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March 2014

Remembering John Katsaros ‑4

Your guide to queer films at the festival - 9-11

Uncovering CLE’s queer music scene

‑7

Kidnapped for Christ after coming out - 9 Secondhand stigma of serodiscordance - 13


Commentary

Letter from the founder It will be hard to imagine a life without John Katsaros. We will all remember his big smile and even bigger hugs when anyone came up to say hello. That is an indelible mark that will be sorely missed.

BFF’s Vicci & John Photo courtesy Bob Olayas

The one thing that I have taken away from my time with John is the unflinching way he gave his time, energy, advice, and generosity to those who sought it out. Giving back to the surrounding community at large was paramount. Although he would certainly shrug off the title of “leader,” he impressed upon many the power to be a leader, take charge, and make things happen. If it weren’t for John, I would never have met such wonderful people: Vicci, Don, the Basement Beauties, and his partner Rob just to name a few. Rob was a lucky man to have had such a loving force in his life. We were all lucky to have had such a presence impact our lives. And we will do our utmost to carry on your legacy of community and philanthropy knowing that you will be our Guardian Angel guiding us on the right path. God Speed,

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Shamus Dickinson, founder and publisher, is a lifelong Cleveland resident and community activist. He is currently on the board of Team Cleveland and will soon start his term on the board of directors with the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland. Along with his alter ego, he raises money for local nonprofit organizations and volunteers regularly around town. He and his partner, Paul, live on The Edge, Cleveland-Lakewood border.

Contributors Rob Kinsey, creative director, is a modern renaissance man. Graduate student, webmaster, HIV+ advocate/ activist, writer, designer, developer, photographer, and creator. He and his rescue mutt, Cocoa, live in University Circle. You’ll find him biking the towpath or hiking the Metroparks in his free time. Visit kinzdesign.com for Rob’s right-brain creations or kinseyreport.me for his left-brain musings.

Sarah Robinson (aka rawr) is a radical queer cyborg vegan and native Clevelander. She is a programmer at WRUWFM 91.1, which broadcasts from CWRU and online at wruw.org. You can hear her many Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on “Voices and Choices” discussing issues related to race, gender and justice.

Branden Nyfenger was raised in Sheffield Lake by second-generation European immigrants. He is a polyglot and student of culture, employed in restaurant management, and studying pre-law at LCCC. His passions include reggae music, gardening, and pondering social injustices and the plight of the downtrodden.

Spotlight Magazine is published monthly by Communication Express LLC. Spotlight Magazine issues are FREE and distributed at locations throughout Cleveland, Akron and Columbus. COPYRIGHT ©2014, Spotlight Magazine. Reproduction without expressed written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. All letters, manuscripts, photographs, drawings, illustrations, and artwork sent to Spotlight Magazine will be treated as assigned for publication and copyright purposes and are subject to Spotlight Magazine and Communication Express LLC terms and conditions. Photographs, editorial or graphic likeness does not imply a specific sexual orientation. The publisher does not assume responsibility for statements or content by advertisers, and reserves the right to refuse any ad. ALL CONTENT AND RELATED MEDIA ARE COPYRIGHTED 2014 BY SPOTLIGHT MAGAZINE. All rights reserved.

Get in the spotlight We’re looking for writers, photographers, columnists and editors to join our team. Submit a resume and/or portfolio to:

team@spotlightcle.com March 2014

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Memoriam

Remembering John Katsaros

Photo by Joselin Heretic

John Katsaros wasn’t an ordinary man in any sense of the word. John was a true leader...a man who loved the people of his community wholeheartedly.

He was a deeply dedicated advocate for LGBT rights. Whenever he got wind of anything cooking in the community, he was always the first person to say, “How can I help you?” And no one knew how to “mobilize and organize” at Twist like John. He’d say, “The Basement Beauties are here to help”. It’s truly inspiring how much he did for his community. Whatever needed doing, he wouldn’t think twice before offering his time and resources, never fearing the possible

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by Don Wismer

“repercussions”. And we all lined up behind our bold and brazen leader and marched on! From the amazing work he did with the Basement Beauties, sponsoring every sports team, from the Dragon Boats to the North Coast Volleyball Association, to flag football, softball, bowling and much more. He brought Drag Bingo to Twist with Veranda L’Ni as the hostess, once again bringing our community together to have fun, but also, to raise money for organizations near and dear to his heart. This, to me, is a leader. John was a dear friend, to me, and so many. Anytime I mentioned John’s name, it was always greeted with a huge smile and “What an amazing guy”. When you walked into Twist or any establishment where John happened to be, he always greeted you with his signature huge-smile and his award-winning “bear hug”. From gay, straight, transgender to questioning, he always made you feel like a welcome friend. Our friendship only grew stronger when he began dating my best friend, Rob Torma. As their relationship grew stronger and their love deepened, I witnessed just how big his heart was and how much family meant to him. I always enjoyed going to Twist for a drink to “catch up” or our dinners and vacations. (continues on page 6)


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(Katsaros, from page 4) of support from the Cleveland When I started Dare2Care  –  a community, not only to him, but his charitable organization, focused family, Rob, and coming out to support on our mission to “Unite Against Twist too. I will remain forever in awe Bullying”  –  who were my first of John’s humanity and be forever supporters? John and Rob, of course. grateful to have known him well and John immediately offered me the been his friend. I’m not sure I will ever opportunity to use Twist Social meet another man like him, nor do I Club as a resource to help get the believe I can live up to his standards, word out – allowing me to display a but I’ll take the challenge and do my promotional banner there for almost best to help fill those big shoes (flip a year, organizing drag bingo nights, flops). I feel extremely blessed that I and giving me no choice but to hold was able to see John one last time when my 40th birthday party there to raise he was still well enough to recognize money. And, of course, John was me, so I could tell him how much I love always there volunteering his own him, give him a big kiss and receive time at all our events. one last signature “bear hug”. As John’s battle with cancer grew So, sail on Angel man...your work more and more serious, I was humbled here is done and it is time to move on. to see the tremendous outpouring You’ve captured my heart and countless more; you will be forever loved!

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Spotlight on Queer Music

Queer Music

by Sarah Robinson

We’re here, we’re queer, and so is our music! The catch in this city is knowing where to find it. Join me each month as we celebrate local talent, meet cool people, and show support for diverse artists and queer-friendly venues. Here is a sampling for your gaydar:

Christine Louis and pianist Jane Tobias. Save August 15 for the Oven Productions Hot in Cleveland Womyn’s Dance Party to celebrate the Gay Games. Keep an eye out for round two of Guide To Kulchur’s new So Low, Solo Series, which features local musicians. While not queer-specific, per se, GTK is one of the queerest (read: coolest, safest, freest, “where-has-this-beenall-my-life?”) spaces in the city. This book/zine store and creation space is located in Gordon Square, 1386 W. 65th. DJ Saint, alias of local Zoë Renee Lapin, spins house, electronic and pop music at Bounce Nightclub on Celie’s Curse Saturdays, and is the featured DJ for In Case You Missed It: The Oven Eclectic Circus, a rad up-and-coming Productions and Punané 39th Annual dance party held the third Thursday of Womyn’s Variety Show on February (continues on page 8) 15 featured performances by local womyn in music and other art forms. The night’s climax was the standing ovation for Celie’s Curse, a new dynamic ensemble featuring Brittany Atterberry on saxophone, Kirby Broadnax on vocals and tambourine, Deidre McPherson on electric violin, and bassist Mary Player (an Elder of great esteem). Hoping Nicole Thomas, clarinetist makes an appearance soon. Other local performers of note: Zoë Renee Lapin vocalist Storme, singer/songwriter

March 2014

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Queer Music (Queer Music, from page 7)

each month. A show – drag, burlesque or the like  –  often accompanies the dance party. For all you riot grrls out there, get your tickets early for The Julie Ruin during their long-awaited stop in Cleveland on April 7 at the Beachland Ballroom. Kathleen Hanna’s new pursuit has hints of her Bikini Kill and Le Tigre days, with a new spin on the punk/rock/alternative vibe.

Early Girl

photo: Janet Macoska

Speaking of riot grrls, Early Girl will always be close to my heart; they were my first introduction to local queer riot rock years ago. Composed of Laura Ackerman on bass, Angelisa Crognale on guitar, Steph Burke on guitar, and Becky McMahon on drums, they will play at the Barking Spider Tavern, 11310 Juniper Rd., on April 6 with Angelisa’s solo gig, Lonesome Ranger. More information about these artists, venues and events can be found on Facebook unless otherwise noted. I am enthusiastic about growing this editorial; if you are or have information about a local queer musician or upcoming show, please email me! barbaricrawr@gmail.com.

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Pull-Out Guide to LGBT Cinema

Film Festival features glut of LGBT films The 10% Cinema sidebar – which highlights LGBT-themed films – has long been a staple of the Cleveland International Film Festival. This year, the Focus on Filmmakers sidebar – presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® – is focusing on films and filmmakers from the LGBT community. Combined, 27 LGBT films are coming to the festival. There are a few recurring themes in the lineup. As usual, there’s a couple of trans* and HIV themed movies, and an assortment of biographies and histor-

by Rob Kinsey

ical documentaries. Marriage equality is well-covered with three timely documentaries. I haven’t had a chance to look at all of the 340+ films in the festival, but as far as the LGBT films go, I’m looking forward to: Kidnapped for Christ, Stranger by the Lake, The New Black, Test, 52 Tuesdays, Before you Know, The Rugby Player, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, Continental, and SEX(ED) The Movie. Flip the page to learn about all the LGBT films. Choose your favorites and get tickets before they go on standby.

Quick Preview: Kidnapped for Christ David’s an intelligent, gay, Christian 17-year-old from Colorado. He had a 4.3 GPA and everything was going well until one night when two men burst into his room, woke him up, and dragged him away by a belt around his waist. His parents stood by and told David how much they loved him as he was Kidnapped for Christ. The men dragged him by the belt to the airport, then to Escuela Caribe, a “Christian therapeutic boarding facility” in the Dominican Republic. We meet David through Kate Logan, a film student and evangelical Christian, who heard of Escuela Caribe and wanted to “document the positive effects a school like this could have for those who needed it most.” Escuela Caribe uses “culture shock” therapy  –  regimenting every detail of daily life and doling out punishments (some corporeal) for non-conformity.

by Rob Kinsey

We’re witness to the slow death of Kate’s naïveté as she realizes the effects of this technique. As David gets broken down, she breaks too – questioning the school, its methods, and her own faith. The interviews are unnerving at times: the cold detachment of some staff, the teen’s constant fear and paranoia, the penalties for refusing to change. They’re also uplifting at times, especially David’s refusal to be crushed by the experience. Read what happens after Kate agrees to smuggle a letter to David’s friend Angie in our full review (at bit.ly/sl-kidnapped). where you can also watch the film’s trailer. Kate and producer Yada Zamora will be at the festival. Visit Spotlight Magazine CLE on Facebook to enter to win tickets and get updates during the festival. Kidnapped for Christ plays March 20 at 4:05 p.m. and March 21 at 12:30 p.m.

March 2014

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Pull-Out Guide to LGBT Cinema

LGBT Films at the 38th Cleveland International Fi 52 Tuesdays chronicles a year as Billie, 16, tries to come to terms with her mother’s transition from female to male while navigating her own transition to autonomy. 3.20 1:50pm 3.21 7:35pm

John “The Dog” Wojtowicz sits down with filmmakers in this look into the life of the man behind the bank robbery, including his involvement in the NYC gay rights movement. 3.27 11:30am 3.29 9:35pm

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is a loving portrait of the passionate personality that made the Pulitzer Prizewinning activist-author a revered and criticized figure. 3.26 4:15pm

Dual. Sometimes the perfect person appears at the worst possible time. Such is the dual nature of fate and the case for Iben and Tina. After a chance meeting, they connect.

Before You Know It follows three aging gay men who  –  with a lifetime of courage, humor and attitude  –  show us how to stare Father Time in his ugly mug and still be 3.28 6:20pm 3.29 2:30pm fabulous.

Five Dances is a poetic and erotic look at the place where creativity and selfdiscovery merge as Chip – a gifted young dancer from the Midwest ­–  pursues his dreams in NYC. 3.20 7:40pm

3.27 9:30am 3.28 7:00pm

3.27 11:20am 3.29 8:45pm

3.22 4:30pm

The Case Against 8 gives the inside scoop of the landmark case that allowed same-sex couples in California the right to marry, focusing on the plaintiffs who won the case.

Film is Art: explores art forms, artists and the artistic process. Pan-African Images: by and about Africans and African Americans

3.21 6:10pm 3.22 4:20pm

The Continental Bathhouse wasn’t just an erotic paradise. It’s also where Bette Midler, Pati LaBelle, Barry Manilow, and Sarah Vaughn got their start – playing to horny men in 3.20 9:35pm towels. 3.21 1:50pm

The Ghosts in our Machine. Toronto-based photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur photographs the cruel mistreatment of animals in giant “systems” to process them for fur 3.20 5:10pm and meat. 3.21 3:00pm

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia reveals Vidal’s effervescent personality in an insightful portrait of the rabble-rouser as writer, politician, and caustic social 3.20 7:00pm critic. 3.21 9:30am 3.22 6:40pm

Standing Up: competition supporting “films with a conscience.” Focus on Filmmakers: showcasing films from LGBT creators. Heterosexual Jill. It’s simple, really. See, Jill thought Jamie was a man, and when it turned out she wasn’t, they had an affair anyway. But that had to end; it would have made Jill, well, a 3.26 8:45pm lesbian. 3.27 2:00pm

Kidnapped for Christ. David goes to sleep one night, eager to start his senior year. In the early morning, two men broke down his door and took him. His destination: The Dominican 3.20 4:05pm Republic. 3.21 12:30pm

The Last One is the story of the AIDS Memorial Quilt as told by the people who helped create it. It is also the story of those working today to serve the communities still living with AIDS. 3.26 6:15pm 3.27 12:15pm

Use discount code “SPOTLI

Visit clevelandfilm.org to learn about all 340+ f

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Icons represent sidebars and competitions. Colo Descriptions are adap


Pull-Out Guide to LGBT Cinema

ilm Festival – ­ March 19-30 – Tower City Cinemas Lesbiana – A Parallel Revolution shows the enduring strength of women from all walks of life who are the mothers of a lesbian community, connected through art, music, literature, academia, and politics. 3.25 8:00pm 3.26 12:15pm

The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne tells the story of an unapologetic 80 year old woman who has stolen more than $2 million in jewelry using slight of hand trickery. 3.26 6:20pm

10% Cinema: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender films. Women of the World: films that celebrate empowered females.

Stranger by the Lake is a thriller composed of suspicious eyes, unspoken tension, and a surplus of very graphic sex, set at a secluded lakeside cruising spot in rural France. 3.21 8:50pm 3.23 1:35pm

Reaching for the Moon is a filmic ode to the relationship between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, set mostly in 50s and 60s 3.22 8:40pm Brazil.

Test – set in 1980s San Francisco – is a striking snapshot of the collective paranoia of a marginalized group, and the way in which we rise above life-threatening encounters. 3.27 3:50pm

3.23 11:45am

3.28 1:55pm 3.29 7:30pm

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine. You would think the story of Matthew Shepard’s life and legacy was well-documented, but the media coverage at the time stripped the young gay man of 3.29 5:00pm his humanity.

The Rugby Player. Mark Bingham was flying to a wedding on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. This isn’t the story of 9/11, but of Mark’s remarkable life and his equally remarkable moth3.23 7:15pm er.

Trinidad, Colorado, is renowned as the “Sex-Change Capital of the World” thanks to the work of Dr. Stanley Biber. As Biber retires, three women embark on new begin3.28 9:45pm nings.

The New Black. This empowering and disturbing documentary highlights a rarely discussed aspect of the struggle for gay rights, exploring the unique challenges for black LGBT individuals. 3.26 2:20pm

See You Next Tuesday is a black comedy full of humans with serrated edges. Mona, a pregnant loner, doesn’t have much to look forward to, except maybe going to AA with her 3.20 9:30pm mom. 3.21 4:00pm

Valencia – adapted from Michelle Tea’s groundbreaking autobiographical novel of the same name – is the story of an artist and a lover… a lover of women, through 20 short 3.27 9:40pm films. 3.28 3:55pm

SEX(ED) The Movie is an intimate look at the history and evolution of sex education. As well as the obstacles that prevent a discussion around informing children about natural re- 3.28 8:00pm productive organs. 3.29 4:50pm

Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf? is the post-feminist retelling of Albee’s classic written by Anna  –  a downon-her-luck filmmaker – as one of her 40th birthday resolu3.28 8:10pm tions.

3.27 5:30pm 3.28 12:15pm

3.30 2:15pm

3.27 5:50pm 3.28 9:00pm

One: A Story of Love and Equality follows two lesbians from New York as they talk to North Carolinians about marriage equality in the months leading up to the 3.22 12:30pm 2012 election. 3.23 9:20pm 3.24 11:30am

3.24 3:20pm

3.30 7:25pm

3.29 12:30pm

3.29 9:15am

3.29 1:35pm

IGHT” to save $2 per ticket.

films at the festival and check ticket availability.

lored boxes denote the theater for each showing. pted from CIFF content.

March 2014

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First Person

It started in 2007, when I fell in love with a guy who was handsome, charming, witty, caring … and his HIV had progressed to AIDS.

by Branden Nyfenger

(continues on page 15)

Neither of us let his status define him – it was a small part of who he was – and we were determined to not let it define our relationship either. Sure, we had our rough patches. What relationship doesn’t? What I didn’t expect was the secondhand stigma I’d face as the HIV-negative half of a serodiscordant relationship. I’d come out years ago, but I remembered how difficult and painful it could be to reveal myself as atypical in this respect. Just as heterosexual is the “default” sexuality, HIV-negative is the presumed serostatus. It took more than a mere utterance for my boyfriend to reveal his status, and the associated disease, to people. Given the chance, he would reveal it shamelessly. In hindsight, I respect him tremendously for

secondhand

“Why would you risk your health like that?!” is what a lot of people say when they find out I’m dating a guy who’s living with HIV.

March 2014

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(Stigma, continued from page 13)

that. For me, at the time, that utterance brought a moment of shame and of fear – especially as our social circles converged. This fear compelled me to cover up the serodiscordant nature of our relationship. I was afraid of the misconceptions and assumptions people might have if they knew he was positive. Maybe they’d assume I’m also positive. (“Why else would I risk my good health by being in the relationship?”) Or that I would become infected too. (“It’s inevitable, isn’t it?”) Or assuming that I was a “bug chaser,” wanting to be infected. None of these is true, I am still negative and have no desire to change that. These assumptions and misconceptions are founded in ignorance. This is the secondhand stigma of HIV, and I had internalized it. This pushed me to consciously enter a mode of nondisclosure and deceptiveness – an attempt to shield our love from scrutiny and criticism. I realized I was back in a closet of sorts; juggling who I told what and under what circumstances. This ran totally contrary to my nature as an openly communicative, straightforward, and honest man. My fear involved a paranoia that people might perceive me as somehow less healthy, youthful, or attractive, or that they would take a cold, a rash, an abscess, or

First Person

other physical ailment as a sign of seroconversion. Regardless, my ex and I enjoyed a great relationship – one of mutual love, care, and respect. I grew and learned from that relationship tremendously. I wouldn’t trade the three years I spent with him for anything, but at the end I was walking an impossible emotional tightrope. His sexual / emotional transgressions and indiscretions, in the context of our tentatively committed relationship, proved too much for me to bear. I realize now, as I intuited then, that there was a level of promiscuity and a sort of uninhibited joie-devivre which were in his case and in his activities a function of his heightened sense of mortality. Even after I ended our relationship, we remained good friends, and I am glad that we did. Stigma is like shame: we can internalize it based on real and imagined negative perceptions of those around us and it changes our nature, often to our detriment. With HIV, there is so much seemingly inseparable stigma – in people’s ignorance (willful or otherwise) or homophobia, in divisive laws and policies, in outdated media representations, and in the way we talk about HIV – that it is far too easy to internalize, even in a secondhand “guilt by association” fashion. I’m done with the fear, the nondisclosure, the half-truths, (continues on page 16)

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First Person (Stigma, continued from page 15)

and non-truths. The only way we can overcome the stigma around HIV is through inclusive, open, rational, progressive dialogue around the issue. We’ve progressed to the point that you won’t hear most people refer to HIV as a “gay disease” or “death sentence” but there is much progress to be made. The transmission routes of HIV seem to make most people think it’s OK to pass judgment rather than offering empathy and compassion to people living with HIV (PLWH). Because stigma makes most PLWH keep their status private, much of the public only knows of HIV through the lens of somewhat onesided media portrayals. Rob, my current boyfriend, doesn’t keep his status private. It’s one of the things I love about him and it has been inspirational and transformative for me. Aside from the serodiscordance, our relationship bears no resemblance to that of my ex and me. He takes care of himself, is multifaceted, driven, and he brings out the best in me. Everybody in my life has been witness to that. My fears and apprehensions of the past are now moot – since Rob isn’t in the closet about his status, I can’t be in the closet about our serodiscordance. He fights stigma and refuses to let it deter him. When a close friend of mine found Rob on Facebook, she messaged me. Rather than asking me what I was thinking, she told me how much she admired him for being so open about it. I’ll take that as a sign of the public – and myself – having changed for the better in the past six years.

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Spotlight Magazine - March 2014