, in which both males and females received their adult name, hairstyles, and clothing (a samurai helmet for the boys, a pleated skirt for girls). Wakashu were deemed fitting sexual partners for both men and women and, with their distinctive, androgynous appearance, they constituted what many modern scholars consider a “third gender,” a concept some find resonance of in today’s widening range of LGBTQ identities. The stereotypical view of Japanese people as repressed, even asexual, is given a severe rebuke by this show, which includes a designated “for mature viewers” section containing erotically charged prints depicting sexual couplings, although never in the nude — instead, always slightly camouflaged by the elaborate folds of a kimono. What gay content that exists here is subtle and coded, like the woodblock print “Two Wakashu, One Playing Shakuhachi [flute],” by Torii Kiyonaga (17521815), depicting two youths enjoying each other’s company, intensified by the secondary meaning of shakuhachi — the penis.

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ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM/ SIR EDMUND WALKER COLLECTION/ PHOTO BY BRIAN BOYLE

“Two Couples in a Brothel” (1769–1770), a color woodblock print by Suzuki Harunobu (1725–1770).

A THIRD GENDER: BEAUTIFUL YOUTHS IN JAPANESE PRINTS Japan Society 333 E. 47th St. Tue.-Thu., noon-7 p.m. Fri., noon-9 p.m. Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $12; $10 for students & seniors japansociety.org

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM/ SIR EDMUND WALKER COLLECTION/ PHOTO BY BRIAN BOYLE

“Geese Descending on the Koto Bridges from Eight Fashionable Parlour Views” (1768–1770), a color woodblock print by Suzuki Harunobu (1725–1770).

I do wish, since this show makes such a case for wakashu as being antecedents of today’s queer culture, that more contextual information had been given about homosexuality in Japan. It was very common in male Buddhist institutions, with pederastic relationships involving monks and boys as their acolytes. Outside the monastery, jokes were commonly made about monks’ predilection for male prostitutes. In Shintoism, some gods

were even considered the guardian deities of nanshoku (male-male love). Same-sex love spread to the samurai (warrior) class, where the custom was for a wakashu to undergo martial arts training from an adult male, and, if the boy agreed, the man could take him for his lover until he came of age. These were often even formalized by a contract, with both parties swearing to take no other male lovers. The sex was supposed to end when the boy came of age, with the hope that they would be lifelong friends and free to take on new wakashu partners. Adults were never permitted to take on a wakashu (traditionally passive) role, and only pre-adult men — or, sometimes, lower class

men — were considered desirable. Some prints on view depict scenes from the Kabuki theater, which was filled with wakashu and became a hotbed of sexual action among the middle class, with actors — some big stars in their own right — often working as prostitutes offstage. Males impersonating both females and young male roles were highly sought after by stage door johnnies of both sexes. Kabuki itself is generally thought to have been created by a woman, O-Kuni of Izumo, who first gathered a troupe of females ( some prostitutes) in 1603, for what are known as the first Kabuki plays. The women, of course, played both male and female parts. Soon enough, men got into the act, too, with the result that women were playing men’s roles, while men and wakashu were playing women. That ended in 1629, when women were banned altogether from the stage. During the 17th century, certain male prostitutes and actors concealed their age, keeping their wakashu status well into their 20s or even 30s. Sometimes clients hired “boys” who were even older than themselves, leading in time to bans on the identifying forelocks traditionally sported by wakashu (along with a shaved patch of skull) in order to reduce confusion and curb this deceit. In terms of overt sexuality, the exhibit has far more images of wakashu with women, desirous of them, than men. In the print series “Woman and Wakashu,” circa 1790s, females are shown as the aggressors with wakashu, despite Confucian ideals that ruled that women were supposed to be passive. I wish more light had been shed here on this surprising and quite wonderful historical occurrence of female sexual empowerment in Japan, which is mostly noted, as far as women go, for the enduring mystique of the geisha, all passive obedience and veiled appearance and intentions.

EDO BOYS, continued on p.39

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


OPERA

The Three Faces of Pretty

WONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T YOU JOIN US?

At the Met, South African soprano Yende wages her bid for stardom >`SaS\bSRPg

This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s honorees include:

KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA

Pretty Yende as Juliette in Gounodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;RomĂŠo et Juliette.â&#x20AC;?

BY ELI JACOBSON eter Gelb has been on the hunt for new operat ic st a rs t h roug hout the decade he has been at the helm of the Metropolitan Opera. Several of his discoveries have not lived up their anticipated potential, and the current galaxy of stars will age and gradually drop from the operatic firmament. (RenĂŠe Fleming has indicated that her Marschallin in the new â&#x20AC;&#x153;Der Rosenkavalierâ&#x20AC;? this season at the Met will be her last major operatic engagement.) One major contender for stardom who has scored immediately with audiences is the young South African soprano Pretty Yende. In 2013, Yende jumped in as a last minute replacement as Comtesse Adèle in Rossiniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Le Comte Oryâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; her sly, naĂŻve charm added an enticing innocence to the character, leavening the vulgarity of Bartlett Sherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s production. Her tone glowed with

P

GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

a silvery radiance, underpinned with a deep purple sheen despite some choppy coloratura passages. A radiantly pure Pamina in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Die ZauberflĂśteâ&#x20AC;? the following year consolidated this good first impression as did appearances at the Richard Tucker Gala. This season, Yende has been in career overdrive â&#x20AC;&#x201D; two scheduled roles at the Metropolitan Opera (plus a one-off unscheduled star replacement). In between, she made successful guest appearances on the Stephen Colbert and Wendy Williams television shows while promoting her first solo album, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Journeyâ&#x20AC;? on Sony Classical. Yende has a fresh, radiant presence and voice that live up to her name and immediately connects with audiences. In person, she is a genial, unaffected charmer â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a natural on camera, onstage and off. This month, Yende enjoyed a dream role â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Gounodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Juliette

ä&#x2030;´

PRETTY, continued on p.38

Governor David Paterson

Anthony Nicodemo

Ana MarĂ­a Archila & Andrea Batista Schlesinger

Eunic Ortiz Elisa Padilla

Christopher Bram

Leo Preziosi, Jr.

Lisa Cannistraci

Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Staceyann Chin

Manny Rivera

JD Davids

Doug Robinson

AndrĂŠs Duque

Therese Rodriguez

Bryan John Ellicott

Allen Roskoff

Ashley C. Ford

Robyn Streisand

Suzanne Goldberg Oriol R. Gutierrez

Christopher Tepper & Paul Kelterborn

Bishop Zachary Glenn Jones

Jennifer Flynn Walker

Howie Katz

Jillian Weiss

Terrance Knox

Edie Windsor

Donna Lieberman

Mel Wymore

Carmen Neely

Emanuel Xavier >`SaS\bSRPg(

List in formation

A^]\a]`SRPg(

Post your congratulations message in the special keepsake issue proďŹ ling the honorees on March 30, 2017 A portion of proceeds will be donated to not for proďŹ t local LGBT and community organizations

Contact Amanda Tarley For More Information: 718-260-8340 | amanda@gaycitynews.com

gaycitynews.nyc 33


THEATER

Paula Vogel on Broadway with “Indecent” Pulitzer Prize winner’s backstory of notorious, century-old Yiddish lesbian love story BY DAVID NOH bea m i ng Pau la Vogel greeted me with the biggest smile imaginable when I met to talk to her about her latest show, “Indecent,” which deals with Sholem Asch’s controversial 1906 play “God of Vengeance,” and also happens to be her Broadway debut, after 50 years in the theater. Despite her Pulitzer Prize, formidable reputation, personal warmth, and radiant intelligence, Vogel instantly puts you at ease. Asked what drew her to this subject, she said of the century-old Asch play, “There is actually a community of people who have somehow or other come upon this little play and become a little obsessional about it, a play that should not be forgotten. I came upon it in my first year in graduate school. My professor looked at me — obviously I was in my butch days then — and he said, ‘There’s a play I want you to read. It’s called “God of Vengeance.”’ I raced to the library found a copy, out of print, a 1912 English translation, and I could not put it down.” “God of Vengeance” concerns a Jewish brothel owner living above the brothel who is using the proceeds of his business to raise a pure, innocent daughter and buy her a place in society. The hitch is that she falls in love with a prostitute downstairs. Imagine this back in 1906 and a what a storm it created the following year when it was first produced in Warsaw’s Yiddish theater. Yet it was a critical hit and traveled around the world — reaching Broadway in 1923. “It finally makes it to New York, in Yiddish, and it runs in rep on the Lower East Side, where it runs for years,” Vogel said. “The reason I really became transfixed is the entire second act is the love scene between the two women. I’m 64 years old, and I have rarely read anything that approaches the beauty of this play and kept thinking how could a young mar-

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LAURIE STURDEVANT

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel.

INDECENT Cort Theatre 138 W. 48th St. From Apr. 4 Tue at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $39-$199; Indecentbroadway.com

ried man write this? It approaches lesbian love as if it were ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ the purest thing in the world, that their love can redeem a sinful world. At that point, I had been reading the gay and lesbian pulp novels of the late 1950s, which always ended with ‘Steve’ crying, ‘What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be normal?!’ or a gunshot. But this ends, maybe not happily, but without an apology for the love between two women. Astonishing. I read this at 22 and thought ‘Ohmigod!’ “When it was performed on Broadway in 1923, it became a footnote of theater history as the first kiss between two women on the

stage. The entire cast and producer were arrested for obscenity and put in jail, and it became a notorious obscenity trial. Then I heard about this younger woman director, Rebecca Taichman, who, while in grad school at Yale, decided to try and stage the obscenity trial as her thesis as a director. I thought, ‘Who is this woman? Ohmigod!’ It was like finding someone else who loves ‘Star Trek.’ “I started tracking her, saw many of her productions and thought she was remarkable. So, in 2007, I get a phone call and this woman — Rebecca — says, ‘Paula Vogel! I can’t believe I’m getting to talk to you! I know this is farfetched, but would you want to work with me about a play about ‘The God of Vengeance’ censorship trial?’ I said, ‘I think it it’s a larger story than that. Are you okay with that?’ “She said, ‘Yes. It can be anything you want.’ I said, ‘I think we have to tell the entire story.’ It took me 10 seconds to say yes, and we’ve been working together ever since.” “Indecent” is actually the back-

story of that play. “My original title was ‘Rehearsal of Vengeance,’ until Doug Wright, God bless him, came along and asked, ‘What about quoting the original obscenity indictment?’ We show the play going all over the world in different time periods with the same cast, who keep performing the same scenes but having different political arguments. Is this about the love between women or what it means to be Jewish, etc. “The original indictment said that they had been arrested for producing an ‘obscene, immoral, impure, and indecent play, exhibition, or drama,’ and that’s how it became ‘Indecent.’ It starts with a theater troupe that literally comes back to life as it performs all over the world because they need to tell this story. We follow them all the way back to 1923, and it’s also about the different guises of censorship and how this came to be a perfect storm, as America decided to shut its borders to refugees from European massacres. Does this ring a bell? There was false news being planted by Henry Ford and government officials then, but I did not expect it to be this pertinent to what’s happening now. We have to look at censorship, homophobia, and being anti-immigrant and remember how fear and ignorance took over this country in such a way as to create genocide — and how they keep on creating on it. “That said, it’s also funny. We have a klezmer band and period music written by Aaron Halva and Lisa Gutkin, the violinist for the Klezmatics, that is beautiful, erotic, haunting, and fun. It’s really just one step away from being a musical, which I’ve always wanted to write.” (Vogel told this writer about a recent, very high profile — and to me, quite disappointing — show she was hired for, but left after differing creative visions. But she swore me to secrecy as to its title.) She continued, “I’ve done more

INDECENT, continued on p.35

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


BEST OF THE YEAR

app.com

BROADWAY PREVIEWS BEGIN APRIL 4

TRUTH

IMMIGRATION LOVE

CAROL ROSEGG

Adina Verson and Katrina Lenk in the upcoming Broadway production of Paula Vogel’s “Indecent.”

INDECENT, from p.34

rewrites on this than on anything I’ve ever done, and, willingly, because once we brought in the musicians and David Dorfman to do choreography and all these others, I feel like I wanted to get it as right as I possibly could. We’ve been very lucky to have had three productions before this one, including a Sundance lab. God bless Robert Redford, that was an amazing gift.” I find it intriguing — and dear — that Vogel’s spouse, Anne FaustoSterling, is, like her, a professor at Brown University. Describing their meeting, Vogel said, “Like all of us, I walked into a party and saw her across the way. She was married at the time and it was a dinner party to introduce me to the faculty. She walked in and I went, ‘Oh God, be still my heart!’ Then someone said, ‘Too bad your husband couldn’t come,’ and I went, ‘Ohhh, so that’s why God created cold showers! I have to walk across the campus, and I’m going home and doing just that!’ “So, four years later... the greater the delay, the greater the delight. We actually got married as soon as it was legal in Massachusetts. Her mother who was blind, deaf, and on oxygen and called herself either my mother-out-law or mother-inlaw, and she had started saying, ‘Please get married soon because I want to join your hands.’ I loved her, and we both wanted that too, and then very fortunately, we had GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

INDECENT, continued on p.37

A PROVOCATIVE NEW PLAY WITH MUSIC CELEBRATING JEWISH CULTURE AND THE PASSIONATE LOVE BETWEEN TWO WOMEN WHO RISKED EVERYTHING FOR THEIR ART

PHHOTO BY CCAROL ROSEGG

her for another seven years, so we were lucky. They were married at the Truro Yacht Club on Cape Cod. “It sounds grander than it is, this little scrappy barn, a scraggly place right in the harbor,” Vogel said. “We had a hundred friends, had them sing and play and do readings of our favorite poetry. It was sort of a Quaker-style ceremony. Anybody could get up and say whatever they wanted. Sometimes you wanted to say, ‘Okay, that’s enough, but it was great! “When I first met Ann, she’d been married to the same man for 22 years and she said, ‘I don’t think I can live in the same apartment. So we got a multi-family place and I lived on the first floor and she lived on the top floor, and we used the middle floor for dinner and for friends to have a place to stay. We did it for 10 years and I thought it was great, perfect. I also said to her, which is really true, ‘As a biologist and scientist, you need to stay put in the library for your research. I’m a playwright. You’re never going to see me. I’m traveling and not coming home except to do my dry cleaning once a month!’ “The great thing was that a number of our gay friends came to the wedding and shortly thereafter decided to get married. It’s a negotiation rite and, while I completely understand people who say they’re not interested in it, I also want the

A NEW PLAY BY

PAULA VOGEL

DIRECTED BY

REBECCA TAICHMAN

IIndecentBroadway.com d tB d Telecharge.com / 212-239-6200 CORT THEATRE 138 W 48th St, New York 35


THEATER

Holidays for Death A magnificent teeny “Sweeney” and two short plays take audiences to the brink of the inevitable BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE arental advisor y: Keep you n g c h i ld r e n aw ay from the new production of “Sweeney Todd” now at the Barrow Street Theatre. It is guaranteed to give them nightmares for weeks. Happily, what might make children check under the bed for the monstrous, murderous barber is exactly why adults should search out tickets, wherever they can find them. With a cast of eight, a scaled-down score played by three musicians, and an immersive setting in a reproduced pie shop, the Tooting Arts Club production of the classic musical is easily the most thrilling (in every sense of the word) show in town. The story of the demon barber first appeared in England as an 18-part serial from 1846 to 1847 about a madman who murdered people while his accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, rendered the dear departed into delectable delicacies. It’s the stuff of classic horror and a popular literary form of the time, the Penny Dreadful, designed to scare readers by making the quotidian — everybody shaves, after all! — horrific. The original 1979 Broadway production with a book by Hugh Wheeler, adapted from Christopher Bond’s play, and a score by Stephen Sondheim was carried off in enormous scale under Hal Prince’s direction, becoming the story of a man at the mercy of an industrial machine, in a 1,900-seat theater. Dazzling and overwhelming, it was operatic in its scope. Now, under the keen and inspired direction of Bill Buckhurst, the show plays in a 130seat down-at-the-heels pie shop (you can come early and get a pie and mash meal, for an additional fee) where the actors are often in your face, literally. The production takes on a marvelous, threatening intimacy, giving audiences the idea that they could be the next victims. More importantly, the focus shifts to Sweeney’s personal thirst

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SWEENEY TODD Barrow Street Theatre 27 Barrow St., btwn. Seventh Ave. S. & W. Fourth St. Tue.-Thu. at 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2:30 p.m.; Sun. at 2 & 7 p.m. $69.50-$197.50; Ovationtix.com Or 866-811-4111 TodayTix lottery is $39 Pie & mash additional $22.50, 75 mins. prior Two hrs., 45 mins., with intermission

JOAN MARCUS

Siobhán McCarthy and Jeremy Secomb in “Sweeney Todd,” directed by Bill Buckhurst at the Barrow Street Theatre.

JOAN MARCUS

Michael Emerson and January LaVoy in Will Eno’s Wakey, Wakey” at Signature Center through April 2.

for revenge, first, against those who exiled him to Australia on a trumped-up charge to have access to his wife and steal his daughter and, then, to the human race as a whole. Determined to get even with anyone who has crossed him, Sweeney lashes out in rage, armed

with his precious silver, straight razors — instead of, say, a Twitter account — as he plans his bloody journey. When his lover, Mrs. Lovett, suggests a thrifty, grisly use for the corpses (“Business needs a lift. Debts to be erased,” she sings), the die is cast and the horrors begin. This production is smaller, to be sure, but all the more harrowing — and exciting — because of that. The palpable tension repeatedly sends delicious frissons of horror up the spine. “Sweeney Todd’s” score has always been a work of genius, and hearing it in the reduced arrangement by Benjamin Cox, it loses nothing. There are familiar lines that are heard as if new with just a piano, violin, and clarinet. The sounds that music director Matt Aument coaxes from an upright piano can make you gasp. And then there’s the company. They are brilliant, each giving performances that are perfect for the scale of the space while at the same time expansive and intense. Jeremy Secomb as Sweeney is the embodiment of obsessive evil that will make your blood run cold. When he sings that he will have both vengeance and salvation, you better hope he’s not looking at you. His resonant baritone can be dark and savage and even darker when

WAKEY, WAKEY Signature Center 480 W. 42nd St. Through Apr. 2 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m. Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $30-$75; signaturetheatre.org Or 212 244-7529 75 mins., no intermission

EVERYBODY Signature Center 480 West 42nd Street Through Mar. 19 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m. Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $65-$85; signaturetheatre.org Or 212 244-7529 90 mins., no intermission

he tries to lighten the mood as in “A Little Priest.” Siobhán McCarthy as Mrs. Lovett is both the doting lover to Sweeney, who believes he has no family left on his return, and the quintessen-

HOLIDAYS, continued on p.37

March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


INDECENT, from p.35

least state control as possible over me and my relationship. If I don’t marry, there is no control in terms of taking care of this woman I love, being able to visit her in the hospital, or whatever. It’s craziness, what you go through if you don’t.” I’ve always considered playwriting the hardest kind of writing to do, because of it’s being driven by dialogue, but Vogel disagreed. “I don’t think so. I mean, some plays are driven by spectacle, character, as well as language. Some plays just have to tell a story. It’s also about what’s not spoken. I have often thought of it as a way of not writing: you let the actors fill it in. “I’ve done 40 years of work-

DRAG BALL, from p.28

it feels like the film’s story was built around Russell’s act. What is refreshing about “Outrageous!” is how the gay and female characters are almost all supportive of one another, and it is the straight, mainstream society that has to adjust. The film may wear its message that being “special” is better than

HOLIDAYS, from p.36

tial opportunist. McCarthy imbues the role with all the colors of the character while singing some of the most challenging music ever written for a leading lady. As the young lovers, Matt Doyle as Anthony and Alex Finke as Johanna are sublime, with gorgeous voices and the near-perfect technique required by the roles. You won’t miss a single lyric or internal joke. The rest of the company including Brad Oscar, Joseph Taylor, Betsy Morgan, and Duncan Smith are all superb. At times, you may be amazed at how only eight voices can produce such musical richness. It might be surprising that an orgy of violence and bloodletting could bring an audience to its feet cheering rapturously, as at the performance I saw. Yet, a trip into hell and a safe arrival home is the very essence of horror. Fear and catharsis, arguably, give us a chance to purge our own demons, and when GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

shops with people who have written extraordinary short plays and many have then gone on to become playwrights. I just want to say that if you give me a week in a room of incredible people with very different life experiences, anyone would be stunned by their plays and become believers in theater. That’s how I’ve kept on being a playwright and being in the theater for 50 years. “I started a program in prison for women in maximum security. I spent a year working with veterans from Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Iraq, and the plays they wrote stunned people. It’s no surprise they have things I need to hear. Here’s what we do in this country: education is actually a process of unlearning. We are all artists

when we’re five years old. We can all sing, dance, and tell stories. But by the time we’re in middle school, we’re all, ‘I can’t sing. I can’t play an instrument. I’m not a writer.’ It’s a self-censorship.” Vogel won the Pulitzer in 1998 for her play “How I Learned to Drive.” “That was kind of like going to Broadway for me now. I was in a little bit of a state of shock. I still am. I thought I’d had a high fever and would wake up in bed like Dorothy with my wife and friends bending anxiously over me, looking for signs of concussion in black and white. “A couple of friends had said, ‘You’re gonna win,’ and I said, ‘Don’t say that!’ I’m not the first lesbian to win a Pulitzer, that

was Marion Morehouse for poetry. I’m the first out lesbian . The most phenomenal thing I saw was a newspaper, glaring in kind of National Examiner big red letters: ‘Lesbian Wins Pulitzer,’ like ‘Mom Bears Twins with Two Heads.’ That just made me roar with laughter. “The thing that was hard was that my mother died before it happened. Every milestone we have I think, ‘What would it be like for those we’ve lost to know they could marry, to march with them again.”

being “normal” on the sleeves of its gowns, but it is still worthy. Rounding out the program, is John Waters’ 1974 classic “Female Trouble” (Mar. 24, 9:15 p.m.; Mar. 27, 7 p.m.; Mar. 30, 9:15 p.m.) starring Divine as Dawn Davenport, a young woman who acts out after her parents fail to buy her the cha-cha heels she wants for Christmas. Leaving home, she meets Earl (also played

by Divine, only out of drag) who has sex with and impregnates her. Dawn soon enters into a criminal life, gives birth to a bratty daughter (Mink Stole), and get married to Gater (Michael Potter), but later divorced. The film’s charm is how Waters and Divine amusingly subvert social norms, as when Ida (Edith Massey) begs her nephew Gator to be gay because heterosexu-

als are so boring. Divine goes all out in her role, from biting her baby’s umbilical cord to a fabulous trampoline act that ends with Dawn shooting members of the audience for art. Her trial is also one of the film’s highlights. Dawn may have her issues, but Waters’ film is really about its cross-dressing heroine taking control of her life — while taking no prisoners.

a production is as amazing as this one, it’s a bloody joy. Broadway veterans Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello take over the lead roles on April 11. There are only a few scattered seats available for the rest of the run with the current cast, but the TodayTix app has a $39 lottery for every performance.

utes. The very first moment has Guy prone on the floor, looking up and saying, “Is it now? I thought I had more time.” This is, of course, the essence of experience as one becomes aware that the end is near, something we mostly assiduously avoid confronting. Using note cards to assist his failing memory, Guy runs the gamut from upbeat to gloomy, condensing the entire experience of life’s joys and losses into a meditation that is at once prosaic and poetic. When a caregiver, played by the wonderful January LaVoy, arrives to ease Guy’s death, the inevitable departure is more a celebration than a tragedy. As A.E. Housman wrote, “Today, the road all runners come.” Eno’s play suggests that reveling in the present is the best way to prepare for that timeless trip.

man.” Like all the mystery plays, the message is simplistic and was originally crafted for an illiterate audience with maximum fear and minimal complexity. As we learn, little of this world will endure as we face death, but what matters are the things of the spirit, perfect for the 15th century. Perhaps this level of simplicity for understanding morality is exactly what’s needed in our current culture, as well. The contemporary setting and the appealing cast in the production directed by Lila Neugebauer are just the spoonful of sugar this lesson needs. As Everybody, the main character chosen by lottery at each performance from the company, learns to let go of the things of this world to achieve a heavenly reward, we are instructed to reject ego and embrace humanity. If the lesson is rendered a little gentler for contemporary audiences — and how could it not be with the adorable Marylouise Burke as Death? — it has never been more necessary than now.

If the relentlessly chipper singing group One Direction had decided to interpret absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett, the result might be “Wakey, Wakey,” playwright Will Eno’s resolutely upbeat play about rapidly approaching death. It has a “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” message about living life while you’re here. In lesser hands, that might be cloying. However, Eno’s consistently surprising writing finds a lyricism in musings on the ordinary as death approaches, and Michael Emerson’s focused and warmhearted performance as Guy creates an engaging and affecting 75 min-

Across the lobby from Eno’s play at Signature, Branden JacobsJenkins’ “Everybody” is a retelling of the medieval mystery play “Every-

Read David Kennerley’s review of the New Yiddish Rep’s recent revival of “God of Vengeance” at gaycitynews.nyc/courting-controversy.

37


PRETTY, from p.33

opposite young American tenor Stephen Costello as her Roméo. The florid opening coloratura flourishes and waltz song were sung in a rather clipped mechanical fashion — I noticed that Yende lacked expressive nuance and that her tone when pressed for brilliance can harden. Her high notes are best when they are allowed to blossom out of the vocal line and aren’t lobbed into the auditorium like hand grenades. In the more lyrical music, Yende began to connect more with the character and phrase with more suppleness yet the text still seemed an accretion on top of the vocal line, not its generating force. Yende, however, looked ravishing — her dark skin contrasting beautifully with her pale silk dresses — and her strong presence contrasted with Costello’s rather callow, blank-eyed Roméo. Costello’s singing is more confident and secure these days — the slender voice is evenly produced with an easy top register (despite a slight blare in the upper middle break typical of AVA tenor products). He capped his aria and the duel scene with confident high C’s. Yet the tone is pretty but monochromatic in color — there is no depth to the sound, which resembles an upgraded operetta or Gilbert and Sullivan light tenor. His lack of personality contrasted

STASI, from p.31

tual sequel — or feminist answer — to Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire,” in which male angels watch over Berlin a few years before the Wall fell. Epperlein comes across as their female equivalent, although she’s in the former Karl Marx City (now once again known as Chemnitz), where she grew up, not Berlin. Nevertheless, she’s a cosmopolitan flâneur of sorts, always clad in a leather coat, wearing headphones and carrying a huge microphone. These function as visual props, but they’re genuinely necessary: Epperlein recorded sound for the film while Tucker, whose presence is completely invisible, filmed her. Most of “Karl Marx City” was shot in high-contrast black and white. I think many Americans think this is

38

with the surfeit of temperament of his predecessor as Roméo, Vittorio Grigolo — Costello didn’t climb halfway up the wall, never reaching Juliette’s balcony! The supporting cast was full of upgrades from the original group — Matthew Rose’s mellow Frère Laurent, Margaret Lattimore’s robust Gertrude, Yunpeng Wang’s alert Mercutio, Sean Panikkar’s incisive Tybalt, and Paula Murrihy’s lithe Stéphano. Emmanuel Villaume’s fervent conducting added the emotional punch the two leads sometimes failed to deliver, and Bartlett Sher’s production remains a handsome frame for the lively proceedings. Last month, on Valentine’s Day, Yende helped prove herself the Met’s new sweetheart soprano by jumping in on short notice replacing the ailing Diana Damrau in the second performance of Bellini’s “I Puritani” (she was not the scheduled cover). Bel canto is driven by voices, and Yende’s full extensive tone, radiant high notes, and youthful verve added star power to a rather faded, uneven revival. Here I noticed an artistic problem with Yende’s singing — it seems note-driven rather than worddriven. It was here I first noticed a disconnection between the meaning of the text and the shaping and coloring of the musical phrase that makes her sound generic and expressively blank at times. Rossini and Mozart have the vocal

expression built into their intricately wrought musical structures, but later Romantic music needs a more personal, expressive touch and Yende seemed rather unformed here. Javier Camarena’s Arturo had this personal touch with long lines of cantilena spun sweetly on the breath and arching high phrases that crested on radiant high D’s. The lower-voiced men made a lesser impression — Alexei Markov sounded snarly but virile as Riccardo while Luca Pisaroni’s Giorgio (who resembled the heroine’s brother not her uncle) lacked gravitas and depth in tone and presence. The “Suoni la tromba” duet ended with a whimper on a lower note while Markov struggled not to lose his voice. We had a “Puritani” star duo, not a quartet. Benini’s flat routine conducting threw another wet blanket over the proceedings. Yende’s kicked off her New York season on January 9 with a rather disappointing revival of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” where her Rosina provided the sole star turn in an all-star cast that failed to deliver the goods. Winter colds seemed to have sabotaged Peter Mattei’s Figaro and Camerena’s Almaviva — both came to grief on the final high notes of their entrance arias. Everyone gradually pulled themselves together, showing marked improvement in Act II––– Camarena’s “Cessa di più resistere” rondo

finale garnered cheers. Maurizio Muraro’s plummy bass, native diction, and witty acting were boons as Dr. Bartolo but he had limited speed in patter. Basilio’s music didn’t overtax Mikhail Petrenko’s light, shallow bass but that was the limit of his virtues. Yende alone seemed to be in her element. Stylistically this was a throwback to the old Lily Pons type of canary bird soprano Rosina who threw everything but the kitchen sink into the ornamentation — all the old Estelle Liebling circus tricks presented themselves as well as more original inventions. “Una Voce Poco Fa” was up in the key of F and concluded with a short, thin but very present high F in alt. This retro approach might be offensive to the musicologist but at least added some energy and sparkle to the proceedings. Yende’s Rosina exuded genuine girlish charm and innocent mischief, not too brassy or too knowing. Everyone had an obstacle to overcome with Maurizio Benini’s flat, episodic conducting — the music just lumbered ahead on autopilot as the maestro neglected to shape or contrast individual numbers for comedic point. In the 2017-2018, season Pretty Yende returns to the Met as Lucia di Lammermoor and as Adina in “L’Elisir d’Amore.” The latter will be shown again in HD for no other apparent reason than Yende is in it. The star rises.

the only way to do justice to a story about East German spies, as though the directors were adapting a ‘60s John Le Carré novel in documentary form. The beauty of Tucker’s cinematography speaks for itself, but it was also shot to be able to integrate well with archival footage, also filmed in black and white. The Stasi trained their agents to shoot in public with hidden cameras. The film even manages to find a surveillance camera remake of the Lumière brothers’ early cinema landmark “Workers Leaving the Factory.” In the years after the Wall fell, the former East Germany had a sky-high suicide rate and many other problems. Some areas of the former East Germany are now plagued by far more poverty than the affluent West and an increasing problem with racism and xenophobia. Some writers have com-

pared to the psychological effects of the fall of the Wall and the reunification of Germany with the end of America’s Civil War. While I’m not likening white East Germans to African Americans in any way, they seem to still bear the marks of difference to their Western counterparts, who are richer and more adjusted to capitalism. East Germany became the world’s largest surveillance state, with huge numbers of Stasi agents infiltrating every aspect of public and private life. (This contributed to the postWall suicide spike, with many agents who were exposed in the early ‘90s taking their own lives.) “Karl Marx City” went into production around the time Edward Snowden went public with his revelations about the NSA. Epperlein has expressed her reservations regarding the totalitarian potential of social media, creat-

ing a world where the Stasi doesn’t need to exist because people post all kinds of data about themselves on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and elsewhere. Watching the film, I suddenly remembered that I belong to Goodreads and have been supplying anyone who has access to my Facebook feed with a list of all the books I’ve read for the past five years. I like the ability to share this list with my friends and don’t care if Mark Zuckerberg is snooping in; the FBI and NSA are another story. Famously, William Faulkner said that the past is never really past. Epperlein gets an answer to her questions about her father. Her pain remains raw. And if the former East Germany is freer now, America and the rest of Europe are inheriting some of the problems it once had with surveillance. March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


EDO BOYS, from p.32

In a page from “Book of Erotic Parodies” by Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1820), there is inscribed dialogue accompanying the sight of an older woman trysting with a wakashu: She: Listen to what I am saying! Here, here! Wakashu: I just can’t do that sort of thing. She: Come on! You are such a tease! Cross-dressing played a part in this world, as well, with males wearing feminine fripperies such as combs and transparent kimono, like the one seductively sported by a wakashu peddler in “Fan Seller,” my favorite print. Other works depict women impersonating wakashu, as in “A Woman with a Shaved Patch” by

Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865), featuring a prostitute wearing the wakashu hairdo of forelock and shaved patch and a haori (man’s jacket) over her kimono to lure wakashu-loving clients. So great was the erotic appeal of wakashu that their appearance became fetishized. All the fun, however, came to a decided halt with the end of the Edo period and the Westernization of Japan, brought on by the arrival of American ships to this long closed-off country in 1853. The Meiji government, which took over until 1912, encouraged swift modernization, including the adoption of Western customs. Men were now strictly supposed to be men and women, women. With all that binary gender structuring and heteronormative innovation, there was simply no place for the wakashu tradition, and so it ended.

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BIAS CLAIM, from p.8

In this case, Jameka Evans claimed she was discriminated against in her position as a security officer at Georgia Regional Hospital because of both gender non-conformity and sexual orientation. Evans, a butch lesbian, claims she faced discrimination because she failed to carry herself in a “traditional womanly manner” and that “it was ‘evident’ that she identified with the male gender, because of how she presented herself — ‘(male uniform, low male haircut, shoes, etc.),’” wrote Judge Martinez. She filed her case in federal district court in Savannah without a lawyer. The district judge, J. Randal Hall, referred her case to Magistrate Judge George R. Smith, who relied on an old circuit precedent to find that Evans’ sexual orientation discrimination claim could not be brought under Title VII. Lambda submitted an amicus brief, urging Judge Hall to reject the magistrate’s recommendation that the case be dismissed, but Hall did so without making reference to Lambda’s arguments. Hall then appointed Lambda to represent Evans on appeal to the 11th Circuit, and Gregory Nevins from Lambda’s Atlanta office argued the appeal. The hospital never responded to the complaint and was not represented at a one-sided argument before the court of appeals. At the heart of this appeal and the other pending cases is the effect of two Supreme Court rulings, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins and Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services. In Price Waterhouse, the high court ruled that an employer’s denial of a partnership to a woman because of

her failure to conform to the employer’s stereotyped view of how women should behave and present themselves was evidence of discrimination “because of sex” in violation of Title VII. In Oncale, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s dismissal of a same-sex harassment case in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Antonin Scalia holding that the interpretation of discrimination “because of sex” was not limited by congressional intent at the time the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Scalia commented that “comparable evils” to those that Congress originally sought to address might be covered by the statute, and so a claim by a man that he was subjected to sexual harassment by male co-workers could be dealt with under Title VII, even if members of Congress did not anticipate or intend that such cases would be covered. LGBTQ rights advocates have used these two Supreme Court cases to argue that gay and transgender plaintiffs who suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity should be able to bring sex discrimination claims under Title VII. Sex stereotyping is arguably present to some extent in all such cases, they argue, and, at a more fundamental level, anti-gay and anti-trans discrimination is “necessarily” based on their sex. This perspective persuaded the EEOC during the Obama years, resulting in administrative rulings in cases raised by LGBTQ federal employees, and has also convinced some federal district judges. Several federal courts of appeals have accepted the sex stereotyping argument, but only to a limited extent, according to Judge Pryor’s extensive

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concurring opinion in Evans’ case. So far, no federal circuit court has accepted the argument that an otherwise gender-conforming gay person can bring a sex discrimination claim under Title VII. Judge Martinez premised his vote to reject the sexual orientation discrimination claim on a 1979 decision by the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Blum v. Gulf Oil Corporation, where that court found that “discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII.” Since the 11th Circuit was carved out of the Fifth Circuit in 1981, it relies on old Fifth Circuit precedents. Lambda argued that the 1979 ruling is no longer valid in light of the 1989 Price Waterhouse decision and the 1999 Oncale decision. Martinez and Pryor both rejected that argument, but dissenting Judge Rosenbaum embraced it. At the oral argument, Pryor observed that in light of the Blum precedent, the three-judge panel most likely could not rule in favor of Evans since only an en banc panel of all the circuit’s judges could reverse an existing precedent. On the issue of sex stereotyping, Martinez asserted that Evans’ complaint “failed to plead facts sufficient to create a plausible inference that she suffered discrimination. In other words, Evans did not provide enough factual matter to plausibly suggest that her decision to present herself in a masculine manner led to the alleged adverse employment actions.” Still, Martinez said she should be allowed to file an amended complaint, an allowance customarily afforded when plaintiffs are representing themselves. Pryor’s concurring opinion agreed that the magistrate erred in asserting that a sex stereotyping argument by a lesbian plaintiff was just “another way to claim discrimination based on sexual orientation,” and thus Evans should get a second chance to frame a complaint that might survive review. Pryor, however, wrote at length to refute the arguments by the EEOC and Judge Rosenbaum that sexual orientation discrimination claims were “necessarily” sex discrimination claims. He insisted on a strict distinction between “status” and “conduct,” arguing that sex stereotyping claims were tied to the plaintiff’s conduct in failing to conform to gender stereotypes. In his view, a

claim of sexual orientation discrimination not accompanied by factual allegations about the plaintiff’s gender non-conformity fell short. He was not willing to accept the argument that being sexually attracted to members of the same sex would suffice to constitute non-conformity with sexual stereotypes. Rosenbaum took a diametrically opposite approach, accepting the argument that in cases where plaintiffs show they suffered sexual orientation discrimination, the employer was discriminating because the employee violated the stereotypical view that women are supposed to be attracted to men, not to women, and vice versa. Rosenbaum argued that Pryor’s opinion was “at war” with his vote a decade ago that allowed a sex discrimination claim under the Equal Protection Clause by a transgender employee of the Georgia Legislature. Indeed, Pryor’s vote in that case had given the plaintiff hope the panel might rule in her favor. Pryor devoted considerable effort in his concurring opinion to explaining why he found this case to be different, once again relying a distinction between “status” and “conduct.” Cross-dressing and announcing plans to transition were “conduct,” in his view, while having a sexual orientation was “status.” He argued that sex stereotyping theory was concerned with conduct, not status, in its focus on gender non-conformity. The sharp division among the judges may lead the 11th Circuit to agree to hear the case en banc, especially since one of the members of the panel, Martinez, is a district judge. The federal judiciary is so shorthanded as a result of the Republican-controlled Senate’s stonewalling of former President Barack Obama’s second term court of appeals nominees that it has become increasingly common for circuits to fill out threejudge panels by “designating” district court judges to serve. A district judge would not participate if the case were re-argued en banc. Also, with the Seventh Circuit having held en banc argument on this question recently, it seems clear many federal judges believe it is time to reconsider the issue. The decisions from the Seventh and Second Circuits are eagerly awaited, especially if the result is a circuit split that would entice the Supreme Court to take up the issue. March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

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

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

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

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

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

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

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

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March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


CUOMO, from p.7

ence last June, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, a Queens Democrat who chairs the Assembly Committee on Social Services, charged that only a fraction of the 20,000unit goal was funded. The protesters were also pushing for two other Hevesi initiatives, one, Home Stability Support [HSS], a $450 million rent subsidy initiative to help households on public assistance that are at risk for eviction. The assemblymember, who was not part of this week’s protest, has put the number of homeless New Yorkers at 60,000, but said that as many as “80,000 households

POZ PEOPLE, from p.15

PrEP, as a way of avoiding transmission of the virus. Through a published brochure and outreach at community events, he said, MetroPlus is eager to have New Yorkers know that PrEP is covered by its insurance plans. To date, he said, MetroPlus is aware of 600 of its members who are taking PrEP, a figure that almost dou-

ST. PAT'S, from p.5

and Jones, pre-parade speakers included out gay Council Majority Leader Jimmy van Bramer, who represents Sunnyside and Long Island City. Other councilmembers on hand to march included Chelsea’s out gay Corey Johnson and Sunset Park’s out gay Carlos Menchaca, Astoria’s Costas Constantinides, and Eastern Queens’ Rory Lancman. Other elected officials who spoke included Public Advocate Letitia James, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, New York State Controller Thomas Di Napoli, and Astoria State Senator Michael Gianaris. The de Blasio administration’s LGBT and Queens liaisons, Matthew McMorrow and Nick Gulotta, respectively, spoke on the mayor’s behalf. New York City Controller Scott Stringer got the crowd cheering when he talked about using the New York City pension funds’ $170 billion in assets to pressure states that discriminate against LGBTQ people to change the way they treat GayCityNews.nyc | March 16 - 29, 2017

are on the brink of homelessness” across the state. The HSS program will save the state money in the long run, Hevesi has said, noting that the Coalition for the Homeless estimates that New York City spends more than $38,000 a year to house a family of three when they lose their home. The protesters this week also endorsed legislation sponsored by Hevesi and State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay West Side Democrat, to provide rental assistance to low-income New Yorkers upstate, initially through a $20 million pilot program. Providing such assistance to any eligible HIV-positive person in New

York City, regardless of whether or not they have an AIDS diagnosis — which had long been an eligibility prerequisite — was debated for years here, until the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio were both brought on board. Stable housing is seen as important for keeping positive people on their treatment regimens and their viral loads suppressed. With an undetectable viral load, an HIVpositive person does not pose an infection risk for sex partners, and achieving widespread viral suppression is critical to meeting the state and city’s joint goal of ending the HIV epidemic by 2020. The Hevesi-Hoylman bill would

expand rental assistance for HIVpositive people statewide as has already happened in the city. The final demand of those protesting this week is for an increase in the amount the state spends on providing legal assistance to those facing eviction or having trouble renting affordable housing. At the conclusion of the demonstration, 10 protesters carried two banners onto Third Avenue: one reading, “End Record Homelessness and Income Inequality”; the other, “Cuomo: The Nation is Watching.” Police, who had been standing by throughout the protest, acted quickly to remove the 10 from blocking the avenue.

bled from the end of 2015 to one year later. Roughly 95 percent of its members on PrEP, Hewitt said, are men, suggesting that uptake so far is largely among men who sex with men. At this point, however, MetroPlus does not have a ready read on the age, ethnicity, and other demographic details of its PrEP population, data that would be valuable to better determine whether its uptake is reaching

the portion of the gay and bisexual population at greatest risk for HIV transmission. One big concern Hewitt mentioned regarding PrEP was the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, something that could mean that many of those now taking the drug “would lose their easy access” to it from an insurance coverage standpoint. “Perhaps there will be other ways” for at-risk people to find

affordable options for getting PrEP, he said, but the current debate in Washington is one that carries great risk for everyone’s hope to finally bring HIV down below epidemic levels. Hewitt will be one of the featured speakers at Gay City News’ 2017 Impact Awards gala at the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn on March 30 (gaycitynews.nyc/ impact). MetroPlus is the event’s presenting partner.

their citizens or risk losing New York’s business. He drew a roar when he spoke sharply about “this lunatic in the White House!” The crowd heard more strong speeches from Amir Ashour, executive director of IraQueer, who spoke movingly about growing up gay in Iraq, Edie Windsor, who battled the Defense of Marriage Act to its demise at the Supreme Court, former State Senator Thomas Duane, Shekar Krishnan, a South Asian activist who leads the New Visions Democratic Club of Jackson Heights, and Augusto Cabrera, Peru’s deputy consul general in the US. With Gilbert Baker, designer of the Rainbow Flag, carrying the Irish tri-color, the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drum Band stepped off to begin the parade fairly close to its scheduled 2 p.m. start. They were greeted by crowds lining the sidewalks, many with babes in arms, many more with small dogs, often in costume, in arms. As “Saturday Night Live”’s Stefon might have said, this parade has everything! Stilt-walkers, Gaelic

sports teams, dogs in costumes, an LGBTQ marching band, a mariachi band, carriage horses, fire trucks, CrossFit practitioners, and a guy selling soft pretzels from a shopping cart. Groups large and small paraded through Sunnyside and Woodside, from Ireland (County Laois), from adjacent neighborhoods, from surrounding boroughs and states. Windsor and her spouse, Judith Kasen, carried the banner for the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, whose musicians were resplendent in sharp uniforms with purple feathers in their hats. Musician and playwright Brian Fleming, who comes to Queens from Ireland each year to coordinate the concert as well as the music in the parade, led the “St Pat’s for All Stars,” made up of Jerry Arias, Louise Barry, Dave Barckow, and Alice Smyth, as they rode on a flatbed truck. At the parade’s conclusion, crowds lingered, particularly around the bands, and dozens

joined in songs from the mariachi band from East Elmhurst’s Academia De Mariachi Nuevo Amanecer, then moved on to applaud crowd favorite the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and perhaps followed the County Cork Pipe Band playing all the way into Donovan’s Pub. The parade has always had its anti-gay protesters, and 2017 was no exception. One protester was flanked by a man holding up an even larger sign that read “DON’T READ THESE SIGNS!” And in a second-floor apartment near Roosevelt Avenue, where someone always posts a series of anti-gay posters in the window, there was a new one this year in the apartment next door: “LOVE IS LOVE.” “That was diverse with a capital D,” co-chair Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy said of St. Pat’s for All. “And the largest parade we’ve ever had. My parents came over here on a boat in the ‘20s, and we’ve welcomed immigrants here ever since. If we stand together, if we get our strength from each other, then we don’t have anything to fear.”

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March 16 - 29, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc

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