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THE

Food: Dead Celebrity Cookbook

Coffee Table: Michael Stokes’ Masculinity

Dan Savage

The Art of Controversy

Profiles:

Alex Morse: Politician Richard Blanco: Presidential Poet

News Features: Killing AIDS & A Future Beyond Equality Spring 2013

| Vol 2 | Issue 1


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| SPRING 2013 Spring 2013

Our Anatomy TRAVEL Pride Guide | 6 Olivia Travel Turns 40 | 8 R Families Vacations | 10

| Vol 2 | Issue 1

2520 N. Dixie Highway | Wilton Manors, FL 33305 Phone: 954.530.4970 Fax: 954.530.7943 PUBLISHER CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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Killing AIDS | 12 A Future Beyond Equality | 14

PROFILES Dana Goldberg: Funny Woman | 16 Richard Blanco: Presidential Poet | 18 Alex Morse: Politician | 20 Desiree & Ingrid: Filmmakers | 22 Andrew Rannells: Actor | 31

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The Controversial Dan Savage | 24

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MUSIC Sexy Singer Matt Gold | 32 YouTube Superstar Eli Lieb | 34 Black & Beautiful Brandy | 36

FOOD Dead Celebrity Cookbook | 38

COFFEE TABLE Michael Stokes’ Masculinity| 40 Hollywood’s Double Life | 44 Donna Mae DePola’s 12 Tins | 46

COVER Dan Savage. Courtesy of Q Syndicate.

THE MIRROR is a quarterly magazine published by South Florida Gay News, Inc. Our company is a member of the Associated Press. The views and opinions expressed within this publication, in bylined columns, stories, and letters to the editor are those of the writers expressing them. They do notrepresent the opinions of THE MIRROR or the Publisher. They are included to promote free speech and diversity of thought. You should not presume the sexual orientation of individuals based on their names or pictorial representations in Imagine, and it would be careless to do so. For the sake of readable newswriting, the word “gay” in THE MIRROR should, when relevant, be interpreted to be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. All of the material that appears in THE MIRROR and on the web including articles used in conjunction with our contract with the Associated Press and our columnists, is protected under federal copyright and intellectual property laws, and is jealously guarded by the newspaper. Thus, nothing published may be reprinted in whole or part without getting written consent from the Publisher of THE MIRROR, at his law office, Kent & Cormican, P.A., 12 Southeast 7th Street, Suite 709, Fort Lauderdale, Fl 33301. SFGN, as a private corporation, reserves the right to enforce its own standards regarding the suitability of advertising copy, illustrations and photographs. Copyright © 2012 South Florida Gay News.com, Inc.

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2 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 3


Norm Kent

PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE

Here’s to You S

ometimes, less is more. I don’t need a lot of words to communicate how proud I am of our magazine, The Mirror. Forgetting the inroads the LGBT community has made in the past two years with our rights, The Mirror is capturing the dedication and devotion of our readers, the breadth and brilliance of our rainbow. People are asking me to take the magazine monthly. I am pretty satisfied right now leaving it quarterly, not taxing our advertisers, straining our writers, or pushing our luck. But it is an aesthetically inviting and editorially sound publication. Thanks for taking it into your hands right now. In our issues, we have highlighted so much, from

4 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

political leaders, and HIV issues, to artists, coffee table books, fitness columns and personal profiles. Because the world is changing and we with it, there are going to be fewer magazines, and fewer bookstores. From Barnes and Nobles, to Borders, the world is moving to iPads and Kindles. We will move with it. You can read our paper, and this magazine, online and on an iPad. We are keeping up with tomorrow by modernizing today. Take a look at the new SFGN.com website or The Mirror’s website at TheMirrorMag.com Still, I am a believer of coming home at night, kicking back on my living room chair, and reading a nice magazine, or a good newspaper. But if we are here to stay, it is because you

have made a leap of faith to make it happen. Businessmen and entrepreneurs, with tough decisions to make everyday about how best to invest their capital, are investing with us. We thank them so much for placing faith in us. We encourage you,the reader, to place your faith in them. Use their services. They are qualified and competent, LGBT sensitive and responsible. Think about this: If I come home from work and my toilet is stuffed, I would rather have a good plumber handy, than a good magazine to read. The plumber fixes a commode immediately, but a newspaper lasts forever. The articles we publish, and the lives we illuminate, last for ages beyond us. Newspapers record the history of our lives, creating documents, and reads, which can be cherished today and preserved for tomorrow. This is also why I so support the Stonewall Museum. When you record and preserve the past, you do more than enhance the present. The future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not beyond our control. There is no map of the future, because once you go there, you can’t go back. So today, I salute you, the reader; you, our sponsor; you, who care enough to make a difference in our lives by reaching out and helping someone today. We all have a limited time here on Earth, to see the beauty, breathe the air, and sail the oceans. Let us all set our eyes on the future, not the past. Let us move towards healthier horizons and move away from the hurt and hostility of yesterday. Find a Jerry Falwell look alike, and invite him to dinner. Let him see you don’t bite. Amazingly, as gays and lesbians, we no longer have to curse the darkness. We have lived long enough to celebrate the light. So take a moment and look at the stars tonight, thinking of the friends and family that did not make it here with you. I think it goes without saying you don’t get rich financially

anymore by publishing a magazine that has to be printed and circulated and distributed. Where you do get rich is spiritually knowing you are doing something that is larger than yourself and enriching for others, showcasing and publicizing the good deeds and marvelous accomplishments of your peers and community. Our future, anyone’s future, may be twenty minutes or twenty years. You never know. You know what God says? She says, “You plan, I laugh.” So there it is. We are here today because of you. I know this. By supporting an LGBT businessman or enterprise, whether it is our magazine or your local gay real estate lawyer, you are enabling publications with a purpose to live on, and providing the mechanisms for all of us, from your local dentist to dog grooming salon, to do better. At least we love taking our dogs to the groomer. But did you ever stop and think they like going to the groomer as much as we like going to the dentist? Wait, I kid. Going to a dentist today can now be painless, and it’s healthy for you, too. Whether we make you laugh or cry, think or curse, we reach people who care. Hopefully, we also make you smile with pride. Thank you so much for being here and help making the Mirror become a lasting reflection of our lives.


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SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 5


TRAVEL

Dylan Bouscher

Michel Mikiane LĂŠvy-Provencal

Pride Guide

T

Miami Beach Pride

his Pride Fest has become the largest single-day event in its city, competing with Ultra Music Festival and other major events for this title. Last year, the Miami Beach Gay Pride Festival drew 20,000 more people to it than the year before that. Now, as the festival enters its fifth year, more than 125 LGBT vendors, businesses, and performers will come together as food, refreshments, and a family-friendly area are provided for festival-goers. Groups attending the fest may pay to join the parade and compete to show the best spirit of pride in the most creative way possible. So far, groups as diverse as the Aqua Foundation for Women, Miami Gay Men’s Chorus, and Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ have signed up to participate in the parade. 6 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

11

9

10 8 6

7 1-5

A map of the listed pride events


Locations: Florida Miami Beach Pride 1 Rainbow Flag Raising

Where: Miami City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139 When: April 8, 6 p.m.

2 Gay Pride Beach Party

Where: Lummus Park, Ocean Drive between 12th and 14th Street When: April 13, , 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. FREE

3 5th Annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade

North Carolina 9 OutRaleigh Gay Pride Festival Where: Miami City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139 When: April 8, 6 p.m.

Oklahoma 10 OKC Pride Festival and Parade

Where: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma N.W. 39th street and Pennsylvania Avenue When: May 18 and May 19

California 11 OKC Pride Festival and Parade

Where: Long Beach, California Along East Shoreline Drive, Rainbow Lagoon Park When: May 18 to 19 From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

When: April 14, Noon Where: Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, stretching down the Art Deco district FREE -Grandstand seating is available along the parade route this year and ranges from $30 - 50.

4 Stonewall Summer Pride Festival & Parade

Where: Wilton Manors, Florida, 33305 When: June 22 and 23, at 5 p.m. Parade starts June 22 at 7:30 p.m. on Wilton Drive

5 Disney Gay Days

Where: Orlando, Florida When: May 28 to June 3 Cost: Ticket prices vary, Gaydays.com

6 St. Pete Pride Street Festival & Promenade Where: St. Petersburg, Florida (Address TBA) When: June 26 to July 1

7

Space Coast Pride

Where: Wickham Pavilion, 3701 N Wickham Road, Melbourne, Fla. When: May 26, From Noon to 6 p.m.

8 Tallahassee PrideFest

Where: Kleman Plaza, Downtown Tallahassee When: April 20, Noon

SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 7


TRAVEL

Andrea Dulanto

Olivia Companies

Olivia Travel Turns Forty Building Community, Changing the World

II

n order to understand the story of the 40th Anniversary of Olivia Travel, you have to first consider the story of Olivia Records. In 1973, a group of women in Washington, D.C. decided to start a record company for women’s music. “We really thought if women knew about feminism and lesbianism, all of these women would come out and the world would change,” said Judy Dlugacz, current President and Founder of Olivia Travel, and one of the original founders of Olivia Records. She spoke over the phone with The Mirror as she prepared to board the first of Olivia’s two 40th Anniversary Caribbean Cruises. “[Olivia became a] cultural phenomenon for the women’s moment and lesbian movement. It helped people find their community,” she added. Feminism and empowerment were part of everyday existence within the movements. In this tradition, Olivia taught women across the country to produce concerts and distribute records to stores. Cris Williamson and Meg Christian were some of Olivia’s most successful musicians. In 1975, Olivia released its second full-length album, Williamson’s The Changer and the Changed. It became a bestseller with over 500,000 copies sold over the years. Decades before iTunes and social media, Olivia’s success was built out of a grassroots effort. “Women hand-carried music from person to person,” Dlugacz said. “Top 40 was not interested in us. The women took the music to each other.” In the eighties, after forty albums, one

8 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

million records, and hundreds of concerts, Olivia had become the largest independent record company. Then a woman at one of the 15th Anniversary concerts mentioned to Dlugacz that women may enjoy “a concert on the water.” As the sole remaining founder, Dlugacz expanded on this idea by envisioning cruises where women could be completely out. “In the early nineties… I was out everywhere else, except vacation,” she said. Many women must have had the same experience because six hundred passengers sailed on each of the first two chartered cruises to the Bahamas. Dlugacz credits Olivia’s success as a travel company to their “amazing connection with the community and artists.” Although the transition from making records to offering travel may seem unexpected, she saw this as a continuation of their work. “The thread [between the two] has always been music, comedy and entertainment.” According to Dlugacz, Olivia’s purpose stayed the same: “to create freedom and new opportunity.” Women had been empowered to build a community through music. Now the empowerment was built with each other on vacation. “Olivia is still the company that creates opportunity for our community,” she said. It was not just about being “out,” although that in itself is very empowering. More than that, Olivia Travel provides a safe space where women who love women are “the majority.” According to the Olivia web site, the company honors diversity with the Sisters at Sea and Sisters at Play programs for women of color and their friends. Dlugacz also noted that transgender

women are welcome on any Olivia vacation. “In 1977, Olivia [Records] hired a transgender woman to engineer our first album,” she shared. “Before anyone else, we were there in support. We’re creating a space for women, so we’re welcoming to transgender women.” For their 40th Anniversary, Olivia has planned two 40th Anniversary Caribbean Cruises that will have sailed by the time of publication. The first cruise was sold out, and the second, scheduled for early February, was almost there as of press time. Each ship holds 2,100 passengers and features an A-List of women’s musicians, comedians and icons such as Meg Christian, Sweet Baby J’ai, Barbara Higbie, Kate Clinton, Gina Yashere, Marga Gomez, Billie Jean King and more. But the celebration doesn’t end there. Olivia continues the festivities with the 40th Anniversary Punta Cana Resort vacations in the Dominican Republic. The first vacation takes place May 11-18, 2013; the second on May 18 -25, 2013. One thousand women are expected each week. Comedians Wanda Sykes and Suzanne Westenhoefer, musicians Cris Williamson, Vicci Martinez, Melissa Ferrick (first week only), and Toshi Reagon (second week only) represent some of the stellar line-up. In addition to anniversary events, a total of sixteen Olivia cruises, resorts and vacations are offered throughout the year, including a South American cruise with Suze Orman. As for the future, Duglacz hinted at plans to start an Olivia community in Palm Springs. “The wonderful thing is that Olivia changes with the changing times,” she said. More importantly she added, “there’s always a need for community.” Visit www.olivia.com for more information.


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 9


TRAVEL

Ryan Dixon

Gregg Kaminsky

All Aboard! Not Your Typical ‘Cruising’ Gregg Kaminsky sets sail to give LGBT families a different kind of vacation

I

n 2003 after seven years of work for Atlantis cruises, Gregg Kaminsky decided he was tired of the parties and all-nighters he thought he had become accustomed to. He set out on uncharted waters to change the way gays and their families travel. Nine years and more than 15,000 customers later, Kaminsky has taken his own R Families Vacations to unprecedented new heights in family vacations. “I was a crazy kid growing up,” Kaminsky said. “I was at every Winter and every White Party in Miami for as long as I can remember. I think those parties are great, but unlike some of the people I saw there, I grew up.” Now in his 50’s, Kaminsky no longer desires the fast paced and

loud music that came with his party days. With his experience at Atlantis, business partner Kelli Carpenter by his side, and a little persuasion from friend Rosie O’Donnell, R Family Vacations was born. “I had an entertainer cancel on me at the last minute when I was at Atlantis, I called Rosie up and she was glad to fill in,” Kaminsky said. “She had her [former] partner and kids with her on the cruise. That’s when we got to talking about gay family cruises.” Kaminsky says that since starting R Family Vacations, he’s been able to reach a much broader demographic inside the gay community. “Gay families live in communities all over the globe,” he said. “But there is no

community for gay families. That’s what we set out and now have successfully created.” Kaminsky’s best friend and business partner, Kelli Carpenter, is partnered with four children. He said their group of friends in New York is a bunch of men and women, gay and straight, that are all mostly in their 40’s and 50’s. The core goal for creating R Family Vacations was to appease the wants and needs of a fast expanding sect of gay families and their friends. “A lot of gay men have kids that are 2 to 3 years old. These kids don’t often have friends or any way to meet friends that are in the same situation of family that they are,” Kaminsky said. With a changing society came the need for changing the way families get away. Kaminsky says it’s rewarding for those kids to meet others like them, to realize they aren’t alone. Also benefiting is gay couples that come aboard that don’t have children but are thinking about it.

10 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

“We’re a vacation company that caters to gay families and their extended families,” Kaminsky said. “Grandparents, aunts, uncles and people thinking of having kids come along just to be with their families and friends. It’s like a crash test to having kids, “ he said laughing. Realizing that gay families aren’t the only ones who need their own vacations, Kaminsky and Carpenter partnered with three-time Emmy award nominee Seth Rudetsky to produce a Broadway Cruise. The cruise boasts incredible Broadway stars, theater camp, New York City style piano bars, and the beautiful pink sand beaches of Bermuda. This summer marks the second year of the cruise. With almost a decade of helping families grow and maybe even help starting new ones, Kaminsky and R Family Vacations will be looking for more ways to expand their brand and reach. “People are out there seeking an alternative vacation, and we plan on giving it to them.”


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 11


NEWS

Sean McShee

Care Resource

Killing AIDS The federal government’s plan of action to end AIDS

S

uddenly, people have begun to talk seriously about ending the global HIV epidemic. Medical breakthroughs have changed the global HIV landscape. These new developments include the following: Microbicides, treatment as prevention, PrEP, voluntary male circumcision, and preventing mother to child transmission. These new developments can neither stand-alone nor replace condom usage. Researchers and providers now favor mixing these new developments with each other and with condoms. As condoms have low cost and multiple uses, they will remain a key component of HIV prevention for a long time. Condoms not only prevent transmitting HIV, but they also prevent transmitting syphilis, clap, chlamydia, and significantly reduce the risk for HPV and herpes.

the virus to their sexual partners. One study (HPTN052) that examined this

next few years and we had all better become familiar with it.

treatment as

Voluntary male circumcision has been shown to be effective in reducing female to male vaginal transmission. No evidence currently shows it to be effective for reducing anal transmission. It will have a greater impact in those areas with high rates of malefemale sexual transmission and low rates of circumcision than those areas with low rates of male-female sexual transmission and high rates of circumcision. As most gay/bi men have no doubt literally observed, most males in the US have been circumcised. In addition most HIV infections in the US occur through male/male anal intercourse. Consequently, this development will have minimal effect in the US. As a result of these breakthroughs, people and organizations are now developing coherent plans to end the HIV epidemic. In July 2012, two well respected organizations, amfAR

supposition, now called “

prevention”,

found that an undetectable viral load reduced HIV transmission in mixed HIV status couples by 96%. This development, however, has raised ethical concerns about treating HIV positives to protect HIV negatives rather than to improve their own health. Among all these developments, the most

Recent Developments Microbicides are chemical mixtures applied vaginally or anally to kill the virus before it enters the body. When researchers announced the results of the first successful microbicide study at the Vienna AIDS conference, the audience gave the results a standing ovation. It should be possible to develop microbicidal mixtures that could also prevent transmitting other STIs as well as HIV.

and AVAC, presented their An Action Agenda to End AIDS, to the International AIDS

Conference. This agenda has five major parts: 1) Developing the Ability to Deliver Major Medical Breakthroughs, 2) The Kill AIDS campaign kicked off in April 2012’s Miami AIDS Walk, and has become Care Mobilizing Enough Resources, Resource’s premiere ad campaign 3) Accountability, 4) Building the Evidence Base to End AIDS, and 5) Using controversial has been Pre-Exposure Preventing Mother to Child Prophylaxis (PrEP), providing Anti- Resources for Maximum Impact. These Transmission occurs when a pregnant Retroviral Therapy (ART) to HIV negatives organizations have issued their first report HIV positive woman takes ART (the class of to prevent them from becoming infected. on progress towards meeting the short term drugs that changed HIV from a fatal disease As the number of HIV negatives far exceeds goals of that agenda (See Table “amfAR/AVAC to a manageable one) to make her viral load the number of HIV positives, PrEP would be Monitoring Report 11/2012”). undetectable and to prevent transmitting HIV to her child. Last year in Broward, only 2 babies were born with HIV. Globally, 570,000 children became newly infected with HIV in 2003. Eight years later that number had decreased to 330,000 children newly infected with HIV, a 42% decrease. If treatment could prevent a HIV positive pregnant woman from passing the virus to her children, then an HIV positive with an undetectable viral load might not transmit

12 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

too expensive as prevention tool for all HIV negatives. While we know what happens to HIV positives when they lack access to ART, we have no idea how long term use of ART will affect HIV negatives. ART involves new and powerful drugs that affect basic biologic processes. Other people have proposed giving PrEP to people in abusive relationships to give the abused partner more control. This promises to be a major controversy over the

Developing the Ability to Deliver Major Medical Breakthroughs (microbicides, treatment as prevention, PrEP, voluntary male circumcision, and prevention of mother to child transmission) forms the key to all the other parts of this Agenda. In order to control the epidemic, these breakthroughs must become available across the globe. The availability of these breakthroughs will take different forms in countries that differ in number of skilled health workers, the level


amfAR/AVAC Monitoring Report 11/2012 Developing the Ability to Deliver Major Medical Breakthroughs

Mobilizing Enough Resources

About 57 percent of all pregnant, HIV-positive women received AntiRetroviral Therapy (ART) to prevent transmission from mother to child.

ART reached 8 million more people in 2011, increasing coverage by 20 percent.

In the priority countries of Africa, about 2 million men had been circumcised by 2011, roughly 10 percent of the goal.

Donor governments provided $7.6 billion in 2011, an increase of $700 million over 2010.

UNITAD reported that 60 percent of its funding in 2011 came from levies on airline tickets.

For the first time, domestic contributions by low- and middle income countries accounted for a majority of HIV activities worldwide in 2011.

Accountability South Africa set a goal of AIDS Accountabil500,000 male circumcisions ity International provides in the next year. transparent monitoring on pledges in regard to HIV/ AIDS. Reports currently exist on workplace policies, HIV and women, HIV and GBMSM/Transsexuals. In 2012, in a San Francisco The FDA approved a Building the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Evidence Base clinic, initiation of ART treatment for all HIV (PrEP) regimen. WHO to End AIDS positive people resulted in issued PrEP guidance for a six fold increase in viral developing countries. load suppression within six months of entry into the clinic.

Over 180 countries submitted reports to the UNAIDS on their progress in meeting 2011 target goals.

Using Resources for Maximum Impact

In September 2012, The Economist (a militantly free market journal) opposed efforts to push trade policies that threaten the use of generic ART in low income countries.

Evidence found that early initiation of ART results in substantially lowered HIV related treatment costs by maximizing new infections prevented.

PEPFAR costs for ART have fallen by 67 percent since 2004.

of development, and the social groups most affected by HIV.

Mobilizing Enough Resources involves ensuring

adequate funding to bring new medical breakthroughs to people in need and enough skilled health workers to deliver that medical care. In the US, this may mean increasing funding for testing and treatment. In Africa, this may mean increasing funding to set up mobile clinics to make up for a shortage of skilled health workers, hospitals and labs. Medical breakthroughs that fail to get to people in need are useless.

Accountability refers to setting long term and short goals and regularly reporting on progress towards them. In a democratic society, the average citizen has to be able to find these reports and to understand them. For example, the US should regularly report the number and percent of HIV positives in in care and those with an undetectable viral load. At present only 61% of HIV positives are in care and only 28% of HIV positives have undetectable viral loads. Building the Evidence Base to End AIDS involves steadily

improving

treatment

In 2012, researchers found that a microbicidal ring inserted in the vagina of monkeys protected them against Simian AIDS, an AIDS-like condition that affect monkeys.

Smile, and be proud! A Healthy Smile is a Confident Smile.

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Using Resources for Maximum Impact involves

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getting the biggest bang for the buck. This can take the form of ensuring that governments and non-governmental organizations direct appropriate resources to key populations. For example, In Africa, (Gay, Bi and other Men who Have Sex with Men) tend to have higher rates of infection than exclusively heterosexual Africans, but African GBMSM get minimal resources. It can also take the form of improved efficiency in the production of generic AntiRetroviral Therapy (ART) that lowers the cost of ART. With a lower cost, the same amount of funding can bring more people into treatment. These strategies could lead to control of the global epidemic. And even if they don’t lead to control of the global epidemic, you can learn a lot more about what will work from a failed strategy that you can from a failed

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SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 13


NEWS

Chuck Colbert

Urvashi Vaid

A Future Beyond Formal Equality

I

f the LGBT movement is, at its core, a progressive struggle for justice and equality, then should not the gay-rights’ agenda include

issues of economic, racial, class, and gender? In other words, is there more to gay rights and liberation than simply securing passage of non-discrimination laws and gaining the right to marry?

Longtime activist and LGBT community leader Urvashi Vaid certainly thinks so. For years now, she has been urging mainstream movement leaders to take up a broader economic rights and racial justice program. In a 1996 book, Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming Of Gay And Lesbian Liberation, Vaid argued a larger vision for the movement, with social justice as a window into the future. And now in a new book, Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class, and the Assumptions of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Politics Vaid offers pointed criticism of the movement’s shortcomings on that score. “We need a movement that is conscious of [certain] economic realities that real people are facing. she explained during a wideranging, hour-long telephone interview. “And our movement must address and change the serious lack of representation of people of color in its leadership, and racial justice priorities in its agenda.” Vaid was referring to a decade’s worth of economic demographics, data from the Williams Institute and other think thanks, which show many LGBT people are seniors, on Medicaid, and unemployed at the same time others are struggling to support themselves and families on fixed incomes. She spoke from her New York City office at the Columbia Law School where Vaid currently serves as director of the Engaging Tradition Project, based at the school’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. Her concern is that “we are not just a movement of young, wage-earning, and middle-class” people, she said, quickly adding, “which many of us are and that is a good thing. “However, “it’s not the full picture of the community,” said Vaid. What the Institute’s data and similar findings from studies and research by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, among others, “help us to see” is “the parts of the community that are less visible,” she explained.

14 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

Longtime activist and LGBT community leader Urvashi Vaid

Accordingly, “this makes a demand on the political side of our movement that perhaps we need to take a look at issues we haven’t looked at before,” Vaid said, citing recent congressional negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” as “state budgets are cutting out funding for social services at a time when communities, like our community, need homeless centers, community centers, and health-care programs —whatever.” “I am making the argument that those issues [of inequality and disparity] need to rise to prominence and that we can’t just think that passing a non-discrimination law and winning marriage is the end of the process,” she said, adding, “LGBT people are dealing with unemployment, struggling with health crises — from HIV to cancer and much more, are dealing with sexual prejudice that is built into every institution we encounter. Broadening the agenda is imperative for the movement to make meaningful change in the lived experience of LGBT people.” Vaid wrote “Irresistible Revolution,” which is a collection of essays on the politics of the movement, in hopes that her “voice” will “influence activists and others interested in social justice” whether or not they like the book, she said. “I hope that the book can make it possible for people to start thinking about our work and our agenda in different ways,” Vaid said. “None of the issues that I raise in “Irresistible Revolution” about race or class are new,” Vaid said in response to the question: Have we made any progress in the movement towards a broader gay-rights agenda? Vaid is certainly no outsider to the world of LGBT advocacy. From leadership positions at the National Gay and Lesbian Task force in the 1980’s and 1990’s to her work as a funder supporting LGBT issues at the Ford Foundation and the Arcus Foundation, Vaid has played a role in setting the movement priorities. “The book has a pretty pointed critique”

yet it is “collegial,” she said, readily acknowledging that her analysis is in fact “self-criticism because I am in that group. I don’t remove myself from that.” Vaid emphasized, “I love the LGBT community and our movement. I feel so positively about our queer variance, our queer intelligence, and our queer resistance…But no,” she said, “I don’t think we have done a very good job” or “have made any progress” in adding, for instance “issues of poverty,” HIV/ AIDS health disparities, and other concerns to gay-rights agenda, including “criminal justice issues, women’s issues — violence against women, women earning less than men — or expanding the definition of family in welfare programs to enable low-income lesbians with kids to be covered.” In effort to mobilize larger numbers of feminist activists, Vaid co-founded the Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC), which since its founding last July, has raised more than $750,00 from donors in 44 states, with donations ranging from $5 dollars to $750,000. LPAC (www.teamlpac.com) is open to anyone, including bisexual and trans women and also gay men and other allies who feel women’s rights are as important as LGBT equality. For all her concerns, however, Vaid is optimistic about the movement, offering another way to look at the have-we-madeprogress question. “When I see sophisticated work that activists are doing around health care, the impressive hidden work that provides access and opportunities and changes and affects people’s lives, then I feel more hopeful,” she said. In addition, “When I look at a state like Massachusetts where we have won formal equality in many domains, I see how the movement continues to push to do the training, implementation, and education so that all parts of our community can exercise the rights that we have won, that makes me feel hopeful,” Vaid said.


states [Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington], you had heterosexual leaders — major politicians, major business figures, leaders of color, faithbased leaders, saying ‘We support this,’” Vaid explained. “That’s really a different situation than four or eight years ago.” Sure enough, President Obama’s coming out for marriage was a game changer. “If you think about it, the supporters of the president are the people who support marriage equality or the expansion of LGBT rights — young people, women voters, people of color who are overwhelmingly in support of fair and equal treatment,” said Vaid. “It’s been so interesting for me to see what Jesse Jackson used to call the Rainbow

“The resistance in some ways is becoming more sophisticated, Vaid said, noting “The whole expansion of religious exemptions in laws that are passed. It’s really something to be worried about.”She explained, “I think the gay community has to get more sophisticated in how we think about religious liberty and exemptions to civil rights laws. It’s a complicated argument for those of us who actually believe in freedom of religion and religious liberty” and yet “are civil libertarians and believe in the Constitution.” It’s not yet clear whether movement leaders are inclined to tackle a more inclusive LGBT agenda. But the movement has matured in one way. “The LGBT community is

She was referring to the Massachusetts Transgender Civil Rights Law that took effect last year after a six-year push by local activists, along with advocates continuing to press state lawmakers for more comprehensive anti-bullying and safe-schools legislation. Other statewide priorities include cradle-to-grave advocacy for LGBT youth and seniors, people living with HIV/ AIDS, and survivors of intimatepartner violence. There are other indictors of the LGBT movement’s health and vibrancy, too. “The movement is much larger than it was back then” in earlier decades, said Vaid. “I still feel by no means has the movement peaked.” Vaid points to the Task Force’s Creating Change conference, which each year draws thousands of activists, as evidence of the span of the movement from moderate to conservative to much more radical grassroots groups. (Held this year in Atlanta, Georgia, the 25th Creating Change gathering took place from January 23 - 27). “The vastness of the movement and its decentralized nature make me hopeful,” she said. “The process of being involved in something where you really can change lives and make a huge difference that makes the movement irresistible,” said Vaid. The LGBT movement’s “honesty” is another hallmark of its irresistibility, she writes in her book’s introduction. Another positive sign for LGBT rights, Vaid said, “is the extent to which [gay equality] is an issue for non-gay people,” most notably young people. She cited the 2009 March on Washington where scores of heterosexuals, many of them students from college campuses nationwide, carried signs reading, “I am a heterosexual ally.” “It is extraordinary. The expansion of the movement beyond the LGBT community” to increasing numbers of heterosexual allies “is one of the reasons that we are winning,” Vaid said Perhaps the best example of non-gay allies making a difference was their key role in winning marriage referenda on Election Day. “In everyone of those four

We need a movement that is conscious of economic realities

Coalition actually come into being for this election.” In winning marriage equality this time around, lessons learned from Proposition 8 were also helpful. “What I took away from the 2008 California defeat was the need to do more work to engage people and involve nongay people in our movement,” she said. “We did go back and do more public education and engagement of different kinds of [faith-based] congregations and populations, and many, many more straight allies came out and stepped up to advocate on our behalf,” Vaid added. “Public education is a critical element of how we are winning.” None of this means the LGBT movement can offer to let down its guard, Vaid emphasized. “What always worries me is the power of the opposition,” she said. “I am not complacent about them. They are not just going to go away or withdraw because we are winning.” The tensions between LGBT rights and religious liberty claims particularly concern Vaid.

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more politically hard core in how to work with friendly administrations,” said Vaid referring to President Obama’s leverage of federal government agencies through cabinet offices — including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and State Department, among others — to chip away at discrimination and inequality. One good example is a presidential memorandum through which Obama directed HHS to require all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare to prohibit discrimination in visitation against LGBT people. “There’s a tremendous amount of work going on in the federal agencies, and the agenda isn’t just about getting legislation through Congress,” Vaid explained. “The movement is more skilled in taking advantage of those kinds of opportunities [administrative agency and regulatory processes] than we were 20 years ago.”

SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 15


PROFILE

Andrea Dulanto

JR Davis

Funny Woman Dana Goldberg Talks Comedy & Activism

Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a comic? A: My kindergarten teacher told my mother I was the funniest five-year-old she had ever met…I won my high school talent show with a ten-minute stand up routine… [then] I didn’t touch a stage for almost nine years. I was terrified to speak in public. When I was 26, I decided to audition for a show in front of 650 people in a sold out theater. My hands were shaking. I didn’t dare touch the microphone for fear I would turn it into an amplifying vibrator of sorts. I hit my first big joke and heard the most deafening laughter I have ever heard. I was hooked. Q: Who were some of your earliest comedic influences?

A:

Robin Williams, Steven Wright, Billy Crystal … The Comic Relief benefit shows. I watched Saturday Night Live religiously. Gilda Radner was one of the most brilliant comic minds of her time. Q: How would you describe your style? A: I’ve been described as a thinking woman’s comic by Curve Magazine. I have to agree with that. My routine is edgy but intelligent.

Q: What made you decide to be out as a lesbian comic? I’m not sure I ever intentionally wanted to bill myself as a “lesbian comedian.” My sexual orientation is a big part of my act, but it doesn’t encompass all of who I am, [yet]

A:

16 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

If I have a voice that can reach people, I need to use it for the greater good.

being “out” makes me feel more authentic on stage. At this point I believe that if you’re funny, the fact that you’re gay has become very secondary. Modern Family and The New Normal have broken down a lot of barriers.

Q: What are your thoughts on the state of women (particularly LBT women) in comedy right now? Whose work do you admire? A: Amy Schumer to Wanda Sykes and everything in between. The stigma that “women aren’t funny” is being broken down. I would really like to see more LBT women performing in front of mainstream crowds. I admire so many of my colleagues’ work: Erin Foley, Jessica Kirson, Dana Eagle, Gina Yashere.

T

he more you look alike, the longer you’ve been together.” Comic Dana Goldberg was talking about a long-term lesbian relationship. But any two people in a couple — whether they’re LGBT or straight—can end up morphing into one entity. That’s what makes Goldberg’s comedy connect to even mainstream audiences. Some of her material may be lesbian-centered, yet it’s relatable to everyone. Since 2003, Goldberg has performed throughout the U.S. and abroad; produced Southwest Funnyfest, an annual comedy show benefit in New Mexico; and performed at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner 2009 (with the likes of President Obama, Lady Gaga and the cast from Glee). In an email interview with South Florida Gay News, Goldberg shared her thoughts on comedic influences, funny women, and how she uses comedy to help others.

Q:

You often perform at Human Rights Campaign (HRC) benefits and produce Southwest FunnyFest which raises money for the AIDS Foundation in New Mexico. Can you talk about this connection between comedy and charitable causes? A: I started cultivating relationships with non-profits very early in my career. If I have a voice that can reach people, I need to use it for the greater good. The HRC [is] making amazing strides for the LGBT community. It genuinely makes me feel good to know that I’ve been able to contribute to that cause. Visit www.danagoldberg.com for more information.


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 17


PROFILE

Andrea Dulanto

Nikki Moustaki

Richard Blanco, Inaugural Poet On Diversity, Literary Closets & Miami’s Gay Culture

O

ver the past two months, there’s been a lot of media coverage about Richard Blanco, the fifth poet to be featured at the inauguration of the President of the U.S. Much of it centered on his identity. Son of Cuban exiles. CubanAmerican immigrant who grew up working class in Miami. Young—forty-four years old. Openly gay.

“I’m so used to wearing many hyphens,” Blanco said. He spoke with The Mirror over the phone from his home in Maine, where he lives with his longtime partner, Mark Neveu. For most of us in South Florida, Blanco’s background could be anyone’s background. The community is built on diversity. What is unfamiliar— to see Blanco representing this diversity at President Obama’s second inauguration, reading his poem, “One Today,” to the world. “The mere fact that I was up there, that I was chosen, made a statement in and of itself,” Blanco reflected. “I feel comfortable in being multifaceted and I felt it was important that people…see who I am.” In an email, Blanco’s friend of twenty years, Nikki Moustaki,

described what it was like to watch him read at the inauguration ceremony. “I was so nervous for him because I wanted him to do well—and he did! I was sitting in-between his partner, Mark, who had tears streaming down his face, and Beyonce’s mom. It was a surreal experience,” she shared. “I just said a little prayer that he wouldn’t stumble over any words or get too choked up to keep reading. ‘One Today’ is a very deep poem with a lot going on inside of it, and it’s easy to get emotional when reading it.” Herb Sosa, President of Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida, a local Latino/Hispanic/LGBT organization, noted Blanco’s influence on LGBT Hispanics: “Seeing someone you can relate to in that position of equality, honor and respect—that looks like you, sounds like you…is always good for how we view ourselves as a community… What the LGBT & Hispanic community can and should see is a mirror of themselves and a glimpse of hope for what can be for each and every one of us—a seat, voice and face at the national table.” Blanco “came out of the literary closet” as a CubanAmerican gay man with Looking for the Gulf Motel. In his other books, his poems stayed “gender neutral.” “I almost had to exhaust

18 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

[the issue of cultural identity negotiation], before I could move into issues of sexual identity,” Blanco said. “Possibly the cultural identity was less scary to write about…. Perhaps I needed more maturity to write about myself as a gay man. I just had to walk into it when the time was right.” In an email interview with The Mirror, poet Campbell McGrath, who taught Blanco at Florida International University’s M.F.A. program and became his mentor, observed that “Looking for the Gulf Motel is really where [Blanco] embraces his identity as a gay man…that’s part of the reason it’s such a wonderful book—the voice is so honest, liberated, compassionate, empowered.” Blanco traveled a difficult path to get to this place of empowerment. His recent essay on Huffington Post, “Making a Man Out of Me,” relates the story of how his grandmother abused him: “I became afraid to love, because no one could truly love a faggot like me.” When asked by The Mirror about the experience of writing with such openness, Blanco replied: “I probably cried through it a couple times… [but] when I feel a story needs to be told, there’s no remorse or shame, I just go for it.” He is also motivated to write

about personal subjects when he envisions that “someone will connect with this in a way that’s positive.” Many years before Blanco fully came out in his writing, he came out as a gay man in Miami. He valued his experiences with gay culture here. “I’d much rather dance salsa, than any kind of circuit party. I miss that element evident in South Florida, that cultural layer superimposed on our gay community. It makes for a more diverse, interesting community.” When asked about LGBT writers and literary influences, Blanco named Peter Covino, an Italian-American poet; the “beautiful Walt Whitman poems”; transgender poet, Eli Shipley; and Elizabeth Bishop— “I have a closeness to her as an artist and with her life story in many many ways.” Currently, Blanco is working on a memoir about growing up in Miami, a “cultural, sexual and artistic coming out story, all woven into one.” He found there is “more room… to have fun, and laugh when writing a memoir.” When asked about any imminent visits to Miami, he only disclosed there are “lots of possibilities.” “I am really yearning to go back to my home away from home,” he added. “I miss everyone dearly and I’m dying to come visit, to ground myself in that city of cities.”


One Today One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores, peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies. One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story told by our silent gestures moving across windows.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains mingled by one wind -- our breath. Breathe. Hear it through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs, buses launching down avenues, the symphony of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways, the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors, each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day: pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights, fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper -bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us, on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives -to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did for twenty years, so I could write this poem for all of us today.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling, or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open each day for each other, saying: hello, shalom, buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días in the language my mother taught me -- in every language spoken into one wind carrying our lives without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through, the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day: equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined, the “I have a dream” we all keep dreaming, or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light breathing color into stained glass windows, life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth onto the steps of our museums and park benches as mothers watch children slide into the day. One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands: weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report for the boss on time, stitching another wound or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait, or the last floor on the Freedom Tower jutting into the sky that yields to our resilience. One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes tired from work: some days guessing at the weather of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother who knew how to give, or forgiving a father who couldn’t give what you wanted. We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always, always -- home, always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop and every window, of one country -- all of us --facing the stars hope -- a new constellation waiting for us to map it, waiting for us to name it -- together.

SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 19


PROFILE

Ryan Dixon

Rob Deza

Alex Morse: The Politician

Coming out becomes a distraction for others, but people can’t use it against me when I claim and take control of a situation.

Morse, who turns 24 later this year, came out when he was just 16 years old. As a sophomore at Holyoke High school, Morse started a Gay Straight Alliance. That GSA would go on to hold student assemblies that talked about LGBT students and promote acceptance. Morse also helped get LGBT training into place for teachers in Holyoke. Holyoke For All, the city’s first LGBT non-profit is also Morse’s brainchild. Morse would go on to serve three years on the

A

lex Morse was born and raised in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Sitting just eight miles north of Springfield, Holyoke is a small town of nearly 40,000 people. As a graduate of Brown University with a degree in urban studies, Morse became the first in his family to complete any form of higher learning. More impressive than that was his 2011 win of his hometown’s mayoral race. Oh, and he ran openly gay.

Massachusetts Governor’s LGBT Commission. After all his successful work on behalf of the LGBT community, a gay agenda had nothing to do with why Morse wanted to be the leader of his city. “I ran for mayor not because I’m gay, but because I want what’s best for my city,” Morse said. “Unlike any other candidate I door knocked to get my name and face out there.” That sort of grass roots campaigning is what won Morse his primary, by just one vote over the incumbent. Morse, who was the only candidate under the age of 60, said he had people coming up to him saying that they were the one vote that gave him the win. He took the slogan, “I was the 1 vote” and put it on t-shirts to raise funds. “It sent a message that people wanted change,” Morse said. “We changed the perception of the city overnight.” Massachusetts itself created change when it became the first state to issue same-sex marriage licenses. By electing Morse, Holyoke has the youngest openly gay mayor in America, which further

20 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

solidified its place as a state that recognizes the need for change. Morse said his sexuality in his campaign never really became a problem, or an issue, that was used by his opponents. He completed training by the Victory Fund and gained the LGBT political candidate support system’s endorsement. “I didn’t have to go through a coming out process in my campaign since I was already out,” Morse said. “Coming out becomes a distraction for others, but people can’t use it against me when I claim and take control of a situation.” Even with their small population, when Alex took office in January of 2012, Holyoke had one of the worst unemployment rates in the country with nearly 12 percent of the population out of work. With hard work and the help of those around him, Morse has seen the unemployment rate drop nearly 2 percent in his first year. Credit his understanding of the economy and technology. “I was the only candidate raised in the digital age,” Morse said. “I know we’re in a tough fiscal situation, and I’ve proven my goal to help my city by sitting down and creating a

budget without raising taxes and making the tough decisions on what needs to be cut where.” Under Morse’s leadership the city is opening a new senior center, its first skate park, with plans for new parks to beautify the area. In the future he has big plans for his small city, including a train platform to connect Holyoke to New York City and Montreal. He is also spearheading the launch of a new website, which he hopes will rebrand the city, and showcase his plan for a new homebuyer’s incentive to bring more people into the area. Morse also prides himself on the fact that under his first year on watch, no homicides were committed inside Holyoke city limits. Getting into his second year, Morse is gearing up for his reelection bid. Hopes are high that he’s done a good enough job to earn his city’s trust for more time to do what he believes is the right direction for his people. “We’ve created a lot of positive momentum and we’re moving in the right direction,” Morse said. “I hope to keep it that way.”


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 21


PROFILE

Andrea Dulanto

Desiree Akhavan & Ingrid Jungermann:

The Filmmakers

F

or the past two years, Desiree Akhavan and Ingrid Jungermann wrote, directed and starred in The Slope, a comedic web series based in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. It’s an LGBT Portlandia, but sedately ruthless in its satire of the self-involved and selfrighteous. Desiree, a bisexual woman (Akhavan), and Ingrid, a lesbian (Jungermann) are the main characters. They do things that any upwardly mobile, educated LGBT or straight couple in NYC might do: they adopt a dog that has been abandoned in the park, they work/don’t work shifts at a food cooperative, they make an “It Gets Better” video. Yet they have innumerable flaws which are heightened for comedic effect. Even the show’s tagline revels in their inadequacies: “superficial, homophobic lesbians.” For example, some of their advice for LGBT youth in the “It Gets Better” video— don’t get fat, know a lot about music, and not everyone needs to have an opinion.

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The Slope is able to be shameless in its political incorrectness because it uses humor to question the values of upwardly mobile, educated couples. It seems to say— really, this is who we are? Or if we’re outside of the privileged circle—really, this is what we’re supposed to aspire to? Although The Slope can be viewed in its entirety online, the series finale aired in June 2012. Next up: individual projects. Akhavan starts filming her first feature, Disposable Lovers in May. “It’s a comedy in the vein of Annie Hall that follows the rise and fall of a relationship between a lesbian couple in Brooklyn,” she told The Mirror. Jungermann’s latest is an eight-episode web series, F TO 7th, which premiered on January 21. She described it as “a homo-neurotic spin-off of “The Slope,” about my descent into lesbian middle age.” New episodes are posted on Mondays. For more information, visit http://theslopeshow.com http://disposablelovers.com http://fto7th.com


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SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 23


COVER STORY

Chris Azzopardi

Q Syndicate

Savage

Love (& Hate) Polarizing media pundit talks ‘crazy’ queer people, launching It Gets Better and why he’s not a bully

I

n his two-decade career as a sex-advice columnist, and more recently as creator of the It Gets Better Project, Dan Savage has entertained readers with his frankness and inspired queer kids with his encouragement – even when some people would rather he just go away. Those same people – critics who have called him racist, transphobic, the devil and even The Gay Fred Phelps – are the ones he takes on in our recent interview. Q: How does it feel going from cheeky columnist to a leader in the LGBT movement after launching the It Gets Better Project? A: {Laughs) I don’t know! I never describe myselfas a spokesman or having any sort of role in the movement – because it pisses off people who probably should be pissed off, or probably just want to be pissed off. I’m just a writer. Usually when people start talking about a gay writer in relation to their role in the movement, what comes next is they want you to shut up. It’s true. There are a lot of conservatives who wish 24 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

you’d shut your mouth.jThere are a lot of lefties out there who are trying to get me to shut up! There are lefty queers who think that I’m the devil.

Q: The people who hate you, especially in the gay community, say that although you created the It Gets Better Project to curb bullying, you are a bully yourself – that you bully the obese, Republicans and Christians. How do you respond to people who call you hypocritical? A: Well, usually they’re lying or they’re full of it, or they’re confused about what

bullying is. Bullying is a power relationship; it’s about the powerful picking on the weak and the vulnerable and the persecuted. That I have an opinion about the obesity epidemic that you disagree with doesn’t make me a bully. That I write a column where people are allowed to use the language that they actually use when they talk about their sex lives, and that I use the word “fag” in my column, doesn’t make me a bully. Rick Santorum says I’ve bullied him – because he is somehow the moral equivalent of a vulnerable and isolated

closeted gay 13-year-old growing up in Texas who has no support and nowhere to turn? That’s Rick Santorum? This is dumbing bullying down to mean absolutely everything. People who claim that they’ve been bullied by me or my column are full of shit. (Laughs) Now they’ll claim that “that” is bullying because I’m supposed to go, “Oh, golly gosh, you just threw the word ‘bullying’ on the table and it’s kryptonite and I must melt in the face of it.” Somebody disagreeing with you – that ain’t fucking bullying.


Q: Where does this hatred come from? How did you become this “bully” within the gay community? A: What that comes from is that some fucking queer people are crazy. That’s where that comes from! (Laughs) I’m for transinclusion. I keep pointing out that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal is not finished because trans people are banned from serving in the military, and I raised $5,000 for a trans woman’s funeral on my blog in 2004. Buck Angel and Kate Bornstein have been guest sexperts. Find me a sex-advice columnist who was seeking out the opinions of high-profile trans people 15 years ago and lending them their platform. If that amounts to anti-trans bigotry, if I’m the enemy in the trans community, then the trans community could use more enemies like me. The It Gets Better Project wasn’t the Suck My Dick, I’m Dan Savage Project. (My partner) Terry (Miller) and I got it rolling and then stepped

out of the way. And a lot of trans people made videos. Some of the first videos that came in were from trans people and upped the visibility of trans people. I’m the executive producer of the two It Gets Better specials that we did for MTV, which reached millions and millions of people. One of the six stories we told was Aydian’s – who’s trans! What’s funny is that anything I do that is vaguely in-line with stuff that I’ve always done that’s pro-trans is now, “He’s just

I’m anti-straight. We could pick this apart. I’m a rape apologist. I’m racist. It’s kind of hilarious. (Laughs)

Q: The It Gets Better Project has become a worldwide movement. Did you anticipate it taking off like it has? A: No, absolutely not. When I announced it, I thought it would be this cool project for my readers. We hoped that we would get about 100 videos,

The It Gets Better Project wasn’t the Suck My Dick, I’m Dan Savage Project.

covering up for his transphobia by being pro-trans.”

Q: What do trans people point

to? Why do some of them think you hate them? A: That I’ve used the word “tranny” and the word “shemale” in my column. I stopped using them after people raised objections, but people still cite columns I wrote 10 years ago. I think we all know more about trans issues than we did 20 years ago. I have trans friends who actually think we should use the term “she-male” when we’re referring to a type of trans woman who does escorting or a particular porn genre, because what other term is there? What are you supposed to say when you mean she-male porn?

Q: You also use “fag,” so that must make you anti-gay. A: And I use “breeder,” so

Q: How about telling Republicans to kill themselves? What’s that? A: (Laughs) I actually haven’t ever told a Republican that they should kill themselves, and the one time on “Bill Maher” I said under my breath, “I wish they were all dead,” I immediately apologized before anybody barked at me about it. It was the wrong thing to say, and I apologized before anybody yelled at me. I didn’t wait for there to be a scandal to apologize. You know, when you run your mouth for a living, sometimes you run yourself into a ditch. It’s important at those moments to man-up and say, “Hey, that was wrong.” People try to claim that I’m a bully – and it’s bullshit. It’s actually a form of bullying, you know, when queers show up and somebody throws a jar at your face and dumps glitter on you and says that you’re an antitrans bigot. To accuse somebody in the hothouse environment of queer activism of being an anti-queer bigot is bullying, especially when you’ve got nothing to back it up.

because I felt like if we got 100 videos, we’d get some of everybody. Terry and I were both aware when we released that first video that not all queer people look like us, have penises like the both of us happen to, want the same things out of life – and it would only be meaningful if there was a lot of everybody, a lot of different kinds of queer people. We got 100 videos in probably 12 or 24 hours, and it kind of blew us away. That just this week It Gets Better launched in Portugal and Italy, and there are It Gets Better Projects in Latin America, Australia, the United Kingdom and Sweden – it’s kind of amazing. There’s probably 80,000 videos, and millions of people have taken part in the projects. It became part of a sensation, and then celebrities and politicians started jumping in; we did not solicit videos from celebrities and politicians. The

ones that are really valuable to everyday ordinary queer kids are the everyday ordinary queer people who you haven’t heard of. We don’t want to say that to be happy and loved you have to be Ellen, because not everybody gets to be Ellen.

Q: Some of your critics thought that It Gets Better was too passive, that we should tell kids to fight back. Scott Thompson of “The Kids in the Hall” told me his advice to kids would be to “grow a pair.” A: (Laughs) You know what, that’s what some people said in the videos. One of our favorite videos was from Gabrielle Rivera, this Latina lesbian poet in the Bronx who made this video that some people thought we would hate. In her video she’s like, “I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t get better. These white people and their money, and they can sit in their nice apartments.” But she was like, “Fuck that and these people. I’m here to tell you it does not get better; I’m here to tell you, you get stronger.” That’s grow a pair – or you will have a pair grown “for” you. (Laughs) Most of the misconceptions people have of what’s in the videos can be cured if they spend five minutes watching them. If you watch them, what you see are people talking about how they made it better themselves, what they did, how they demanded better of their families and their communities. It didn’t just happen to them – the sun didn’t just come up and it was better one day. So there’s nothing passive about the project. Q: Who told you it gets better when you were a kid? A: People have asked me, “Would you have liked there to be an It Gets Better Project for you?” and I’ve always said that there was. When I was 13 years old in 1977, growing up in Chicago, I remember very distinctly being out at the movies with my mother, siblings and dad – and there were two gay guys in line holding hands in front of us. My parents were

SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 25


kind of unhappy and freaked out, and I just remember looking at the couple and going, “I always knew I was different. Now I know how.” I just looked at them and thought, “They look happy; I’ll be OK.” And they were telling a story, which is what the project is about. Fifty years ago, you used to think you were the only queer person in the world. You didn’t think there was another boy like you. Queer kids don’t grow up with that kind of isolation anymore. But there are bullied queer kids out there who know there are happy queer adults in the world, but they don’t know how you get to be one. But so many of us suffered, and then we got past it. With this project, we were able to share those stories. And there have been other suicides since that have been earthshattering, particularly Jamey Rodemeyer’s suicide. We’ve heard from thousands of kids – and some parents, even. And nobody writes about the kids who didn’t kill themselves. It’s not a news story when a gay kid doesn’t kill him- or herself.

Q: Who do you go to for advice? A: I used to go to my mom, but

my mom passed away, so I go to my brother Billy. He gives great advice. He’s a smart dude.

Q: Does Terry give you good advice? A: (Laughs) Well … Terry and I are spouses; we talk about everything. Terry is a very smart person, but usually when I need advice it’s about Terry, so I can’t really go to Terry. Q: What are some trends in gay

sex? Have dental dams caught on yet? A: No – dental dams for analingus and cunnilingus didn’t catch on during the worst of the AIDS epidemic; they’re certainly not catching on now. Trends in sex: Well, kink has gone completely mainstream. I’d like to think that my column sort of opened the discussion of kink and helped make it more mainstream. Look at “Fifty Shades of Grey” now. Back when, people who had the audacity to hang Robert

Mapplethorpe pictures in museums were put on trial; newspapers and courts talked about S&M as if it were the most depraved and disgusting thing that a human being could possibly do next to gay sex. And if you did it “in addition” to gay sex or at the same time, oh my god – you were Satan. Now it’s pretty mainstream. But that’s human sexuality. Gay sex always had at its heart that sex is about pleasure and intimacy and not about reproduction – and it’s not about reproduction for straight people either, but they like to pretend that it is. Straight people have a lot more sex than they have babies.

Q: For someone who gives advice on sex, you must have a pretty fulfilling, or at least entertaining, sex life. How much of the advice you give is based on your own sex life? A: Gay people tend to know more about sex and be better at it than straight people, because sex is what makes us not straight people so we think

about it more. So everything I write about – not everything; I haven’t salined my balls. Not yet, anyway. The night is young. Who knows what could happen. But I take a healthy interest in variance and difference. I’m always kind of curious about what people are up to. We have, I think, a pretty awesome sex life, and it’s adventurous and we’ve been together a long time and everything is still pretty … great. (Laughs)

Q: There were about four other adjectives in there. A:There were! Some people are shocked when they come over to our house and they expect that there will be a sling over the dining room table, and there isn’t. It’s very Ozzie and Harriet around here. We kind of have a grandma house. It’s very boring. Not that we don’t have a sling; we do – it’s just not hanging over the dining room table. Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at www.chrisazzopardi.com.

Somebody disagreeing with you – that ain’t fucking bullying

26 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013


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J.W. Arnold

PROFILE

Andrew Rannells, Actor

O

ne piece of advice Andrew Rannells, star of NBC’s The New Normal, has taken to heart is this nugget from fellow actor Mark Ruffalo: “Your career is happening right now, it’s not something that will start when you get a certain job.” Now 34, the Omaha, Neb. native got his career off to an early start as a voice actor and director of children’s cartoons and video games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Kirby. But then came the big break. In 2006, he was cast as Link Larkin in the hit Broadway musical, Hairspray. He then toured the country with Jersey Boys before returning to Broadway. And, while he was working—no small feat for any actor—his next role made him a star. Rannells created the role of Elder Price in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Tony Award-winning musical, Book of Mormon, a gig that

would earn him a nomination as Best Actor, too. “It changed my life,” Rannells told The Hollywood Reporter and also gained him the attention of television executives on the West Coast. Soon he was cast in the recurring role of Elijah, the gay friend on HBO’s Girls, but it was The New Normal that would make him a household name. As half of a gay couple planning to have a baby with a surrogate, the dadto-be’s adventures are certain to gain him a new fanbase on network TV. In the meantime, his reach will extend to the big screen later this year when he makes his film debut in Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette. What’s a gay guy to do when a bachelorette party, runs awry? Andrew Rannells will be right in the middle of the action, just where he wants to be, in the middle of an exciting career.

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MUSIC

Tony Adams

Kyle Spears

Matt Gold’s First Album “Drown Before You Swim” Is As Good As He Looks

M

arilyn Monroe wanted to be known for her acting ability rather than for her sex appeal. Matt Gold wants to be known for his music rather than for the lanky muscular body he displays in his modeling portfolio. He vetoes my choice of photos to accompany this review of his newly released first album Drown Before You Swim. Okay, I say. I’ve listened to his album. I’d love it even if he weren’t such a hunk. Gold is a singer/songwriter/pianist who is on the verge of graduating from the coffee houses of Indiana to mainstream prominence. As I expected, he has no problem talking about being gay, but would be disappointed if he were to become pigeonholed as a gay artist. Gold tells me that Tori Amos is his inspiration. “When I heard her sing, it was as if I heard the voice within me for the first time. That was when I realized what I could do,” he says. He is indeed very Tori Amos, but with elements of gay singers who are his contemporaries, like Rufus Wainwright, Tom Goss and Matt Alber. When I say this,

Gold laughs and protests the comparison with Wainwright and Goss. He says, “ I’ll tell you a story because of what you just said. When I had my first demo, I gave it to my singer friend Kim Fox because she said she could get it to Geffen. After a few months, I asked her about it and she said ‘Well, I did give it to them and they liked it but they said they had just signed someone like me, named Rufus Wainwright.’ I don’t think we are anything alike.” He is right about that. Gold is much better. As we talk, I find that Gold is a very sweet and vulnerable young man who is full of endearing insecurities. He talks wistfully about having been adopted by a strongly

32 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

Baptist couple in small town Ohio. Their marriage broke apart and Gold’s coming out further distanced him from the comforts and confidence of family. He says, “Not having much support leaves a hole in you that is never filled. I have abandonment issues. I was twice given up. Now when I meet guys who have loving families, I am so envious I think I would trade anything, even my talent, to have that experience. Instead, I make my own gay family.” You and almost everybody else, Matt. Gold became a musician on his own with almost no training. “I always liked music and singing. I took piano lessons for only a month when I was

eight. It came natural. I love making people feel something deeply,” he says. “After a show, if someone says, ‘You made me cry’ I think I have done my job.” Gold says the name of the album Drown Before You Swim describes the process of its creation. “Very messy and frustrating. I had to switch studios in the middle of production. I wrote the song with that title in the middle of all that and I think it sums up both the happy and the sad sides of the album,” he says. “I have songs that go both ways. You can take your pick.” I liked most of each. Gold plays a gentle and pensive piano that carries the easy burden of a velvet voice. There is a steady


rain in his lyrics. Sometimes driving and cold. Sometimes a soft warm shower. He is often trying to tell an ex-lover something. He says the song Void is about his last break-up and that it delivers his true dark self. It is a very empty room. Very fallen leaves. The song Recovering asks how we go on living, even in despair. Very autumnal. Very bleak. The song Grounded is a soaring arrangement of strings and vocals. Very Eleanor Rigby. When Gold describes how demanding he was in the studio about this arrangement, I begin to see the Laura Nyro side of him that producers probably dread even though the results are gorgeous. There are equally fine happy songs like Ordinary which is an ode to someone you build your life around, and Oh Joe which may be the best song on the album. Gold almost did not include it because he did not think it was strong or would get any response. It is about a

particular friend of his who was never his lover. When I suggest that its strength comes from the fact that it is a portrait of a real person rather than of a pain that Gold is exorcising, he pauses just long enough to consider that bit of analysis. I do not know if he agrees. When I concluded our chat by reminding Gold that Marilyn had real acting talent but used her looks to get the parts she wanted, he says, “I don’t really see myself the way others do. In everyday life, I am not confident, but when I walk on stage, I lose all my insecurity.” I sigh with the presumptuous implication of the greater wisdom of an elder and say goodbye. I wish Matt Gold much success with his exquisite first album. Oh, and for the record, boys, as of this writing, he is single. For more info: mattgold.net For the new video: youtu.be/ UF8RegANLes Live TV performance: youtu.be/ UF8RegANLes

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MUSIC

Tony Adams

Eli Lieb

The Happy Ending Of Eli Lieb

Y

ouTube videos of cute gay boys singing are a dime a dozen, but when Eli Lieb’s videos rack up more than seven millions views, you suspect he may be something beyond cute. Yes, he is pretty on the outside, but his voice is what draws you inside to a heart and soul that set this hot young indie singer/ songwriter apart from similar musicians on the road to fame. When Lieb says he doesn’t care about fame, he does not sound insincere. He cares about his personal happiness, and he says if seeing him naked and underwater is something that makes his viewers happy, he’s okay with that. He is referring to the instantly successful video of his new electro pop ballad, Place of Paradise, in which he appears to be singing submerged. Lieb describes the making of that video as a combination of personal inspiration and physical challenges. “I had this image of being peacefully underwater. I got the effect I was after but it wasn’t easy. To stay under in the pool, I had to be weighted down with barbells,” he explains. “Then there are the bubbles that kept getting in the way of my face when I was mouthing the words. We managed to do the whole thing in one very long day. It was physically exhausting. Because of the cold, I got hives that appeared all over my skin while I was in the water.” Ordinarily, Lieb’s music is a personal and solitary effort, but he sought out a good friend, Geoff Boothby, to direct that video and willingly received his collaborative ideas. Lieb may be calling the shots in his music career, but he does not act the

diva. The source of his easygoing personality is his serious practice of TM – transcendental meditation. Lieb left New York City after a decade of putting up with what he calls the chaos and distractions of the city. He returned to the great plains of the American Midwest where his parents had raised him in a rural Iowa town of less than ten thousand people. Fairfield, Iowa is also the home of the world’s largest TM training facility, which had attracted his parents to that community. They taught their sons the art and value of meditation. “My practice of TM is the main thing in my life. My parents started TM in the 70s. They wanted to raise me and my brother in a community of the like-minded,” Lieb says. “ In high school, we meditated twice a day. As I got older and became my own person, I sought out and embraced meditation on my own.” Lieb says he does not correlate his sexual identity with the practice of TM. “I have a very deep desire to evolve and to become the most I can be. My sexuality is just one part of me. Personally, I have never had to struggle with my sexuality,” He says. “My parents were loving and accepting. They were not freaked out when I came out to them. Of course, there were moments of adjustment. Coming out is a process for other people as well as for you. Meditation probably helped us through it on some level.” Lieb repeatedly stresses the importance of finding personal happiness. He left New York City because it made him unhappy. He makes music and meditates because that makes him happy. Even in concert, when he is about to perform a song that is angry or sad, he will preface it by saying, “I want you all to know I am really happy.” When pressed for aspects of his life that were less than

34 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

happy, he says, “I’ve had some bad boyfriends, but I view everything in a positive way. All that happened to me had a reason and it made me what I am. Even in a bad relationship, I found myself after I lost myself.” Is Lieb, whose live performances have a huge gay following but whose YouTube fans are fairly evenly split between gay and straight, in search of a bigger audience? “Look, the fact that I am not making music videos to become famous may make me different from other indie musicians like me. Maybe this will work to my advantage. I create without a filter. As long as I do that, good will come out of it. You can’t control where your life goes, but

you can control your happiness. Have I mentioned that I just want to be happy?” Even without the hunger for fame, Eli Lieb is receiving much attention. Last year, he was invited to perform at a fundraiser held by The David Lynch Foundation, and hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and Russell Brand. He sang alongside James McCartney, the son of the legendary Paul McCartney, to a crowd of celebrities including Katy Perry. His covers of Lady GaGa, Adele, Lana del Rey and Rihanna songs have millions of views. Get yourself some happiness. Check out Eli Lieb. bit.ly/ o1I81O, bit.ly/SgwUdc


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 35


MUSIC

Chris Azzopardi

Gomillion & Leupold

Brandy Will Always Love You Singer talks gay following, her zero tolerance for hate and why Frank Ocean’s coming out is a ‘gift’

T

he ’90s wouldn’t have been the same without Brandy. The plucky then-teen, who was just 16 when she released her 1994 debut, dominated the charts with an iconic run of hits: “I Wanna Be Down,” “Have You Ever” and her diva-off with Monica, “The Boy is Mine,” a song so abiding that even “Glee” couldn’t resist a cover. But with a starring role in “Moesha,” debuting in 1996, the crosspollinating performer quickly made it clear that she wanted to conquer not just music but acting, too. Later that decade, she’d star in “Cinderella” with Whitney Houston. Brandy’s relationship with the legendary icon, and the tragedy of her death last year, is evoked in the title of Brandy’s latest album, “Two Eleven,” eerily representing the day Houston died and also Brandy’s birthday. Now 33 and recently engaged, Brandy opened up about those early years as a tomboy, how she can still channel heartbreak despite her happiness and why her gay audience is, as she says, “the best audience.”

Q: Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since you released your selftitled debut?

A:

Oh my lord. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I remember doing the photo shoot for the album like it’s yesterday. I have so many memories of doing the first album and working with some of the producers that I worked with, and being in the middle of Times Square doing the video (for “Baby”). I remember certain things about that album like it was yesterday.

Q: And how about those clothes? You were such a tomboy then. A: I was! I was a tomboy. I still am sometimes. Boys are fun. (Laughs) It’s

fun, you know, wearing the boots and the baggy clothes – and the hat! Back

36 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013


Q:

Besides your fashion evolution, how else have you changed between that album and “Two Eleven?”

A: With the first album I was just a teenager trying to find my way. Now I’m a woman and I know very much who I am, but I have not lost that innocence and that shy part of who I am. I’m still very shy. You would be shocked to find out that I’m still stage fright, and although I will talk to anybody I meet – I’ll have a full conversation with them – there are still some things that make me shy and bashful. I never wanna lose that. I never wanna lose the part of me that I had when I first started – you know, the humble side. You always wanna be appreciative, and I think I’m more that now because of my struggle and because of everything that I’ve been through. I’m appreciative for every little thing that comes my way – even this conversation, to bring awareness to me and my music is a blessing. Q: You say you’re shy. What makes Brandy blush?

A: When people express how they feel about me and my music, and when people come up to me and cry when they meet me, I just feel so awkward. It just makes me so introverted. I don’t know. When other people I admire say things and people just go on and on, it makes me feel really weird. And when people talk about me like I’m not there, that’s weird. And when people put me on the spot – I don’t like being put on the spot. It’s just – I get really shy at times. And I’m stage fright. Oh my god. Right before I get on stage, I’m just like a – I was about to curse. (Laughs) I’m a nervous wreck. Q: You didn’t seem so shy when

you were singing a love song to a gay guy at San Jose Pride a few years ago. Yeah, that’s right – I saw the YouTube video. Do you remember that?

A: (Laughs) I do, I do! It’s funny, when I get into the zone onstage, it really becomes about my fans and making them happy and making them feel my heart, so the shyness goes away a little bit onstage. Like, once I’m there, once I start, I can sing to my gay fans – and my straight fans, and whoever wants to hear me sing – and I’ll get through it.

Q: When did you know you had a gay following?

A: This older guy came up to me – I was about 16 years old – and I think he was my makeup artist’s friend or boyfriend. They didn’t really admit it to me, but I kind of thought something was going on, and he comes up to me and he’s like, “Brandy, girl! We gay boys love you! We looooove you.” And I’m like, “Really? That’s dope!” One of my best friends was gay in high school and he just had so much love for me, but I didn’t know I had a following of gay fans, and so he was like, “Oh, and you so pretty. If I was straight I would take you out.” (Laughs)

– and that’s how I feel.

Q:

You seem to know your gay fans pretty well. Which songs off the album do they love?

A: I know they love “Let Me Go” and “Do You Know What You Have.” They’ve really been showing a lot of love for “Two Eleven” as a whole. But I go to this site that one of my gay fans started for me called BrandySource.net and get all of their opinions on what I should do next, if they didn’t like my outfit … I need to know what they think! And they’re gonna tell me the truth. I love that. And it’s no shade, either! It’s just all love.

then baggy clothes on a girl were so cute. If you didn’t have baggy clothes, you were not hot.

Q: Your daughter is 10 now. How

I’ve always accepted people for who they are and what they want to do.

He just made me feel so good, and then I noticed that a lot of gay people loved me and just made me feel so good. I have two gay best friends now, and I know they will keep it all the way real with me. If I’m not looking my best or if I could have sounded better, I go to them because they’re gonna tell me the truth. Everywhere I go, (my gay fans) come out and support me and make me feel so loved and so appreciated. I did a whole run of gay clubs recently with the album. I would do my other stuff and then go and perform at like 2 in the morning. The energy just feels completely different. Like, they go in for me. And I’m telling you, I become this other person onstage because of that. Ah, I could go on and on about my gay fans.

Q: So you did a club run for “Two Eleven”?

A: I did. I did a lot of stuff in New

York. I did some stuff in – oh, where was I? I don’t know where I’ve been, but it was specifically for my gay fans. They have been the best audience for me. It’s just a different level of love. It feels like overseas love, because when you go overseas and you haven’t been in a long time they go crazy

people for who they are and what they want to do. I wasn’t ever like, “Oh my god, that’s amazing that this person’s gay or that that person’s this.” I’ve never really looked at it like that. It’s always been a part of my life. I went to Hollywood High School and I saw everything, and I was so amazed by my best friend. He knew how to do the splits! I didn’t even know how to do the splits. I’m like, “Dang, you know how to do the splits? I don’t know how to do the splits. We’re in the same damn class. You’re a boy, I’m a girl – what’s up with that?” We just connected and it’s just always been a part of me. I never really looked at it. are you teaching her acceptance and love for everyone?

Q: You and Frank Ocean haven’t

just worked together, as you did on this album, but you’re also friends. What did you think of his coming-out letter on Tumblr?

A: I was so amazed by that. It was just so brave and it represented so much. His truth just set him free. I just think that when you can tell your truth – and are proud of your truth and use your truth for your art and to inspire someone else to connect with their truth – you are now a gift. He is a gift. Q:

Do you think the urban community is more accepting and open when it comes to gay people than it was when you first started two decades ago?

A: It better be more accepting. This is just the way it is, and people just need to realize that love is unconditional. It knows no sex, no race, no culture. It just knows itself. That’s it. And if people don’t want to see that, then they’re blind. I have no words for people who don’t want to accept or see that. Q: Did you notice early in your

career much homophobia within the urban community?

A: I’ve always been a part of that world. I’ve always accepted

A: I teach her that love is unconditional. It knows itself and that’s it. My tennis coach is a lesbian and she’s got a great partner and they have a child together, and we’ve all hung out. It’s not something I keep from her. She needs to know that this is the way it is and that love is gonna do what it do. That’s what I teach her. She loves my gay friends and she loves my tennis coach and her partner, too. To her, this is the way it’s supposed to be. Q:

For the new album, Frank wrote “Scared of Beautiful,” a song you’ve said you relate to. Does that mean gay men understand women better than straight men?

A: I honestly think that gay men understand women differently than straight men understand women, because my gay friends are like my girls sometimes. They understand me more than my girls understand me. They understand me sometimes more than women understand me, so you know they’re gonna understand me a little more than my man understands me. (Laughs) My gay friends are like my girlfriends, and I connect to them sometimes more than my actual girlfriends because they just get it. They get it on the man side and they get it on the girl side, too. And sometimes straight men just get it on the man side and they think you’re trippin.’ They think you mad at them! Your gay friends are like, “Girl, I feel you.” Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at www.chrisazzopardi.com.

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FOOD

J.W. Arnold

Frank DeCaro

Cook Up Some Classic Hollywood Memories

A

new cookbook will help you put some kitsch in your kitchen with a quirky salute to notable celebrities who are gone, but definitely not forgotten. Frank DeCaro’s The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen (HCI Books, $14.95) celebrates the dishes the stars whipped up for their own dining room tables. “The original idea came to me for two reasons: First, I had gone to a ‘dead celebrity’ party when I went to college many, many moons ago,” author Frank DeCaro recalled. “Everyone was there from Sid Vicious to Eva Peron, but the only thing missing was food that matched the theme.” “Second, I’m really the consummate collector and I had spent more than 15 years collecting anything with a celebrity recipe, old cookbooks, the kinds of things they handed

out in the meat department in 1962 as a promotion.” Eventually, DeCaro, who hosts a live call-in show on Sirius XM’s OutQ channel and was formerly the movie critic for The Daily Show, decided it was time to do something with all those cookbooks and recipe cards. “I love pop culture and I had these interns who never knew what I was talking about. They knew Marlon Brando was an actor, but for our generation, he was THE actor. And before Lady Gaga, there was Elton John and before him, Liberace. If I have to watch Nicki Minaj, you should know who Cole Porter was, “ he said. “Well, the result was the Dead Celebrity Cookbook,” he said. DeCaro has even tried some of the recipes he’s collected. He loves Harriet Nelson’s (Ozzie & Harriet) chicken, which he calls “so rich and warm,” but warns “because three cans of cream aren’t enough, get the defibrillator ready.”

And then there are Katherine Hepburn’s brownies, which DeCaro evaluated as “completely no nonsense, pretty much just chocolate, flour and sugar.” But just because a celebrity is famous, doesn’t guarantee he or she is a gourmet cook. DeCaro cites the recipe for Boston chicken credited to Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons): “I tried it and it was terrible.

Recipe: Chicken with Avocado and Mushrooms

Recipe: Sticky Buns

From the kitchen of: Ingredients:

From the kitchen of: Ingredients:

1 avocado, peeled and cubed 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 2 1/2 lb. chickens, cut into serving pieces Salt and freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup butter, plus 3 T. butter 3 finely chopped shallots 3 tablespoons cognac

Directions:

Elizabeth Taylor

1/3 cup dry white wine 1 cup heavy cream 1 cup chicken stock 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Sprinkle avocado with lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet, over low heat, heat 3–4 tablespoons butter and saute chicken until juices run yellow when it is pricked with a fork, about 35–40 minutes. Use two skillets if necessary, adding more butter as needed. Transfer cooked chicken to a serving dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Keep warm in a 300° oven for 15 minutes, while preparing sauce. To make the sauce, add shallots to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping sides and bottom of pan with wooden spoon. Add 2 tablespoons of cognac and the wine and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture has almost evaporated. Add cream and boil 5 minutes longer. Add chicken stock to cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. While sauce cooks, saute mushrooms over high heat in butter. Add the mushrooms, remaining cognac, and avocado cubes to the thickened sauce. Stir until well blended. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.

38 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

1 cup white raisins 1/4 cup light rum 1 1/2 cup brown sugar 2 sticks unsalted butter 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Directions:

It was this chicken painted with a mixture of Thousand Island dressing, apricot and pineapple jam and onion soup mix. It was chicken a la barf. Sadly, the book had already gone to print….We substituted Catalina dressing, now that really works,” he said. Not surprisingly, a holiday sequel followed this year from HCI Books ($14.95): The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents

Liberace 1/4 teaspoon cloves 1/4 teaspoon ginger 3 packages refrigerated unbaked crescent rolls 1 cup chopped pecans 1 cup whole pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two muffin pans with non-stick baking spray. Combine raisins and rum in a small bowl and warm in microwave on high for 45 seconds. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt butter and then stir in spices and brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes a bubbling syrup. Put a teaspoon of syrup and a few whole pecans in each muffin cup. Unroll one package of crescent rolls on a piece of parchment paper. Pinch seams together to form one f lat piece. Drizzle a quarter of the syrup over the dough. Sprinkle a third of the raisins and a third of the chopped pecans on it. Roll it jelly roll style. Cut into 1-inch thick pieces. P lace one slice of dough, cut side up, in each muffin tin. Repeat with each package of crescent rolls. Bake 13–15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately f lip the buns onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Replace any nuts that may have stuck to the pan and serve warm.


Christmas in Tinseltown: Celebrity Recipes and Hollywood Memories from Six Feet Under the Mistletoe. That volume features the holiday recipes of the long gone, but not forgotten stars, from Robert Mitchum’s eggnog (“A dozen eggs—and then some— and a whole bottle of alcohol. I like that one a lot.”) to Dina Shore’s fruitcake (“You know she may have been a Lesbian icon, but she did a lot of ‘cooking’ with Burt Reynolds.”) Now he’s planning an Italian version of the cookbook, a perfect volume for Frank Sinatra’s famous spaghetti sauce. All of the cookbooks have been a labor of love for the New Yorker. “Nobody does these books to get rich. It’s fun, but takes a lot of man hours getting it all together and researched…,” he explained. In a last ditch attempt to bolster sales, he added, “Oh, and my mother would want my fellow gays to buy this book.”

Recipe: Sunday Night Goulash

Recipe: Brownies

From the kitchen of:

From the kitchen of: Katharine Hepburn

Lucille Ball

Ingredients: 2 bunches green onions, chopped 2 large green peppers, chopped 1/2 clove garlic, chopped 2 pounds ground beef

1 large can solid packed tomatoes 1/2pound small egg noodles

Ingredients: 2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate 1 stick unsalted butter 1 cup sugar 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup f lour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Directions:

Saute onions, green pepper, and garlic until tender. Brown meat in butter, then add sauteed ingredients. Add tomatoes with juice and simmer slowly. Add salt and pepper to taste. During last 30 minutes of cooking, add cooked, strained egg noodles.

Melt chocolate and butter in heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Stir in f lour, salt and walnuts. Mix well. Pour into a buttered 8-ince square baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 39


COFFEE TABLE

Michael Stokes

Michael Stokes’ Masculinity

T

From the book:

he imagery of Michael Stokes is so pithy and irresistibly sexy that his photos graced the covers of two of our anthologies: Turnon: Sports and Turnon: Muscles. So it’s about time to dedicate a whole photo book to his fabulous art. Masculinity sums up everything that makes Stokes’ work special: strength, sex appeal and the perfection of the male body—staged in brilliant pictures that focus on the essential without denying the artist’s eye for details. Michael Stokes certainly is a stunning talent to watch out for! Book info:

Photo Book Pages: 128 Size: 26 x 34 cm / 10.25 x 13.5 inch Format: Hardcover with dust jacket, Color: Full Color ISBN 978-3-86787-428-1, Publication Date: November 2012 Price: $89.99

Michael Stokes

40 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 41


What inspired this book?

I was just shooting photographs. I collected photos before I started shooting photos. I was a big photo collector and the photos were getting to be very expensive because I was collecting vintage stuff. I have a photography background. I was a photo major in college. And I thought, “I wonder if I pick up a camera, even if I don’t know digital, maybe I can duplicate some of these images. And that way I can own them and not pay so much money.” So I just started doing that and then I blogged some. And then the publisher, contacted me and asked me to be in his some of their anthologies. When they found out I had enough photos for a book they encouraged me to pitch them book ideas.

What was your biggest challenge?

Agreeing with the publisher on the content. They felt that I was shooting in too many different styles and didn’t like the variance of the style. They felt it needed to be thematically tied together. Just because it was all my work that wasn’t enough to tie it all together. So I ended up having to wait two years to have enough photos that looked the same. That’s when they finally gave me the green light on the book. They are very stuck in their formulas and their ideas on what makes a successful book.

42 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013


SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 43


PROFILE

J.W. Arnold

Magnus Books

Double

Life:

New Book Details Life for Gay Power Couple in Hollywood Sunshine created graphics for one of his shows, a Valentine’s Day special, Addie and the King of Hearts. Shayne secretly submitted it for an Emmy and it won! But who would he take to the awards ceremony? Warner Bros. had been hesitant to appoint Shayne because of his orientation and friends advised them not to attend together. They were already used to attending business functions separately, often with a female friend or associate on their arms. “I was up against one of Alan’s other shows, Wonder Woman, which had wonderful graphics, and I just didn’t dream I might win,” Sunshine recalled. When his name was announced, “there was no Alan,” Sunshine said. “He was in Palm Springs and we didn’t get to share that moment. I was so angry and hurt and confused.” Practically finishing Sunshine’s sentence, Shayne added, “I vowed it will never happen again. Later, when I was nominated for an Emmy for The Bourne Identity (a television spin-off of the motion picture), which I produced, fortunately, I didn’t win. Everything is changing, they all kiss and thank their lovers.” Shayne insists the couple managed to successfully live “relatively” openly: “We never hid the fact, we just didn’t throw it in their faces.” For some gay actors and executives, their sexuality was an open secret in Hollywood,

44 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

even if they were married to an opposite sex partner. “There was a list of actors that the studios watched out for….Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Rock Hudson….in those days, they married to cover it up.” For a time, the couple lived across the street from Hudson. They didn’t know him well, but he did have male “friends,” as was the term at the time, who lived with him, too. When their house burned, Hudson insisted the couple stay in his home until they rebuilt. They would eventually leave Hollywood behind and retire to Connecticut. And, while more and more celebrities have come out publicly, the couple insists, there are still many more in the closet. “Rumors still swirl,” Sunshine admitted, “but we respect the entertainers who still choose to keep their lives private.” “When Norman and I started, I was an actor, and if people knew you were gay, you would never get sent out (to audition) for a part unless it was a character role. Even today, you don’t see many ‘romantic leading men’ coming

One publisher told us “gays don’t read books,” Sunshine said with a laugh

M

illions of viewers tuned into the Golden Globe awards earlier this year and witnessed a rambling coming out speech from actress Jodie Foster that set the nation abuzz. Two Palm Beach men, both major names in the industry, know firsthand what a big deal Foster’s public admission turned out to be. Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine met more than 50 years ago in New York and shared both a romance and careers that would take them from the lights of Broadway to the glitz of Hollywood. They recently told their story in a book, Double Life, A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood. Shayne climbed the ranks to become president of Warner Bros. Television, while his partner Sunshine was an internationally acclaimed artist, illustrator and sculptor. They lived together openly, but followed the strict code that guided life for gay couples in the entertainment industry. Ironically, Sunshine wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in 2011 titled Before the Emmys were Gay, which first described his own experience at a major awards show at the podium. Foster had been there many times over her career, but for Sunshine, only several glasses of California chardonnay could prepare him for this event. At Shayne’s insistence,

out,” Shayne said. “If somebody like a Hugh Jackman came out, it might seriously hurt their career.” The book also includes anecdotes about the couple’s encounters with Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, Bette Davis, Robert Redford and more, and


revealed a few dark days in the relationship before coming to a surprising and romantic event in the couple’s life. The couple tackled the opening chapter together, but made the conscious decision to alternate the remaining chapters chronicling their half-century relationship. Some were easy for them to write, but not all. Determined to make the book a “non-fiction” account, Sunshine included the story of a wayward romantic encounter while on a business trip to New York City. “It was hard to face Alan,” Sunshine sheepishly admitted of the period years ago when he was dogged with self-esteem issues, “and it was made even harder after the book came out and all our neighbors knew our dirty laundry, so to speak.” Like every relationship, they hit snags along the way, but they agree on one high point. In 2004, the couple finally made it official and wed in Massachusetts, the only state at the time to legalize same-sex marriage.

Despite the public’s fascination with celebrity lives, the couple had a difficult time getting major publishing houses to consider their manuscript. “One publisher told us gays don’t read books,” Sunshine said with a laugh. “Major publishing houses really don’t know how to market a story like ours and thought it would be a losing proposition,” Shayne added, again finishing Sunshine’s thought. But they did find a publisher and the response has been overwhelming for the couple, who have received hundreds and hundreds of letters from readers. Many have gay or lesbian family members or relate to aspects of the couple’s love story and long relationship. “We never proselytize or push gay rights. We’ve never been standard bearers, but that’s why the book works,” Shayne said. But the couple also acknowledges that the book has made them role models— not only for long, loving

relationships, but also surviving in a competitive industry. “We wanted to show young people that there is a chance for happiness and a good life. In our day, there was no material out there. We started with nothing, living in a walkup in Second Ave. in New York, and here we are looking out over the Intracoastal (waterway in Palm Beach),” Sunshine said. One of the couple’s most memorable encounters since the book was released was at a recent signing event. A gay man stopped by and commented on how handsome the men in the photographs on the book cover appeared. Before they could thank him, he asked if they

knew those men because he’d like to meet them. “I’d have to agree with him,” laughed Shayne.

SPRING 2013 THE MIRROR 45


PROFILE

Donald Cavanaugh

Donna Mae DePola

A Survivor’s Tale of Twelve Tins The heart wrenching story of Donna Mae DePola “

Y

ou mean you don’t have sex with your father?” asked Donna Mae DePola of some childhood friends. Fortunately for her, they all laughed and she was able to cover it up but as she pointed out “I just thought it was normal for fathers to have sex with their children.” “And why not?” she asked. “If that’s what your father teaches you in the guise of loving parent, how do you know any better?” And that was what her father taught her practically every day of her life under his roof from the time she was four until she moved out at 17. “I really just moved down the street and lived in my sister’s basement,” she said. “But that stopped the abuse. Teddy DePola exacted his child’s silence with threats and fear. Her mother probably knew, but her daily beatings closed her eyes to the abuse and sealed her lips against naming the crime against her child. “My older sister says she never experienced any of this,” said DePola. “And my younger brother says he didn’t suspect anything.” DePola was four and no one saved her; she was five and no one saved her; she was ten and no one saved her. Finally, she moved down the street to her sister’s basement and the abuse stopped, but the pain did not, nor did her soul-numbing addictions. Throughout much of her life, DePola had sex with many men in a further attempt to feel worthy and to numb her sense of isolation. “I liked men,” she said. “I had a lot of them and even thought I was in love with a few of them.” She was married to two different men, but her first true love experience was with a woman whom she met while working on a volunteer ambulance service in Bay Ridge, NY. “I had never known what love was until I met her,” DePola said in her memoir. “She was beautiful and kind and… married with several children.”

Worse, she was Catholic and suffered religious guilt for being gay. “Every time we had sex, she want to confession,” DePola said. DePola’s father died in 1987. Shortly after his death, she opened a stash he kept above a drop ceiling in their home. In addition to guns and ammunition, there were twelve ‘reel-to-reel’ movie canisters. When she saw them, she suspected what was on them but didn’t know for sure until she could find an old fashioned projector. “It’s amazing that he was able to tape all this stuff,” said DePola. “That old movie equipment was complex and needed a lot of light and space so it must have taken him sometime to set it up and take it down. I honestly don’t remember.” When she finally found an old projector she was able to prove to the world and to herself that her father had done these things and no one had protected her. The tapes, which have since been destroyed, were systematically organized with each incident catalogued. Understandably, the constant sexual abuse from such an early age took its toll in the form of the addictions she acquired to ease her childhood pain. “I started using drugs around age 9,” she said. “They did what I needed. They masked the pain of all that trauma. We know why many people abuse drugs. They seem to work – if only for a little bit.” “When I finally stopped using them I had to deal with the traumas I was chemically blocking from my awareness, ultimately to the tune of a $4,000 a week habit.” “Even though I was using a lot of drugs, I was able to pass,” she said. “I was able to function, do my work, and people didn’t know I was using anything.” Donna Mae DePola is in her early sixties. She is an out and open lesbian living and working

46 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013

with the love-of-her-life, Dona Rae Pagan. “People often ask me, ‘Are you gay because you had trouble with men?’ If that were the case, millions more women would be gay. I did not necessarily want to be ‘gay,’” she said. “I had no choice. I was born gay; it just took me until I was fifty-six to embrace it.” Today DePola is a successful addictions specialist and a recognized, award-winning leader in the field of substance abuse and substance abuse education. She has worked in the field of addiction for more than twenty-five years. She is the founder of The Resource Training Center (TRTC) with five locations in New York. TRTC, the largest school of its kind, provides the training required to become a credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor (CASC) in New York. They also provide the mandated New York State Drinking Driver Program required of people convicted of driving under the influence.

DePola is also considers herself a survivor. She survived 12 years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father; she survived more than 25 years of addiction and wild living; she survived a druginduced stay in a psychiatric hospital and she has survived breast cancer. She is most recently an author. “I hadn’t intended to write an autobiography,” she said. “I thought no one would believe it anyway.” But then there were the twelve tins: twelve testimonials to the abuse she suffered at her father’s hands; twelve reasons to write the book; twelve pieces of evidence, people now had to believe. Twelve Tins can be purchased in a self-published book ranging from $15 to $32 at donnamaedepola.com. It is also available from the Kindle store on amazon.com. It is a stream of conscious narration of a woman’s life colored by childhood rape and molestation from a primary care-giver.


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48 THE MIRROR SPRING 2013


The Mirror Vol2 Iss1  

Dan Savage

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