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FREE | VOLUME EIGHTEEN, ISSUE FOURTEEN | JUNE 27 – JULY 3, 2019


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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


In This Issue COVER STORY Stonewall 50: Have a riot, folks! HISTORY Exploding the myths of Stonewall 04 Queer culture under glass 05 Gender policing in 1966 Harlem “masquerading” bust 06 Six LGBTQ sites landmarked 10

GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

POLITICS Tiffany Cabán claims win in Queens DA race 18 Alphonso David, top Cuomo aide, to lead Human Rights Campaign 30 Surrogacy, decrim efforts blocked as Legislature adjourns 24 MULTI-MEDIA Gay City News podcast, “Thank You for Coming Out,” launches! 60

Max Colby, at rest 96

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STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Exploding the Myths of Stonewall We know a lot about what happened in June 1969 and should honor that BY DAVID CARTER

O

ver five decades, unsurprisingly, myths have grown up around the six nights in 1969 when what we now call the LGBTQ community rose up in opposition to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. There was a period of time when a favorite story was that gay people stood up to the police because of Judy Garland’s death days before and that the Stonewall Uprising’s success was all due to “drag queens.” In the last few years, there has been increased interest in the role of transgender women and black and Latinx folks in the Uprising, a focus that has sparked complaints that white gay men have stolen the credit from those who did all the heavy lifting on that fateful first night. A colleague of mine who shares my interest in the history of Stonewall said the tendency to “brand” the event as the work of one group or another threatens to irretrievably bury the known facts about a complex event unprecedented in New York’s LGBTQ history. In the spirit of respecting history and the preservation of facts that we are able to establish, I will draw on the years of research that went into my 2004 book, “Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution,” to examine the roles of specific individuals who have been in the spotlight in recent discussions and more generally explore what we know about the demographics and backgrounds of the crowd that exploded on that June night half a century ago. Marsha P. Johnson: There is strong evidence, backed by several independent accounts, that Marsha P. Johnson — one of two transgender women who will soon be honored with a city monument in Stonewall’s vicinity — was among the first people to push back violently against the NYPD in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. An important part of that evidence comes from John Goodman, whose presence on that first night of the Uprising is not in doubt. Jerry Hoose told me that it was Goodman who phoned him to summon him to Christopher Street. Robert Bryan, a very close friend of Goodman’s, said he was there with Goodman that first night. When Hoose arrived at the scene, Goodman told him that Jackie Hormona, a homeless gay street youth, “had kicked a cop, maybe, or punched a cop and then threw something through the window, and then everybody got going. But he [Goodman] was there and he attributed it to Jackie... And all the other queens like Zazu Nova Queen of Sex and Marsha P. Johnson had got involved.” Bob Heide, who knew Johnson before the

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LEONARD FINK / COURTESY OF LGBT COMMUNIT Y CENTER LGBTQ NATIONAL ARCHIVES

Marsha P. Johnson (left) and Sylvia Rivera (right) with Joseph Ratanski in the 1973 Pride March.

Uprising, told me he saw her there on the first night — “just in the middle of the whole thing, screaming and yelling and throwing rocks and — almost like Molly Pitcher in the Revolution.” Some weeks after the Uprising, Heide heard that Marsha was the “first person to start throwing bottles.” Sylvia Rivera: Sylvia Rivera — the other trans woman to be honored with Johnson in the city’s planned monument — was a fellow activist with Johnson and her name has been linked to Johnson in the public mind regarding the Stonewall Uprising. Rivera, who died in 2002, long claimed to have played a leading role in starting the Uprising, making a point of saying she headed to the Village that night to meet Johnson because June 27 was Johnson’s birthday. A quarter of a century of research on Stonewall’s history has convinced me that there is no credible evidence that Rivera was there on that first night. On the contrary, I have found a large body of evidence that she was not — starting COURTESY OF RANDOLFE WICKER

Marsha P. Johnson.

➤ HISTORY MATTERS, continued on p.72 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Queer Culture Under Glass Celebrating Stonewall 50 with a stunning exhibition of relics not meant to be saved BY DAVID KENNERLEY

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ell over a year ago, out of the blue, I was contacted by Rebecca Klassen, assistant curator of Material Culture at the New-York Historical Society (NYHS). She had been tasked with crafting an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and heard through the queer grapevine about my collection of flyers and other ephemera from New York gay clubs from the 1990s. She wanted to take a look. Klassen recognized that the 1990s were a heady and historic time for club-going in New York, when mammoth weekly gay parties at the Roxy, Limelight, Palladium, and Twilo, among others, reigned supreme. Not to forget scads of smaller venues like Sound Factory Bar, Crowbar, and Meat. These clubs were not only places to let loose, but a space to foster community and activism. They were safe havens for an LGBTQ community reeling from the AIDS crisis and often hosted benefits for Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP. Upon exiting, promoters would hand out flyers advertising the next party, but most ended up in the trash. I was so taken by the images of half-naked hunks and drag queens I hung onto mine. I joined mailing lists and grabbed flyers from gay-friendly stores. I also collected posters, matchbooks, membership cards, and programs for special events like Wigstock. After previewing a selection of the material, Klassen insisted on examining my entire collection — more than 1,000 pieces. Eventually, she chose a few items for the NYHS’ astonishing Stonewall 50 exhibition, now on display through September 22. I was thrilled. The exhibition is comprised of three distinct spaces. Klassen took the lead on the portion titled “Letting Loose and Fighting Back: LGBT Nightlife Before and After Stonewall.” It shines a light on the vital role nightlife played in shaping LGBTQ identity, developing political awareness, and building community. The exhibit chronicles the rise of gay bars from the 1950s and continues through the gay liberation movement. You’ll find an astounding array of relics from the era, like a tattered copy of the 1969 Village Voice with a front-page story about the Stonewall riots, and a photo of the Sea Colony, a mafia-run lesbian hangout in the West Village in the 1950s and ‘60s (now the Art Bar). There’s also Club Kid Ernie Glam’s Sanrio cartoon lunchbox used in the 1990s, and a sign circa 1980 detailing the dress code for the Mineshaft, the notorious male fetish club in the MeatpackGayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

DONNA ACETO

Rollerena at the exhibition’s splashy opening night party, seen here with activist Sheila Marino-Thomas.

DONNA ACETO

The New-York Historical Society’s stunning exhibition for Stonewall 50 includes a vast trove of artifacts, including details of the contributions Rollerena and the late Keith Haring made to queer culture.

ing District (“No Lacost [sic] Alligator Shirts”). My contributions can be found in this exhibit as well. Another section, “By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights from the Lesbian Herstory Archives,” considers lesbian lives pre- and postStonewall. A special installation, “Say It Loud, Out and Proud: Fifty Years of Pride,” presents

images from New York City Pride Marches and protests from the 1960s to today, as well as a timeline of LGBTQ milestones. In conjunction with the exhibit, the NYHS held a Pride Day, which presented a storytelling show courtesy of The Generations Project,

➤ QUEER CULTURE, continued on p.76

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HISTORY

Gender Policing: 1966 Harlem “Masquerading” Bust Harassment of straight woman suspect by cops led to civil rights protests BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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he arrest of four young African-Americans for “masquerading” in 1966 illustrates the occasional complexity of police interactions with the LGBTQ community at that time and shows the emerging political power of the AfricanAmerican community in New York City. “Circumstances indicated that the above mentioned defendants were arrested and charged with going abroad in female attire and facial make-up in order to disguise their true identity, walking in an effeminate manner and speaking in a falsetto voice in public,” Sergeant George Forette, the commanding officer of the detective squad in Harlem’s 26th precinct, wrote in a February 20, 1966 memo to the NYPD’s chief of detectives. “One other person named Avon Wilson was detained for identification and claimed to have had a sex-change operation by Dr. Harry Benjamin… This subject was released upon verification of doctor.” On February 13, Kenneth Uhl, a white patrol officer from the 26th precinct, assisted plainclothes officers in arresting Rudy Hunter, 22, Zane St. John, 22, Roland Wise, 21, and Lewis J. Charles, 26, at a bar on 125th Street that was called Joe’s Bar & Grille, Joe’s Place, or Joe’s Bar in police records. Wilson was not arrested. The four were charged under a statute that effectively barred cross-dressing. The statute was enacted in 1845 to address an insurrection among Hudson Valley farmers who were objecting to high rents they had to pay. The farmers were killing sheriffs who were serving summonses on them and had taken to disguising themselves as “Indians,” as one court case said, or by wearing women’s calico dresses to avoid being identified. In the 20th century, the law was used to target the LGBTQ community. “The section in its present form is aimed at discouraging overt homosexuality in public places

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NYC MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES/ NYPD FILE ON CORE

A 1966 flyer put out by the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) calling for a protest against police harassment of a straight black woman forced to show her genitals as cops arrested others in a Harlem bar for “masquerading.”

which is offensive to public morality,” a judge wrote in a separate 1968 case. “In addition to a deterrent to sexual aberration, it is also addressed to crime detection and prevention of criminal activity.” Forette wrote that “Premises known as ‘Joe’s Place,’ is the subject of recent communications alleging disorderly conditions and narcotics,” and then listed five reports by number that presumably referred to those communications. In several published reports found online, Wilson was described as an early client of a clinic serving transgender people at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Benjamin was an early innovator in healthcare for transgender people. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which sets the standards of care for transgender people’s healthcare, was once named for Benjamin. Gay City News found the records of the arrests and a few newspaper clippings discussing them in the files on the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) created by the NYPD’s political surveillance unit. That unit, which had various names since it began its work

in the early 20th century, spied on CORE for more than a decade beginning in the early ‘60s. Founded in Chicago in 1942, CORE was a leading civil rights organization. CORE was active in supporting organizing in Southern states and opposing school segregation and job and housing discrimination in New York City. An unsigned and undated handwritten note in the file says, “4 male negroes arrested for [Illegible] 887-7 CCP (masquerading wearing female attire and make up).” A news article that had its headline and date torn off says that police were in the bar “where, according to police, they were looking for female impersonators.” What roused CORE in the Joe’s Bar incident was not the treatment of the four young African-Americans and Wilson, but how a sixth African-American who was in the bar when the arrests occurred was treated. Uhl allegedly took 32-year-old Gertrude Williams, a married heterosexual with two children, into the kitchen and forced her to prove that she was female by partially undressing. When the group

learned of Uhl’s conduct, it issued a press release calling for protests and demanding that Uhl and other officers involved be disciplined. “For many years, CORE has pointed out that New York City has two kinds of law enforcement — one for the respectable white majority, and another for Negroes, Puerto Ricans, and for people that might be called non-conformist or bohemian,” the group said in a February 28 press release. “A deep smouldering [sic] resentment exists between the police and minority communities, caused in large measure by the actions of a small number of police officers.” No record that Gay City News found has CORE again referring to “non-conformist or bohemian” people. The group mounted several protests. Ten people, including Roy Innis, who would go on to lead CORE, were arrested during the first demonstration when they blockaded the entrance to the 26th precinct on March 3. Protesters at that demonstration carried signs that used Uhl’s badge number and read “#21349 a pervert in uniform. He must go.” and “#21349 what will this pervert do next.” On March 8, a group of CORE members marched through Harlem to the Salem Methodist Church at 129th Street and Seventh Avenue for a town hall meeting. Mayor John Lindsay was expected at that town hall, but he sent William Booth, the director of the city’s Commission on Human Rights in his place. A captain in the 26th precinct was transferred to another command following the incident. The Williams incident fueled an ongoing push for a Civilian Complaint Review Board, according “The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle to Save New York,” a 2001 book by Vincent J. Cannato. “It gave fodder not only to the campaign to install a Civilian Complaint Review Board, but also to militants like Roy Innis, head of Manhattan CORE, who called on blacks to ‘escalate the war’ on ‘vicious racist acts by police.’” June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Trans Flag Creator Looks Ahead to WorldPride Monica Helms is among the grand marshals this coming Sunday

COURTESY OF MONICA HELMS COURTESY OF MONICA HELMS

Monica Helms, creator of the Transgender Flag, at the Trans March in San Francisco in 2015.

BY MATT TRACY

M

onica Helms never thought her simple sketch would turn into a worldwide symbol of inclusivity in the trans community. Helms, who is the creator of the Transgender Flag and is serving as a grand marshal in this year’s WorldPride March in New York, remembered back to a 1999 conversation she had with Michael Page, who had just created the Bisexual Flag in 1998. “He and I were talking and he said, ‘You know, the trans community could use a flag,” Helms, resident of Marietta, Georgia, recalled during an interview with Gay City News. “I couldn’t come up with anything. He said to keep it simple because the least amount of stitches, the cheaper it is to make.” Helms then embarked on a quest to devise an ideal flag to represent the trans community. But that proved to be challenging — What would it look like? Where does one even begin? More than a week passed after that conversation and Helms still had no clue how she

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would go about creating the flag. At the two-week mark, though, she woke up one morning and suddenly it came to her — she knew exactly what she wanted. “I jumped out of bed and went over and started drawing it out,” she said. “It looked pretty good.” Helms, keeping her conversation with Page in the back of her mind, reached out to those put the Bisexual Flag into production and started working on the process of creating the actual flag. Soon enough, she had the new flag in her hand. “I took my flag everywhere I went,” she said. “To Prides, to marches, to protests, to Transgender Day of Remembrance, to lobby days.” That proved to be an effective strategy: Folks started seeing the flag and wanted one of their own. Over the years, it started appearing in different countries and prominent locations — like the Obama White House — and in unusual places — like Antarctica. “I said, ‘Wow. It’s everywhere,” Helms said. Several years ago, Helms started searching for museums because she wanted to send her original

Monica Helms, on the road to increasing visibility of the Transgender Flag she created in 1999, holds it up at Atlanta Pride in 2004.

copy of the flag to a place where it could be held safely. She reached out to the Smithsonian, which coincidentally was launching an LGBTQ wing at the time and told her the flag would be a perfect fit. “My wife and I went to Washington, DC, and we talked to the person who I donated [the flag] to at the Smithsonian,” Helms said. “She brought us to the back storage and we got to see it again.” It is clear that the flag is even more popular now than it was even five years ago, and trans issues have grabbed center stage as of late as the Trump administration continues its multi-pronged assault on the lives of LGBTQ people — with the transgender community the most frequent target. Helms, who spent eight years in the military and served on two submarines, especially noted her dismay at Trump’s ban on trans service members in the military. “Everything they could find to discriminate against trans people, they’ve done it,” she said. “So I’m just waiting for the next election so we can vote him out of office and get back all the things that we lost. WorldPride is just a wonderful way

of showing people we’re still here and we still exist and we won’t be erased.” To that end, Helms is looking forward to serving as grand marshal during what is expected to be among the biggest Pride celebrations ever. Also serving as grand marshals at the march are UK Black Pride founder Phyll OpokuGyimah, the cast of “Pose,” the Trevor Project, and members of the Gay Liberation Front, an LGBTQ group that formed in the immediate aftermath of Stonewall. “I was totally amazed when I was told,” said Helms, who found out she was named a grand marshal when she received a phone call from a member of the Pride committee. She isn’t exactly sure what else she is doing during Pride Weekend in New York, but some folks have already lined up an itinerary for her and she said she will “be all over the place, apparently.” “I’m looking forward to it,” she said. Come Sunday, though, she will be marching prominently — and make no mistake, she’ll have her Trans Flag in hand. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

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BY MATT TRACY

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ust in time for WorldPride, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on June 18 landmarked six important sites in the city’s LGBTQ history. The locations include Caffe Cino at 31 Cornelia Street, the LGBT Community Center at 208 West 13th Street, the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street, James Baldwin’s residence at 137 West 71st Street, the Women’s Liberation Center at 243 West 20th Street, and Audre Lorde’s residence at 207 St. Paul’s Avenue on Staten Island. The sites represent the fi rst LGBTQ-related landmarks designated by the city since the Stonewall Inn in 2015. The designation now protects the sites from major alterations in the future. Some of the sites are still in operation today, such as the LGBT Community Center, while others have left little to no trace of the historical relevance acknowledged through the LPC process. For example, a 1974 arson fi re destroyed the interior of the fi rehouse used by the Gay Activists Alliance. That firehouse served as a hub for the organization’s gatherings as well as post-Stonewall political activism.

Other locations also hold significance in queer history and in relation to broader intersectional issues. Baldwin, who spent the fi nal 12 years of his life at the now-landmarked residence near Lincoln Square, penned powerful novels and writings on issues of race, sexuality, and class. Meanwhile, the Women’s Liberation Center was a notable gathering space for women’s organizations, including lesbian groups such as the Lesbian Feminist Liberation and the Lesbian Switchboard. The LGBT Community Center opened in 1983 and was the birthplace of several organizations pertaining to queer rights and AIDS activism, such as ACT UP. Audre Lorde resided at her Staten Island home with her partner and two children for a decade and a half beginning in 1972. She became a historical figure thanks to her poetry and non-fiction papers through her career as an English professor at John Jay College, and she was also known for lending her voice at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The sixth space to be landmarked, Caffe Cino, became a space for LGBTQ artist to display

➤ SIX LANDMARKS, continued on p.11 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT

The former site of the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, at 99 Wooster Street in Soho, was among the sites landmarked.

➤ SIX LANDMARKS, from p.10 their work in the pre-Stonewall era from 1958 to 1968. Playwrights defied laws banning homosexuality in the theater realm and freely expressed their productions. LGBTQ elected officials hailed the designations as an important step towards protecting the city’s queer history. “As people from around the world gather in New York to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall and World Pride, now is the perfect time to preserve our unparalleled LGBTQ history,� City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a written statement. “New York City played such an important role in moving the LGBTQ civil rights movement forward and we owe it to those who fought in this movement to ensure that their legacy lives on. These sites memorialize the diversity and intersectionality of the LGBTQ rights movement and will make excellent additions to the city’s amazing list of landmarks.� Out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan also praised the designation of the sites, saying in a written stateGayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

ment that he is proud the city formally recognized the lasting contributions to the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement. “When I think of the LGBT Center or the Women’s Liberation Center being preserved for future generations, I think of my two daughters, and I’m relieved to know that they’ll have places to go that celebrate LGBTQ history and the activists who helped make our family possible,� Hoylman said. “My sincere thanks to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for taking this important step today.� The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation had spent five years pushing the city to landmark the sites, according to the group’s executive director, Andrew Berman. “All the threads of the rich tapestry of our city’s history deserve to be recognized and preserved,� Berman explained in a written statement. “On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which also occurred in Greenwich Village, we should be reflecting back upon that history of progress and honoring the people and places which made it possible.

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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


Interview Interview with with

Industry IndustryLeader Leader&& Halstead HalsteadReal RealEstate Estate President PresidentRichard RichardGrossman Grossman WeWe had had the the pleasure pleasure to to sitsit down down with with one one of of the the top top leaders leaders in in Residential Residential Real Real Estate Estate in in New New York York City, City, Richard Richard Grossman. Grossman. HeHe acts acts asas Halstead’s Halstead’s President President and and heads heads upup the the sales sales operations operations of of their their downtown downtown offices. offices. Here Here is is what what hehe had had to to say say onon a wide a wide variety variety of of topics topics including including how how New New York York has has changed changed over over the the years, years, hishis passion passion forfor art, art, and and how how the the real real estate estate market market is is currently currently operating. operating.

For those considering a career in real estate, what are the advantages of being a full-time real estate agent?

Being a real estate agent is a fun and rewarding career. No two days are alike. There are always new opportunities and challenges You can earn a nice income and it will be reflective of your efforts and skill. It can offer flexible hours if you want to pursue other areas of interest such as raising a family, acting, design, and traveling.

ways. Primarily, it has gotten much more expensive! I don’t think anyone in 1983 could conceive how much properties would sell for today. My father encouraged me to buy an apartment when I first moved here, and I looked at two bedrooms on West 79th Street for less than $100,000. In the early and mid-1980s the Upper East Side was the gold standard of where everyone wanted to live, but the Upper West Side was going through a renaissance and was considered the “hip” neighborhood—kind of like Brooklyn today. I actually bought my first apartment in 1985 in the Village for $120,000, because I got outpriced out of the Upper West Side.

What are your greatest passions in life?

Outside of real estate—and I love what I do every day—my greatest passions are art and design. I collect and am interested in mid-century furniture, particularly Italian and Brazilian furniture from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. My favorite and rarest pieces are by Zalszupin, Tenreiro, and Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte. I also have a collection of contemporary art focusing on abstract, minimalist, and conceptual pieces, many produced by women and/or African American artists, with pieces by Yayoi Kusama, Carl Andre, and Alma Thomas among others.

people who were able to bring in additional funds, including contributions from GMHC and the Deal of the Year Committee at REBNY. I am at the tail end of the generation that was first impacted by AIDS; I lost many friends to AIDS including two of my closest, Randy and Geoff. Having this memorial at this location, right across from St. Vincent’s Hospital where so many were treated and died, seemed the right thing at the right time. The purpose of the memorial is not only to remember those we lost and honor those who fought for the cause, but to empower those fighting today for AIDS and other causes.

Tell us a great advertising idea you saw in the real estate world that we would appreciate. How is the Manhattan real estate market currently faring? Properly priced properties are selling and there are buyers out looking. The reality, however, is that most prices—although certainly not all—have been adjusting downward for the last few years. This is certainly painful for some sellers who know they would be selling for less today than what they bought for or know what their property was worth a few years ago. The converse for this for many buyers is that there are opportunities at lower prices. Interest rates are low, making owning today more affordable than it has been in many years.

How have you seen NY evolve over the course of your career? I started in real estate in New York City in 1983 and have certainly seen the city evolve in many

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The greatest real estate ad I ever saw was a question: “Thinking of leaving Jane for Henry?” This is of course referring to Jane Street in the West Village and Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Tell us a little about the partnerships that Halstead has and why they matter.

Tell us about your involvement with the AIDS Memorial in the West Village. About five years ago I had the opportunity to learn about the NYC AIDS memorial that was then in planning stages. After learning about what they were doing, I was totally blown away about their message and what they were trying to build, so I gave them a contribution. I also talked it up to many

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Halstead has partnerships with two major sports teams, the Yankees and the Nets. Historically, and perhaps not too differently from many gay men, I have not personally had an interest in professional sports. Part of that stems from the reality that we were not always considered welcome in sporting events as either players or spectators. But what I have learned through these partnerships, to my great delight, is how inclusionary the teams are. The Nets, for example, even host an annual pride event and have a person who oversees inclusivity.

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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GRACIE MANSION HOSTS PRIDE EVENING PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

O

n an evening in very late spring, June 20, with the weather mostly cooperating, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray hosted their annual Pride Reception on the lawn at Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side. This year, the First Couple chose to declare “Pose” Day in New York, honoring several members of the show’s team, including one of its creators and writers, Steven Canals, and stars Angelica Ross and Mj Rodriguez. As usual, the evening proved something of a Who’s Who of LGBTQ elected officials and political activists. In a new twist, it allowed McCray to show off some very striking new eyewear.

DONNA ACET) DONNA ACETO

City Human Rights Commission Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis (center), flanked by Congregation Beit Simchat Torah Senior Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, CBST’s scholar-in-residence on trans rights.

Detective Brian Downey (rear, center), president of the Gay Officers Action League, with a whole bunch of his fellow officers.

DONNA ACETO

“Pose” co-creator and writer Steven Canals, flanked by stars Angelica Ross and Mj Rodriguez.

DONNA ACET)

Guests Elaine Chapnik and Felicity Arengo.

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Queens City Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

DONNA ACETO DONNA ACETO

Guests George Coritsidis and Brandon Parkes.

GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

Former State Senator Tom Duane with Upper West Side City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal.

DONNA ACET)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a disguised First Lady Chirlane McCray.

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POLITICS

Queer Latina Tiffany Cabán Claims DA Victory Queens public defender has 1,100 vote lead, with 3,400 absentees ballots to go BY MATT TRACY

T

iffany Cabán just may have completed what was deemed unthinkable mere months ago: The 31-year-old public defender who identifies as a queer Latina has claimed victory in the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney, further shaking up the political makeup of a borough that just one year ago saw Alexandria OcasioCortez upset an entrenched congressional incumbent in Joe Crowley. With more than 99.5 percent of the precincts reporting, Cabán was ahead of her closest rival, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, by just under 1,100 out of more than 85,000 votes cast. According to election officials, roughly 3,400 absentee ballots are yet to count, but that will not take place until next week. Even assuming the other five candidates in the race won no absentees votes, Katz would still have to best Cabán by roughly two to one to reverse Cabán’s lead. On election night, however, Katz suggested that she might seek a recount, which would be triggered if the margin of victory were one percent or less. Cabán currently enjoys a 1.3 percent lead, but if Katz were able to whittle that lead by about 300 votes, she could find herself in the one-percent zone she hopes for. Cabán claimed victory, telling her supporters shortly after 11 p.m., “Tonight, we won the Queens district attorney’s office.” In a speech where she methodically acknowledged her numerous supporters, Cabán said, “We have built the most powerful, the most diverse, the most beautiful coalition that a borough-wide race has ever seen. From formerly incarcerated folks to sex workers to undocumented immigrants to community-based organizations and activists to local and national elected officials.” She added, “I want to be very clear: Nothing is more important to me than the safety of all the people who call this borough home.” Cabán, if her claim of victory holds up, would enjoy a huge advantage in the heavily Democratic borough against the only Republican contender to emerge, attorney Daniel Kogan. If elected in November, Cabán would achieve a series of firsts: as the first woman, the first LGBTQ person, and the first Latinx person to be elected Queens DA. Cabán’s ascendance in the primary contest in one of the nation’s most populous counties has undoubtedly sent shock waves through the law enforcement community with her campaign vows to end mass incarceration, decriminalize

18

TIFFANY CÁBAN/ T WIT TER

Tiffany Cabán, seen here greeting voters in the final days of the campaign, claimed victory late Tuesday in the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney.

poverty, wipe out racist law enforcement, and stop a war on drugs that has unfairly targeted communities of color. Perhaps most notably, she has played a key role in injecting life into the emerging movement to decriminalize sex work through her pledge to avoid prosecuting sex workers, clients, and those who facilitate the sex trade. The primary election drew wide attention locally and nationally, partly because there had not been a change in the office since the late Richard Brown, who died earlier this year, took over in 1991. Cabán, down the stretch, captured the endorsements of two major Democratic presidential candidates — Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — showing that the public defender had gained significant steam. Cabán, by all means a political outsider when she entered the race, earned support from LGBTQ folks of all walks of life. Her supporters ranged from members of DecrimNY — the coalition to decriminalize sex work — to elected officials like out gay City Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens and Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn. Cynthia Nixon, the LGBTQ former gubernatorial candidate, also threw her support behind Cabán. LGBTQ folks also showed strong visible support for Cabán at Queens Pride in early June in what was a clear sign that her campaign was on the rise. Queer-based groups like the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and the LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed Cabán, though the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City and the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens backed Katz. Katz entered the race as the more established candidate after having already won multiple races for borough president, even as she lacked courtroom experience — an area where Cabán had the edge. Katz, though, also had much deeper political roots, after serving stints in the

State Assembly and the City Council, where she chaired the powerful Land Use Committee. In a sign of the proxy battle pitting establishment forces against progressive upstarts, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Cabán while Crowley threw his support behind Katz. Both Ocasio-Cortez and Crowley fired out emails encouraging their supporters to side with their respective candidates. On an important issue facing LGBTQ people, especially trans women of color, there were clear differences between the two top candidates. Cabán pushed to broadly decriminalize sex work, while Katz expressed hesitation on going all-out. Notably, however, both Cabán and Katz answered “yes” in a Jim Owles questionnaire when asked whether they believed in the legalization of sex work. Sex work advocates are opposed to legalization because workers could face extra hurdles brought on by a highly regulated system. The candidates also diverged on the future of the DA’s office regarding cash bail — another issue facing the LGBTQ community. Cabán long pushed to end the current system of cash bail that perpetuates an unfair class divide in which the less fortunate can toil behind bars for long periods of time. Cabán told Gay City News in an April interview that one of her trans clients who could not afford bail was suffering health consequences because she was not able to take hormones. Tensions flared during a NY1 debate in June when Katz stated that her office would “have no cash bail,” a position that both Cabán and Councilmember Rory Lancman, who last week dropped out of the race, said was new. Previously, Katz had distributed palm cards saying she would merely eliminate cash bail for low-level offenses. The moment was representative of a common theme throughout the campaign: That Katz was often scrambling to adjust her stances based on what was politically satisfactory. That was also evident in a debate when candidates were discussing jails: Cabán had long said, “When you build new jails, you fill them,” but in that debate, Katz appeared to copy her, saying, “If they build them, they will fill them up.” Cabán’s apparent victory likely will erase any doubt that Ocasio-Cortez’s triumph one year before was some sort of fluke. At a time when the federal government — led by an inexperienced, racist homophobe who lies on a daily basis — is launching repeated attacks against marginalized groups, Democrats in the borough turned to a queer Latina woman who says she will address problems facing working class people and take a more holistic approach to criminal justice. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

19


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

LGBTQ Pride Shows in the South Bronx Queer residents of the borough express themselves on a beautiful Sunday BY MATT TRACY

C

rosswalks were painted in rainbow colors, large Rainbow Flags waved in the air, and LGBTQ residents in the Bronx were all smiles as they celebrated queer liberation on June 23 in the final borough-specific Pride event before the WorldPride March on June 30. The annual Bronx Pride festivities commenced with a late-morning rally near the Bronx County Courthouse followed by a march and an afternoon festival at 149th Street at Third Avenue, with live entertainment and booths lined with food vendors, shops, and local LGBTQ and community groups. The rally featured speeches by politicians including Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who spoke about the importance of fighting for LGBTQ rights but underscored the need for folks to allow queer people to lead on issues that most directly affect them. “What does the LGBT fight mean in a postmarriage equality world?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “It means making PrEP free for all people. It means tackling the homeless crisis of our LGBT youth. It means making sure no human and no trans person ever dies again in custody. It means no one is denied a job because of their gender identity.” She added, “The only way we can do that is because of people like you on the front lines.” Other elected officials in attendance included Senator Chuck Schumer, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, and Councilmembers Andrew Cohen, Helen Rosenthal, and Vanessa L. Gibson. Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres, the first openly LGBTQ official in the borough’s history, did not attend. The borough president, while walking around the festival greeting attendees, stressed that Pride holds unique significance this year because of WorldPride and Stonewall 50. But even in celebration, he added that Pride serves as a reminder to the wider population — especially in the Bronx — that they must play a role as allies in advancing rights for the LGBTQ community. “We need to continue to educate the general public, but even our own family members,” said Diaz, whose father, Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz Sr., has repeatedly come under fire for his opposition to LGBTQ rights and for homophobic rhetoric. “We all still have family members who need to be open minded and accepting of the fact that love is love. We should not only do that of informing the general population, but have those conversations locally and

20

MAT T TRACY

A man holds a Rainbow Flag as he marches from the Grand Concourse to Third Avenue as part of Bronx Pride on June 23.

MAT T TRACY

East 149th Street is painted in rainbow colors at the entrance to the Bronx Pride Festival.

at home.” Diaz explained that government must also continue to do its part in standing up for queer rights and he said he was pleased to see that the State Legislature finally passed a ban on the gay and trans panic defense years after he introduced a version of the same bill during his time in the State Assembly. But in light of the recent death of Layleen Polanco, a trans woman of color, in custody of the Department of Correction, he also said, “We need to better protect those who are detained or detainees.” “The reason why we have to do events like this is because we know that while so much

progress has been made over the last 50 years, we’re still not perfect,” Diaz said. “There is still so much that needs to be done.” LGBTQ groups were visible at the booths sprawled out across the streets where the festival took place. The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, a citywide LGBTQ political group, spent the day registering voters and spreading the word about queer causes facing voters in upcoming elections. “Stonewall has been a part of Bronx Pride for several years now and what is happening here

➤ BRONX PRIDE, continued on p.66 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

21


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

Puerto Rico Cultivates Its Own Kind of Pride The Caribbean’s most fabulous LGBTQ celebrations makes their own rainbows BY KELSY CHAUVIN

P

ride runs strong in Puerto Rico. That goes equally for the LGBTQ community and for the “fuerza Puerto Rico” power that rallied the island after 2017’s devastating hurricanes. For this year’s Pride Puerto Rico celebration, the force drew thousands of participants and spectators to San Juan, pushing through flashes of tropical rain for a colorful parade and festival. Following a weekend full of Pride events, the June 2 march kicked off at Condado’s Parque del Indio, launching floats, bands, activists, and queens down Ashford Avenue. They landed at Parque del Tercer Milenio for the big Pride stage’s rally and performances, organized by Colectivo Orgullo Arcoiris (Rainbow Pride Collective, orgulloarcoiris.com). Despite passing storms, the local pride was clear as ever in 2019. Puerto Ricans and visitors filled Millennium Park to see two dozen different stage acts, including fabulous drag queens Maravllosa Placer, Catalina Tyrrell, and Miss Shalae Michaels and drag king Dingo Konpé, as well as other local entertainers. The day’s true beauty, though, was the show of collective strength. Puerto Rico’s queer community is growing and gaining momentum, especially in the capital city of San Juan. Spots like Oasis Lounge (facebook.com/oasiscondado) stay busy into the late hours, and its prime location on Avenida Condado marks the local gaybeach area. Meanwhile, the Santurce neighborhood is booming with restaurants and nightlife. Much of the action is centered around La Placita (laplacita-historical-landmark.business.site ), where you can browse the farmer’s market by day, and on weekends check out nightlife at the little bars that spill onto the plaza. Friday nights are especially busy, with gay tipplers congregating at El Patio de Lila (elpatiodelila.com). For Pride season and beyond, LGBTQ parties roll out to nearby Toxic Night Club (toxicnightclub. com) and Santos Rooftop (facebook.com/SantosRooftop). Puerto Rico also is home to a second June Pride, in the southwestern region of Cabo Rojo. This year, Boquerón Pride (discoverpuertorico. com/event/boqueron-pride/308) spanned the weekend of June 6-9, taking over the city’s beach scene and rivaling San Juan’s big event in size and enthusiasm. Island Spirit The overall appeal of the “enchanted isle” is tied to a proud Puerto Rican history that’s grown even stronger since Hurricanes Irma and Maria

22

KELSY CHAUVIN

A June 2 pparade, rally, y and festival on San Juan’s famed Condado capped a weekend Pride Puerto Rico celebrations.

KELSY CHAUVIN

San Juan’s Pride was one of two big celebrations on the island — the other in Boquerón, on the southwestern shore of Puerto Rico.

struck. The storms seemed to have sparked a renewed island spirit that’s led to scores of new businesses, many of them helmed by native-born entrepreneurs reinvesting in their homeland. Among them are two award-winning chefs, José Enrique and José Santaella, both of whom

have made their Santurce restaurants (which bear their respective names) anchors of San Juan’s gastronomic renaissance. But there are so many genuinely delicious restaurants cropping up in the city. One smart way to sample some of the best local fare is on Spoon Food Tours’ (spoonfoodtours.com) new Loíza Food and Street Art tour. The itinerary covers Santurce’s longtime-favorite spots like Kasalta, San Juan’s beloved cafeteria and bakery — made even more famous when President Barack Obama joined the governor for lunch there in 2011. Strolling past street murals painted by Puerto Rican artists adds color to a Loíza visit, where you can stop along Calle Loíza for unforgettable vegetarian dishes and drinks at Cocobana Café; fish tacos and local brews at Pal West surf bar; Puerto Rican and Korean dishes at Volando Bajito; and delectably inventive treats at Double Cake bakery. More traditional fare is the highlight of Ana’s Café, whose namesake owner/ chef makes some of the island’s best mofongo (mashed fried plantains) and other homestyle favorites. At the converted shipping container that now anchors an open-air café, Tresbé puts suave twists on simple foods, like the tamarind-BBQ wings, catch-of-the-day fish skewers, and em-

➤ PUERTO RICO continued on p. 67 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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23


POLITICS

Gestational Surrogacy Dead for Now in NYS State assemblymembers hesitate amid women’s rights concerns BY MATT TRACY

E

fforts to pass gestational surrogacy in the State Legislature withered in the lower chamber and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie confirmed on June 20 that the bill is dead for now, citing concerns about women’s rights and fears of commercialization. Heastie, however, indicated that lawmakers and advocates would continue crafting the legislation in the coming months in such a way that would attempt to quell lingering reservations about the issue. The movement to pass gestational surrogacy, which involves a surrogate carrying a baby who has no biological relation to her, became a key issue in the LGBTQ community’s efforts in Albany during the final months of the session because the current ban on compensated surrogacy in New York disproportionately affects same-sex couples. The measure passed the State Senate, but ran into roadblocks in the lower house, even as Governor Andrew Cuomo aggressively campaigned for the issue and enlisted the help of Bravo TV show host Andy Cohen, who had a baby son through surrogacy. In the lower chamber, though, out lesbian Democratic Assemblymember Deborah Glick of Manhattan infuriated some in the LG-

CARL HEASTIE/ T WIT TER.COM

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, made it official on June 20: the effort to enact a gestational surrogacy law in this session is dead.

BTQ community and drew cries of betrayal when she expressed hesitation on the measure after previously vowing support for it. She told The New York Times earlier this month that gestation surrogacy is “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.” She also suggested that gestational surrogacy isn’t necessarily an issue for the wider LGBTQ community because many folks are unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to have kids that way. But Democratic Assemblymember Amy Paulin of Westchester County, who led the bill in the lower house, told Gay City News with

roughly one week left to go in the session that she was working to garner support for the bill. That effort never came to fruition. “While there are strong feelings about surrogacy on all sides, I want to make it clear that no single member is in a position to stop this or any bill,” Heastie said on June 20 in a clear effort to spare Glick from being singled out. “Many members, including a large majority of women in our conference, have raised important concerns that must be properly addressed before we can move forward.” He continued, “We must ensure that the health and welfare of women who enter into these

arrangements are protected, and that reproductive surrogacy does not become commercialized. This requires careful thought. While our work for this session is nearly complete, I look forward to continuing this conversation in the coming months with our members and interested parties to develop a solution that works for everyone.” Out gay Democratic State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, who has two young daughters through gestational surrogacy and carried the bill in the upper house, expressed disappointment that the bill couldn’t pass this session. “My children are the most important thing in the world to me,” Hoylman said. “Everyone in New York, including LGBTQ New Yorkers and people struggling with infertility, should have the same opportunity to build a family as my husband and me and the residents of the 47 other states that allow compensated surrogacy agreements. I’m glad we were able to move our surrogacy legislation to the Senate floor with the help of Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, where it passed with widespread support of my colleagues. While it’s a shame that we weren’t’ able to get a vote on the bill in the State Assembly during this 50th anniversary year of Stonewall, I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation next year.”

Lawmakers Shelve DecrimNY Proposals “Walking while trans,” trafficking relief efforts postponed as Legislature adjourns BY MATT TRACY

A

dvocates were unable to prod New York State lawmakers to move on three criminal justice measures that disproportionately affect LGBTQ people — especially trans women of color — before the end of the legislative session on June 21. Lawmakers bolted Albany on

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June 21 having failed to take action on a campaign to repeal the loitering for the purposes of prostitution law, provide record relief for sex trafficking survivors, and curb the use of solitary confinement in the State of New York despite a months-long effort by the DecrimNY coalition, advocates, and several legislators. In a compromise of sorts, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader

Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, all three Democrats, announced an agreement — to be “implemented administratively” — to reduce solitary confinement. Yet, as some Democrats hailed the 2019 legislative session as a sweeping success, those involved with the DecrimNY coalition were quick to remind folks that many urgent priorities facing the most

marginalized groups remain unresolved. “A lot of legislators talked about how progressive the session was,” Nina Luo, a spokesperson for DecrimNY, told Gay City News on June 25. “But when we know that people will get deported and killed, it’s kind of a joke.” The movement to repeal the loi-

➤ DECRIMNY, continued on p.26 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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DECRIMNY, from p.24

tering law, also known as “walking while trans,” came amid a wider effort to decriminalize sex work and was led by many folks who bolstered the cause by voicing their firsthand accounts of their experience working in the sex trade. The advocates received a boost in momentum when the NYPD was pressured into changing its patrol guide after a Legal Aid Society lawsuit charged that the department’s police officers had used the loitering law to stop women for discriminatory reasons such as their clothing, gender identity, or whether or not they had an Adam’s apple. As a result, the NYPD no longer explicitly gives officers the ability to stop people on the basis of “gender, gender identity, clothing, and location” in their enforcement of the controversial loitering law, but that’s widely viewed as only a first step toward a more necessary statewide effort to address the issue. The record relief effort sought to build upon the measure passed a decade ago when New York became

MAT T TRACY

Advocates for sex work decriminalization hold signs during a June 10 DecrimNY rally in a State Assembly hearing room.

the first state to give trafficking survivors the ability to vacate some charges. But that law proved to be far too narrow by only addressing the vacating of prostitution-related charges while failing to consider non-prostitution-related arrests that occur while someone is being trafficked. The latest legislative effort more broadly covered convictions levied on those who are trafficked, made sure court documents in those cases remain confidential, and removed rules stipulating that

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they must show rehabilitation to obtain relief. Advocates pressed the issues until the end, with hundreds of DecrimNY advocates holding a rally in Albany on the final scheduled day of the session alongside out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, Senators Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar of Queens and Brooklyn, respectively, and Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Dan Quart of Manhattan and Amy Paulin of Westchester. Those lawmakers took leadership roles in the State Legislature on DecrimNY issues, even as they struggled to convince their colleagues to join them. The solitary confinement agreement announced by legislative leaders also came after DecrimNY mounted pressure on lawmakers to revamp those policies, which directly impact the LGBTQ community. Queens DA candidate Tiffany Cabán, who has experience as a public defender, told Gay City News in April that the Manhattan Detention Center places trans women in solitary once they run out of room in the special housing unit for trans women. Layleen Polanco, a trans woman who died in Department of Correction custody this month, was in “restrictive housing,” which is similar to solitary though detainees in that category are held in isolation for 16 hours per day instead of 23. The announced changes include banning adolescents, pregnant women, disabled people, and other “vulnerable” folks from solitary. Only those who “commit serious misconduct” would be eligible to be placed in solitary confinement. The agreement also stipulated

that people can only be placed in solitary for a maximum of 30 days and that staff working in special housing units will receive increased training on de-escalation techniques and implicit bias. Incarcerated people will be entitled to win early release back into the general population. Although none of DecrimNY’s proposals cleared both houses, the coalition still managed to recruit allies in the Legislature and gain widespread attention to their causes after having just formed earlier this year. Heading into the next session, Luo said, advocates will continue their fight. DecrimNY most recently unveiled the Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act, a bill that would decriminalize sex work for those who trade sex consensually and erase laws that criminalize those who assist sex workers. The work on that bill is in its infancy. Gottfried and Manhattan Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou are leading that bill in the lower house, while Salazar and Ramos are carrying it in the Senate. Quart is a co-sponsor in the Assembly, along with Assemblymembers Ron Kim and Catalina Cruz of Queens. “We have to keep fighting and see where we are next session,” Luo said of DecrimNY’s next move. There was nonetheless plenty of movement on other LGBTQ measures during the session. Lawmakers passed a gender identity nondiscrimination measure known as GENDA, banned conversion therapy and the gay and trans panic defense, and restored state benefits for service members who were discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. They also voted to provide survivors of sexual assault with access to postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection. A controversial measure championed by Hoylman and Paulin to legalize gestational surrogacy cleared the State Senate but ran into a roadblock in the lower chamber, where out lesbian Manhattan Assemblymember Deborah Glick and female colleagues of hers expressed hesitation on the issue over concerns about the rights of women who would carry the babies. Legislative leaders vowed to continue crafting that bill and could revisit it in the next session. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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POLITICS

Alphonso David to Lead Human Rights Campaign Governor’s counsel, civil rights attorney leaves Cuomo team after more than a decade BY PAUL SCHINDLER

A

lphonso David, who for the past four years held a key post at the pinnacle of New York politics as counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, has been named the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, the group announced on June 25. In its press release, HRC, the nation’s leading LGBTQ lobbying group , noted that David, a 48-year-old African-American gay man, will be the first person of color and first civil rights attorney to lead the organization in its four-decade history. Prior to becoming the governor’s counsel, David had led civil rights efforts in Cuomo’s office dating back to Cuomo’s term as state attorney general and, prior to that, served as special counsel to the State Division of Human Rights. For three years before joining state government, he was a staff attorney at Lambda Legal. In a written statement, Deb Taft, the chair of the HRC Board Foundation, said, “Alphonso has devoted his career to expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people across New York State and the nation. At a time when LGBTQ people, women, people of color, immigrants and refugees, and so many others are being confronted with daily attacks on our most basic rights, Alphonso is the fierce, compassionate, and strategic leader HRC and our broader movement for equality needs.” Via Twitter, HRC’s outgoing president, Chad Griffin, who is leaving after seven years at the helm, said of David’s selection, “I am confident that this powerful organization and our grassroots army of 3 million members & supporters will have the leadership we need to win the critical battles ahead and continue propelling this movement forward.” In an HRC video introducing the group’s new president, David said, “I don’t have to tell anyone that this is a perilous time. But in this moment I see a tremendous opportunity to overcome these attacks.” In a written statement, he added, “I believe that together, we can harness the strength that’s inherent in our differences, to stand together in the face of fear and division…. If we want to win full equality, that’s going to require us to come together, to dig deep, to be resilient, to embrace our differences, to tenaciously defend the most vulnerable among us, to fight with every ounce of determination we have.” In his state government work since 2007, David has made significant contributions in the battle for LGBTQ rights and civil rights generally. At the State Division of Human Rights and later working for Cuomo, he succeeded in clos-

30

DONNA ACETO

Alphonso David, the new HRC president, at the June 8 Brooklyn Pride Parade, where he was one of the grand marshals.

ing the backlog of thousands of complaints that were a legacy of 12 years of Republican rule under Governor George Pataki. During Cuomo’s first year as governor, David was a key player in coordinating the six-month drive that led to enactment of New York’s marriage equality law within the administration’s first legislative session. Other accomplishments where he took a leading role during that first term included the expansion of Medicaid coverage to pay for transition procedures for transgender New Yorkers, the liberalization and streamlining of procedures for them to amend the gender designation on their birth certificates, and changes to state procurement procedures that increased the share of contracts going to women- and minority-owned businesses by 150 percent. In his first year as Cuomo’s counsel, David oversaw the implementation of new executive regulations within the State Division of Human Rights to interpret the term “sex” within New York human rights law to include “gender expression and identity.” That action came 13 years after New York adopted a gay rights law that included no protections for transgender people. In the past six months, the Cuomo administration, with the support of Democrats in

charge of both the Assembly and the Senate, has codified those transgender protections — and extended them to protect trans New Yorkers under the state hate crimes law — through the adoption of the Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act. The state this year also banned conversion therapy practiced on minors and the use gay or panic defense strategies in murder cases. A graduate of Philadelphia’s Temple University Law School, David went on to clerk for US District Judge Clifford Scott Green there. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland. In written statements, David and Cuomo paid tribute to each other. “For the last 12 years, Alphonso David has fought day and night to create a better New York, helping to enact real change and increasing rights for all residents of this great state,” the governor said. “As a key member of this administration and before that as part of my staff at the attorney general’s office, he had always served with compassion, dignity, intelligence, and a virtually unrivaled work ethic. For his part, David said, “It’s been the pleasure of a lifetime to serve this administration with the most dedicated, hardest working elected official in the state and in the nation…The governor has been a true leader on so many progressive issues in this state, and I am proud to have been a part of it.” Despite his professional accomplishments, David, in the HRC video, told a deeply personal story about his family’s move when he was a child from the US to Liberia, where his uncle was elected president. In harrowing terms, he described a military coup that had his uncle assassinated, his home overrun by armed rebels, and his father imprisoned. When he was 14, his father led the family in escaping Liberia for Baltimore, where, David said, he was “the other,” an immigrant from Africa who in time figured out he was gay, which led, for a time, to a profound estrangement from his family. David won praise from other quarters with HRC’s announcement. Out gay Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman tweeted, “Huge congratulations to Alphonso, who has been a steadfast ally with @NYGovCuomo in the fight to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers—and now people across the country.” When David was named Cuomo’s counsel four years ago, Susan Sommer, a former Lambda colleague who then ran that group’s constitutional litigation efforts, described him as “an outstanding LGBT civil rights lawyer at Lambda Legal” and “a staunch advocate for civil rights in this state.” June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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POLITICS

Making Trans History on Brooklyn Community Board Alejandra Caraballo brings much-needed representation to hyperlocal politics BY MATT TRACY

T

he newest member of Brooklyn’s Community Board 9 made history on June 18 when she became the first transgender person to be sworn into the board — and she is also believed to be the first out trans person on any community board in the borough. But Alejandra Caraballo, a trans Latina lesbian who lives in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and idolizes Sylvia Rivera, wasn’t so sure she would even be appointed in the first place. “I had applied but did not hear for four months,” Caraballo said during an interview with Gay City News just minutes before she was sworn in at Borough Hall. One week before officially joining the board, however, she received a letter in the mail.

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Alejandra Caraballo smiles at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where she was sworn in on June 18 as the newest member of Community Board 9.

“I was with my girlfriend and she heard me screaming. She said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’” The rest was history. Caraballo opened the letter and realized she would have a newfound opportunity to help shape hyperlocal politics in the city’s most populous borough and play a role in addressing issues facing the neighborhoods of South Crown Heights, Prospect

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Lefferts Gardens, Wingate, and portions of North Flatbush. “I am so overwhelmed,” Caraballo said of her appointment. The 28-year-old Caraballo spends her days as a staff attorney with the LGBTQ Law project at New York Legal Assistance Group and dedicates a great deal of time to assisting on immigration, family, and anti-discrimination issues. She is no stranger to community involvement, and her newest foray into hyperlocal matters is the product of years of intersectional activism in a borough that she grew to appreciate since she arrived here Tampa six years ago. “I fell in love with Brooklyn, I fell in love with the city, and I fell in love with the community,” Caraballo said. In addition to her full-time job, Caraballo is making her mark in the LGBTQ community. She’s currently on the board of Lambda Independent Democrats and the Translatinx Network and serves as the service secretary for the LGBTQ Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Caraballo will now also juggle her role on a community board that consists of up to 50 people nominated by the borough president and city councilmembers. Community boards have very little explicit statutory power, but they play advisory roles in local politics and influence decisions about land use, budgets, and the services provided to local residents. The boards often put pressure on city lawmakers to prevent greedy developers from running roughshod over a neighborhood — and that’s an issue Caraballo will focus on with Community Board 9. She recalled a time when she was involved with a housing clinic while attending Brooklyn Law School. It was there where she developed a keen understanding of housing issues, most notably gentrification. That is a major problem around the city but especially in some of the neighborhoods her community board encompasses. “One of the best ways to address

that is to get involved in the community board and make sure people are not priced out of the community,” she said. She specifically cited the threat of towering buildings overshadowing the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Housing and other issues are linked to LGBTQ issues in a myriad of ways, but the lack of queer — and especially trans — representation on community boards means that link often goes unnoticed among the general population. Caraballo appears poised to change that. “I think queer issues are as much about poverty than anything else, and they’re just universal issues,” she explained. “By working to alleviate poverty issues, I think we can help the LGBTQ community.” Caraballo noted that Crown Heights “is becoming a very queer area,” and said the emergence of LGBTQ spaces in the area makes having a voice on the community board important. The growing LGBTQ representation at the most localest level was on full display at the swearing-in ceremony. Other out LGBTQ people also sworn into their respective Brooklyn community boards on the same day included Peter Fleming, who was named chair of Community Board 6; Wilfredo Florentino, who was reappointed as Transportation chair of Community Board 5; Samy Nemir Olivares on Community Board 4; Genesis Aquino on Community Board 7; and Tom Burrows, who was named chair of Community Board 1. Caraballo’s appointment to Community Board 9, however, was the evening’s most noteworthy first. “I think it’s monumental how far we’ve come, and I’m incredible humbled,” she said. “But it shows we need more progress, because I shouldn’t be the first.” As she stood near the entrance to the courtroom where she would be sworn in, Caraballo offered a final word — a glimmer of hope for the future for trans leadership in the city. “And I shouldn’t be the last, either,” she said. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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CRIME

Abel Cedeno Forgoes Jury Trial Bullied gay teen facing manslaughter in fellow student’s death to let judge decide BY ANDY HUMM

T

wenty-one months after a Bronx classroom fight that left one student dead, another slashed, and a third charged with manslaughter and assault, bullied gay teen Abel Cedeno, who says he used a knife to defend himself against an attack from classmates Matthew McCree, the deceased, and Ariane LaBoy, told Judge Michael A. Gross that he is forgoing his right to a jury trial and will let the judge decide whether he is guilty or not. Gross opened the trial on June 18 in Bronx Criminal Court by asking Cedeno’s counsels, Robert J. Feldman and Christopher R. Lynn, and prosecutors Nancy Borko and Paul Andersen if they were open to a plea deal, telling Cedeno that he faced a minimum of five years on each count and a maximum of 25 years on each and that they could run consecutively. Feldman said they would not accept a plea deal and would pursue a defense of “justification,” commonly known as self-defense. Lynn said, “Under no circumstances would Abel get the max. He has no prior criminal record before or after this. He is not a violent person.” Lynn is seeking youthful offender treatment for his client if convicted, in which case the maximum sentence is four and a half years. But all that is now up to the judge. The June 18 proceeding consisted of tapes of Cedeno being read his Miranda rights by both police and by Assistant District Attorney Paul Rosenfeld, a 39-year veteran of the office, before interviewing him in the afternoon of September 27, 2017, hours after the morning incident occurred. Cedeno did not exercise his right to remain silent or to seek advice of counsel before speaking. Intense media interest in the incident — the first fatal stabbing inside a school in New York in 40 years — has Bronx DA Darcel Clark deploying some of her most veteran assistants on the case. The defense had psychiatrist Eric Goldsmith, who evaluated Cedeno for them, testify on June 20 as to the defendant’s state of mind to ascertain whether his statements to police and Rosenfeld could be considered truly “voluntary.” Dr. Goldsmith said that Cedeno was suffering from Attention Deficit Hypersensitivity Disorder, ADHD. In his evaluation, he wrote that Cedeno “was subject to long-standing bullying related to his presumed sexual orientation. He had experienced feelings of isolation, depression and reports making suicide attempts.” Goldsmith recounted how Cedeno was “phys-

38

ANDY HUMM

Defendant Abel Cedeno with his attorneys, Robert J. Feldman and Christopher R. Lynn, at Bronx Criminal Court earlier this year.

ically attacked” by McCree, who punched him “several times about the head.” When Cedeno defended himself with a knife, one stab wound caused McCree’s death. “Mr. Cedeno experienced the attack against him and the stabbing as traumatic,” Goldsmith said. “His state of mind giving statements to police detectives and the ADA Rosenfeld was impacted by a trauma reaction. He was concerned for his own safety. His memory was not accurate.” In light of that testimony, Gross will rule on June 27 as to the admissibility of the statements Cedeno gave immediately after the incident. Goldsmith wrote that Cedeno told him that in the aftermath, “I remember being afraid, like mostly just afraid for my life, for my family’s life because I knew these people [McCree and LaBoy] were in gangs. I was afraid me and my family would get shot.” Cedeno told Goldsmith, “I remember thinking that if I tell [the authorities] everything, it would be okay.” He also told the psychiatrist, “It was me defending myself.” Lynn said, “As Cedeno told the grand jury, ‘I believed they were going to kill me. I believed they could have had weapons.’ And then he said, ‘Most of the kids in that school carry weapons.’” Cedeno’s grand jury testimony got his charge reduced from murder to manslaughter. Prosecutors turned over to the defense the witness statements from the 25 students and

three teachers who witnessed the fight. The DA’s office has successfully kept the defense from identifying the students, but defense is moving to have them all called to testify along with the teachers. Feldman said that all the eyewitness statements — except that of LaBoy — support Cedeno’s version of events: that McCree charged from across the classroom to pummel Cedeno and that LaBoy piled on after McCree was felled and was slashed himself. On June 20, the prosecution turned over its witness list and it did not include the teacher witnesses — only the school guidance counselors and administrators who dealt with Cedeno after the incident. Lynn said that Gross told Borko to subpoena the teachers and he would sign the orders. The DA opposes admission of the witness statements taken by the police as “hearsay,” but Lynn has moved to introduce them “to show how thorough the police investigation was.” The judge will also rule on that point on June 27. Lynn said one of the prosecution witnesses is a “Miss Evelyn,” a guidance counselor across the hall from the incident. “Abel went into her office,” Lynn said, “and just put the knife on the desk. This is the ‘counselor’ who gave him chores to do when he reported bullying previously instead of filling out the bullying reports.”

➤ ABEL CEDENO TRIAL, continued on p.43 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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CITY COUNCIL



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â&#x17E;¤ CITY COUNCIL PRIDE, continued on p.41 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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Two members of House Xtravaganza accept their award.

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µOZ]\UZWTSVWab]`geWbVO^^`]^`WObSU`WbO\RU`OQS BVSe]`RaO`SeSZZac^^]`bSRPgbVS^V]b]aPcbbVSWZZcab`ObW]\a W\\]eOg]dS`eVSZ[bVSaSeSZZO`bWQcZObSRO\RS[]bWdSUS[a/ Zg`WQOZ[S[]W`e`WbbS\W\^`]aSO\RdS`aSA\O^aV]baVOaOc\WdS`aOZ [SaaOUSbVObeWZZO^^SOZb][O\g`SORS`a¶ TOQSP]]YQ][AOgQVSSaSbVSe]`ZRWaeObQVW\U eeeQO`OQWZS\b]Q][jeeeTW`SaWU\Q`SObW]\aQ][jOdOWZOPZSOb(BVS1S\bS`?cW[Pg¸a/[Oh]\ GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

41


CRIME

Rashawn Brazell’s Accused Killer Claims Alibi Kwauhuru Govan says he was in St. Louis at the time of gay teen’s 2005 murder trict attorney’s office matched Govan’s DNA to DNA that was found under the fingernails of Sharabia Thomas, a 17-year-old whose dismembered body was discovered in two laundry bags in an alley in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. Govan was convicted on kidnapping and murder charges in the 2004 Thomas killing last year. He was sentenced to 25-to-life in that case. At the time, police determined that Govan lived across the street from Brazell. A bag that belonged to Govan and that had Brazell’s blood on it was recovered at the subway station where Brazell’s body was found. The prosecution has other evidence that it has not publicly disclosed. The alibi further complicates a case that was never the stronger of

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

he defense in the 2005 killing of Rashawn Brazell has filed an alibi notice that the accused killer was attending a driving school in St. Louis during the week that the 19-year-old gay man was murdered and his body parts were found in a Brooklyn subway station. “The limited records they had verified he was enrolled in the program and was credited with a significant number of hours that week,” said Jonathan Strauss, one of two attorneys who represents Kwauhuru Govan, following a brief June 19 hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court. The 41-year-old faces one count of second-degree murder in the case. In 2016, the cold case units in the NYPD and the Brooklyn dis-

COURTESY: BRA ZELL FAMILY

Rashawn Brazell was 19 at the time of his 2005 murder.

➤ GOVAN ALIBI, continued on p.43

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➤ ABEL CEDENO TRIAL, from p.38 Regarding the prosecution’s proposed witness list, Lynn said, “Ms. Borko is depending on everyone but the actual witnesses.” The defense is also challenging the access that detectives had to Cedeno’s cell phone. Lynn said that witness statements just obtained show that “another student in the class had a knife and claimed it fell out of his backpack in the confusion and that’s why the janitor found it the next day.” Cell phone video of the incident shot by other students — already widely seen in the media — will be introduced at trial as well as an exploration of how it was obtained. Lynn said the video is “exculpatory.” McCree’s mother, Louna Dennis, is represented by Sanford Rubenstein in a $25 million lawsuit against the city and Cedeno for the attack that they contend could have been prevented if the school had metal detectors and if the Department of Education was adequately implementing the state’s anti-bullying law. Dennis this

➤ GOVAN ALIBI, from p.42 the two cases. Leila Rosini, the senior assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case with Danielle Reddan, an assistant district attorney, said her office is investigating “whether or not this is a sound alibi” during the hearing. “We received the alibi notice,” she said. “We’re looking into it… We do have that he did not complete the school.” Any investigation into the alibi by the defense and the prosecution is hampered by the time that has passed since Govan is believed to have attended the school and that the school’s records may be lost or incomplete. The defense earlier moved to have Govan be tried as an anonymous defendant. There was a great deal of press coverage when Govan

week expressed happiness that the case is finally moving forward and said she has “confidence in the DA to get the justice that my son truly deserves.” Cedeno was supported in court by his mother, Luz Hernandez, as well as his sisters and grandmother. Also there for him were Bree Yearwood of FIERCE and Lynda Nguyen of the New York Anti-Violence Project. Cedeno, who is out on bail, continues to be escorted to and from court by an NYPD detail due to threats to his life. Feldman said of Judge Gross, “We’re very pleased that we got a very experienced justice who rose through the ranks of the criminal court.” Lynn said he tried a case before him 30 years ago and has always found him “very fair.” Lynn criticized Rubenstein for calling Cedeno’s statements to the police and DA “confessions,” arguing, “They are narratives in response to police questioning about how this incident unfolded.” Rubenstein acknowledged he has not seen the taped statements. The trial resumes Thursday, June 27 at 9:30 a.m. in Bronx Criminal Court.

was first arrested in both cases and there was additional coverage when he was convicted in the Thomas case. The “intense vilification,” as the defense described it, consistently portrayed Govan as a killer and his occasional erratic behavior in court did not help his image. The defense wanted to avoid any juror in the Brazell case linking Govan to the Thomas case. The judge in the trial, Joanne Quinones, refused the defense motion. While it is common for criminal cases to be resolved with a plea deal and criminal defendants who have been convicted in one case have an incentive to make a deal if they are facing charges in a second case, Govan has maintained since his arrest in 2016 that he is an innocent man. It seems unlikely that he will take a deal. The case will next be before Quinones on July 8.

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LEGAL

Challenge to US Hate Crimes Law Nixed Appeals court upholds conviction in assault on a gay co-worker, but troubling dissent BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

A

divided panel of the Richmondbased Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a constitutional challenge by James William Hill, Jr., to his conviction under the federal hate crimes law for assaulting a gay co-worker. According to Circuit Judge James A. Wynn, Jr., this was the first appellate case to take up the question whether the federal statute can be used to prosecute somebody “for an unarmed assault on a coworker engaged in commercial activity at his place of work.” In a strenuous dissent, Circuit Judge G. Steven Agee argued that applying the law in this way exceeds Congress’ legislative authority. Wynn was appointed to the Fourth Circuit by President Barack Obama, while Agee was appointed by George W. Bush. Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, who voted with Wynn, was appointed by Bill Clinton. The facts of the case are simple and stark. Curtis Tibbs was at work at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chester, Virginia, on May 22, 2015, loading items from bins into boxes, scanning them, and placing them on a conveyor belt to the shipping department. Hill, the defendant, worked as a “re-binner,” moving items from conveyor belts and placing them into bins along the wall. Surveillance video shows Hill, unprovoked, approaching Tibbs from behind and repeatedly punching him in the face. Tibbs suffered significant bruising, cuts to his face, and a bloody nose. Tibbs went to Amazon’s inhouse clinic and then to the hospital for treatment, and did not return to work during the shift. Hill was arrested and told the police that he hit Tibbs because Tibbs is gay. The police report noted that Hill said “his personal belief is he didn’t like [homosexuals]” and that Tibbs “disrespected him because he is a homosexual,” and that Hill “does not like homosexuals so he punched him.” (The court supplied the bracketed word, undoubtedly substituted for a derogatory term.) Virginia’s hate crimes law does not include sexual orientation, so the local prosecutor could not proceed on a hate crime charge, only ordinary assault and battery charges. He decided, instead, to refer this case to the US Justice Department for potential prosecution under the federal hate crimes law. A federal grand jury indicted Hill, finding, among other things, that he “interfered with commercial and other economic activity in which Tibbs was engaged at the time of the conduct, and which offense otherwise affected interstate and foreign comGayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

AMERICANBAR.ORG

Circuit Judge James A. Wynn, Jr.

merce.” This element was critical since Congress’ authority under the Constitution does not extend to ordinary criminal activity, generally the province of state law. The basis of Congress’ authority for the federal hate crimes law is some connection to interstate commerce, which Article I authorizes it to regulate. Only hate crimes that come within the sphere of the Commerce Clause by their effect on commerce between the states can be prosecuted by the feds. Had Hill shot Tibbs using a gun that had moved interstate, the required connection could easily be made. Hill defended against the charges by arguing that the federal hate crime law is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to him. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr., focused on the “as applied” challenge, and granted Hill’s motion to dismiss the indictment, concluding that an assault by Hill using only his fists — not a weapon that had moved in interstate commerce — in the packing department of an internet retailer did not have sufficient effect on interstate commerce to come within Commerce Clause jurisdiction. The Justice Department appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which reversed Gibney’s dismissal on a 2-1 vote in an unpublished opinion in August 2017, stating that the question regarding the Commerce Clause required factual findings that needed to be developed in a trial. The court sent the case back to Gibney, where a

jury convicted Hill, based on the prosecution’s argument that Hill’s assault on Tibbs “interfered with commercial or other economic activity in which the victim was engaged.” Hill filed a motion to set aside the verdict, renewing his argument that the government could not constitutionally prosecute him under the hate crimes law, and again Gibney agreed with him, setting aside the verdict. Wynn wrote that the court agreed with the Justice Department argument that by “‘interfering’ with Tibbs’ packaging and shipping of products, Defendant’s conduct ‘substantially affected interstate commerce.’” Wynn cited the Hobbs Act, which involves robberies and burglaries that affect interstate commerce. A 2016 Supreme Court ruling under the Hobbs Act in Taylor v. United States, he noted, “establishes that, pursuant to its power under the Commerce Clause, Congress may proscribe violent conduct when such conduct interferes with or otherwise affects commerce over which Congress has jurisdiction. Importantly, Congress may regulate violent conduct interfering with interstate commerce even when the conduct itself has a ‘minimal’ effect on such commerce.” Wynn also looked to Supreme Court rulings under several other federal criminal statutes and concluded “if individuals are engaged in ongoing economic or commercial activity sub-

➤ US HATE CRIMES LAW, continued on p.48

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CITY COMPTROLLER

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Honoree Bianey Garcia, a trans activist with Make the Road New York.

    

             

                                      

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Comptroller Scott Stringer.

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46

ity Comptroller Scott Stringer returned to Macyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s flagship store in Herald Square on June 25 to once again hold his annual Pride celebration there, joined by the retailerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CEO Jeff Gennette. This year, Stringer honored Bianey Garcia, a trans activist with Make the Road New York, Mickey Heller, the co-chair of Brooklyn Pride, Ken Sherrill, a political sci-

Honoree Ken Sherrill, a professor emeritus at Hunter College.

ence professor emeritus at Hunter College, and the the Trevor Project, which was represented by its CEO, Amit Paley. The annual celebration coincides with the comptrollerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s release of his comprehensive guide to LGBTQ resources across the city. The guide as well as Stringerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s letter explaining the uses to which it can be used can be found at comptroller.nyc.gov/services/for-the-public/lgbtq-guide/ overview/. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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➤ US HATE CRIMES LAW, from p.45 ject to congressional regulation — as Tibbs was at the time of the assault — then Congress also may prohibit violent crime that interferes with or affects such individuals’ ongoing economic or commercial activity, including the type of bias-motivated assaults proscribed by the Hate Crimes Act.” Hill’s argument, however, turned on clear evidence that his assault did not result in Amazon’s productivity being compromised during that shift. Though Tibbs’ workstation was closed down to clean up the bloody mess from the assault, a witness from Amazon testified that the incident did not cause the company to miss any “critical pull times” or packaging deadlines. Despite Tibbs’ absence for the balance of the shift, the witness testified, the fulfillment center met its normal performance. Wynn, however, responded, “That Amazon was able to absorb the impact of Tibbs’ absence without missing any key shipping deadlines and that the fulfillment center’s performance during the shift

impacted by Tibbs’ assault was in-line with its performance during other shifts does not call into question this determination. On the contrary, the Supreme Court and this Court repeatedly have clarified that Congress may regulate interference with commerce, even if the effect of the interference on interstate commerce in an individual case is ‘minimal.’” Judge Agee argued that the issue is not whether Tibbs was engaged in commercial activity when he was assaulted, but rather whether the bias-motivated attack here was “inherently economic activity,” which he argued it was not. By comparison, burglary and arson were, in his view, inherently economic crimes, and thus their regulation when they affected interstate commerce appropriately fell under Congress’ Commerce Clause power. He also criticized Congress’ wording in the hate crimes law, arguing that it “does not limit the class of activities being regulated to acts that fall under Congress’ Commerce Clause power,” and so exceeded its authority. In that way, Agee appeared

to support Hill’s argument that the hate crimes provision is unconstitutional on its face, not just as applied to him. Wynn explicitly rejected Agee’s argument that only “inherently economic activity” by a defendant could be regulated by Congress, citing examples from several cases. The differences between Wynn and Hill are rooted in sharp debate on the Supreme Court itself about the scope of Congress’ Commerce Clause power, which was dramatically shown by the famous decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in the 2012 National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius case. Those challenging the ACA claimed Congress did not have the power to pass a statute requiring individuals to purchase health insurance coverage. Defending the law, the Obama administration argued that both the Commerce Clause and its taxing power support its authority in this area, since the ACA imposed various financial requirements akin to taxes, administered by the Internal Rev-

enue Service. In his opinion for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by the four Republican appointees in finding that Congress did not have power to enact ACA under the Commerce Clause, but joined by the four Democratic appointees, Roberts found that its taxing power supports the ACA. Roberts’ argument on the Commerce Clause point was in line with decisions under the Rehnquist court in the 1990s that narrowing the interpretation of Commerce Clause jurisdiction, most notably striking down a federal law banning the possession of firearms close to public schools and voiding a key provision of the Violence Against Women Act. Though this is the first federal appeals court ruling on the hate crimes law in a case of a workplace assault without a weapon, the Supreme Court typically does not grant review on constitutional questions where there is no split among different circuit courts of appeals. If the high court were to take up this case, that could signal trouble for the hate crimes law’s survival.

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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MILITARY

Mixed Appeals Ruling on Trans Service Ninth Circuit says executive privilege must be weighed in discovery order to government BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

R

uling in one of the lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s new ban on transgender military service, a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has delivered neither a complete win for the government nor one for the plaintiffs. As a result, Karnoski v. Trump will go forward before District Judge Marsha J. Pechman in Seattle. However, Pechman is now bound by different legal tests than she had applied in rulings the Trump administration had appealed. Since neither side will be fully satisfied by the June 14 ruling, it is possible that one or both will seek reconsideration by a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit sitting en banc. In 2016, President Barack

DEFENSE.GOV

President Donald Trump with his first secretary of defense, James Mattis.

Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton Carter, ended the long-standing ban on transgender military service but delayed allowing trans people to enlist until July 2017. Donald Trump’s first defense secretary, James Mattis, delayed that effective date until January 1, 2018. Trump, in a series of July 2017 tweets and a follow-up August memo, announced

that trans folks would be ineligible for service. Mattis, at the president’s direction, developed a policy to carry out the Trump edict, meant to go into effect in March 2018. The plan Mattis recommended abandoned the concept of a total ban and, in complicated fashion, attempted to shift its focus from transgender status to the condi-

tion of gender dysphoria. The Mattis plan allows some trans people to serve under certain conditions, depending on whether and when they were diagnosed with gender dysphoria, whether and when they intended to transition or had transitioned, and whether they were willing to serve in their gender as identified at birth. People who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria were barred from enlisting, and currently serving transgender personnel who had not been diagnosed and had not initiated the process of transitioning by the time the Mattis policy went into effect could continue serving only if they served in their birth gender. Those who were serving and had begun transitioning before the 2018 policy went into effect could continue serving in the gender to which they had

➤ TRANS MILITARY BAN, continued on p.51

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TRANS MILITARY BAN, from p.50

transitioned. People who identify as transgender but have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and are content to serve in the gender identified at birth can enlist and serve, but must leave the service if they are subsequently diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The bottom line, which was motivation for Trumpâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s initial tweet, is that once the new policy was in place, the military would not be funding sex-reassignment surgery and people could not transition in the military. (For a look at the military branchesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; confusion or evasion about the new policy, see Matt Tracyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Trans Ban Rollout Marked By Secrecy, Chaosâ&#x20AC;? in last weekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gay City News at tinyurl.com/ y33h32ef.) Beginning in August 2017, challengers filed four lawsuits challenging the Mattis policy on constitutional grounds in Baltimore, Washington, DC, Seattle, and Riverside, California. Within months, each of the federal district judges had issued preliminary injunctions against the new policy going into effect. In issuing those injunctions, the judges had to find that the plaintiffsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; legal arguments had a fair chance of succeeding on the merits, and that the injunctions were necessary to prevent irreparable harm to the plaintiffs while not harming the public interest. Each of the four district judges refused to stay their injunctions, and the Fourth and DC Circuits upheld the district judges in Baltimore and Washington, respectively, in their denying stays. That led the government to abandon any attempt to appeal the denial of stays at the Ninth Circuit for the Seattle and Riverside cases. As a result, on January 1 of last year, the Defense Department was required to accept enlistment applications from transgender people, and the 2016 Carter policy remained in effect for transgender people actively serving. In February of last year, Mattis, based on the report of a task force he appointed, recommended an implementation policy to Trump and urged him to substitute that for the August 2017 White House memorandum. The administration has consistently resisted discovery requests on the identity of the Mattis GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

task force members or the basis on which they came to the conclusions in their report. Once the Mattis plan was substituted for the earlier Trump memorandum, the Justice Department moved to have the four injunctions lifted, arguing that the 2018 policy was sufficiently different from what the White House initially proposed to render the existing injunctions irrelevant. All four of the district judges rejected that argument and refused to dissolve their injunctions. Crucially, however, the government ultimately persuaded the Supreme Court earlier this year to stay the injunctions and allow the policy to go into effect early in April. Although the 2018 policy has been in effect for over two months, there have not been reports about discharges of serving transgender personnel â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and Tracyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s article from last week suggests a chaotic situation within the service branches on the policy. Despite the lifting of the injunctions, the four lawsuits are proceeding, and the parties are litigating over the plaintiffsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; attempts at discovery. The government has fought discovery requests doggedly, arguing that the internal workings of its military policy-making should not be subject to disclosure, referring to but not formally invoking concepts of decisional privilege and executive privilege, which courts have recognized to a varying degree in prior cases challenging government policies. In the Karnoski case in Seattle, Judge Pechman was highly skeptical about the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arguments, having questioned whether the policies were motivated by politics rather than professional military judgment, and she issued an order for the government to comply with a large portion of the discovery requests. The government appealed her discovery orders to the Ninth Circuit, together with Pechmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s refusal to rethink her preliminary injunction in light of the Mattis policy replacing the original Trump memorandum. The Ninth Circuit panel agreed with the DC Circuit, which earlier this year concluded that the DC District Court was wrong to conclude the Mattis policy was just a slightly modified version of the

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➤ TRANS MILITARY BAN, from p.51 original Trump policy. Both appellate courts held that the 2018 policy recommended by Mattis was no longer the total ban announced in 2017, so the district courts should evaluate the policy now in effect. The court, however, rejected the government’s argument that shifting the grounds for exclusion from “transgender status” to “gender dysphoria” eliminated the equal protection issue, finding from the wording of the task force report and Mattis’ written summary that the policy now in effect continues to target transgender people, regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, in the conditions it places on their service. This was a “win” for the plaintiffs on an important contested point. Pechman had concluded that gender identity is a “suspect classification,” so for purposes of evaluating the constitutionality of the policy under an equal protection challenge, it should be presumed unconstitutional with a heavy burden put on the government to prove a compelling need for it.

The Ninth Circuit panel decided there was not sufficient precedent to support that approach, but did agree with the position taken by the district judges in the other three cases that the policy should be subjected to “heightened scrutiny” — a less demanding level of judicial review than is warranted for a “suspect classification,” but similar to the approach courts take in sex discrimination cases. The key caveat the panel made here was consideration of the degree to which the policy merits the deference traditionally accorded military decision-making. Pechman had concluded that Trump’s original policy did not merit judicial deference since there was no evidence it was the product of professional military judgment. Like the other district judges, she viewed the original policy as the product of a surprise tweet, for which the government failed to provide any information about its formulation. The government has now described, at least in a general way, the Ninth Circuit panel found, how Mattis’ task force was put together,

and its policy product — a 44-page report — was allegedly the result of serious study, many meetings, and interviews with military personnel. If one accepts the government’s description of that process, the court said, an argument can be made that the Mattis policy should be accorded judicial deference. Whether to do so, however, and how to align that analysis with the heightened scrutiny standard were questions to be addressed by the district court, the panel found. Pechman must now determine whether the 2018 policy is sufficiently a product of military judgment to justify applying a deferential standard of review. Some degree of cooperation by the government in the discovery process will be necessary for her to carry out such an analysis. The Ninth Circuit panel, however, cautioned Pechman to give appropriate weight to decisional and executive privilege in formulating any discovery order. The bottom line is that the Karnoski case goes back to Pechman for a fresh analysis of whether the plaintiffs are entitled to a preliminary injunction against the Mattis

policy, using heightened scrutiny but also taking account of the administration’s privilege claims. This opinion also sends a message to the district court in Riverside, which is also under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction. Discovery battles, meanwhile, continue in the Baltimore and Washington cases. Given the Trump administration’s stiffening resistance to any demands for disclosure of internal Executive Branch decision-making, it is difficult to predict when there will be sufficient discovery to provide a basis for further rulings in the four pending court challenges. The litigation will not be finally resolved before Inauguration Day in January 2021 unless the Trump administration shows some cooperation in this discovery matter. Should a Democrat win next year, an executive order restoring the 2016 policy could put an end to the entire transgender military service drama and restore sanity to an issue clouded by politics and substantial misinformation, such as Trump’s recent grossly-exaggerated statements about the cost of health care for transgender personnel.

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53


LGBTQ FAMILIES

Key NYS Co-Parent Precedent at Risk Disappointed gay dad asks US Supreme Court to nix ex-partner’s custody BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

A

2016 ruling from New York’s highest court that overruled a 25-yearold precedent barring a same-sex co-parent without legal or biological ties to a couple’s child from seeking custody or visitation rights could be in jeopardy as the result of a gay biological father’s appeal to the US Supreme Court. The New York Court of Appeals, three years ago, in Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., ruled that when there is clear and convincing evidence that a same-sex couple agreed to have a child and raise the child together — where only one of them would be the biological parent — and both parties performed parental duties and bonded with the child, the co-parent would have the same rights as the biological parent in any later custody dispute. Now, a gay biological dad who lost custody of his twin children to his former gay partner as a result of the Brooke S.B. precedent has asked the nation’s high court to rule that his 14th Amendment Due Process rights were violated.

BEN P L / VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Attorney Gene C. Schaerr at a 2018 panel entitled “Media Stream: Religious Freedom 101 for Journalists Part 2: Where Are We Headed.”

Frank G. and Joseph P. made a joint decision to have a child, and Joseph’s sister, Renee, became pregnant through assisted reproductive

technology using Frank’s sperm. The three entered into a written agreement under which Renee would surrender parental rights but would be involved with the child as their aunt. After the twins were born, both men participated in parenting them, but they were not monogamous and arguments resulting from that led to Joseph moving out. He continued to have regular contact with the children until Frank suddenly cut that off after an argument. In December 2014, Frank moved with the twins to Florida without notifying Joseph or Renee. When they found out, Joseph filed a guardianship petition. While the men were together, Joseph sought to adopt the twins under New York’s second-parent adoption rules, and he remembered completing paperwork that Frank was supposed to complete and submit. That never happened. Meanwhile, with litigation in lower courts bubbling up that would in time lead to the 2016 Brooke S.B. ruling, both Joseph and Renee, with standing as the biological mother who had

➤ CO-PARENT RIGHTS, continued on p.55

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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


CO-PARENT RIGHTS, from p.54

remained in contact with the twins, filed custody petitions. Frank tried to quash the custody lawsuit, but a trial court found that both Joseph and Renee had standing to seek custody and ordered visitation rights for them while the case was proceeding. As Frank was appealing that ruling, the Brooke S.B. decision came down, and the state’s Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s decision about Joseph’s standing to seek custody. After lengthy proceedings, the trial court awarded custody to Joseph, with visitation rights for Frank. Frank lost his appeal at the Appellate Division, and the New York Court of Appeals declined to review that decision. Frank is represented in his Supreme Court petition by Gene C. Schaerr of the Schaerr/ Jaffe law firm in Washington. Schaerr, a Federalist Society stalwart and a Mormon from Utah, was prominent in the marriage equality battle, representing the State of Utah in defending its ban on same-sex marriage in federal court. He also submitted an amicus brief in the Obergefell v. Hodges case on behalf of conservative legal scholars who argued that allowing samesex marriage would be harmful to the institution of marriage. In other words, Schaerr is an anti-LGBTQ legal activist, and his slanting of the facts in the petition he composed for Frank as compared to the detailed fact findings in the trial court’s decision is striking. Family law is primarily a matter of state law, but the Supreme Court occasionally gets involved when disputes raise constitutional issues. Since early in the 20th century, the Supreme Court has ruled that a child’s legal parent has constitutional rights, derived from the Due Process Clause, relating to custody and other issues. Frank’s petition argues that the New York Court of Appeals decision and those of other states that recognize the parental status of unmarried same-sex partners of biological parents in custody disputes improperly abridge the Due Process rights of those biological parents. Not all states have adopted the approach taken in Brooke S.B. by the New York courts, but this does not necessarily create the kind of patchwork regarding federal rights that the US Supreme Court might focus on. And the high court has not invariably ruled in favor of biological parents on the rare occasion when it has agreed to consider custody disputes. For example, in one notable case, it upheld a California law creating an irrebuttable presumption that a man who was married to a birth mother is the father of the resulting child, even when it is obvious, and nobody disputes, that another man was in fact the biological father. The real father in that case was denied standing to seek custody of his child.

➤ CO-PARENT RIGHTS, continued on p.56 GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

55


HEALTH

Judge Slams Shut NJ Conversion Therapy Scam Court finds new group the “alter ego” of one ordered closed in 2015 BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

I

n a scathing June 10 opinion, a New Jersey judge ordered the immediate dissolution of a so-called conversion therapy organization that he found was an “alter ego” of a group convicted in his courtroom four years ago for violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act. Judge Peter F. Bariso, Jr., in Hudson County Superior Court, found that the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA) had picked up where Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) — shut down in a settlement agreement following the 2015 jury verdict under the Consumer Fraud Act — left off. That settlement agreement permanently barred Arthur Goldberg, Elaine Berk, and others running JONAH from engaging in therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian people or transgender people’s gender identity. The 2015 jury verdict followed a lengthy trial in which JONAH clients testified about the absurd and extreme treatments to which they were exposed. Many of the clients were young people pushed into JONAH’s hands by religiously observant parents in a desperate attempt to “turn them straight.” The jury verdict concluded that JONAH was engaged in consumer fraud, misrepresenting its ability to change a person’s sexual orientation. After that verdict, Bariso approved a settlement between JONAH’s operators and the plaintiffs, under which JONAH would go out of business and pay substantial damages to the defrauded plaintiffs. Goldberg, Berk, and the other defendants were “permanently en-

➤ CO-PARENT RIGHTS, from p.55 Still, most Supreme Court rulings on disputed custody issues have placed substantial weight on the rights of the biological parent, including a presumption that the

56

JIFGA.ORG

The website for the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness was still live as of June 23 despite a judge’s order two weeks earlier that this alter ego of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) be shut down immediately.

joined from engaging, whether directly or through referrals, in any therapy, counseling, treatment, or activity that has the goal of changing, affecting or influencing sexual orientation, ‘same sex attraction,’ or ‘gender wholeness,’ or any other equivalent term, whether referred to as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” “gender affirmation process” or any other equivalent term (“Conversion Therapy”).” The settlement agreement precluded any appeal by the defendants while the plaintiffs agreed to a lower level of damages than the court would otherwise have awarded. In March 2018, however, the plaintiffs presented evidence that convinced Bariso that Goldberg was “blatantly” flouting the settlement agreement and violating the injunction by starting a new organization, JIFGA, to continue JONAH’s work. The ink was barely dry on the settlement’s signatures before Goldberg resumed making referrals to conversion therapy practitioners for people who called for assistance, and he did not pay the agreed-upon damages in full to the plaintiffs. Goldberg claimed he understood that the injunction only pertained to clients and therapists in New Jersey, and that he was re-

ceiving calls from out of state and referring the callers to therapists who practiced outside the state. Bariso rejected this crabbed reading of the injunction, finding there were no geographical “loopholes.” The judge referred to evidence showing Goldberg had actually acknowledged in writing the possibility that his referrals were illegal. Bariso’s opinion documents Goldberg’s ambitions to take his conversion therapy promotion “global,” as indicated by the name of his new organization. Last year, in an email to the leader of a conversion therapy group in Brazil, Goldberg wrote that “after the demise of JONAH, I created the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness,” and he offered to help the South American effort, according to the judge, who added that Goldberg urged the creation of similar programs in Europe after returning from a conference on conversion therapy in Slovakia. Bariso wrote that various Goldberg communications that surfaced through the plaintiffs’ discovery by the plaintiffs “highlight the lies in Goldberg’s statement to this court that JIFGA has not worked ‘to promote commerce in conversion therapy.’” In concluding that the second group was the “alter ego” of

the original organization, Bariso wrote, “JONAH and JIFGA have the same co-founders and co-directors (Goldberg and Berk), occupy the same office, and are reachable at the same phone number and email addresses.” Bariso concluded that defendants had committed fraud on the court, “constituting criminal contempt of this court and its orders.” JIFGA, Bariso ruled, would be made subject to the existing injunction against JONAH, and he ordered Goldberg and Berk to make pay the plaintiffs the full damages the court would have imposed prior to the settlement agreement, as well the legal expenses they incurred in coming back to court last year. Bariso declined to hold the individual defendants in criminal contempt, finding that their inability to incorporate any new tax-exempt entity in New Jersey and their obligation to pay the full damages will “serve the dual purpose of contempt hearings: to deter and to punish.” Based on his past conduct, it seems likely that Goldberg will try to devise new ways to defy the court’s orders without getting caught, so Bariso’s conclusion here may be unduly optimistic, even surprisingly naïve.

biological parent will make decisions in the best interest of the child. In his petition, Frank claims that the New York courts violate the 14th Amendment by not making that presumption in his case. Neither Joseph nor Renee filed

a brief in response to Frank’s petition as of the June 14 deadline they faced. Meanwhile, four conservative organizations filed motions asking the court to accept amicus briefs in support of Frank’s petition. Joseph has not consented

to have those briefs filed, so it is up to the court whether they can be. If the Supreme Court decides to take this case, it is possible that the Brooke S.B. precedent, which LGBTQ rights litigators struggled for many years to obtain, may fall. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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ubbs Weinblatt, a trans, genderqueer, queer, and gay creative talent has been a pioneer in bringing fresh perspectives to the improv world. They bring their talent and expertise to Gay City News in our new podcast, “Thank You For Coming Out.” As queer people, we are constantly coming out, and each coming out story is unique in its blend of humor, heartache, worry, and wonder. The podcast, inspired by Dubbs’ beloved live comedy show of the same name, will pair them as host with lesbian, gay, trans, bi, non-binary, and more members of the queer community to discuss their coming out stories.

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In the debut episode, available at podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/thank-you-for-coming-out/ id1469585249, actress Lauren Patten (@pattenlauren), star of “Fun Home” and the upcoming Alanis Morrisette musical “Jagged Little Pill,” joins Dubbs for a discussion of how her work on stage influenced her identity. It’s our inaugural journey into the wild and wonderful stories of LGBTQ people sharing their always vulnerable and often hilarious stories of coming out. Gay City News is proud and excited about this new venture, and listeners can visit our website, iTunes, and other podcast platforms each Thursday to catch Dubbs and friends. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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61


HUMAN RIGHTS

Layleen Cubilette-Polanco’s Family to File Lawsuit Advocates intensify calls for transparency in the city’s jails BY MATT TRACY

T

he family of Layleen Xtravaganza CubilettePolanco, a trans woman who died under mysterious circumstances at Rikers Island on June 7, announced at a June 26 rally that they are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit in response to her death. The afternoon rally at the steps of City Hall marked the start of a whirlwind day that featured an emotional call for action and the glaring absence of councilmembers who backed out of attending the event over the inclusion of the advocacy group No New Jails NYC, a local coalition that opposes the jail expansion. The day ended with the City Council ultimately approving a package of bills to address issues facing transgender and gender nonconforming people in city

MAT T TRACY

Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco’s sister, Melania Brown, said she is filled with anger because the government has refused to release details of her sibling’s death.

custody, even as some anti-LGBTQ lawmakers refused to support to the measures. The main takeaway from the day,

however, came when attorney David Shanies, representing the family of Cubilette-Polanco, stood alongside advocates and Cubilette-Polanco’s

family members and declared that his team will no longer wait for government officials who have dragged their feet for weeks. “We intend to file a federal civil rights lawsuit and we’re going to get the answers ourselves,” Shanies said. Department of Correction (DOC) officials told Gay City News following Cubilette-Polanco’s death that an officer was patrolling the housing area at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island at around 2:40 p.m. when he found the 27-year-old unresponsive in her cell. CubilettePolanco, who had a history of medical conditions, was being held in “restrictive housing,” which is similar to solitary confinement. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has yet to provide an explanation for her death.

➤ JAIL REFORM, continued on p.63

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➤ JAIL REFORM, from p.62 Others at the rally echoed the calls for answers, including Cubilette-Polanco’s sister, Melania Brown, who said she has been unable to mourn because silence from the government has left her filled with anger. “We have no answers,” Brown said. “They haven’t answered anything. We don’t know anything. I don’t know what happened to my sister.” “She was left like she was road kill,” Brown added. Shanies told Gay City News that the mayor’s office and other city officials told the family in the days following Cubilette-Polanco’s death that they were “very concerned” and wanted to give the family as much information as they could. “Not long after that, they told us that they’d be giving us no information,” he said. Manhattan Assemblymember Dan Quart, who was the only lawmaker present at the rally, acknowledged that multiple levels of government — including the State Legislature — have failed to take necessary action to protect trans folks like Polanco. “We are here to continue the process for justice, to demand answers, but never to give up on finding out what happened on Rikers Island [19] days ago,” Quart said. Dozens of advocacy groups, including those at the rally, signed onto a letter led by the Anti-Violence Project and addressed to Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo calling for accountability at the city and state level. They are demanding an expedited autopsy of CubilettePolanco and the passage of laws alleviating solitary confinement, among a handful of other requests. Eighteen councilmembers from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus and Women’s Caucus also signed onto a separate letter with similar requests on June 26. Some of those lawmakers were slated to attend the rally, but the appearance of representatives from No New Jails prompted city lawmakers who take issue with that organization’s goals to back out. No city lawmakers attended. Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of Manhattan told Gay City News that she had a personal matter that prevented her from attending, but GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

VILLAGE

25

also cited the presence of No New Jails as a second reason why she did not show up. “I feel uncomfortable about that from a practical standpoint,” Rosenthal explained in a phone interview. “While I stand firmly with everyone in the rally for humane treatment of everyone, including the transgender and gender nonconforming community, I feel uncomfortable calling for the end of demarcating everyone, which was part of the rally,” she said. Hours after the rally was complete, city lawmakers voted in favor of a package of bills focused on improving the treatment of TGNC individuals in city custody. Rosenthal led one of those bills establishing a task force on issues facing TGNC people in custody. That task force will consist of a cross section of representatives, including those from the Commission on Human Rights, the DOC, and current and former incarcerated trans folks. The other bills that passed at the same time included one requiring facilities housing TGNC people to provide mental health treatment, while another similarly requires those same facilities to provide access to comprehensive substance abuse treatment. A fourth bill requires the DOC to report on housing decisions of TGNC individuals. Councilmembers Mark Levine of Manhattan and Paul Vallone of Queens, out gay Councilmember Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, and anti-LGBTQ Councilmember Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx were absent from those votes. Homophobic City Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., of the Bronx was listed as “nonvoting,” while Brooklyn Councilmember Kalman Yeger abstained. Meanwhile, an important bill to create a comprehensive and independent appeals process — a piece of legislation was a point of contention at a May hearing — was not a part of the package of bills that passed. At that may hearing, the DOC showed resistance to the legislative package when the agency’s officials explicitly voiced opposition the bill creating the task force while refusing to endorse the others. It is not immediately clear whether the bill establishing the independent appeals process will come to a vote.

ALLIANCE

YEARS COMMUNITY AND COMMERCE

STRONGER TOGETHER

SALUTING WORLDPRIDE 2019 www.greenwichvillage.nyc @GrnVillageNYC GreenwichVillageNY @GreenwichVillageNYC 63


HUMAN RIGHTS

Fighting for Lesbian Safety in South Africa Women’s support group near Cape Town counters “corrective rape,” other hate crimes BY KELSY CHAUVIN

I

n 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalize samesex marriage. So the country must be naturally progressive about LGBTQ equality, right? The reality is that homophobia, brutal hate crimes, “corrective rape,” and other anti-LGBTQ violence persist, with profoundly heartbreaking effects. And it makes the fight for basic safety in the queer community risky and incredibly difficult. But over the past decade, one organization has risen to the challenge. Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project (luleki-sizwe.com) is a nonprofit devoted to delivering help and support to lesbians who are victims of homophobic attacks and rape across 10 South African township communities. Based in the Cape Town area of Symphony Village, Luleki Sizwe was founded in 2008 by chief executive director Nondumiso “Ndumie” Funda. A native of Gugulethu Township near Cape Town, Funda learned about injustice early on. “I was raised in a strict Seventhday Adventist family, in a society where a woman was expected to know her place,” said Funda, 40. “Every aspect of life was handled by men. Women couldn’t be outspoken. We were not equal. But I knew from a young age that I was a feminist and lesbian — two things that I could never change.” Yet Funda managed to overcome obstacles of injustice and oppression, and she emerged from her township as a powerful force for good. To meet her is to feel her power. She conveys focus over sentimentality, and recounts cold facts and tragic stories so plainly that it’s clear just how commonplace they are in her community. As with the greatest leaders, Funda seems to derive strength from hardships. “The pain and struggle of those less fortunate than me inspire me to help,” she said. “That has circulated in my blood vessels since

64

KELSY CHAUVIN

Ndumie Funda, founder of Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project.

KELSY CHAUVIN

A Capetown area township.

I was a child growing up in dusty Gugulethu and participating in the anti-apartheid movement.” But personal tragedy also inspired Funda to found Luleki Sizwe, and the organization’s name carries the message. “The first part of our name comes from Luleka Makiwane, who was a lesbian activist,” Funda said about her friend. “She lived openly and had no shame about her sexual-

ity. She was a strong and powerful woman, and even though she fought for LGBTI rights she connected strongly to the struggle of the poor in general. This did not protect her, though.” Funda explained that Makiwane was raped by her own cousin “to prove that she was a woman not a man.” She acquired HIV and AIDS from the assault, and openly spoke about her experience to help

bring awareness about sexuality and sexual abuse until she died in 2005. The second part of the organization’s name comes from Nosizwe Nomsa Bizana, a lesbian who was engaged to marry Funda. Because of her sexuality, Bizana was raped at gunpoint by five men, which infected her too with HIV. “Unfortunately, the trauma of the rape silenced her in the beginning,” said Funda. “But before she passed away, she disclosed her HIV status to the broader community and shared her story for educational campaigns about the disease… As a result of the vicious rape, she succumbed to cryptococcal meningitis due to AIDS, and died in 2007.” Funda explained that Luleki Sizwe’s name, then, is much more than a tribute: “In African culture names are not just names, they have meaning. A name connects the child to the family and community. Because of this connectedness, the child‘s duty is to live in harmony with her name.” Luleki Sizwe’s namesake heroes are but two of the black lesbians who have suffered and continue to do so because of their sexuality. The case of Eudy Simelane is more famous. Simelane was a member of the South Africa women’s national football (soccer) team and an out lesbian and LGBTQ-rights activist. In her home township of KwaThema (in Gauteng, near Johannesburg), Simelane was gang raped, beaten, and stabbed 25 times in what the South African Human Rights Commission deemed a hate crime murder due to her sexual orientation. A political philosopher once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” Funda embodies an antidote to evil by boldly facing adversity. Through her daily efforts, she carries out Luleki Sizwe’s multi-faceted mission with a small team who together work to educate, promote change, and provide

➤ SOUTH AFRICAN LESBIANS, continued on p.68 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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65


➤ BRONX PRIDE, from p.20 is not only bringing people in the borough together but it’s helping them find ways to organize within their community,” said Stonewall’s president, Rod Townsend. “We’re trying to help by showing them pathways in the community that exist and also help to make sure everybody has their voter registration up to date.” Performers of all ages expressed themselves on stage and drew wide applause from onlookers draped with Rainbow Flags and colorful attire. Performers included Honey Davenport of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” actor and model Chavis Aron, R&B/ pop artist Deborah Cox, La Insuperable, DJ Nesto, the House of Mugler, Nico Gonzalez, Kris Rox Republic, and others. Sayief Leshaw, who works as a program manager with Stonewall Community Development Corporation, was walking around the festival after tabling throughout the day when he explained why he enjoys attending Pride celebrations. “Visibility is important for the community, so I try to make it to

MAT T TRACY

The crowd cheers on Kris Rox Republic on stage as the sun begins to set in the South Bronx.

as many events as I can,” Leshaw said. He also voiced his take on WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, saying that it has been great to see “the acknowledgement internationally of where this contemporary LGBT civil rights movement started.” He added, “It’s been also really nice to see the recognition given to the trans women of color who have

played such a big role in this movement.” Another attendee, Michael, who opted not to share his last name, said it was his second time attending Bronx Pride and he has noticed it grow over the years. “I’m very happy that we’re having this celebration in the Boogie Down,” he said. “There are still so many things happening around

the world, but the fact that we can still come together in the Bronx and the five boroughs to support LGBTQ people is so important.” In perhaps a sign of the borough’s historically conservative nature — a borough still represented by some homophobic lawmakers who also hold leadership roles in conservative churches — the size of Bronx Pride was noticeably smaller in comparison to the much larger Queens and Brooklyn Pride events produced annually in nearby borough. The Bronx, of course, has a much smaller population than either Queens or Brooklyn, but Councilmember Torres, in a May interview with Gay City News, drilled down on the point that the borough is “widely seen as the most conservative” in the city. Still, the growing crowd, the introduction of two rainbow crosswalks on 149th Street, and the positive vibes of people in attendance all were good signs for the future — and an indication that queer people in the Bronx are as comfortable as they’ve ever been in expressing themselves openly and proudly.

Cele Celebrate WorldPride with a rainbow cookie and many other treats at TTurnStyle, New York City’s Underground City Market in the Subway Mar at 558th and 8th Avenue. Ave

66

June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ PUERTO RICO, from p.22 panadillas with fillings like octopus and conch. Tresbé owner and local celebrity chef Mario Ormaza shares the terrace restaurant with a craft-cocktail and juice bar as well as fresh Japanese eatery Dospalillos. Ormaza has also built a strong following at his bistro Sabrina and his Caribbean-traditional Azucena Fonda, each across the street from Tresbé. Local historian and Spoon guide Pablo Garcia Smith is the Loíza food tour’s enthusiastic champion. He said Santurce’s booming culinary scene began around 2012, leading to at least 25 new restaurants opening in the compact neighborhood in the past few years. Thankfully, longtime treasured haunts like pocket-sized bar Nancy’s Place and Murphy’s Law Irish Pub are still going strong. Condado, too, is seeing a surge of new and rebuilt businesses in recent years. In 2017, the new AC Hotel by Marriott (achotels.marriott. com/hotels/ac-hotel-san-juan-condado) opened in a newly converted beachside tower, featuring a rooftop pool and lounge, plus the speakeasy-style Spanish restaurant La Bodeguita de Manolo. In central Condado, just steps from Oasis Lounge, the Marriott San Juan Resort & Casino (marriott.com/hotels/travel/sjupr-sanjuan-marriott-resort-and-stellaris-casino) will soon wrap a $30-million renovation of its 556

GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

KELSY CHAUVIN

Colorful wall murals dot the Santurce neighborhood.

KELSY CHAUVIN

A view of San Juan’s Condado, which played host to a weekend of Pride activities in early June.

rooms and suites, nearly all with private balconies. The hotel has a prime spot on the beach and a sprawling pool area, plus live salsa music Thursday through Sunday at its Red Coral Lounge as well as the refined oceanside restaurant Gingambo. Tourists often consider Old San Juan the place to soak up original Puerto Rico. And while the area remains a landmark district full of Instagram-worthy architecture, it too has been reenergized in recent years. Among the highlights are the irresistibly inventive ice pops of Señor Paleta, and the craft cocktails of La Factoría, which have earned it world’s-best-bar accolades far and wide (as does its Santurce tiki-style offshoot, Jungle Bird). Meanwhile, restaurants like Bluefin Scratch Kitchen, serving Puerto Rican– Asian fusion dishes, are redefining the ways local ingredients are interpreted for traditional cuisine. There’s an unstoppable force that fuels Puerto Rico. It could be the soul-restoring Caribbean sun or the inspiring food that’s being cultivated island-wide. Or, more likely, it’s the natural enchantment that earned the island’s nickname and the pride of place that makes anyone who arrives in Puerto Rico feel wonderfully at home. Kelsy Chauvin is a writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, specializing in travel, culture and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kelsycc.

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➤ SOUTH AFRICAN LESBIANS, from p.64 safe spaces and support networks for black lesbians in urban and rural townships. Sharing a safe house and medical care is at the core of Luleki Sizwe’s operation. Evictions from their homes commonly lead young lesbians to drop out of school and suffer alcohol abuse as well as endure dire situations of sex work to afford basic survival. The group also works to pursue legal justice for victims, because, as Funda explained, “In South Africa, if you’re not following your case [through the police and courts], the justice system becomes silent.” For women who have been banished from their communities because of their sexuality or HIV/ AIDS status, Funda’s team offers a home and friends. Important social elements include all-ages arts programs and soccer and rugby teams, which build relationships and help with mentoring, self-esteem, and a welcome dose of fun. “We have good people with good hearts to help us,” Funda said. In its broader mission, the orga-

KELSY CHAUVIN

Two women stand outside the Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project safe house in Cape Town’s Symphony Village.

nization works to shift many Africans’ deep, negative cultural perceptions about queer women and to raise awareness about the epidemic of “corrective rape” and other hate crimes. These efforts span political advocacy and church lobbying. And at the safe house, the team works to cultivate strong and confident leaders who can mentor other young lesbians. The organization has earned

awards and accolades from local and international institutions. But to survive, it still depends on donations. From money and clothing, to food or household goods, to personal or medical care items, “There is nothing that is not useful,” Funda said. She noted that the most urgent need is $400 monthly rent for the shelter through August 2019 — after which Luleki Sizwe will either

need to buy the house for $35,000 or find a new shelter. Another urgent need is a mobile phone contract that includes data for website management and email. Funda of course welcomes donations — but the group has long encountered problems collecting international non-profit funds through its PayPal account. So, at present, the alternate donation method is via direct bank transfer, which this writer successfully did online in just a few minutes. The organization’s business transaction account details are: Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project; Standard Bank South Africa, Cape Town; account number 071362940; branch code 024909; SWIFT code SBZAZAJJ. The Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project can be contacted at 071-171-9654 and info@luleki-sizwe.com. These details are also listed at luleki-sizwe. com/donate. Kelsy Chauvin is a writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, specializing in travel, culture, and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kelsycc.

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before the tragic shooting. Solomon had just gone to sleep when his husband left to walk the dog at around 2 a.m., and received a phone call about the shooting and frantically rushed to the scene. He arrived after McKayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body had been taken away in an ambulance â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and cops initially did not seem to believe him when he said he was the victimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s husband. Solomon spent hours at the hospital waiting for an opportunity to see McKayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body, but was barred from doing so because authorities were investigating the death. Bautista is described as being 5â&#x20AC;&#x2122;8â&#x20AC;? and 170 pounds with braided hair. He was last seen donning a red hooded sweater, a blue jacket, gray sweatpants, and black and white sneakers. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the NYPDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Crime Stoppers line at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). To call in Spanish, dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Folks can also submit tips online by visiting www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or via Twitter @NYPDTips. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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➤ HISTORY MATTERS, from p.4 with the fact that Johnson’s birthday was actually in August. The important evidence, however, came from Marsha P. Johnson herself. When Johnson spoke to Eric Marcus for his 1992 oral history book, “Making Gay History,” she said that at the time of the Uprising Sylvia was uptown in a park. “The way I winded up being at Stonewall that night, I was having a party uptown,” Johnson told Marcus. “And we were all out there and Miss Sylvia Rivera and them were over in the park having a cocktail. I was uptown and I didn’t get downtown until about two o’clock.” There are several other statements Johnson made to highly credible witnesses — namely, Randy Wicker, Bob Kohler, and Doric Wilson, all with deep and enduring ties to the LGBTQ rights movement — about Rivera not having been at the Uprising. In notes from a 1998 interview with Kohler, I wrote, “After we’d been talking a while [Kohler] looked at me and said that Sylvia Rivera was not at the riots and arrived downtown on the scene only two weeks later. He explained later in the conversation that Sylvia always hung out in Bryant Park uptown. He told me that Marsha would sometimes correct Sylvia on this, saying ‘Sylvia, you know you weren’t there.’” Significantly, even though Kohler told me Rivera was not at the Uprising, he made it clear he hoped I would portray her in my book as having been there. Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt told me that he and Kohler had discussed why he would say Rivera was there even though he knew that she was not. Lanigan-Schmidt said that Kohler told him he felt it was important so that young Puerto Rican transgender people on the street would have a role model. Kohler, in fact, recounted a discussion he had with Rivera when he agreed to back up her claims — at least to a limited extent. His recollection went like this: Rivera: Bob, will you back me on my having thrown the first Molotov cocktail? Kohler: Sylvia, you didn’t throw a Molotov cocktail! Rivera: Will you back me on my

72

GAY POWER

Sylvia Rivera (right) collecting signatures for a Gay Activsts Alliance petition in 1970, in a story in Gay Power by Arthur Bell, who told Rivera his interview with her would make her a star.

having thrown the first brick? Kohler: Sylvia, you didn’t throw a brick. Rivera: Will you back me on my having thrown the first bottle? Kohler: I will back you on having thrown a bottle. Randy Wicker confirmed to me what Kohler said he had heard from Johnson. My notes on a 1998 conversation with Wicker reads, “He told me about Sylvia not being at Stonewall... Randy remembered Marsha P. Johnson telling him that Sylvia was not at Stonewall at the beginning of the night but later, as she was asleep after taking heroin uptown.” Doric Wilson, the theater legend and gay rights activist, told me of a conversation he witnessed shortly after Rivera had forced her way onto the rally stage during Pride in 1973. After famously haranguing the crowd, Rivera exited the stage and was going on about having been at Stonewall, when Marsha looked at Sylvia and said, “You know you weren’t there.” Wilson said that Rivera just became quiet at that point. The credibility of Rivera’s claim to have been at Stonewall was also called into question by the inconsistencies in her own accounts. In

one interview, she said the night of the Uprising was the first time she had ever gone to Stonewall, while on another occasion she said she had been there before. One of her accounts had her wearing female attire the night of the Uprising, while in another interview she said she wore male clothing. But it’s in Rivera’s explanation of why she became so violent at the Uprising that we find perhaps the most telling inconsistency. She told David Isay, “I had already done the Viet Nam, the civil rights, the women’s movement… fighting for everyone else, and here’s your chance… When the first bottle went by, it was, ‘Me, oh Lord Jesus, the revolution is here, hallelujah.” Rivera offered Marcus much the same account, saying, “Before gay rights, before the Stonewall, I was involved in the Black Liberation movement, the peace movement… My revolutionary blood was going back then.” But before she became famous as someone believed to have been on the front lines of the Uprising, Rivera offered a very different perspective on her activism. In a 1970 issue of the newspaper Gay Power, Arthur Bell profiled Rivera after she had been arrested on 42nd Street

for circulating a Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) petition. As Rivera told Bell her life’s story, she never mentions Stonewall nor any activism before 1970. Rather the story is of a sad life, made even sadder when in early 1970 her lover leaves her, sending Rivera to “the bottom of the hill.” Then, Rivera said, she learned of GAA’s existence, went to their meetings, and “liked what he [sic] heard. GAA became the big thing in his [sic] life… filling a void… giving Ray [sic] a reason for being.” Decades later, Rivera would tell interviewers about sitting around with other gay and trans people dreaming about a day when they could be free and that Stonewall was that long-dreamed of day of liberation. But in a written note from Rivera at the conclusion of Bell’s 1970 article, she wrote, “Well, girls, many of us were waiting for a group like GAA. I knew many of us when we used to talk about the day we could get together with other Gays and be heard and ask for our freedom and our rights. Well, sisters, the time and days are here and Gay Activists Alliance is here to stay.” The evidence, when looked at as a whole, suggests that Rivera was not at the Uprising but became involved with GAA in early 1970, as the beginning of a long career of activism. Over time, as she came to appreciate how celebrated an event Stonewall was and how much credit her friend Marsha P. Johnson received for setting everything off, Rivera began to say that she too had been there, tying her account to the already existing narrative about Johnson, who had woken her up on the first night of the Uprising to tell her about it. Rivera’s activism after Stonewall on behalf of transgender people and homeless youth deserves the community’s respect, but on the question of Stonewall, I share the view of historian Martin Duberman, who told me he found her “wildly unreliable.” Stormé DeLarverie: During my years of research, I worked hard to determine the reliability of the story of a lesbian fighting with cops on the sidewalk as the tipping point for the Uprising — and

➤ HISTORY MATTERS, continued on p.74 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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➤ HISTORY MATTERS, from p.72 concluded it was true. The people who described the incident to me all gave matching descriptions of her appearance. The established facts are these: a lesbian in male clothing who was being taken in handcuffs from the Stonewall club to a patrol car fought the police as they handled her roughly. After she was placed in the patrol car, she escaped and was caught again and put back in the patrol car. She escaped a second time, and either she or another lesbian shouted, “Why don’t you guys do something?,” before the police heaved her back into the car. At that point, the crowed exploded with anger, throwing objects at the cops. The witnesses I spoke to all described her as being tall, “beefy,” with a “bigger, huskier build,” in her 20s or 30s, and Caucasian. Like Rivera, DeLarverie was inconsistent in her accounts of the Uprising’s first night. In June 1997, she stated she was outside the bar, being “quiet, I didn’t say a word to anybody, I was just trying to see what was happening,” when a policeman, without provocation, hit her in the eye. Later, at a panel discussion, she said that a policeman attacked her without warning from behind and that she then hit him, breaking his jaw so that it had to be wired. The established facts of the lesbian who resisted arrest, however, have the altercation between her and the police beginning inside the club, where her hands were cuffed. There is no record of her having injured a police officer. But DeLarverie — who had an AfricanAmerican mother and a white father, was of average height and build, and was 48 in 1969 — has her fight with the police beginning on the sidewalk when she was not cuffed. The only recorded head injury to a police officer that first night was an eye injury to Gil Weissman. My research concluded that DeLarverie could not have been the lesbian whose resistance to the cops helped set off the Uprising. The Crowd at Stonewall that First Night: In interviews with people present the first night of the Uprising or who were otherwise

74

regular patrons of the Stonewall at the time, descriptions of the crowd were quite consistent. The club rarely had women customers — maybe one or two a night — and similarly did not pull a regular transgender clientele. The typical customers were young white males, though Stonewall drew some black and Latinx visitors as well, plus some men over 30. Once the Uprising began, the crowd on the street outside the Stonewall pulled in many more passersby than could possibly have been inside at the time of the raid. Estimates of the crowd size range from around 400 when customers first spilled out of the bar to between 1,500 and 2,000 once the riot police arrived. The West Village in 1969 was much whiter than it would be later, and from interviews with witnesses I concluded that the crowd on Christopher Street that night was largely young, white, and male. Some key witnesses on this point lend a good deal of credibility to this conclusion given either their own ethnicity or their track record of sensitivity on questions of race and ethnicity: Dawn Hampton, a black woman who worked at the Stonewall interviewed by Eric Marcus; Raymond Castro, a Puerto Rican man who fought with police on the first night and the only gay man that we can document from police records as having been arrested on the first night; Bob Kohler, who worked with the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), traveled to the South to protest segregation, and, as a talent agent, worked with black actors to get them cast in non-stereotypical roles; and John O’Brien, a Marxist and a founder of the Gay Liberation Front, who told me he also went to the South as a civil rights activist and came back with a scar from police dogs. Hampton stated the club’s customers were “mixed Spanish, whites, and blacks, but there were more whites than the others.” Castro said that the group of three “drag queens,” bar staff members, and one lesbian put in the patrol wagon with him all were non-Latinx whites. Kohler said he remembered the “drag” people he saw being put in a patrol wagon as white. O’Brien recalled that the people he fought the police

with were largely white, with a few Puerto Ricans. My conclusion is that most of the crowd in the vanguard on the Uprising’s first night were white men, though Marsha P. Johnson and Zazu Nova, both transgender, were black, and there were some black and Latinx youth among the homeless street youth who were the first to lead the charge against the police. Several Latinx men were also among the first to resist or attack the police. A Puerto Rican man named Gino threw one of the first big objects outside the club, uprooting a large stone from the pit of a tree. Castro’s fight with the police — shortly after the cops finally subdued the struggling lesbian — was not only ferocious but apparently further fueled the crowd’s anger initially sparked by the mistreatment of the lesbian. Kevin Dunn recalled that after the police had retreated from the angry crowd into the club, he picked up “a carton — and I was just about ready to throw it, but I stopped and said, ‘But you’re not supposed to be violent, you’re against violence.’” As he hesitated, “a big, hunky, nice-looking Puerto Rican guy — but big mouth — yelling out next to me… took that thing out of my hand and threw it! And it was one of the first things that got thrown at the Stonewall.” Bruce Voeller, who went on to become an important activist in GAA — and later in what is now the National LGBTQ Task Force — wrote that soon after the police allowed those they were not arresting to leave the club, “A crowd gathered and some of the watchers jeered the police. After a few interchanges, a young Puerto Rican taunted the gays, asking why they put up with being shoved around by cops.” Voeller wrote that according to some accounts, it was this same young man who hurled a beer can that led the crowd to unleash a barrage of objects aimed at the police. My research concluded that the two most important groups in the vanguard on the first night — beyond the butch lesbian who resisted arrest and probably had the greatest impact — were homeless gay street youth and transgender people, including Marsha P. Johnson and Zazu Nova, both trans women, and Jackie Hormona, a

member of the gay street youth. Most of the gay street youth were more or less feminine — or, in today’s parlance, non-gender conforming — young men, not transgender, and the majority were white. While this vanguard played the key role in escalating the conflict, it is important to not let their pride of place throw others who fought into the shadows. When I recently mentioned the two groups in the vanguard to Tommy LaniganSchmidt, he said, “But almost immediately — within a few moments — everyone else was jumping in.” In the end, does it matter whether individuals or groups get too much or too little credit? I think it does matter for a variety of reasons. First, many people were injured during the Uprising and we know the names of almost none of them and never will. It seems a grave injustice to me for some people to take credit for playing a key role when they were not there while many who were injured will never be recognized. Second, it has been always been difficult to get the history of our community recognized as legitimate. If we want the world to take it seriously, we simply can’t be willing to accept accounts as legitimate without evidence or that go against evidence available to us. Third, if it did not matter, why would there be so much emotion expressed about which individuals or groups were present or in leading roles? No doubt, people of color and transgender people are concerned that their history be respected. But let us recall that people of color and transgender people did play important roles in this revolt. The challenge is in clarifying and documenting who they were. Finally, I think it is worth noting that during the Uprising participants were not thinking in the neat categories we employ today — the community did not use the language that we use today and we risk being anachronistic by forcing people of yesteryear into today’s categories. My research convinces me that at the time of Stonewall, there was simply a feeling of our community standing up as one together to protect itself. Perhaps someday that feeling of oneness will return. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

The Mechanics Leading to Johnson-Rivera Monument Mayoral-appointed commission okays memorials to women; vetting process unclear BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

he de Blasio administration did not require that the commission that recommended that Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson be honored with a monument in the West Village consult any LGBTQ histories or historians when making its selections. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I did not direct them specifically,â&#x20AC;? said Mayor Bill de Blasio, referring to the She Built NYC Commission, during a June 4 press conference held in Brooklyn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The whole notion of She Built is to address this extraordinary injustice where the majority of people are not represented in the public monumentsâ&#x20AC;Ś In terms of how specific names were chosen, I was not part of that process.â&#x20AC;? The mayor announced the 18-member commission last year.

DUNCAN OSBORNE

Mayor Bill de Blasio, seen here with Police Commissioner James P. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill (left), at a June 4 press conference in Brooklyn.

Its purpose is to promote public art or monuments that honor â&#x20AC;&#x153;women, groups of women, and events involving women that significantly impacted the history of New York City,â&#x20AC;? according to the June 2018 press release introducing the commission. The public was invited to submit nominations for art or monuments through August 1, 2018. On May 30 of this year, the mayor, First Lady Chirlane McCray, and a host of LGBTQ community leaders and activists announced the monuments honoring Rivera and Johnson at a press conference held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. The commission began its work with a call for nominations from the public. It required that â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nominated events must have happened

â&#x17E;¤ CITY MONUMENTS, continued on p.88

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➤ QUEER CULTURE, from p.5 featuring stories from LGBTQ veterans and others. Visitors were encouraged to contribute photos, quotes, and other mementoes for the Stonewall 50 Time Capsule, a joint project between the NYHS and The Generations Project. Instead of holding a traditional opening reception, the museum threw a huge, kick-ass dance party that joined uptown class with downtown sass. I spoke with Klassen about the genesis of the Stonewall 50 exhibition, and why the endeavor is not only a commemoration, but also a celebration. DAVID KENNERLEY: First off, let’s talk about the opening bash. What did you think of the turnout? REBECCA KLASSEN: The opening was nothing short of a dream. The celebration took over two floors of the museum with multiple bars and a dance floor, and almost all of our exhibition galleries were open to explore. It showed how a party can be so much more than just a party. There were multiple generations of people from many walks of life, and they all genuinely had a lot of fun being together. Everyone from Randy Wicker, who began his outfront activism in the 1950s, to Club Kids from the Limelight era, to members of the house and ballroom community were sharing the same space. I knew the party was off the charts when a man with a walker started leading a conga line and people were hanging on with huge smiles. KENNERLEY: Who else was there? KLASSEN: Rollerena [legendary Studio 54 personality] gave remarks. BETTY performed a glorious a cappella version of their song “Rise.” Dan Daly from Marie’s Crisis played on Cole Porter’s piano while people sang along. JD Samson as DJ had people dancing right until the very end, which was 11 p.m. on a Thursday. Even the security and catering staff were dancing! We don’t have events on that scale very often, and our openings are usually very low key. But early on, I thought a dance party opening with a DJ of

76

historical significance would be a critical component, because it would be an experiential facet of what the show is trying to convey. I’m grateful that the special events and development teams here believed in this idea and worked incredibly hard to make it happen. KENNERLEY: I don’t normally associate the stately NYHS with edgy downtown artists, genderqueer folks, and drag queens. Can you elaborate on the significance of the diverse crowd this exhibit attracts? KLASSEN: In the course of developing the Stonewall 50 exhibitions here, I came to realize that the New-York Historical Society has a more diverse array of visitors than people might suspect. Whenever we can make history relevant, accessible, and engaging to the broadest audiences, we’ve succeeded, and in recent years we’ve also been deepening our commitment to presenting stories of underrepresented communities. It’s important to people on a basic, existential level to see themselves reflected in museums and in history.

Liberation Front’s Come Out! He described his vivid memories of dancing at the Saint and other nightlife experiences. The Pulse shooting happened shortly after those conversations, and many writers published reflections on the role LGBTQ nightlife played in their lives — discovering their people and growing into themselves. Even though the exhibit doesn’t extend chronologically to the Pulse shooting, it gave weight to the idea of exploring the history of nightlife, especially when considered alongside the Stonewall Uprising, which centered on a gay bar. Exploring LGBTQ bars and clubs as spaces of liberation, oppression, activism, and creative expression was in the project proposal, but we settled on the more evocative and accessible “letting loose” and “fighting back” when it came time to finally decide on a title.

KENNERLEY: What sparked the idea to do a Stonewall 50 exhibition at the NYHS? KLASSEN: In spring 2016 I received a LinkedIn request from someone at Heritage of Pride who was on their arts and culture committee. I don’t usually accept requests from people I don’t know, but saw that he was involved with Stonewall 50/ WorldPride planning. I pretty much ran to my boss to suggest that we commemorate the anniversary with an exhibition. Our museum explores the history of the nation through the lens of New York, so the decision to explore the broader meaning of a local event was a very easy one for us.

KENNERLEY: Did you have any preconceptions about LGBTQ history that were altered by this experience? KLASSEN: In order to convey a broad historical narrative, we tend to place people into groups and make generalizations. We also lump people into categories in the course of everyday life out of convenience or simple bias. But people are so much more complex than that, and move in multiple circles — places you wouldn’t expect. For instance, the first director of Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation was the artist George Dudley. He was very active in the leather scene, which is often associated with intense masculinism. The exhibition includes items connected to the Mineshaft that are part of his papers. However, he was also one of the driving forces behind the founding of the [dragcentric] Imperial Court of New York in 1985.

KENNERLEY: The field of LGBTQ history is so broad. How did you hone in on “Letting Loose and Fighting Back” for your portion of the exhibition? KLASSEN: The decision was sparked by chats I had with Roy Eddey, a former administrator at New-York Historical who had been involved in gay publishing in the early 1970s, including the Gay

KENNERLEY: What else surprised you? KLASSEN: The extent to which organized crime controlled LGBTQ bars and clubs — whether through ownership or coercion — through the 1970s. I had not given much thought to the mob in the history of New York City, since it tends to smack of sensationalism and dubious scholarship, but

they really did have their hands in quite a bit. KENNERLEY: It is an honor to contribute objects from my collection. The very first item you saw was an original program from Wigstock in 1991, and it made the cut. What was it about that program that spoke to you? KLASSEN: I wanted to draw a through-line from the Pyramid Club in the early 1980s to Wigstock to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” We display the Wigstock 1991 program open to a spread drawn by Tabboo! [Stephen Tashjian] titled “The Official Drag Queen Starter Kit!” I thought it conveyed the playful DIY ethos, and I hoped visitors who perhaps weren’t even alive in the 1990s would find they could connect with it. KENNERLEY: I was impressed that you came to my apartment and insisted on looking at every piece of my collection—over 1000 items. Did you pore over other collections with the same zeal in curating this exhibition? KLASSEN: Yes. You never know what might lay hiding, and what information and connections it might yield. I also try to document as much as I can with snapshots in order to revisit the item later without having to arrange for another collection visit. It does take more time and a whole lot of data storage, but as you encounter more material, you discover new things in objects you looked at months ago. KENNERLEY: You must have met some fascinating characters. Any notable people or stories you’d like to share? KLASSEN: I feel truly privileged to have been able to speak to so many interesting and wonderful people, each in their own way, whether it’s because they threw a great party or organized a protest. Everyone is a fascinating character. Even you, David! STONEWALL 50 AT NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY | 170 Central Park West at W. 77th St. | Through Sep. 22: Tue.-Thu., Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thu., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. | $21; $16 for seniors; $13 for students; $6 for 5-13 years old | nyhistory.org June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.

COURTESY OF BOROUGH PRESIDENTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S OFFICE

Honoree Fabio Cotza gets a congratulatory smooch from his husband, Hector, at the borough presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pride celebration.

- 1 John 4:7

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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illyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sports Bar near Yankee Stadium once again played host to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual LGBTQ Pride Celebration. The June 5 event honored Fabio Cotza, the director of the Safe Horizon Bronx Child Advocacy Center, which provides support and services to youth who have suffered sexual and physical abuse; Maria A. Rodriguez, the vice president of care coordination services at Argus Community, which provides works with underserved families on issues including HIV/ AID; Jahaira Gonzalez, a longtime transgender activist who is the director of out-

reach and engagement at Destination Tomorrow â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Bronx LGBT Center; and Hands in 4 Youth, a Gay-Straight Alliance at PS/ MS 29 in the Melrose neighborhood. Diaz also posthumously honored longtime lesbian leader Janet Weinberg, who had held senior positions at Gay Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health Crisis, the LGBT Community Center, and the Educational Alliance. Weinberg died last September, and her spouse, New York State Appellate Division Justice Rosalyn H. Richter, was on hand to accept the honor. The eveningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s red carpet was hosted by Tym Moss and Appolonia Cruz, the emcees were Vivika Westwood Mugler and Jahlissa A. Ross, and the Reina Project and Sasha Washington performed. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


       

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PERSPECTIVE: LET TER FROM THE EDITOR

PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER Victoria Schneps-Yunis CEO & CO-PUBLISHER Joshua Schneps FOUNDING EDITOR IN-CHIEF & ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Paul Schindler editor@gaycitynews.com DIGITAL EDITOR Matt Tracy matt@gaycitynews.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Duncan Osborne CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Donna Aceto (Photography) Christopher Byrne (Theater), Susie Day (Perspective), Brian McCormick (Dance)

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Steve Erickson, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Donna Minkowitz, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Sam Oglesby, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Ed Sikov, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz

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NATIONAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING Rivendell Media / 212.242.6863 Gay City News, The Newspaper Serving Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender NYC, is published by Schneps Media. Send all inquiries to: Gay City News, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Phone: 212.229.1890 Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2019 Schneps Media Gay City News is a registered trademark of Schneps Media Fax: 212.229.2790

© 2019 Schneps Media All rights reserved. FOUNDING MEMBER

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An Amazing Half Century and the Road Ahead BY PAUL SCHINDLER

P

utting together this Pride issue brought up many emotions for me. The focus on history in wonderful and important pieces by David Carter, Duncan Osborne, and David Kennerley vividly and, at times, uncomfortably brought back memories of my own life as a gay man. The fears I had. The challenges I faced. The friends I lost. The accomplishments and pride I have nurtured. The work by Carter, Osborne, and Kennerley reminds me — and I hope all of you — how important an appreciation for history and an insistence on doing our best to document it are in building and sustaining community. Our lives today are all built on the shoulders of giants. Not only those at Stonewall and in the activism that grew up in its immediate wake, but of those brave people who endeavored to live honestly and openly in the decades before Stonewall. Our very best historians remind us that queer life has always been with us — by whatever name and with whatever status.

It existed in 19th and early 20th century America and vibrantly in Europe between the two World Wars. The experience of so many young men leaving their families and going off to fight in Europe and the Pacific created a fundamental shift in the consciousness of queer men of that period. And so it is not surprising that we witnessed so much ferment, underground though much of it was, in the immediate postwar years, among both gay men and lesbians — which remarkably survived the assaults of the McCarthy era in America. We have more recently come to appreciate the vitality of life among those who refused to accept gender norms, some of whom came to understand, even before they had the words to adequately describe it, that the role they were assigned at birth was not their essential self. We also owe a debt to the brave warriors who battled AIDS and government and public indifference and hostility to build a community of action, investigative resilience, and care. Well into the fourth decade of the HIV epidemic, we now have it in our means to put an end to this

scourge, not only here in the US but around the globe. Just a few years ago, we were all marveling at the tremendous political and cultural advances our community had made in less than half a century since Stonewall. And, now, of course, we are daily reminded of the horrors that our president is visiting upon our nation, our world, and — in very targeted ways — our community. We have no choice now, tomorrow, next year, or even beyond but to redouble our engagement in the political life of our country. Our rights are threatened daily by a rightward lurch in Washington and in the nation’s courts. Basic values of decency are undermined — with racism, religious intolerance, xenophobia, belligerence on the world stage, and the inhumane treatment our nation is visiting on immigrants seeking a refuge in the United States. And if all that weren’t troubling enough, our president has turned his back on the existential crisis that is climate change. It’s already very late in the day to act, and he is instead retreating. So as we enjoy a wonderful weekend of celebration, let us also honor our history and those who came before us — perhaps in no better way than committing ourselves to be their worthy successors in activism and community-building.

Our New Logo BY PAUL SCHINDLER

Y

ou may have noticed in this Pride Season that Gay City News has taken on a new look that combines both our full name and our initials presented in lower case as gcn. The new logo retains the brand identity the newspaper has built over 18 years, but also allows for quick identification that ties our website, gaycitynews.com, to our presence on social media platforms. “As New York celebrates the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and WorldPride, Gay City News honors the traditions that have built a vibrant LGBTQ community but also looks forward to the progress and challenges ahead,” said Josh Sch-

neps, the CEO of Schneps Media, the newspaper’s parent company. “The fresh, modern style of Gay City News’ new logo represents our commitment to the strongest possible presence on all the media platforms — print, online, and social — relevant to our readers here in the city and worldwide.” The logo design was the work of Michael Shirey, who for five years served as creative director of Gay City News. Though Shirey has moved on to other professional pursuits, his appreciation for the newspaper’s mission made him the perfect candidate to oversee our rebranding. Look for Gay City News in newsboxes citywide every other Thursday, online at gaycitynews.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines

Stonewall’s Inner-Peace Officers BY SUSIE DAY

A

few weeks ago, at an event at police headquarters, Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill apologized to the LGBTQ community, on behalf of the entire NYPD, for the brutal raid that the cops carried out at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago. This was an admission long overdue, for which our queer community is deeply grateful. And yet you wonder: shouldn’t we be thanking them? After all, if the cops hadn’t busted in, harassed, brutalized, and arrested those brave queers, we probably wouldn’t have the movement we have now, right? In point of fact, the New York City police force has actually encouraged our can-do, fight-the-power moxie that has urged us on in so much societal upheaval. Yet cops have been slow to take credit. It’s time someone said, “Thank you, cops.” So, to show my appreciation for the NYPD – yea, cops worldwide – I have devised a series

of police empowerment workshops, which may be presented, for a nominal fee, at any precinct. Exercise 1 — Centering: Few people realize the psychic trauma that the police face at a mass demonstration, when up against whining gender perverts, angry people of color, and/ or Bill-of-Rights knowit-alls. So we must create a safe, nurturing space that will allow the inner cop to heal. Have cops form a circle, cross-legged on the floor. (Gently discourage self-ridicule if the cartilage in their knees keeps popping; this is a sign of change and should be affirmed.) Now ask cops to close their eyes and imagine a big, glowing ball of navy-blue light in the middle of their circle. Suggest they relax, breathe, and just be. Ask cops to imagine that, with each breath, this light enters their heavy shoes, travels up their uniforms, through their billy clubs, their stun-guns, all the way to their badge chakras — until it bursts out of their police hats in an arc of radiant energy — their

police “force,” if you will. Ask cops to use this force to imagine themselves, perfectly safe and relaxed, chasing annoying protestors in slow motion through a beautiful, deserted alley. Now, enjoin cops to imagine catching these protestors and smashing their heads — nonviolently — against city dumpsters. Play CD of Tibetan temple bells and whale noises. Burn sage. Exercise 2 — Breaking Down Stereotypes: Have cops center. Pass out paper and pencils. Ask cops to go deep within themselves, and then write down all the myths and vicious put-downs about police that they have encountered from bigoted civilians. Examples: Cops are more likely to stop and frisk a person of color than a Caucasian because it makes them look “cool”; Cops have an extra muscle in their brains that prevents them from answering calls for help in poor or non-white neighborhoods; Cops mostly bust black people for smoking marijuana because the police are part of a conspiracy to create a global “prison-industrial

complex,” etc., etc. Channel the energy flow so that cops begin to experience their innate cop-consciousness. When did they realize they were “that way?” Were they born cops, or were they traumatically initiated into “the life” by another cop? Give cops time to see themselves as part of a cutting-edge, stylishly oppressed in-group. Are there cop tendencies? Mannerisms? Would they feel more validated in a separatist “police state?” Discuss. Exercise 3 — Letting Your Cops Out to Play : Your cops are now ready to move from fantasy to reality. Ask them to center and visualize themselves lying on a beautiful, warm beach. Watch their gruff exteriors melt away as you explain that there is a great Scheme of Things, and that each of them has a place in it. Yes, like grains of sand on this beach — or tiny strands of chorizo in a cosmic meat grinder — every cop is part of the Whole. And, as a single drop of seawater contains the entire ocean, within each cop is the entire US Department of Homeland

➤ SNIDE LINES, continued on p.84

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

The Delights and the Weight of History BY ED SIKOV

T

his was the arresting headline in the Washington Post. Seems that the unmarried, 50-yearold Grover Cleveland needed a respectable White House hostess, so he turned to his sister, Rose. And Rose was a, a… well, they didn’t have a word for it at the time. The story, which first appeared first in the Daily Beast and was also picked up by the New York Daily News is almost as lurid as a bodice ripper. The surviving letters between Rose Cleveland and her inamorata, Evangeline Simpson Whipple, demonstrate a level of passion that our generations may feel but scarcely articulate with such florid fervor. Rose writes: “My Eve! Ah, how I love you! It paralyzes me... Oh Eve, Eve, surely you cannot realize what you are to me. What you must be. Yes, I dare it, now, I will no longer

GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

fear to claim you. You are mine by every sign in Earth & Heaven, by every sign in soul & spirit & body — and you cannot escape me. You must bear me all the way, Eve....” Then: “You are mine, and I am yours, and we are one, and our lives are one henceforth, please God, who can alone separate us. I am bold to say this, to pray & to live to it. Am I too bold, Eve — tell me? ... I shall go to bed, Eve — with your letters under my pillow.” Oh, my overheated soul! All that’s missing is what Richard Hayden, in Howard Hawks’s brilliant “Ball of Fire” (1941), wistfully calls “the ineffable smell of rose water!” In case anyone doubts that these women were lesbians and not just asexual partners involved in the term Henry James coined as a “Boston marriage” (the likely asexual cohabitation of two women in the 19th century), how do you account for the raw, feverish passion Rose expressed?

From the Post: “Because only Rose’s letters survive, we know little of how Evangeline responded. But, on a few occasions, Rose quotes Evangeline’s letters in her own: ‘Oh darling, come to me this night — my Clevy, my Viking, My — Everything, Come! God Bless Thee.’ Rose flirtatiously replied, ‘Your Viking kisses you!’” (In case you’re stuck on the meaning of “Clevy,” as I was, remember her last name.) The Post continues: “Rose struggled to name their relationship — ‘I cannot find the words to talk about it,’ ‘the right word will not be spoken.’ Indeed, there was not a word for a same-sex relationship between women at the time. The word ‘lesbian’ existed, but only in reference to the Greek poet Sappho.” A period of relative estrangement ensued when Evangeline up and married a man of the cloth: “Bishop Henry Whipple, a popular Episcopal preacher from Minne-

sota who was 34 years her senior. There is every indication she had real feelings for the bishop. She wrote of her affection for him in her diary, she didn’t need the money the marriage would bring, and, at 40 in the 19th century, she was probably past childbearing age.” “Rose continued writing letters to Evangeline, but the intimacy fades into little more than travelogue.” But wait! The love letters returned, thanks to a timely visit from the Grim Reaper: “Bishop Whipple died at his home in Minnesota on Sept. 16, 1901…. Over the next nine years, Rose and Evangeline’s letters took on a new character, away from the wild, sometimes obsessive, passion of early love and toward a steady tenderness. Evangeline continued to live in Minnesota, but the extended stays at each other’s homes resumed.” In short, they ended up moving to Tuscany together and lived there until Rose’s death from the

➤ MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.84

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DINING OUT

New Café Fêtes Our Donna East One Coffee’s Chelsea locale features Aceto pics BY PAUL SCHINDLER

S

ince 2017, East One Coffee Roasters has been a successful restaurant and roastery in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Since that time, its owners, Tom Cummings and his husband Morten Tjelum, have teamed up with the Camera Club of New York on Baxter Street downtown in a small café that also serves as an arts programming venue. Now, East One is heading to Chelsea, opening up a new café and retail shop at 170 East 23rd Street, where it will have

DONNA ACETO

Donna Aceto’s photography from a massive AIDS demonstration in the early months of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s first term.

➤ SNIDE LINES, from p.83 Security. While cops are thus deeply relaxed, calmly ask them to imagine that the United States now holds over 2.3 million prisoners, about

➤ MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.83 Spanish flu in 1918 at the age of 72. Evangeline wrote sorrowfully at the time, “‘The light has gone out for me. . . . The loss of this noble and great soul is a blow that I shall not recover from….’ She died of pneumonia and kidney failure in London in 1930.” All this, of course, is a wholly separate discussion from the life of Eleanor Roosevelt. “Elizabeth Warren Demands Reparations for Same-Sex Couples” is the headline of an article by Tyler O’Neil in PJ News, an off-brand right-wing news outlet. Perhaps needless to say, PJ News is agin’ it. “On Friday, Warren reintroduced S. 1940, the Refund Equality Act, which would allow same-sex couples to amend past tax returns. According to a report

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an all-women roasting team led by Selina Ullrich and Emily Wendorff. The restaurant, which debuts this coming Saturday evening, June 29, will, in recognition of WorldPride, feature photographs by Donna Aceto, who has been Gay City News’ principal photographer for the past 15 years, and has also done significant work in chronicling AIDS Walks here and in California and in documenting the life of the late icon Edie Windsor. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Aceto’s phots will benefit Gays Against Guns.

two-thirds of whom were unemployed before incarceration, or had yearly incomes of $5,000 or less. As cops sink further into bliss, get them to picture the recent, toughon-crime laws that send people to prison for life for relatively mi-

nor offenses; the new immigrant detention centers and supermax prisons. Cops should experience complete empowerment and peace with their world – most of which is now behind bars. Now ask cops to open their eyes.

Voilà! It’s all real! There is a God! Everyone exchange email addresses. Group hug! And the next time those cops bust a bunch of drag queens, fags, trans people, and butch lesbos at a bar, they’ll do it with real and lasting PRIDE.

from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the bill would direct $57 million in refunds. The funds would go to same-sex couples in states that had legalized same-sex marriage before the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Warren introduced an earlier version of the bill in 2017.” The bill shows broad support among Democrats. According to O’Neil, “The legislation is cosponsored by 42 senators, including six presidential candidates: Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (DCalif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).” That’s impressive. Bute frankly, I think LGBTQ reparations can only be discussed seriously after the more pressing question of reparations to African Americans for more than 400 years of slavery and

other nominally subtler forms of oppression (think Reconstruction, Jim Crow lynchings, church bombings…) is resolved. But O’Neil isn’t even willing to discuss that. African-American “reparations are unworkable for many reasons,” he writes, “partially because the slaves and their masters are no longer alive. Economic history is messy, and it is far from clear that modern poverty and wealth derive from the injustices of slavery.” Oh, really? As Forbes describes it, “Wealth is highly and increasingly unequally distributed, especially between African-Americans and whites. At the median, nonretired African-Americans had $13,460 in wealth in 2016 or only 9.5 percent of the median wealth of $142,180 that whites had at that time.” Now why might that be? Beyond the statistics, the fact of the matter

is that white Americans enslaved black Africans. We chained them together in ships before auctioning them off like cattle in the public square. We sold their babies out from under them. We owned them. And I say we despite the fact that my grandparents were too busy fleeing pograms carrying what little they had to think much about owning other people as slaves. As uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, white people’s wealth in the United States today derives however indirectly from the forced labor and subsequent systemic oppression of black people. Working out the calculations will be exhausting and ugly. As for the premise, though, it’s a simple as this: We used to own them; now we owe them. Follow @EdSikov on Facebook and Twitter. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


R YA N H E A LT H E Q U A L I T Y : STONEWALL 50 CHARLES W SHORTER, LMSW

LET’S CELEBRATE STONEWALL 50 BY ENDING HIV/AIDS The Stonewall Riots in June 1969 are recognized as the start of the modern gay rights movement that brought the LGBTQ community into greater visibility in mainstream American life. This 50th anniversary year is a celebration of the movement, and an opportunity to review and reassess the milestones and challenges that have occurred since then. As our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters were beginning to manifest lasting change in attitudes and awareness, the AIDS virus struck. Affecting mostly white gay men in the beginning and then quickly devastating other communities, including communities of color, and injecting drug users, HIV/AIDS became one of the defining characteristics of the LGBTQ community. When medical, government, and faith institutions were slow to respond, communities mobilized and created social and political networks to take care of our own, as well as push the reluctant levers that could fund research, awaken policy makers, and bring necessary changes. With New York the epicenter of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, Ryan Health established itself as a leading provider of quality HIV care and prevention efforts. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with a focus on the disenfranchised, including people of color, this was a natural fit with our core mission. Since 1988, Ryan Health’s integrated model of HIV care team consists of highly skilled doctors, nurses, social workers, patient navigators, and case managers who work together to create individualized care plans for people living with HIV. HIV and STI services are also provided throughout New York City through our Prevention, Education and Outreach (PEO) Department. New York City again leads the nation in the number of new HIV cases, and statistics show that more than 20 percent of those infected do not know they are infected. According to recent data released by the CDC, about 80 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2016 were transmitted from the nearly 40 percent of people with HIV who either did not know they

had HIV, or who received a diagnosis but were not receiving HIV care. We know that new infections are concentrated among men who have sex with men and minorities, including African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos. In New York City, 77 percent of new HIV diagnoses and AIDS-related deaths were among African Americans and Hispanics in 2016, up from 69 percent in 2015. And that’s despite Governor Cuomo’s End the Epidemic initiative that aims to stop new HIV infections by the end of 2020. For me — an African American gay male working in health care — those numbers are frightening. As Executive Director of Ryan Health | Adair and Frederick Douglass in Harlem, I remain steadfast in fighting HIV/AIDS, particularly in LGBTQ communities of color. Prior to my current position, I oversaw HIV services at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton, neighborhoods that over time have encompassed the hub of New York City gay life. I know how our communities can focus when an important goal is on the line. As a former co-chair of the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute’s Faith Communities Project and a member of the Bronx Borough President’s End the Epidemic Roundtable, I’m just one of the many committed to this fight. Along with Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, community partners, advocates, and faith leaders, we continue to fight tirelessly to end HIV/AIDS. Ryan Health launched Ryan Health Equality: Stonewall 50 to promote health equity for LGBTQ communities of color. Ryan Health Equality: Stonewall 50 has conducted 50 community health events, including HIV screenings and educational activities, from February through New York Gay Pride this month. We’re raising awareness in the LGBTQ community on prevention and understanding HIV risk, including connecting at-risk individuals to PrEP and PEP services. Premiered on February 7, 2019, National Black HIV/

GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

AIDS Awareness Day, Ryan Health Equality: Stonewall 50 has conducted outreach at gay bars all over Manhattan to share information about prevention and treatment services, provide lists of resources, and let gay and queer people of color know they don’t have to figure this out alone. We’re hosting testing days in the community through our mobile health center, and we’ve produced a series on sexual health for local high school students, because the sooner people know about prevention and treatment, the healthier they will be. And we’re building on our Ryan Health sponsored outreach projects, like Sippin’ and Spillin’, for African American women, and Brown Boys Brunch, for African American and Latino men. A full list of our outreach activities is on the Events Calendar on our website. Ryan Health Equality: Stonewall 50 is aimed specifically at LGBTQ communities of color, but it is based on our overall philosophy of empowering our patients to be part of the care team. You need to be involved in decisions, to focus on prevention and health maintenance. Undetectable = Untransmittable — and we take that seriously. We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall with you. Our staff is proud of who we are and the work we do for New York’s LGBTQ community, and we want to ensure you’re here and healthy, and working toward the next Stonewall milestone — the end of HIV/ AIDS. ###

Call our confidential PrEP hotline

212-484-5813 Or visit www.ryanhealth.org

Charles W. Shorter, LMSW is Executive Director of Ryan Health | Adair and Frederick Douglass and a former member of the NYC HIV Planning Council, and the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, Faith Communities Project. He is also a Board Member of several nonprofit advocacy organizations, and is active in providing community based health education, and advocacy regarding stigma, oppression, and discrimination to various faith based, and other communities.

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➤ CITY MONUMENTS, from p.75 at least 20 years ago; nominated individuals must no longer be living and known for an event, movement, or action that took place at least 20 years ago.” The commission received 326 nominations, though the 257 of the events or individuals nominated received three or fewer votes. The most nominations — 219 — went to Francesca Xavier Cabrini, or Mother Cabrini. She was a Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and established hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions. She was canonized in 1946. The second-most nominations went to Jane Jacobs at 93 followed by Shirley Chisholm at 91. Jacobs was a noted author and leading preservationist in New York City. Chisholm was also an author and the first African-American woman who was elected to Congress. She represented a Brooklyn district from 1969 to 1983 and ran to be the Democratic nominee for president in 1972. Chisholm will be honored with

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a statue in Brooklyn. The other honorees are Billie Holiday, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, and Katherine Walker. Johnson placed seventh with 65 nominations and Rivera had 21 nominations and ranked 19th among the nominated events and people. Ultimately, the nominations were little more than recommendations from the public and it was the commission that made the selections. Other than the requirements articulated by the commission, there was no requirement that commissioners verify that nominees participated in “an event, movement, or action that took place at least 20 years ago.” The best evidence is that Johnson, who died in 1992, was at Stonewall on the first night of the riots there, though she told Eric Marcus, the author of “Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945 to 1990” and other books, that she did not arrive at the bar until after the rioting had started. It is not clear that Rivera, who died in 2002, was at Stonewall. She said she was, but

gave wildly different versions of her participation in that event. She is not in David Carter’s “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution,” the definitive account of the 1969 riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, and in this week’s issue he concludes she was not. Carter also writes that evidence supports the view that Johnson was among the first people to actively resist the police on the first night of the riots. There is no question that Rivera participated in the community’s political life following Stonewall, but she was hampered by drug and alcohol problems for much of her life and was frequently homeless. The extent of Johnson’s participation is much less clear. She also struggled with homelessness for much of her life. Together they founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which operated what was little more than a crash-pad for a few months. In a May 29 interview with the New York Times, McCray charged unnamed people with whitewashing the LGBTQ community’s his-

tory. “The LGBTQ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement,” McCray told the Times. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.” She made similar comments at the May 30 announcement, but was more specific. “Our history helps define our present and shape our future, but the histories written by white, straight, cisgender men rarely tell the full story,” she said. At the mayor’s June 4 press conference, Gay City News asked de Blasio who had done this whitewashing, how it was done, and what motivated the whitewashers. “Well, I’m not an expert on all the history, but I think we can safely say that women leaders, people of color leaders, and trans leaders have often been left out in the history and underestimated,” he said. “And we’re trying very systematically to represent everyone. So, I can’t speak to the specifics and you can certainly ask [McCray] her view. But I think as a broad statement, it’s very, very true.”

June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


Celebrates

pride

People Recognizing Individual Diversity & Equality Happy Pride Month!

Quality Healthcare Convenient for your Life. GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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FASHION

Camping Out at the Met History, famous queers, and killer drag coalesce for a concept BY DAVID NOH ith Stonewall 50 here, it is only fitting that our most prominent museums are featuring exhibits with a gay focus. Although it is not an exclusively queer-themed show, as was Fashion Institute of Technology’s “A Queer History of Fashion” in 2013, this year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute is focusing on “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” Long considered the provenance of gay men, camp p is defined in Merriam Webster as “something so outrageously artificial, affected, inappropriate, orr out-of-date as to be considsid ered amusing,” or “style or mode of personal or creative expression that is absurdly exaggerated and often fuses high and popular culture” or “exaggerated effeminate mannerisms (as of speech or gesture).” The Met exhibit, curated by Andrew Bolton, traces the origin of the word back to 17th century France, specifically to a Moliere play in which the French phrase “se camper” (“to flaunt” or “posture”) first appears. And, of course, there was that little shindig accompanying the show’s opening, modestly referred to as “The Party of the Year,” presided over Vogue’s redoubtable editrix Anna Wintour. This year, watching the red carpet arrivals had an added frisson as we could pass merciless hoi polloi judgment as to who actually got the risky concept of camp and who failed miserably. Fashionistas, admittedly, are usually not known for a density of gray matter — let alone a healthy sense of humor, especially about themselves (essential to camp) — and it would seem they largely took the theme to mean “outrageous,” grimly plying on more layers of tulle, mile-long trains, vertiginous headpieces, and other big dressy statements than the fragile size zero frames

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METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF NEW YORK / ALFRED STIEGLITZ SOCIET Y GIFTS/ THE PETER HUJAR ARCHIVE

Peter Hujar’s 1975 photograph of Susan Sontag, whose 1964 “Notes on Camp” provides the theme for the Met show.

JOHNNY DUFORT/ COURTESY OF MOSCHINO

A shirt from the 1991 spring/ summer collection of the House of Moschino.

of their model dates du jour could accommodate, making many of them look slightly in pain under

the weight of these confections. Once inside, the show presented itself in two parts: the first dealing

with the historic origin of camp and its earliest practitioners, followed by examples of its influence on fashion. Although, like everybody else, I had come to see the dresses, I was far more impressed — and educated — by Part I, which gratifyingly and justly threw a spotlight on the Godfather of Camp, Oscar Wilde, with his melancholy yet saturnine mien, captured in photos. They revealed a certain sartorial elan, with his nattily bespoke smoking jackets, displayed alongside modern couture knock-offs of his look. Also on display was an item that made my heart stop for a second, the original manuscript of “De Profundis,” the heartbreaking letter to his wayward Bosie, summng up his life, which he wrote while in prison for immoraility. Wilde shares his narrow corridor of the show — which was purposely planned this way, according to Bolton, to give you a sense of the cramped and constricted lives of so many of the people featured here — with some delightful, outrageous company. There’s Philippe, the Duke of Orléans, younger brother of Louis XIV, commonly referred to as “Monsieur,” who lived openly as a homosexual, much given to wearing feminine garments, taking numerous lovers who were both too handsome and too ambitious. Once describd a “the silliest woman who ever lived,” he supposedly lost his gay cherry to the nephew of Cardinal Mazarin, the Duke of Nevers, who seduced Monsieur into the corruption of the “Italian vice,” as homosexuality was then known. Right across the way from him are Frederick “Fanny” Park and Ernest “Stella” Boulton, who were 19th century lovers and female impersonators, once accused of conspiring to seduce men by wearing women’s clothing (they beat the rap). When you leave the claustrophobic confines of the distant past, there is a bridge area prominently

➤ CAMPING OUT, continued on p.108 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


BOOKS

Queer Writers Honor their Bonds Lambda Lit celebrates history, innovation, mutual support BY KATHLEEN WARNOCK early all the winners at the 31st Lambda Literary Awards said how surprised they were. But when they said thank you, they were eloquent with gratitude for a community whose validation means more to them because they are a part of it. The Lammys were held June 3 at NYU’s Skirball Center. Nominees, presenters, and lovers of queer writing — and of queer writers — thronged the lobby before the ceremony. Clad in gowns short and long, tailored suits, fascinators and tiaras, they posed for photos and exchanged greetings, gossip, and good wishes before hurrying into the auditorium in time for the 7 p.m.-ish curtain. Writer and scholar Karla Jay, a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, which as a group is a grand marshal at this year’s LGBTQ Pride March, told how she’s been in demand for appearances in person and for films. “It’s like being on a book tour without the book,” she said. She recalled the first Pride March and talked about preparing p p g for the 50th: “I persisted. I survived,” she said, also quipping, “I was checking the ‘In Memoriam’ moriam’ list to make sure I wasn’t on it.” “I’m writing a book on the he history of ACT UP for FS&G [Farrar Straus raus and Giroux],” novelist, activist, and many-time y time Lammy nomnom inee Sarah Schulman said. “I’m up to page 1,687.” The ceremony was hosted by chanteuse Justin Vivian Bond and directed by Charles RiceGonzalez; awards were presented in 25 categories and there were three honorary awards, as well. “I was born before there was Pride… when pride was a sin!” Bond said in their welcome to “writers who write fiction, erotica, queer history, march going downtown, march going uptown, and we still have a lot more work to do! Act up! Fight back! Sin! We’re here, we’re queer, we’re gonna save the goddam world.” Standing ovations were the order of the evening for both the recipients of the honorary awards and their presenters. The crowd rose to its feet when Cheryl Clarke, the iconic feminist, poet, and owner of an independent upstate bookstore, came on to introduce another icon, Barbara Smith, winner of the Publishing Professional Award. “I remember once when we were talking 40 years ago, Barbara said, ‘I have such a deep belief in feminism to change the lives of women,’”

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

BRIAN CHRISTOPHER SARGENT/ COURTESY OF L AMBDA LITERARY

Barbara Smith, co-founded the Combahee River Collective and was the founding publisher of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, accepts Lambda Literary’s Publishing Professional Award.

BRIAN CHRISTOPHER SARGENT/ COURTESY OF L AMBDA LITERARY

Lambda Lit’s new executive direcor Sue Landers and its board president Amy Scholder.

Clarke said. “I’ve never forgotten that, and actually I’ve never heard anyone else say this.” Smith, who co-founded the Combahee River Collective, started and served as publisher of the Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, and even won election to the Albany Common Council upstate, received another standing ovation.

She began by thanking her family for migrating from rural Georgia to Cleveland when she was a child “to escape the terrorism of the Jim Crow South.” She noted that more women of color are publishing their first books with mainstream presses, and traced that back to

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GALLERY

Bidgood’s Phantasmagorical Art Pioneer celebrant of male erotica honored at the Museum of Sex BY DAVID NOH o immerse yourself in the dazzling, mind-boggling photographic oeuvre of James Bidgood is to be a space and time traveler, experiencing a myriad of worlds, peopled by the most succulently beautiful of youths — with matadors in Spain, sexy Frenchman in Paris, Midwestern farm boys in overalls barely held up by one precarious suspender, or, even underwater, with glistening male sea nymphs bearing bejeweled sunken treasure. The artist, himself, never actually went to any of these places. But he did create them all, from the ground up, in his tiny Hell’s Kitchen apartment in the 1960s, ingeniously using skills honed at Parsons School of Design. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1933, he arrived in New York at age 18 and was immediately swept into a pre-”Pose” universe of underground drag bars and balls, pornography, and avid hustlers. He found a home at the legendary drag bar Club 82 as resident set and lighting designer. Flouting the era’s repressive, even criminal policy toward public homosexuality, Bidgood erotically celebrated the male form and bulging genitalia in his own near-psychedelically charged, highly stylized manner. His work appeared in publications

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MUSEUM OF SEX

After creative differences with his producer, James Bidgood took his name off the credits for his classic 1971 “Pink Narcissus,” starring Bobby Kendall.

like Muscleboy and The Young Physique, which sneakily purported to be only about health and fitness, hence all of that exposed beefcake. He boldly did all of this in a time when laws were only just beginning to be relaxed about male frontal nudity and sending pornographic material through the mail. The Museum of Sex celebrates him, with the breathtaking exhibit “James Bidgood’s Reveries,” rife with pristine prints that make the walls throb with their vibrant color and content, as well as intriguing memorabilia of the various clubs and transgender personalities he once knew.

Lissa Rivera, the show’s curator, said, ““Bidgood’s photos were first published as gay erotica under his pseudonym Les Follies des Hommes. Originally, his photographs and color slides were distributed by mail order from back page ads in physique magazines. Willing clients would send in a fee and, in turn, would receive a photo set of prints made by Bidgood at a local drugstore lab.” His florid work, heavily influenced by Hollywood, with its Technicolor extravaganzas, culminated in his own movie, the legendary “Pink Narcissus” shot over a period of years and released in 1971. It was

a visually diaphanous essay of the wild fantasy life of a gay prostitute (played by Bidgood’s favorite muse, the luscious Bobby Kendall), which was an instant underground hit, although Bidgood took his name off the credits after creative differences with his producer. His images, which were the true precursor of successful contemporary photographers like David LaChapelle, Pierre et Gilles, and Steven Arnold, rather languished until his real rediscovery in the 1990s with a glossy coffee table book, followed by exhibits at the National Portrait Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Musée d’Orsay. His once highly outlawed output is now ensconced in the permanent collections of the Tate Modern in London and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. “Bidgood’s photos are unapologetic records of pure visual pleasure,” Rivera observed. “The colors, the lighting, attention to detail, and reference to tropes of glamour are celebratory. Bidgood’s images originally fell outside of art history proper. Underground queer filmmakers working congruently, like Jack Smith, Kenneth Anger, and Andy Warhol [once mistakenly credited as the director of ‘Pink Narcissus’] were more connected to avant-

MUSEUM OF SEX

Phantasmagoria from James Bidgood.

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â&#x17E;¤ JAMES BIDGOOD, from p.92 garde communities. Bidgood was in a parallel, yet more isolated universe, using similar tropes of early Hollywood and unabashed sexuality, though in a more insular way.â&#x20AC;? Rivera is correct about Bidgood always going his own way. I met him in the 1990s and he remained as feistily independent as he ever was, not at all one to play the self-marketing game essential to commercial artistic success. Far more than any contemporary artist or gallery, one of his main enthusiasms remained, as it was his whole life, the MGM musical spectacular â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ziegfeld Girlâ&#x20AC;? (1941), and recalled his cherished paper dolls of that filmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stars, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, and Judy Garland. (We bonded over that, because I firmly believe that my childhood TV sighting of Lamarr, in the â&#x20AC;&#x153;You Stepped Out a Dreamâ&#x20AC;? number, draped in Adrian spangled white tulle with a headdress of quivering stars, turned me gay, instantly.) He was also working on an epic feaGayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

MUSEUM OF SEX

A young James Bidgood.

ture, which, startlingly, would have nothing visual about it, being more of an aural drama, using several different actorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; voices as if they were the expressive, varying colors of a palette.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; JAMES BIDGOOD: REVERIES | Museum of Sex | 233 Fifth Ave. at 27th St. | Through Sep. 8: Sun.-Thu., 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10:30 a.m.-midnight | $20.50; $17.50 for students | museumofsex.com

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OPERA

Uncovering the Woman Within “As One One” has Gotham debut debu with New York City Opera, two casts

STEVEN PISANO PHOTOGRAPHY

Briana Elyse Hunter and Jorell Williams as Hannah After and Hannah Before in the New York City Opera production of “As One.”

BY ELI JACOBSON his has been an unusually busy spring/ summer opera season in Manhattan with the 2019 New York Opera Fest in full swing. The New York City Opera has concurrently presented its annual LGBTQ Pride series. City Opera presented four performances of lesbian composer Laura Kaminsky’s “As One” at Merkin Hall in a co-production with American Opera Projects. Hannah, the transgender protagonist of “As One” is a woman trapped in man’s body. She is played by both a man and woman onstage —Hannah Before (baritone) and Hannah After (mezzosoprano). The chamber work is essentially a monodrama for two singers representing two incarnations of the same person. In the libretto by Mark Campbell and filmmaker Kimberly Reed (whose own transition provided a semi-autobiographical basis for the story), Hannah is presented as an Everytrans. Hannah Before is an all-American Perfect Boy growing up somewhere in Middle America sometime during the last quarter of the 20th century. He has a paper route and plays football. Through 15 songs, we learn little or nothing of Hannah’s sexuality, family, or personal life. In the opera, the focus is on Hannah’s internal evolution regarding gender. Oddly enough, this generic approach did not make the opera

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more universal but more hermetic and strangely artificial. The schematic libretto too often used rather literary language that further distances us from the protagonist’s journey. To me, the most effective song was “A Christmas Story.” Hannah is living and working in an unnamed city while transitioning and is presenting as a woman. She cannot come home for Christmas and spends the holiday alone in a coffee bar. (Hannah’s relationship with her family and their reaction to her transition is not shared). She is approached by a hip young man who joins her at her table for conversation and flirtation. This novel encounter is shown in a background film by Reed. Hannah After expresses the strangeness of going through a sort of second puberty, learning how to interact with a man as a woman. The specificity of the scene and situation brought out the best in the words and music. Everyone in the audience, male or female, cisgender or transgender or nonbinary, could relate. The individual becomes universal. Hannah, after a hate crime assault, takes a healing solo trip to Norway. She has an epiphany, becomes “as one” with her gender identity while her male and female representatives are joined in vocal harmony. But too much is described and not enough is shown despite the illustrative mime of the two singers and the literal imagery in the accompanying film. Matt Gray’s

STEVEN PISANO PHOTOGRAPHY

Michael Kelly and Blythe Gaissert in “As One,” presented by New York City Opera.

spare production, using just a few chairs, a podium, a table, and a frame that could change from a mirror to a boat, was appropriately minimal. Yet it didn’t push the opera beyond its dramatic limitations. Kaminsky’s musical style is tonality pushed toward dissonance. Her composition for string quartet (who double occasionally as chorus) is beautifully crafted and was perfectly realized by music director Steven Osgood. Yet because there is little melody or variation in color and tone, it starts to sound like a background score to a film. Again, more specific emotional color, rhythm, and melody rather than agitated generalized angst would create a more vital music drama. Similarly, the vocal lines are declaimed narrative or monologue — the words are well set and understandable but monotony sets in after a while. Two casts alternated as Hannah Before and After. The opening night cast presented Blythe Gaissert with Michael Kelly both fresh off a production for Opera Idaho. The alternate cast was headed by newcomer Briana Elyse Hunter and Jorell Williams, both AfricanAmerican. We didn’t get much sense of a racial difference in the transgender experience from the black cast. Hannah Before or After lacks defining character traits let alone a relationship to their environment or community. Gaissert’s clear, incisive mezzo has been heard with the opera

since its initial workshops. Her specific emotional reactions, honed over multiple performances, revealed keen dramatic insights creating a three-dimensional character. Michael Kelly’s bright high baritone, boyish charm, and emotional availability reached out to every member of the audience. The less experienced alternate cast had more glamorous voices but missed dramatic details. Hunter’s voluptuous and vibrant mezzosoprano instrument imparted a sense of the powerful feminine energy Hannah After taps into after her transition. Yet she still conveyed Hannah’s underlying fragility. In contrast, Williams as Hannah Before seemed a depressive introvert hiding from the outside world. His darkly resonant baritone sounded veiled in sadness, looking for some way to break through. Despite all the accomplishment in the musical structure and presentation, “As One” becomes a long 75 minutes of opera. Still, City Opera’s staging is the 27th production of “As One” since its 2014 premiere. Future productions are scheduled and a premiere recording (featuring Gaissert and Kelly) will be released soon. “As One” is being heard around the country and will reach diverse audiences with its story of compassion and understanding. Kaminsky, Reed, and Campbell have already collaborated on other operatic projects and have new commissions rolling in. If that isn’t a success story, what is? June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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VISUAL ART

Ritual, Fantasy, and Gender Performance Non-binary artist Max Colby explains how language enables ena identity BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY Y

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hen I asked ed the Brooklynnbased visual al artist Max x Colby, who identifies as trans s non-binary and queer, if the he folks back home had any idea ea what to make of the young Max growing up, there followed a very pregnant pause. “No.” “When I was 14,” Colby explained, “my hair was eight inches tall and all shaved on the sides and fell in the back to my shoulders. I wore three layers of foundation that were pale and full eye make-up. I was skinny and had to wear jeans for young girls. I grew up in Wisconsin.” It all sounded pretty Gothwitchy-realness, first-time-at-aball to me. “I’m forever Goth,” Colby rejoined. “Just not the mall-rat Goth kid I used to be.” Colby, 29, who was born in West Palm Beach, received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Tufts University, and is a 2018-2019 LeslieLohman Museum Queer Artists’ Fellow. Originally trained as a papermaker, Colby told me, “In those years my practice was steeped in historic and scientific research on fibers.” Their work these days uses mostly sewn fabric and found textiles to create highly intricate and beautifully phallocentric throw pillows (my description) and other unusual and often happy-making pieces. Colby is a sweetheart, but a sweetheart with a soul like a steel-belted, wide-track radial from Michelin or Goodyear. By which I mean tough as hell and going places. When recently I took three buses from East Flatbush to Ridgewood to make a studio visit, I got lost, and then arrived there, oh, like 70 minutes late with a dead cellphone in my sweaty hand. Colby was solicitous and kind enough to come out onto the block and find me. In-

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SIEL TIMPERMAN/ SIELMARTHA.WORDPRESS.COM

Max Colby, in a rare moment of repose in front of several pieces of their work.

side, within a rabbit warren of artists’ studios, they offered me a bottle of water and we sat and talked art in their modestly-sized and entirely white workroom that felt like being inside a huge sugar cube. A whole rainbow of spools of thread stood at attention in straight rows next to a white sewing machine. Everything was spic and span and orderly, including several dozen recent works of art on the white presentation shelving that covered two walls. Colby was leaving in a few days for a month-long residency upstate at the artist-run Wassaic Project about halfway between Millbrook and the Connecticut border. They would be back for a few days and then off again to the Museum Rijswijk in The Netherlands to show work as part of the sixth annual Rijswijk Textile Biennial along with 21 other artists from around the world.

MA X COLBY

“Phantom,” 2019; crystal and plastic beads, found fabric, trim, fabric flowers, ornaments, polyester batting, thread; 9 x 9 x 16”.

Later that week, when I asked via email how Colby would describe their own work, I got this in reply: “My main focus in the studio for the past year has been a series of

sculptures titled ‘They Consume sculp Each Other.’ I’m interested Ea in exploring notions of ceremony and ritual through e American-Christian performance and producing queer, fantastical alternatives. There’s an immediate jjuxtaposition here — these cultural references routinely cu establish and reinforce vioes lence against queer bodies l through their very ceremonial and ritual performance. Yet the sculptures live as altar-pieces, while the wall pieces live as funeral wreath-cumaward.” That may give you some sense of Colby’s intellectual heft and, though it may sound something like the way many artists write for grant applications — writing about art being akin perhaps to singing about the sea — I quote it in its entirety because it shows Colby in the vanguard of a new generation of fine artists whose work, whether abstract or figurative, is an articulation and demonstration of personal and cultural shifts in both the performance and perceptions of gender. When Colby and I next spoke, it was at the tail end of a week in which three transgender women were murdered in three separate cities in the United States. All were people of color. All were killed by handguns. Also that week, the Trump administration made clear its proposal to undo healthcare and insurance protections banning discrimination against trans people enacted during the Obama presidency. “My friends and I were just talking about the timing of this,” Colby told me. “With all the efforts among some states to cap abortion rights right now, it seems pretty opportunistic of them. What protections there are for trans people are not that old, you know. We’ve been around forever and there are always these counters to it. I think what is different and powerful now

➤ MAX COLBY, continued on p.97 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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MA X COLBY

“Untitled,” 2019; crystal and plastic beads, found fabric, trim, ornaments, plastic flowers, polyester batting, thread, glass stand; 8 x 8 x 14”.

➤ MAX COLBY, from p.96 is the strong contingent of visible and trans people who are responding. “All of the recent language which rejects the binary has had an enormous impact on me. I remember telling my family at 13 that I wanted to transition, male to female. I knew no other dialogue but a binary one — you were either cis and gay/ lesbian or straight, or trans and female or male. At that time, you couldn’t do anything without a diagnosis from a psychiatrist, and as the conversation unfolded transitioning and my trans identity was cut off, so I retreated and lived as cis for 15 years. It’s only through this very recent language around gender that I’ve been able to fully embrace myself, my identity, and my work which was trying to get me to come out again as trans before I could even see it.” As for the Stonewall 50 anniversary, Colby said, “It’s important to remember that trans women of color gave us the Stonewall riots and Pride. Our contemporary understanding of public assembly and resistance as a body of queers is indebted to them. Yet this is the demographic that continues to be GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

denied basic human rights. Pride has been corporatized and coopted. We must transparently tell history and refocus our efforts. It is not better — or even livable for all of us.” Colby continued, “When I was young, I didn’t have any trans role models. There wasn’t any dialogue. We are still less grievable by society.” I wondered if their new multicolored funeral wreaths spoke to this “ungrievability?” “The way in which my work has gravitated recently to pieces that deal with ceremonies around someone’s death, it was an intentional movement, but it’s not a coincidence. It’s something I think about and these references are in some ways inevitable in my work.” I asked how — when their work, although beautiful, is so charged with such intense personal and community meanings — they relax. Colby laughed and said, “Getting my looks together, shopping, curating that stuff, that’s fun for me. It’s time I get totally to myself where I’m able to play.” Find more information on Max Colby’s art at maxcolby.com.

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BOOKS

Arsonist’s Havoc in Gay New Orleans Decades before Pulse, tragedy aged dy st struck French Quarter bar BY DUNCAN OSBORNE he Up Stairs Lounge was a refuge and an unofficial community center for the LGBTQ community in New Orleans in the early 1970s. And a Sunday beer bust that featured “two hours of unlimited suds for one dollar” was “an irresistible affair for a certain cadre of gay men,” Robert W. Fieseler writes in “Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation.” On June 24, 1973, an arsonist started a fire in the bar during the beer bust that killed 32 people and seriously injured another 15. As tragedies often do, the fire galvanized the nascent LGBTQ rights movement. Vigils and memorial services were held across the country. Activists Morris Kight and Morty Manford launched what may be the community’s first national fundraising effort that gathered thousands of dollars for the victims. The Reverend Troy Perry, who five years earlier had founded the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles and was already known nationally, was thrust into the spotlight because a number of victims, including Bill Larson, were members of the church’s New Orleans congregation. Larson was the congregation’s pastor and it sometimes used a part of the Up Stairs Lounge for services. In a 1975 letter to other activists, Manford cited the 1972 organizing to develop and deliver a list of community demands to delegates at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and the creation of the National New Orleans Memorial Fund in 1973 as efforts that “proved extremely useful in the struggle for our common goals.” The incident, which remained the largest mass killing of LGBTQ people until a gunman murdered 49 people in a nightclub in Florida in 2016, has been largely forgotten in the community’s history. It was the subject of two earlier books and two documentaries, but Fieseler’s book is the first to place it in a national context and to describe the event’s role in building a national LGBTQ movement. “This was the first nationally released piece,” Fieseler told Gay City News. “There was some amount of scholarship.” The book was published in hardcover in 2018 and the paperback edition was released on June 4. It won the 2019 Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, and Fieseler received the 2019 Lambda Literary Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers on June 3. “Tinderbox” was a finalist for Lambda’s 2019 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction.

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DUNCAN OSBORNE

Author Robert W. Fieseler.

W.W. NORTON & COMPANY

“Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation” is now out in papaerback.

The book opens with a lengthy section that introduces the people who were in the bar during the fire or had friends, family, or partners who were there. Fieseler describes an LGBTQ community that had made a kind of peace with New Orleans. We meet the man who was suspected of setting the blaze, Rodger Dale Nunez, who committed suicide in 1974. Fieseler’s description of the fire, or “nineteen minutes of hell,” and what occurred in the aftermath are difficult to read. The fire initially received national attention, but once it became known that the Up Stairs Lounge served an LGBTQ clientele, the amount of media coverage and any sympathy for the victims outside of the LGBTQ community declined. “It’s a piece of history that has all these emotional notes,” Fieseler said. “Where the stories

drop off is when the nature of the bar and the nature of who died became known.” There was also some resistance within the New Orleans LGBTQ community to outside interest. Perry was perceived by some in New Orleans as an interloper who was “not helpful and was just going to raise a lot of problems for local gays,” Fieseler quotes one man saying in an encounter with the pastor in a New Orleans bar. But there were also moments of bravery and generosity. Clay Shaw, “the most famous homosexual in New Orleans” and a successful businessman who had been accused, but acquitted in 1969 of plotting to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, offered Perry a street near the lounge for a memorial service after several New Orleans denominations would not let Perry hold a service in their churches. The offer was “professionally dicey” and a “political risk,” Fieseler writes. A United Methodist congregation eventually allowed the service to be held in its church. The five white women who made up the Board of Elders supported Reverend Edward Kennedy, their African-American pastor, and “flouted decrees” in United Methodist doctrine saying that homosexuality was “incompatible with Christian teaching,” Fieseler writes. As the service neared the end, Perry told the mourners that media, including television news crews with cameras, were outside the church. After some discussion about exiting through a side door to avoid the press, a “butch-looking woman” said, “I came in through the front door, and I’m damn well going out that way,” Fieseler writes. Though many of those who attended the service were closeted, they stood together and left by the front door. If there had been TV cameras outside the church, they were gone by the time the crowd left the service. “It was an enormously brave thing to do,” Fieseler said. “I feel like it was a transformative moment.” After his extensive research and interviews in New Orleans, Fieseler, who was raised near Chicago and lived in Boston for some time, has moved to the city with his husband. “Culturally, it got into my pores,” he said. “It’s a real urban landscape. Parts of it are quite dangerous, parts of it are quite fun… The soul of the place is still alive.” TINDERBOX: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE UP STAIRS LOUNGE FIRE AND THE RISE OF GAY LIBERATION | By Robert W. Fieseler | W.W. Norton & Company | $16.95 | 384 pages June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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FILM

Clean Sheets Daily Lila Avilés observes a woman’s work in a Mexico City hotel BY STEVE ERICKSON he hotel where Mexican director Lila Avilés’ “The Chambermaid” takes place is shot as if it had no exit. Although the film’s title character, Eve (Gabriela Cartol), works there willingly, Avilés makes some choices that emphasize her confinement. There are almost no exteriors. Eve is constantly separated from the outside world by windows or doors. Her flirtation with a windowwasher is mediated via frustration and voyeurism; in a scene near the end, she takes off her clothes slowly as he perches just outside the room where she lies on a bed. Eve works at one of Mexico City’s most luxurious hotels. The mother of a very young son, her hours prevent her from taking care of him. She finds her work a drag but thinks her life will improve if she can get a promotion to the executive suites. While she cleans hotel rooms that cost several hundred American dollars a night, her own apartment doesn’t even have a shower. She takes classes in the hotel’s education program and becomes friends with an older co-worker, Minitoy (Teresa Sánchez). But the frustrations of her job pile up, and it becomes apparent that there’s nothing positive to be gained from trying to get ahead there. “The Chambermaid” brings up a few reference points. The tracking shots of Eve in motion, which show her from the back, evoke the Dardenne brothers. The concept of basing a film around a woman’s tasks like cleaning rooms owes something to Chantal Akerman’s “Jeanne Dielman,” although there’s a major difference that Eve is getting paid for her labor while Dielman is a homemaker doing unpaid work on behalf of men (and sex work as well). Like Akerman, Avilés is interested in the details of work that cinema usually goes out of its way to avoid. “The Chambermaid” devotes time to showing Eve’s daily rounds before establishing much else about her life. However, Avilés cites an influence outside cinema: French artist Sophie Calle’s book “L’ hôtel.” Calle took a job as a hotel maid in Venice and photographed the objects left behind by its guests, as well as their clothing. Even if Cartol is a professional actress playing a fictional role, the film has a documentary dimension, with some of the plot based directly around the stories of maids Avilés met researching the script. “The Chambermaid” originated as a play, based on extensive research about maids’ lives. Avilés’ background lies in acting and directing theater and opera. This is her first film. However, its cinematography is crucial to its accomplishments. Avilés’ approach to character goes

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KINO LORBER

Gabriela Cartol in Lila Avilés’ “The Chambermaid,” which opens at the Film Forum on June 26.

KINO LORBER

Gabriela Cartol in “The Chambermaid.”

hand in hand with her visual style: no fake intimacy or assumptions that she knows everything about Eve’s life. There are plenty of long shots taken from a still camera, as well as a use of shallow focus that blurs part of the frame. The hotel setting looks so sterile and unwelcoming that the sight of menstrual blood on a pristine white sheet is jarring. Frequent images of Eve riding in elevators offer a metaphor for the class and employment mobility she’s denied. The choice of Cinemascope gives her grind an epic dimension. Eve’s libido and emotional life are shown. But “The Chambermaid” de-emphasizes dialogue and obvious markers of acting. Meaningful concepts are snatched out of the air, out of context: one guest’s TV is playing a news program whose guest says that all economic systems have collapsed into one; her class discusses “How is the border patrol related to the humanities?” These moments have a political resonance, but no ob-

vious message. “The Chambermaid” stays away from a facile, conservative version of humanism, where a filmmaker serves up poor people’s lives for a middle-class arthouse audience to pity. It respects Eve’s introversion, allowing her odd behavioral tics. At 100 minutes, “The Chambermaid” is slowly paced and feels longer than it actually is. But its drama picks up in the final third. If it starts out content to observe Eve’s life, it builds an increasingly urgent narrative out of it. If it doesn’t draw any larger conclusions about workingclass life beyond “dead-end jobs are a drag,” it has the optimism to let Eve imagine a better life for herself and try her best to figure out a path to it. THE CHAMBERMAID | Directed by Lila Avilés | Kino Lorber | In Spanish with English subtitles | Opens Jun. 26 | Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St..; filmforum.org June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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THEATER

Going Broadway for Pride The annual rundown of the best early summer theater opportunties BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE he season that just closed was notable for the diversity of its shows — from the complex and moving “The Ferryman” to the ridiculous and hilarious “Tootsie.” The variety of offerings means that whatever type of show appeals to you, there’s probably something that will delight and entertain you. And you’ll be able to get your money’s worth. Ticketing innovations in recent years have improved accessibility to shows for those with either time or money to invest. If you’ve decided that you want to add a show to your Pride celebration but haven’t planned ahead, in most cases it’s still not too late to score good — or even great — seats. For those for whom cost is no object resellers like Stub Hub, Vivid Seats, and even verified resale seats through Telecharge and Ticketmaster can get you in. If you’re willing to gamble, you can track seats on a reseller on the day of performance, and the closer you get to curtain the better a deal you can get. Some out-of-town friends of mine bought tickets to “Hamilton” 15 minutes before curtain at the Stub Hub office on 39th Street, between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, and they saved $200 per ticket. They did, however, have to sprint to the theater. It’s a gamble, but the seller has to eat an unsold seat so if you like a little risk with your theater you might try that. Far more common, though, are rush seats, including via online lotteries. Virtually every show has them. Whether lining up when the box office opens or registering online, you can you seats at a deep discount, usually around $40. Friends have seen “Tootsie” from the front row for that price and “Kiss Me, Kate” from the 10th row off to the side. Considering that that’s a savings of nearly $120 per ticket, it’s well worth it. The challenge with these types of seats is that they are always at the discretion of the production or the box

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MAT THEW MURPHY

Andre De Shields won the Tony for his role in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Hadestown.”

DEEN VAN MEER

Line up early for the best selection and take advantage of the “Play Only” lines to cut your wait time significantly if you’re not looking for the more popular musicals. Find all the details at tdf.org. They also have an app that gives you a sense of what’s been up recently when the booth is closed, though the selection can change s every day. If you go this route, hold onto your stubs. Your TKTS stub from one show lets you jump the line within the following seven days. That, too, is a new feature. One critical recommendation: go through a legitimate vendor, whether direct or a reseller. Be wary of people selling tickets on the street, particularly to hot shows; there have been counterfeits. So, that’s the how, now here’s the what. Here are my recommendations and tips on what’s available as of June 19. Things can — and will change — but this should give you an idea of what you may be able to score. This list only includes shows from the current Broadway season, or shows that opened after the season ended. The Tony Awards always change things up radically in June. A show that has had good sales suddenly sells out in the weeks after getting the honor. Shows that missed out on the awards — deservedly or not — have better availability.

Beth Leavel and Michael Potts in “Prom.”

office, and you have to take what you’re offered. The best way to find out about each show’s offerings is to visit their web sites. Every show also has premium seats, and these range in price. They’re often the last to sell, and for good reason. You’ll pay a multiple of the standard orchestra price, for example, for one of these seats. I’ve yet to splurge for one of those. Instead, I go online, look at the seat maps, and very often find a seat directly in front of, beside, or behind the premium section for the regular orchestra price. It takes a little time and patience,

but the savings are worth it. There are also apps like TodayTix that offers rush tickets, discounts, and lotteries for hot shows. If you check Theatermania.com, you’ll often find discounts. I’ve found the best way to take advantage of these kinds of offers is to go to the box office with the discount code: you’ll avoid nearly $20 in fees and you’ll also find a lot of flexibility in picking from what’s available. The classic savings scheme is the TKTS booth, celebrating 45 years this year. They’ve finally started posting the prices, rather than just the discount percentage.

Musicals Hadestown: The Best Musical Tony was well-deserved. This retelling of the legends of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice is a celebration of theatrical creativity. Anais Mitchell’s book and score and Rachel Chavkin’s direction make this one of the most thrilling evenings in the theater in recent memory. With a steampunk sensibility and glorious singing, this is a show not to be missed. Availability: Resale or premium seats only. They range from $250$900-plus. Best bets: Box office for

➤ GOING BROADWAY, continued on p.105 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


➤ GOING BROADWAY, from p.104 rush tickets the day of the show or the online lottery. Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St. Oklahoma: This thrilling production snagged the Tony for Best Revival. Be warned, though, this is not for all tastes. It is a dark and daring retelling of the beloved musical that suggests that life in the Oklahoma Territory in 1905 wasn’t all that rosy. Without changing the book or the score, director Daniel Fish and orchestrator Daniel Kluger virtually reinvent this American classic. Ali Stroker took the Tony for Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ado Annie as a vibrant, sexy, and very human woman — all in a wheelchair. Mary Testa turns Aunt Eller, often played as silly, into a powerful matriarch. Some have criticized this production for its darkness, but it reminds us that Rodgers & Hammerstein, for all their buoyant scores, transformed the musical by taking on serious topics.

JULIETA CERVANTES

to the prom but more to get publicity for themselves. Hilarity ensues. Yet, this is a fresh, engaging, and uplifting musical created within a perfectly crafted old-fashioned structure. It’s probably one of the more carefree good times you’ll have, and it offers performances by Broadway stars Brooks Ashmanskas, Christopher Sieber, and the divine Beth Leavel. The show is closing August 11, so if you don’t see it during Pride, this is one you shouldn’t wait much longer on. Availability: Good for rear and side orchestra at all performances, some mezzanine, spotty balcony. Prices are $49-$179. $40 rush tickets on each performance day. Best bets: Online and box office. Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th St.

Tony winner Celia Keenan-Bolger and Jeff Daniels in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Availability: Good for all performances at the $149-$159 list price. There are some table seats on the floor where you’ll interact with the performers for $225. Best bets: Box office. There is an online lottery. Circle in The Square, 1633

Broadway at 50th St. The Prom: This is one of those rare things on Broadway: a truly original musical. It’s the story of a gang of narcissistic actors who invade a small Indiana town, ostensibly to help a young lesbian go

Beetlejuice: Inspired by the 1988 movie, this is a slight retelling of the story, but it’s a whole lot of fun (even if, like me, you don’t know the movie). Alex Brightman tackles the title role, with the same kind of manic energy he brought

➤ GOING BROADWAY, continued on p.106

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➤ GOING BROADWAY, from p.105 to “School of Rock.” Joined by Broadway stalwarts Rob McClure, Kerry Butler, and Leslie Kritzer, the show has gotten a dazzling production directed by Alex Timbers. It’s the kind of musical that asks very little of its audience but gives a lot in terms of entertainment. Availability: Excellent at all price points $59$159 for all performances. Best bets: Online and box office. Save even more with Theatermania discount codes. Winter Garden, 1634 Broadway at W. 50th St. Tootsie: Santino Fontana took home the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. And it was earned. This largely faithful recreation of the movie is full of jokes and a lot of quick changes as Michael Dorsey becomes Dorothy Michaels. This is very much in the vein of an old-fashioned musical, and David Yazbek’s score, if not his best, is brassy and fun. Like “Beetlejuice,” it’s a virtually guaranteed good time for musical fans. Availability: Very good for side orchestra, some central orchestra, and both front and rear mezzanine for all performances at $99$199 for list price. The rush seats are $42.50, or save with a Theatermania discount. Best bets: Online or box office. Marquis Theatre, 210 W. 46th St. The Cher Show: This is another one that is going to be a matter of taste. It’s a big, splashy bio-musical of the incomparable Cher. Stephanie J. Block took the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, and deservedly so. This is a dazzling, silly show with a Bob Mackie fashion show in the middle of it. At the same time, it’s got a lot of heart and a great story. Yes, it’s a jukebox musical, but it’s one that you’ll love listening to. Availability: Very good for side orchestra, some central orchestra, and both front and rear mezzanine for all performances at $59$199 for list price. Good for premium seats at $299. The rush seats are $30, or save with a Theatermania discount in the mezzanine. Best bets: Online or box office. Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St. Ain’t Too Proud: The story of the Temptations is a knock-out. Based on a book by Otis Williams, the show tracks the rise of the group, its evolution and changes, politics and longevity. Dominique Morisseau’s book for the show uses Williams as a narrator, but she gives enough depth to each of the characters — and there are a lot of them — to connect clearly and emotionally to the audience. For those of us who knew the music but not the stories behind it, the show touches not only on the personal but also on larger themes about the evolution and staying power of the Motown sound. Availability: Premium seats only at all performances at the box office. Student rush only.

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JULIETA CERVANTES

Santino Fonatana (foreground right) won the Tony for “Tootsie,” seen here flanked by Julie Halston and Reg Rogergbird.

Best bets: Resellers. Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St. Plays The Ferryman: Jez Butterworth’s expansive story of life in Norther Ireland during The Troubles took the Tony for Best Play. The scale, heart, and humanity of people pushed to desperation even as they try to live a quiet life provide a story both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The cast led by Brian d’Arcy James is spectacular. This is the kind of play that doesn’t come along all that often, and it is unforgettable. The show is closing July 7. Availability: Good for side orchestra and mezzanine at all performances from $89-$179. Some premium tickets at $225. $40 rush tickets, Theatermania discounts. Best bets: Online, box office. Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St. To Kill a Mockingbird: Aaron Sorkin’s interpretation of Harper Lee’s classic novel is the story of a small, predominantly white town, the fictional Maycomb County, Alabama, torn apart in 1934 by the rape trial of a black man has a profound resonance in today’s world as racism’s defiant persistence is tragically more prevalent around the world. With stellar performances by Jeff Daniels, Gideon Glick, and a Tony-winning performance by Celia KeenanBolger as Scout, this is a deeply engaging and profoundly moving production. Availability: Premium seats only at $299$400. Reseller prices are significantly higher. $29 rush tickets for the balcony only. Best bets: Online, box office, resellers. Lincoln Center Theater, 150 W. 65th St. Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune: Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon star in Terrence McNally’s play. This, wonderful, lyrical

production seems very contemporary, though the play is 30 years old. It’s about the struggle to connect and love when life has thrown a series of curveballs and giving oneself to another person seems to be about the scariest thing in the world. Availability: Good at all prices for all performances. Regular tickets are $79-$199. $40 rush. Theatermania discounts. It’s been up on TKTS. Best bets: Online, box office, TKTS Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th St. What the Constitution Means to Me: Heidi Schreck’s play about her life as a speech contestant to raise college money is surprisingly rich and entertaining. It’s a meditation on the Constitution, but also on life in the current environment, our rights, and how we need to fight for them. It’s an inspiring, witty, and heartfelt piece that was, not surprisingly, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Availability: Fair at all prices for all performances. Regular tickets are $49-$169. $42 rush. Theatermania discounts. Note, the mezzanine of this theater is fairly tight and there’s little legroom for tall people. Best bets: Online, box office. Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 W. 44th St. There are also many long-running shows from past seasons that are still going strong — from “The Book of Mormon” to “Waitress” to “Dear Evan Hansen” and all the Disney shows. For juggernaut shows like “Hamilton” or “Wicked,” your best bet is going to be the lotteries. People do win them every day! So, since a list like this can’t be comprehensive, I’ve included the shows I get asked about the most. It’s a wonderful mixed bag of styles, productions, seriousness, and outright silliness. I hope you find a show that will enhance your Pride celebration. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


Witch, please.

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WickedtheMusical.com GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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➤ CAMPING OUT, from p.90 featuring Susan Sontag, whose 1964 essay “Notes on Camp” was the impetus for this show and explained it all (well, sorta) for the general public. Camp could appear in many forms, she averred and, for me, off the top of my head I will cite these examples: weddings; Carmen Miranda; Tallulah Bankhead; Pee-wee Herman; Bette Midler pre-1990; the opera “Adriana Lecouvreur,” in which the evil diva avenges herself on the good one by sending her a poisoned nosegay; the culinary concept of amuse-bouche; the theatrical oeuvres of the Charleses — Ludlum and Busch (camp in its highest form, mind you) — James McCourt’s novel “Mawrdew Czgowchwz”; the films “Mahogany,” “The Oscar,” Butterfield 8,” and of course, “Mommie Dearest” and “Showgirls”; Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairy tale abode of the mad Ludwig of Bavaria, and the Belvedere, the gay guesthouse it inspired in Cherry Grove; Cherry Grove; and Roman Catholicism (indeed, the Met’s last show, “Heavenly Bodies,” about all the drag associated with that Church was the ultimate, unbeatable camp-fest). Adjacent to the leonine portrait of Sontag hanging over her original manuscript for that essay is the huge, magnificent official royal portrait of Marie Antoinette, on loan from Versailles. This same image fascinated my seven-yearold self when I first saw it in an Encyclopedia Britannica. “Who is that?” I demanded of my Auntie Mary, babysitting me at the time. “Oh, she was the queen of France who had her head cut off.” What? A queen, with that dress and that hair? And her head cut off? Perhaps my first real exposure to camp. And now we come to the Big Moment, the Big Room where all the most important sartorial camp statements are on show. Like too many of the trying-too-hard-tobe-fabulous gowns here, one can feel the museum straining for the Ka-Pow effect, necessary to any endeavor that has its eye on the prize of being a blockbuster show. The museum decided to show the drag on two separate levels. This two-story effect — first seen here in the disappointing Comme

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JOHNNY DUFORT/ COURTESY OF MOSCHINO

A skirt from the 1989 fall/ winter collection of the House of Moschino.

JOHNNY DUFORT/ COURTESY OF JEREMEY SCOT T

An ensemble from the 2012 spring/ summer collection of Jeremy Scott.

de Garcons show of 2017 — while visually striking, makes it impossible to really see the clothing up top, in a repeat decision of ut-

ter aesthetic pointlessness. Bob Mackie stage outfits worn by Liberace and Cher are presented rotely, as is one of Dietrich’s tuxedos.

The designers are the big stars here, doncha know? I was, however, happy to see the estimable likes of Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, and Gaultier represented, especially Gaultier. His entire career has had camp underpinnngs, from the bracelets he sold in his earliest collection, fashioned from used tin cans, to his consistent use of louche Cocteau-esque sailors as inspiration, to his memorable Frida Kahlo catwalk tribute, to the way he has androgynously and consistently bent the rules regarding menswear, through the use of skirts and such. Franco Moschino, who rather came up at the same time as Gaultier, started a house that is going strong. Launched in 1983, it featured his classic tailoring and easy sexiness, all of it informed with a breezy, sometimes surreal irreverence, whether he was trimming a bodice with fried eggs or stamping the words “Expensive Jacket” on the back of such a garment. Two garments, one bearing a trompe-l’oeil ballerina applique and the other showing off the motto “Too Much Irony” attest to his unique and ever-prevalent sense of humor, which was sadly silenced by his death from AIDS in 1994 at age 44. American Jeremy Scott was hired as creative director of the company n 2014. When he determinedly burst onto the scene in the ‘90s, I would have thought him to be the last one destined to sustain a long and successful career, as his early lines were weak to say the least, with gimmicky themes and shoddily made. He hung in there, though, and moved to Paris, at which point I thought, “That would be that.” Then I hear, despite a disastrous attempt to revive the glitzedout 1980s with a collection that was solid gold, Karl Lagerfeld went on record as saying he was the only designer fit to suceed him at Chanel. A partnership designing sneakers with Adidas really took off, bringing him another level of clients — from the music, entertainment and sports worlds. Design-wise, Scott shares with the late Moschino a love of pop culture and labels, with one big dif-

➤ CAMPING OUT, continued on p.109 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


â&#x17E;¤ CAMPING OUT, from p.108 ference: Moschino had exquisite taste. Meanwhile, Scott dressed Katy Perry as a cornball crystal chandelier for the red carpet and then as a Big Mac for the afterparty. Scott has also gotten the official approval of La Wintour herself and was all over the opening night like an ostrich boa, arriving in a special party bus with his celeb coterie, Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Kacey Musgraves (who?), all draped by him. Three more quibbles. That infamous dead swan ensemble BjĂśrk wore to an Oscar ceremony is on display, with no mention of the fact that it was a knock-off of a 1935 Marlene Dietrich costume designed by Travis Banton for her to wear to Dorothy DiFrassoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Come as someone youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather beâ&#x20AC;? party. Dietrich had picked the Greek myth of Leda and the swan, and even had its blue eyes resewed to be green when she first saw the finished product (â&#x20AC;&#x153;I could never wear a swan whose eyes matched my own,â&#x20AC;? she purred. Now thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s camp.) I also object to the use of Judy Garland singing â&#x20AC;&#x153;Over the Rainbow,â&#x20AC;? both as sparkling ingenue in 1939 and then as bitter, aged, broken Judy. There is absolutely nothing camp about this beautiful, heartfelt song, which possesses the utter simplicity of any truly great thing, as well as a timeless message of hope that has inspired generations. Okay, curators? If you are positing the fact that Garland was camp, you are absolutely entitled to â&#x20AC;&#x201D; her sense of humor definitely was camp. And if you want to see her do something really camp, try watching her â&#x20AC;&#x153;Madame Crematonâ&#x20AC;? number in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ziegfeld Follies of 1946.â&#x20AC;? Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a certain lack of inclusion in the designer selection. The late Patrick Kelly, who lit up all Paris with his audacious use of certain black culture bugaboos like watermelon earrings or golliwog dolls as pins and by taking Parisian trademarks and throwing them into his own sartorial mix (Eiffel Tower hats, his own face on T-shirt but presented like the Mona Lisa), should definitely have been selected, along with others. One real pleasure of attending GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

the Met press preview every year is seeing Stephen Jones, perhaps the greatest milliner ever â&#x20AC;&#x201D; so wam, so bright, so talented. Each year he creates headpieces or â&#x20AC;&#x153;wigsâ&#x20AC;? for the mannequins in the show (150 this time). Nattily turned out in Brit tweed, he enthused, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I loved working on this one. The clothes are so remarkable. Andrew and I agreed that we should go low key on the heads this year as the costumes are so extravagant. Less was more. I did get to do some hats for the collection of feathered dresses, though. For those I drew inspiration from Madame Upanova, the lead ostrich dancer in â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Dance of the Hours,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; in Disneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fantasia.â&#x20AC;? Jones also made my favorite piece in the show, and the one that perfectly and succinctly sums up the notion of camp. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a little cocktail chapeau â&#x20AC;&#x201D; in pink, the same shade that gaily dominates the walls of the exhibit â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that he did for a John Galliano show in 2005, really consisting of nothing more than a luscious pair of lips with ribbons attached to fasten it to the head. But those lips are inflatable plastic, and this fun, unexpected surprise, combined with its homage to Daliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s painting of Mae Westâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lips (also made into a sofa), as well as evoking the tiny, adorable â&#x20AC;&#x153;doll hatsâ&#x20AC;? of the late 1930s and 1940s women loved to wear when having drinkies, make this one campy number, all the way. That same spirit of fun thoroughly suffuses the exhibit and whatever quibbles one might have with the presentation or selection, it is a total lark, exactly what anything designated as â&#x20AC;&#x153;campâ&#x20AC;? should be. By the way, if you stop in at the Met gift store, for $125 you can own a silk scarf, printed over with images of the multi-hued bandanas that gay men back in the day wore in their left or right hand pockets to silently communicate their sexual proclivities and positions. Is that camp or cultural appropriation? CAMP: NOTES ON FASHION | The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth at E. 82nd St. | Through Sep. 8: Sun. â&#x20AC;&#x201C;Thu., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. | $25; $17 for seniors; $12 for students | metmuseum.org

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➤ LAMBDA LIT, from p.91 Kitchen Table Press, which gave voice to its authors and demonstrated that there was an audience for the work. Smith also thanked many friends and mentors — both living and gone — including Clarke, Jewelle Gomez, Amber Hollibaugh, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Leslie Feinberg, Audre Lorde, Pat Parker, Adrienne Rich, and James Baldwin, “who made me think and hope that I could be a writer.” Lambda Literary’s executive director, Sue Landers, and board president, Amy Scholder, followed. Landers, in her first year in her new post, said her connection with Lambda goes back a long way: her first job was as a bookseller at Lambda Rising, the Washington, DC, bookstore that originally published the Lambda Book Report, and whose owner, L. Page “Deacon” Maccubbin, founded the awards. Landers and Scholder talked about Lambda Literary’s other programs, from the Judith A. Markowitz Award awards for emerging LGBTQ writers, given to poet Hannah Ensor (“Love Dream With Television”) and journalist Robert W. Fieseler “Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation”); to the Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/ Queer Nonfiction, awarded to Karen Tongson (Why Karen Carpenter Matters”), to its annual Lambda Litfest in Los Angeles, its retreats for emerging writers, and its youth programs in K-12 schools. At least one Lammy winner this year had participated in that program. Lydia Polgreen, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, introduced the recipient of the 2019 Visionary Award, Masha Gessen, as a journalist who has “always been at the barricades. She knows what it’s like to have everything on the line.” Gessen spoke of learning her craft in the gay press, and being mentored by Advocate editor Richard Rouillard, who taught her to ask the questions the readers really wanted to know about. When Gessen made her way into the mainstream press, she went to tell Rouillard, who was dying of AIDS, and he said to her, “Now you’ve got access.” Gessen has made the most of her access, writing articles and books about our current political climate. She recently traveled to Ireland for a New Yorker piece about queer refugees. One told her that he didn’t feel a part of any country, but felt part of the LGBTQ diaspora. Gessen said she knew what he meant, and she added, “It’s amazing to get this award from my people, my people who have taught me everything.” Alexander Chee, winner of the 2019 Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature, also expressed his deep love of community and his sense of responsibility to it. Chee’s work as a writer and teacher has been receiving more and more acknowledgement of late.

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BRIAN CHRISTOPHER SARGENT/ COURTESY OF L AMBDA LITERARY

Justin Vivian Bond, the awards evening’s host.

“He’s practically a professional award winner!” quipped presenter Anthony Rapp. Chee’s connection to the queer literary community goes back to the first OutWrite’s conference, when he started “thinking about this ecosystem one community can create.” He explained, “At the time, it could be seen as just a job, or a meeting, or a flyer you made,” and it ended up being a movement. Chee recalled how Sarah Schulman sent him a postcard in the early ‘90s, praising his work, and how much it mattered to him. “Reach out to people, reach back to people,” he told the audience. “Other people here before did that for me, and taught me that that is what it takes.” It wouldn’t be a non-profit awards ceremony without a fundraiser, and Bond cajoled and teased the audience to open their wallets and text donations to the Lammys, setting a goal of $10,000 for the evening. Novelist and vocalist Rakesh Satyal got the crowd cheering and donating when he gave a bravura performance of the ballad “Someone Like You” from the Broadway musical “Jekyll & Hyde.” By the end of the evening, the Lammys met and exceeded their goal — which was good since Bond had no intention of sending the audience home otherwise. The evening was full of memorable moments, heartfelt speeches, and indelible quot-

able quotes — it would be impossible to do justice to them all. It’s worth recalling, though, a few of the highlights. Canada’s Arsenal Pulp Press published three of the four fiction winners: Larissa Lai’s “The Tiger Flu” (Lesbian Fiction); Joshua Whitehead’s “Jonny Appleseed” (Gay Fiction); and Casey Plett’s “Little Fish” (Transgender Fiction). The Bisexual Fiction Lammy went to “Disoriental,” by Négar Djavadi, translated by Tina Kover. Imani Perry’s “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry,” won the LGBTQ Nonfiction Award just weeks after snagging the Publishing Triangle’s Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction. Roxane Gay picked up her third Lammy as the editor of “Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture,” winner of the LGBTQ Nonfiction Anthology Award. A half dozen quotes also bear repeating. Isaac Fellman, winner of the Lammy for LGBTQ Sci-fi/ Fantasy/ Horror Award for “The Breath of the Sun,” said, “My queer community is where I locate myself, and where I find my soul.” In discussing his “Toxic Silence: Race, Black Gender Identity, and Addressing the Violence Against Black Transgender Women in Houston,” Dr. William T. Hoston, winner of the Lammy for LGBTQ Studies, said, “There’s an epidemic going on. Black trans women are being murdered, and we are not talking about it enough. I would like to thank the beautiful black trans women who held this black cisgender man accountable, by telling me their stories.” Film producer Christine Vachon, presenting the Lesbian & Gay Mystery Lammies, joked, “This is so much better than the Golden Globes. Though they let you drink through the whole show there.” Ann McMan, Lesbian Romance Lammy winner for “Beowulf For Cretins: A Love Story” — among the many awardees voicing surprise — said, “I was so sure I wouldn’t win, I was reading my Jane Austen tie.” Mashuq Mushtaq Deen in accepting the Lammy for Drama said, “Draw the Circle,” said, “Most of all, a this [award] goes out to my dear friend, Satya, a man I met in India, a fierce and gentle activist — he has the kindest eyes — and he was the first man like myself that I had ever met... I’ll end with a few lines from the play that I gave to his character: ‘I took her hand and just held it as we walked. I don’t know if I was holding my brother’s hand, or if I was going back in time and holding my own.’” And finally, this, from Justin Vivian Bond: “They didn’t tell me I was going to feel! ” A complete list of the 2019 Lambda Literary Award winners can be found at lambdaliterary.org/features/news/06/04/lambda-literaryawards-31st-winners. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


Happy Pride! I join all New Yorkers in celebrating our diverse LGBTQ+ community and honoring the incredible individuals who have paved the way to progress, from Stonewall and beyond.

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GALLERY

A Really Gay Night — Even for the Met Museum hosts its annual Pride de Friday, day y, w with t co considerable panache BY MICHAEL LUONGO

I

t was a night of glamour, glitter, and gayness in a BeauxArts setting, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Pride Friday, held June 21 as part of the institution’s regular MetFridays: New York’s Night Out programming. Many of the events utilized the Fifth Avenue building’s architecture to dramatic effect. This included the open-participation singing group Choir! Choir! Choir! with Shamir, who performed in the Charles Engelhard Court, the crowd dancing and singing with the gilded Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Diana statue behind them, to the performance by the band ETHEL and Friends with drag singer Alexis Michelle on the second floor’s Great Hall Balcony, a series of arches dramatically framing them. The Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court, where old and new sections of the Met conjoin, is where drag queen Lady Quesa’Dilla taught museumgoers how to draw, using her sequined self as the model for their projects. Some of the activities were hands-on, with participants working with the Met’s teenage interns to make rainbow and glitter sashes nearby on the Great Hall Balcony, wearing them through the evening like beauty queens as they perused the exhibits. In the shadows of the Pharaoh Amenemhat II’s statue in the museum’s grand entry hall, artist Vincent Chong brought a touch of the Far East to the evening, teaching how to personalize fans, write Chinese characters, and understand Chinese queer terminology. Chong said the evening “was a way to give back to my communities, as an LGBTQ person and as an Asian-American.” Art of old was made relevant to today in a tour called “Mastering the Art of Self Presentation” by “Pose”’s Jack Mizrahi and Sinia Alaia, who discussed how to interpret old classics, including two by Lucas Cranach the Elder, “Judith

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MICHAEL LUONGO

Jack Mizrahi of “Pose” Pose talks about “Mastering Mastering the Art of Self Presentation Presentation” as he discusses d classic old paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

MICHAEL LUONGO

Lady Quesa’Dilla leads a drawing workshop.

With The Head of Holofernes” and “Saint Maurice.” They highlighted the unusual clothing, poses, and adornments of the people in both images and how unique they were as individuals for their time periods. Bringing this to her own life, Alaia told the group of about 40 museum-goers that being transgender and out has allowed her “to inspire so many people, just by being who I truly am.” Questions from their tour group centered not just on art, but also on learning more about future episodes of “Pose.” The building’s Thomas J. Watson Library collection was also open for public viewing through the evening, with titles of LGBTQ interest displayed out on tables. According to PJ Raftery, senior library associate, a few thousand of the museum’s one million books are related to LGBTQ topics. The LGBT Community Center, ACT UP, and the Audre Lorde Project were represented at the activist booth inside of the arms and armor exhibit hall. Dr. Abigail Lofchie, at the booth for ACT UP, said she was happy the museum highlighted activists this year, as she felt that activist-focused groups were slighted MICHAEL LUONGO

Sinia Alaia joined Jack Mizrahi in discussing self-presentation.

➤ MET PRIDE FRIDAY, continued on p.115 June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


MICHAEL LUONGO

Lady Quesaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Dilla leads a drawing workshop.

â&#x17E;¤ MET PRIDE FRIDAY, from p.114 in last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pride March.â&#x20AC;? The fact that they relegated activists to the back of the parade really shows their intentions,â&#x20AC;? Lofchie said of Heritage of Prideâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s planning, commenting that her group did not step off until after 3 p.m. The Metâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pride Friday also coincided with the ongoing â&#x20AC;&#x153;Camp: Notes on Fashionâ&#x20AC;? exhibit, an examination of the origins of the

word camp and fashion fitting that description (see David Nohâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s review in this issue). The exhibit examines historical usage of the word camp, partly through the lens of Susan Sontagâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s writing on the subject in her 1964 essay â&#x20AC;&#x153;Notes on Camp,â&#x20AC;? while highlighting pieces from the Museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Costume Institute. With pieces from Andy Warhol, Jean Paul Gaultier, and other LGBTQ fashion icons, the unusual exhibit runs through September 8.

MICHAEL LUONGO

Vincent Chong led a workshop on Chinese writing and queer terminology.

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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


STONEWALL 50/ WORLDPRIDE

What’s Doin’ in Pride’s Home Stretch Gay City News speaks to baker’s dozen plus one for deets BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

O

ver the past several weeks at Pride events across the city, Gay City News checked in with a wide array of folks to gather responses to two questions: What does Stonewall 50 mean to you? What will you be doing for Pride? Sean Robertson-Stefanic — Reclaim Pride Coalition Logistics Committee Member Meaning: Stonewall 50 is a true landmark of our culture, and certainly stands as a time of celebration, but that also comes with remembering why the rebellion in the Village happened and also that we still have a ways to go. For me, it means a time to act and be involved with and for those reasons. Plans: I’ll be very busy with our march. I have great faith in what we’re doing and am so excited that we can share this with other members of our community from all over the world.

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Sean Robertson-Stefanic.

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Linda Simpson.

COURTESY OF DASHAWN PRETLOW

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

DaShawn Pretlow.

Lorenzo De Los Angeles.

rival marches. I think I’ll go with the rebel march, but I’ll probably dip my toes into the regular march, too.

question. Ahhhh, what am I doing? Omigod, um, I’m thinking, um. I will be looking for hot boys — final answer.

DaShawn Pretlow — Education Coordinator, Manhattan Neighborhood Network Meaning: For me, Stonewall 50 is monumental. It’s a reminder of the work that we all still need to do. The fight is still alive and necessary because we’re not promised anything. There are people in our government now who still don’t want us to have our rights. We don’t want to lose the momentum. Plans: I’m going to go to as many festivities as possible, but also at the same time get people to understand why it’s important for them not only to live their own truths, but also to fight to tell their truths. We in the older generations need to support those in the younger generations.

Lorenzo De Los Angeles — Rise and Resist Coalition Member Meaning: Stonewall 50 for me represents the continuation of the fight and preservation of our equal rights. With a Supreme Court majority that now favors conservatives and local federal courts swiftly swearing in young Republican judges for lifetime appointments, our current civil rights are under attack and are in serious, potential danger of being dismissed or abolished. Plans: I have been involved and attending planning meetings with the Reclaim Pride Coalition, alongside friends from Rise and Resist and Gays Against Guns, so I anticipate volunteering in whatever way I can with the Queer Liberation March on June 30.

Jerome Brown — Student at Brooklyn College and June graduate of Borough of Manhattan Community College Meaning: It means everything. I first remember hearing about it down in the West Village after a few cocktails. I was a frequent flyer. Plans: I minored in African Literature and I will be in Ghana studying the African diaspora.

Linda Simpson — Drag Queen & Bingo Goddess Meaning: It means I’m getting older. Plans: I’m unsure because of the

Brian Ram — East Flatbush Trinidadian Lunch Cart Vendor Meaning: I don’t know. When I looked it up, it was a street. Plans: Gay Pride? That’s a tricky

GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Brian Ram.

Stuart Leppner — Very Gay Retiree Meaning: First off all that’s my time, I was around. A turning point. It’s an actual date that started the movement that we know today. I think it’s very important that it be honored and celebrated. Plans: Every day is Gay Pride Day for me. I was at the first Gay Pride Parade when people were throwing eggs at us. I feel it’s been totally commercialized. It’s time to let someone else take the banner. I’m 72, I don’t have to stand out in the sun. I celebrate Gay Pride just by

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Jerome Brown.

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Stuart Leppner.

waking up in the morning. Maybe I’ll wear a festive T-shirt. Christine Quinn — President and CEO of Win (formerly Women in Need), the largest provider of shelter to women and families in New York City. Meaning: Kind of an end and a beginning — the end of the period when we hid in the closet and didn’t make any waves or noises, and a beginning because it started the modern civil rights movement for LGBTQ rights. The fierceness and force and the glorious disturbance of it fueled the movement. Whenever you are discouraged or pissed off, you go back 50 years and you

➤ WHAT’S DOIN’, continued on p.118

117


➤ WHAT’S DOIN’, from p.117 are uplifted by the courage and bravery of those people who said that enough was enough. Plans: As many things and events as possible. I know we need to commemorate, but also to have fun and revel in the community. Part of Stonewall was about reveling in community power, and that celebration matters equally with political force. I will also be wearing a lot of sunscreen. You should, too! Donna Aceto — Photographer, Gay City News Meaning: Craziness. It wasn’t even June yet and it was kicking my ass. Plans: I’ll start taking pictures at the Queer Liberation March kickoff at Sheridan Square at 9 a.m. on Sunday, that’s where my heart really is, but then I’ll shuffle over to Heritage of Pride, too. Andrew Cuomo — Governor of the State of New York Meaning: We’re very proud of what we’ve done in New York City as a beacon for LGBTQ rights around

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Donna Aceto.

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Governor Andrew Cuomo.

the world. Plans: I’ll be welcoming the world to Pride in New York City. Robert O’Hare — Commander, Sixth Precinc in Greenwich Village Meaning: We’re really proud of how far the Police Department has come in 50 years. We’re not perfect, but it’s a pretty big difference between being the police outside Stonewall in 1969 and being the police inside Stonewall in 2019. Plans: I’ll be up and on the street by 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, and I told my family I probably won’t be home until around 24 hours

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Jules Peiperl.

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later on Monday morning. I’ll be watching to make sure people can celebrate safely and be listening to hear about any concerns that come up. Jules Peiperl — Costume Designer for National Queer Theater’s Criminal Queerness Festival (through July 6) Meaning: It means celebrating our achievements and feeling not alone without forgetting how far we have to go. Plans: I’m dressing up in an 18th century fop outfit with a Trans flag sash and hanging out with my friend — we’re going to flounce around.

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CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

Commander Robert O’Hare.

Vanessa German — Artist of “Notes on the Absence of Sacredness: How Little Black Girls Die” (pictured), currently on view in the group show “Radical Love” at the Ford Foundation Gallery Meaning: I think about the people that were there at the Stonewall that night, you know? Just people — drinking, dancing, maybe going to go home with someone later. Did they know? Did they realize that they were just about to make all of us safe — safer, 50 years later? Did they know? Plans: I live in Pittsburgh, a city where there’s a lot of contention about Pride, like Pride events being

PAIGE POLK / MAYORAL PHOTOGRAPHY OFFICE

First Lady Chirlane McCray.

sponsored by a company involved in fracking, so I won’t necessarily being doing the whole Pride thing there. But I did do a six-hour performance with my girlfriend for Pre-Pride in Los Angeles called “soft: the longest kiss.” Chirlane McCray — First Lady of New York City Meaning: We’ve come a long way, and I’m old enough to remember. I came to New York in 1977. I predate the LGBT Center! I’m grateful to be alive at such a time, to be host hosting a Pride event at Gracie Mansion, to have unveiled plans for the first statues in the United States of two transgender heroines, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Plans: I’ll be with my tribe, my crew, and it’s going to be a joyous occasion. June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc


East Midtown Welcomes the LGBTQ+ Community as We Celebrate WorldPride 2019! Throughout June, the East Midtown Partnership has planned a wide array of activities that will make East Midtown Manhattan your destination of choice for WorldPride 2019 festivities, including:

AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT DISPLAYS 18 Quilt panels will be on display at 9 unique locations

LGBTQ+ BLOCK PARTY WITH SUNY Join us on the afternoon of Friday, June 21, on East 55th Street between Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue, when we partner with the State University of New York for an afternoon of festivities, including food, music, and a Drag Fashion Show!

EAST MIDTOWN GIVES BACK TO THE TREVOR PROJECT Throughout June, almost twenty East Midtown businesses will         Trevor Project.

Visit us at www.EastMidtown.org/Pride for details

East Midtown Partnership â&#x20AC;¢ 875 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022 â&#x20AC;¢ 212-813-0030

GayCityNews.nyc | June 27 - July 3, 2019

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June 27 - July 3, 2019 | GayCityNews.nyc

Profile for Paul Schindler

Gay City News June 27, 2019 Pride Issue  

Gay City News issue for Stonewall 50/ WorldPride, June 27, 2019

Gay City News June 27, 2019 Pride Issue  

Gay City News issue for Stonewall 50/ WorldPride, June 27, 2019

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