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2 • The Rainbow Times •

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Americans less accepting of LGBTQs From visibility to accessibility: Building an inclusive LGBTQ justice movement for the first time in four years By: JP Delgado Galdamez/TRT Guest Columnist

By: Nicole Lashomb*/TRT Editor-in-Chief


GBTQ acceptance is on the decline, according to a recent Harris Poll survey commissioned by ( GLAAD that examined the state of acceptance in 2017. In an environment stifled by repulsive acts towards the LGBTQ community and its vast intersectionalities at government and civic levels, it is no surprise that the numbers reflect such ignorant, arrogant and misguided perspectives. “Four years ago, GLAAD commissioned The Harris Poll to launch a first-of-its-kind index to measure American attitudes to-

equality nationwide and other pro-LGBTQ legal wins. “This year, the acceptance pendulum abruptly stopped and swung in the opposite direction. More non-LGBTQ adults responded that they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ uncomfortable around LGBTQ people in select scenarios. The decline is paired with a significant increase in LGBTQ people reporting discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Results of the survey were dismal, to say the least. In an era that is ruled by bullying, deceit, and petulant tyrant-like behavior, it




ward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and issues,” wrote Sarah Kate Ellis President & CEO, GLAAD in the Executive Summary of the survey results. “Each year, [GLAAD’s] Accelerating Acceptance report showed positive momentum. Year over year, Americans said they were more comfortable with LGBTQ people and more supportive of LGBTQ issues. These results paralleled historic steps in LGBTQ visibility in our culture as well as the passage of marriage

is not surprising that the state of LGBTQ affairs would be on the decline. However, in just one year, so much progress under the Obama administration has been derailed. As GLAAD described on its website, some of the critical survey findings included: 1. Less than half of non-LGBTQ adults (49 percent) reported being “very” or ...

See LGBTQ Acceptance on Page 15

Professor Sprout offers Harry Potter magic in America By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist



iriam Margolyes (, legendary actress and spirited, long-time lesbian activist, is a recent discovery for me. Her many notable roles include the “Harry Potter” movies as Professor Sprout and the loveable, goodhearted, socially uptight aunt in the Australian television drama “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” I’ve watched her interviews on different programs posted on YouTube. She’s a hoot. Smart, strong, witty, charming, empathetic, intellectual, and she knows how to gently put someone in their place. She has a worldwide following, not because of “Harry Potter,” but because she is herself and she is delightful. Her recent professional pursuit is to better understand America ( She doesn’t know how Americans could elect the current president. She loves Americans and at the same time wants them to grow up (

She thinks Americans need to travel more. They must better educate themselves. Personally, I think Americans need to read more too. Margolyes shares with Americans, if we are not open and honest, that we’re missing out on realizing our potential. Throughout history deep-thinking men and women have spoken and written ( not of the flaws we call human nature, but of humanity’s beauty and nobility. Many came to the conclusion that each of us is the other’s best hope. Humanity has the empowering ability to grow, evolve, and change. This is what Margolyes is attempting to teach this young nation in her new program. We’re in it together and we need to understand one another. Once she thought of Christians as the natural enemy. No longer. Margolyes took the time to understand some conservative Christians on their terms. In doing so they learned from one another. She calls America “unformed.” Americans need to get ...

See Americans on Page 21

Alex* is a writer, identifies as transgender, is disabled** and was recently forced to do their therapy appointments over the phone when their therapist moved to an of-

to all LGBTQ people and their many identities. For example, services are inaccessible if black trans women who are PWD can't access them, and these barriers are a symp-






ING TO CONSTANTLY BE SEEN AS A fice in a building that didn’t accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. "It's not the same, you lose so much when it's over the phone, they don't get to see your body language and many other cues," said Alex, who used gender-neutral they, them, and their pronouns. "So I don't get as much now because it's not in person. It's not okay, why do we still tolerate this?" The word “accessibility” has historically been used to describe the physical features a building, event, or system needs to have to fully serve all people, focusing on the needs of people with disabilities (PWD). Physical accessibility to all places and systems is critical. Accessible information is essential, as evidenced by Alex’s own experience. Accessible services are imperative. Accessible services geared towards LGBTQ people need to, then, be accessible

Letters to the Editor [Re: Faith, God and Family: Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?] Dear Editor, Chaplin/Priest/Lawyer, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. Part of his problem is his faith infused “reasoning.” Whose law does he advocate? Man’s, or the figment of his imagination? —Louis Riehm, Online [TRT Exclusive—Pride & Prejudice: Queer Caribbean Expatriates on Culture, Discrimination & Life Away From Home] Dear Editor, Claudia, she’s my motivation. I really respect her for what she’s gone thru in her life ... where she’s from in jamaica, she couldn’t live ... she went from house to house. So I pray god to lay his hands on her ... guide an protect her… —Romario Bloomfield, Online Send your letters to the editor to:


tom of racism, transphobia, and ableism, respectively.

See Accessibility on Page 10

The Rainbow Times The Freshest LGBT Newspaper in New England—Boston Based Phone: 617.444.9618 Fax: 928.437.9618 Publisher Graysen M. Ocasio Editor-In-Chief Nicole Lashomb Assistant Editor Mike Givens National/Local Sales Rivendell Media Liz Johnson Lead Photographer Steve Jewett Reporters Jenna Spinelle Chuck Colbert Al Gentile Chris Gilmore Sandra Dias Nick Collins (Intern)

Ad & Layout Design Prizm PR Webmaster Jarred Johnson Columnists/Guest* Lorelei Erisis Deja N. Greenlaw Paul P. Jesep Mike Givens Natalia Muñoz* Keegan O’Brien* Affiliations National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association NGLCC QSyndicate *Guest Freelancer

The Rainbow Times is published monthly by The Rainbow Times, LLC. TRT is affiliated with the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, NLGJA, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, NGLCC, and QSyndicate. The articles written by the writers, columnists, and correspondents solely express their opinion, and do not represent the endorsement or opinion of The Rainbow Times, LLC or its owners. Send letters to the editor with your name, address and phone number to: The Rainbow Times (address shown above), or e-mail any comment/s to the editor-in-chief at: All submissions will be edited according to space constraints. The Rainbow Times, LLC reserves the right not to print any or all content or advertisements for any reason at all. TRT is not responsible for advertising content. To receive The Rainbow Times at your home via regular mail, or through electronic delivery, please visit its website. The whole content and graphics (photos, etc.) are the sole property of The Rainbow Times, LLC and they cannot be reproduced at all without TRT’s written consent. • The Rainbow Times • 3

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

LGBTQ NE community mourns tragic death of Western Mass. trans activist Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien is the first reported trans murder victim of 2018 in the United States without a clue, but she always persevered and made it all happen anyway. She was magical that way. Without Christa, there wouldn’t have been much of a Pioneer Valley trans community … The trans pageants were really key efforts that brought us all together.”

By: Nick Collins & Mike Givens/TRT Intern and TRT Assistant Editor, respectively


Transgender activists and their allies are turning their sorrow into action after reeling from the murder of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien in early January. Steele-Knudslien is the first reported trans woman to be murdered in the country this year. According to press releases issued by the Berkshire County District Attorney’s (DA) Office, Christa, 42, died of multiple blows to the head and a stab wound to the torso. Information made available on the DA’s website states that she was found at her Veazie Street home in North Adams, Massachusetts on the evening of Friday, January 5 and her husband, Mark S. Steele-Knudslien, 47, was arrested for murder. He has subsequently pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing on January 8. He was held without bail at the Berkshire County House of Correction. Fred Lantz, a spokesperson for the DA’s office, declined to provide any information related to a potential motive for the murder, but did confirm that Steele-Knudslien is tentatively scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing on February 7. Christa, also known as Christa Hilfers, was well known in the Western Massachusetts trans community as the founder of the Miss Trans New England Pageant, the Miss

Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, formerly Christa Hilfers, is the first reported trans woman murdered in 2018. Christa was well known in Western Mass. and the surrounding areas for her work on behalf of trans women. Above, Christa posed for The Rainbow Times from 2011-2014. Some events were from her own Miss Trans New England Pageant, while others were taken at events she attended throughout the years. PHOTOS: GLENN KOETZNER/LORELEI ERISIS/ALL TRT ARCHIVES

Trans America Pageant, and as a vocal supporter of trans rights. “I owe her a debt of gratitude,” said Trystan Marl Greist of Greenfield. Marl Greist said he met Christa the day he had summoned the courage to come out as trans and marched in the Northampton

Pride Parade in 2009. He said that as soon as he started talking to her, she was “immediately supportive” of him and invited him to be a judge at the first Miss Trans New England Pageant that year. “Christa was a determined visionary,” he continued. “[She] often went into projects

“ … everybody has beauty, no matter who they are … ” Born near Rochester, Minnesota in 1975, Christa graduated from Spring Valley High School in 1993. After graduation, she moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and later, to Ware, Massachusetts. Ben Power, a personal friend of Christa’s and curator of the Sexual Minorities Archive (; SMA) in Holyoke, Massachusetts, spoke about his friendship with Christa. “Christa was homeless when she arrived in Northampton,” he said. “She was living in a van with a few belongings and she parked it in various locations around Northampton. I offered for her to park the van in my driveway but she only brought it by once, to introduce me to her first husband, John Hilfers. The three of us sometimes socialized and continued our talks.” Power would go on to befriend Christa and introduced her to different groups within the trans community. In 2009, Christa co-founded the New

See Christa on Page 16

4 • The Rainbow Times •

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Amir Dixon behind the scenes of his documentary, “GENZero.”


Amir Now Incorporated brings together queer artists to create thought-provoking stories By: Al Gentile/TRT Reporter

Amir Dixon is on a mission to bring art, advocacy, and awareness together. A writer, cinematographer, and activist, Dixon has launched his new firm Amir Now Incorporated (ANI), whose mission is to work with social welfare organizations to create effective and poignant narratives around their work. His first film, “GENZero,” brings together several people living with HIV/AIDS in different capacities to tell their stories. “The film is a narrative piece to engage constituents across the community to teach people how to talk back and engage on their own about HIV,” he said. “I wanted to be sure that every viewer was able to find their own story within the narrative. Our value proposition is understanding [how] HIV affects all of our communities in different ways.” The documentary features people from a wide array of backgrounds. Monica James, a trans person of color who works extensively advocating for LGBTQ and incarcerated people, was featured in the film. Raymond Rodriguez, a Latinx gay man, was also highlighted, alongside public figures such as Carl Sciortino, a former state representative and the executive director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts ( The diversity of perspective featured in the film was intentional, according to Dixon. “We did that to show the intersectionality of our experiences,” he said. “I wanted to be sure that every viewer was able to find their own story within the narrative.” Dixon said he sees a central narrative surrounding LGBTQ issues that is not reflective of everyone in the community. In many ways, he added, the stories of people of color especially are told not by them, but by other groups. This, according to Dixon, leads to certain populations feeling separate from the larger community. ANI is out to change that. “If we’re talking about homeless queer

youth, queer trans youth of color period, it’s different when they’re telling their own stories,” he said. “I think it’s about how we’re telling our own stories and finding our own voices.” Standing Out Having lived through the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 90s, James Darcangelo spoke about his mother’s suffering. “I was really trying to convey how far things have come,” he said. “Things were much different—those were the days [when] people would become HIV positive, and they’d be dead six months later. I wanted to talk historically [about] what it was like, and how very scary it truly was, because for some people it is still that scary.” Darcangelo’s mother suffered from HIV during a time when stigma was rampant. Often, people found themselves receding away from society because, at the time, much about HIV/AIDS—and how to survive—were still unknown. “Participating in things where one publicly talks about their HIV status, and talks about being HIV positive, I think it really helps to stomp out stigma,” Darcangelo said. “I’ve been a big advocate [for] people speaking out publicly and coming out with whatever is going on in their lives and being stigmatized.” Participating in projects such as Dixon’s, Darcangelo said, can help bring a sense of history and context to the current struggles that people are facing. “Just walking down the street I see addicted people who are HIV positive, and can just waste away easily,” he said. “A lot of times people don’t always remember, particularly the youth who didn’t live through it.” Darcangelo himself found out he had contracted HIV in the summer of 1990 when he was 19 years old. He found himself dealing with the stigma and hopelessness.

See ANI on Page 6 • The Rainbow Times • 5

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Pop-Up ID Project provides assistance for name and gender marker changes Mass. residents look to Oregon as a model for providing non-binary people options to update their pronouns on official documents BOSTON—President Donald Trump’s election was the impetus Krys Petrie needed to make a change they had been considering for a long time—updating their name and gender marker on their birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, and other legal documents. “It felt required because there was no telling what would happen,” said Petrie, a software engineer in Waltham whose preferred pronouns are they, them, and their. “Everyone in the community seemed to have that same realization and that’s when a bunch of resources became available.” Those resources come from the Pop-Up ID Project (, a collaboration between GLBTQ Legal Advocates Defenders, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (; MTPC) and the law firm Ropes & Gray ( The project provides legal and financial assistance to transgender adults and parents of transgender minors throughout New England who want to change their names and gender markers on official documents. Fenway Health also refers its patients to the Pop-Up ID project and provides more information on the name and gender marker change process on its website ( Petrie is one of more than 400 transgender people who has participated in the project thus far. Upon completing an intake form, they were connected with Gabriel Gillmeyer, an associate at Ropes & Gray, who walked them through the steps needed to move through bureaucratic government organizations. “Everyone, trans or not, has dealt with these organizations in some capacity and know that it’s a pain,” Gillmeyer said. “My work is not always strictly legal, sometimes it’s just providing individual counseling to navigate through the steps and deal with issues that might arise.” The process for completing name and gender marker changes differs from state to state, and sometimes even county to county for name changes in probate court. Gillmeyer said part of Ropes & Gray’s pro bono work in the Pop-Up ID project has been gathering information on each process and compiling fact sheets to share with their clients. Patience “Polly” Crozier, a senior staff attorney at GLAD, said collecting that information also provides the ammunition needed to advocate for large-scale changes across Massachusetts. Those include both procedural changes and ensuring that staff in government agencies are prepared to work with transgender people. “We can take the lessons from individual experience to make it fairer for people coming down the road,” Crozier


By: Jenna Spinelle/TRT Reporter

Djaz Idakaar

said. “In Massachusetts, the court has been doing a lot [of] work to get up to speed to ensure that they’re affirming for clients.” Despite those efforts, things still are not perfect. Petrie recalled their experience having a new driver’s license photo taken at the Massachusetts RMV. “I was asked if I was a hairdresser because I was trans,” Petrie said. “There’s definitely still a lot of stereotyping out there.” Completing the name and gender marker changes successfully comes down to two factors—time and money. County probate courts and government offices operate on a normal business schedule, which can make it difficult for people who do not have flexible job schedules to visit those offices in person. Gillmeyer said this is one area where an attorney can work with the court to see if it’s possible to file the required paperwork on their client’s behalf in extenuating circumstances. "You're going to have a lawyer walk you through this process step-by-step to overcome any obstacles that may arise,” he said. “Having that individual assistance is a great asset." Also, the cost to complete name and gender changes on the standard set of legal documents (birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, and Social Security card) is several hundred dollars depending on Read the rest of this story online at

6 • The Rainbow Times •

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Lesbian PAC to hold event in Boston With AG Maura Healy and Feminist Comic Kate Clinton BOSTON—LPAC, the national lesbian political organization and political action committee that supports pro-LGBTQ, prowomen’s equality, and progressive candidates, will hold their first fundraiser of 2018 in Boston’s South End on February 15th, as the organization kicks off work in the midterm election year. “LPAC is excited to bring our message and work to Boston,” said Interim Executive Director Urvashi Vaid, who received a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in 1983, was on the founding board of the Boston Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance, a non-partisan political organization that interviews and endorses candidates for political office and advocates for Boston's gay community and was part of the collective that formed Gay Community News, a weekly newspaper that had national impact when it was published from 1973 to 1992. “And we are thrilled to have the Attorney General join us.” “This is a critical year for LGBTQ people, women, people of color and all progressives, and we hope the Boston community joins us to learn how we can support progressive candidates and advance positive policy outcomes,” said Diane Felicio, a Boston based member of LPAC’s National Board . Event hosts include: Naomi Aberly, Susan Bernstein, Steven Cadwell & Joe Levine, Elyse Cherry, Julian Cyr, Diane Fe-

LPAC supporter James Dozier, back a few years. PHOTO: LPAC - FB

licio, David Goldman, Julie Goodridge, Catherine Guthrie & Mary Gray, Caitlin Healey, Tom Huth, Lyne Kappelman & Kate Perrelli, Ruth Lewis, Neal Minahan, Bette Warner & Patty Larkin, Shari Weiner, Julie Smith & Polly Franchot, and Urvashi Vaid & Kate Clinton. The event will be held on Thursday, February 15th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Ink Block – South End, Boston. If you would like to attend you must RSVP prior, by emailing for media credentialing or to donate. LPAC recently released their first set of endorsements for 2018, a critical midterm election year: For more information about LPAC, go to

ANI From Page 4 Darcangelo also had to face treatment practices that had not yet matured including cocktails of prescription that could have severe adverse side effects. “Sometimes the meds killed people back then,” he said. And yet through it all, Darcangelo found the strength to continue on living. He is a registered nurse and advocates for people living with HIV/AIDS. While making strides in the last few decades, HIV/AIDS is still a prevalent health epidemic in Massachusetts. According to AIDSVu (, an organization that tracks HIV/AIDS cases around the country, more than 19,000 people were living with HIV in Massachusetts in 2014. AIDSVu reported the rate of latinx women and men living with HIV in the state is 10.3 and 3.9 times that of their white counterparts, respectively. Also, a 2015 AIDSVu study shows among males, male-to-male sexual contact comprised 77.8 percent of new cases of HIV, while 8.7 percent were attributed to intravenous drug use among males. Behind the Camera As with all efforts to build a better world for LGBTQ people, Dixon can’t do it alone. That’s where Matthew Hamer comes in. ANI’s director of photography, Hamer, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they, them and their, said their inspiration to work with Dixon comes from a desire to offer the public educational opportunities they never had. Coming from a small—and largely white—central Massachusetts town, Hamer found discussing issues around racial, economic, and social justice were often met with skepticism and bias. This, Hamer said, is where media can make an impact. “If you try to talk to white people about racial and economic justice issues, they for the most part already have inherent biases,” Hamer said. “Media can do two things depending on what you need it to do.” Hamer said media has the ability to dehumanize an issue in a positive way. Being able to display facts as they are—without any regard to bias or consideration of background—is a powerful way media can bring important issues to light. They said media can put a human face on an issue and elicit emotional responses that break through inherent racial or economic biases. “[Media] really helps to humanize those issues that some people would rather just not think about or just assume is the fault of people,” they said. Hamer said they were inspired to work with ANI in part because of how resources in the film industry are used often for incredible personal gain, either through profit or political power. According to Hamer, their participation in ANI is a way to both use the important resources available to them for good and to hopefully inspire other people in the film industry to work on projects surrounding social justice issues. “I work with a lot of people who make a lot of money in filmmaking and are very







talented, and as a result of being very talented and being very successful they make a lot of money for not doing a lot of work, which is the dream,” they said. “I feel like so many of those people could be easily convinced [about] how much good they could do by just volunteering some of their time or resources to helping people-ofcolor-led production companies that do mission-focused work like Amir.” Expanding ANI’s reach Dixon said he and his team are going to be engaging in screenings and public forums with “GENZero” around Massachusetts. The work of ANI, Dixon said, is continually growing. He hopes to bring more artists together to use their craft for good. One project in the works is meant to feature gay black men, coming from communities severely impacted by HIV, talking about how they use Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (; PrEP) to prevent HIV transmission. “We’ll be getting the stories from black gay men from the 10 cities and communities at highest impact for HIV, and asking them how they’re using PREP to fight HIV,” he said. Another project will be looking to shed light on youth homelessness. Dixon said he is also searching for artists of color who use art to empower communities. “If you are a filmmaker talking about youth homelessness, you’ll be a part of that campaign that we’re launching in February,” he said. As ANI makes content exclusively for social welfare organizations, Dixon said the best way to support the firm is by engaging and sharing their content. “Add us on social [media], subscribe online,” he added. “We’re going to be doing events, pop ups, screenings. And if you are an artist and want to collaborate, let’s do it.”

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018 • The Rainbow Times • 7

8 • The Rainbow Times •

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

A star is born: Miz Diamond Wigfall charts a course from Salem, Mass. to NYC


It’s the 2017 New York City Pride Festival—one of the most attended Pride celebrations in the country— and two scantily-clad young women dressed in black strut across the small stage. The 2003 Britney Spears/Madonna smash hit, “Me Against the Music” begins to play as the two dancers confidently position themselves on either side of a runway projecting into a crowd. With their backs facing the enthusiastic audience and slowly shaking their hips back and forth, a third person walks across the stage: up-and-coming drag queen Miz Diamond Wigfall. She immediately sets about working the stage and lip syncing the words of the furiouslypaced song, all while performing a wellchoreographed dance routine with her two backup dancers. The performance segues into the 2001 Lady Gaga song, “Marry the Night” and Wigfall and the dancers continue their routine, which is replete with pantomiming, twirls, and seductive poses. “That was so cool,” said Wigfall, who’s also known as AJ Fenway Parker. Parker, 23, mentioned that the experience was one of his favorite drag performances. On stage, Parker was dressed in knee-high black boots, a pink leotard, a long blonde wig, and heavy makeup with copious amounts of eyeshadow and mascara. The performance wasn’t perfect, however. “The crotch on my leotard popped open

and I was like, ‘Whatever, I’m going to keep going and from that point on, I always had a safety pin,’” he recalled with a laugh. Like a true performer, Parker went on with the show, though for the remaining 30 seconds of his performance, his snaps flailed around wildly while he finished the song. “Honestly, it did happen again on New Year’s Eve and I was like, ‘Welp, you just can’t learn, can ya?’”


By: Mike Givens/TRT Assistant Editor

“Goosebumps” According to Carleen McLaughlin, Parker’s mother, he was always destined to be on stage entertaining others. As a child growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, McLaughlin said Parker often shunned sports. She said she keeps a photo on her refrigerator of Parker at t-ball practice one day with a big frown on his face. “When we tried to get him into karate or baseball or whatever, he’d actually sit down … and pout and say, ‘I’m not doing this,’” she said. “One day, he heard some music in downtown Salem and him and his dad looked and it was a dance studio, and from that day on, he was in dance and theatre.” Parker’s father, Jonathan, agreed with McLaughlin about their son’s love of dancing. “If there was a beat—I don’t even care if it was a washing machine—he just loved to dance and loved to move around,” he said. “The more he was dancing, the happier he was.” As a young father, the elder Parker said

Miz Diamond Wigfall

he was concerned about his son’s aversion to the typical activities that boys engaged in, but after having a conversation with a pediatrician, he decided to accept his middle child as he was. “It is what it is and we all just kind of rolled with it,” he recalled of his decision to not force his son into playing sports. “We put him in baseball, we put him in soccer, we put him in karate, and he was

miserable,” he continued. “This [dancing and singing] is what he wants to do, so let’s do it. From then on, we just supported whatever he did. One hundred percent. We were right behind him with whatever he needed.” McLaughlin said that junior high school was difficult for Parker as he was often ...

See Wigfall on Page 22 • The Rainbow Times • 9

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Project LIFE fills vital need for support, services for those living with HIV/AIDS By: Nick Collins and Al Gentile/TRT Intern and TRT Reporter, respectively

HOLYOKE, Mass.—The day Paolo Salvador found out he was HIV-positive, his world came crashing down. “I was trembling,” Salvador said. “I had literally the time I got up from that table to the time I got back to my partner to figure out how I was going to tell him.” Project LIFE (Live Inspire Further Educate), a new nonprofit created by Salvador, aims to serve those living with HIV/AIDS in the Western part of Massachusetts. Project LIFE was founded in 2017 by Salvador after he was diagnosed with HIV at age 19. The diagnosis hit home for him; he had lost his aunt to the same disease several years earlier. And the questions that came with HIV—such as how to tell his partner—troubled him as well. Paolo Salvador at the World AIDS Day benefit hosted “It tore me apart,” he wrote on the Project by Project LIFE on December 1 Life website ( But PHOTO: PROJECT LIFE after months of research, Salvador learned more about the disease and became deter- community outreach, Project Life also mined to, “create a program that educates hosts peer support groups, partners with a not only those who are [HIV] positive but local Chicopee soup kitchen, and works with local housing agencies to help find all of those in our community.” Through his research, Salvador learned clients homes. that education for everyone affected by HIV and AIDS—not only those with a di- Facing the Stigma The inequities experienced by people agnosis but their friends and family as with HIV/AIDS, Salvador said, are in large well—was missing. “It was just focused on people who are part because of the stigma surrounding the virus. living with it,” he said. “You can live a very “It wasn’t even folong life with HIV,” cused on their partNE OF THE BIGGEST Salvador said. “Menners, it wasn’t focused tally, we haven’t really on the general public getting educated. It CONSEQUENCES OF THE made much progress as a community on getting wasn’t focused on educated on what HIV testing. It really was focused on getting SURROUNDING is, and what the risks are, and how to support people who are living somebody who is living with HIV the care that IS SOCIETY with it.” they need, and I feel Very often, according like there is so much to Salvador, the stigma more to it than that beUNDERSTANDING HOW surrounding HIV/AIDS cause, living with leaves those infected HIV, yeah, medication feeling as though they is a huge part of it, but MOST ARE are living in a world there’s also the mental that will never underhealth part of it.” stand or accept them. Based in the western Massachusetts city of CONNECTED IN SOME WAY This isolation, and the resulting depression, Holyoke, Project anxiety, and loneliness, LIFE is, “committed WITH THE can have extremely to creating and providdetrimental impacts. ing support, advocacy, “It’s difficult to tell and education to and for the underserved HIV-positive commu- people even though you’re not personally nity, to increase their access to resources worried about it, it’s difficult to tell family,” and effectively address the roots of social Salvador said. “Family automatically asinequities,” according to its mission state- sumes you’re going to die, and you have to go through the whole explanation of how ment. The nonprofit’s website features a series you contracted it, and all that kind of stuff.” Derek Cartagena, who works as a secreof HIV/AIDS educational videos (, including, among tary for Project LIFE, said the stigma surothers, “HIV: Stopping the Virus Starts rounding HIV/AIDS is in many ways its with You,” “HIV: What’s Going on Inside own sickness. Your Body,” and “HIV: Avoiding ResistRead the rest online at ance.” In order to further their mission of The Rainbow Times’ Website






Happy Valentine’s Day to All!

10 • The Rainbow Times •

Accessibility page 2 Racism, transphobia and ableism, "lead to lack of access, decline in mental health and wellness and even death. When folks with disabilities do not have access to the services they say they need then their quality of life is impacted tremendously as with anyone,” wrote Lourdes Ashley Hunter, the executive director of the Trans Women Of Color Collective (; TWOCC), in an email to me. Because race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, nationality, and many other identities have different descriptors, a single person can hold many identities that prevent them or make them more likely to experience discrimination depending on which system of oppression we focus on. It is essential, then, to look at the composite of those identities and those experiences, instead of looking at them individually. When asked about accessibility to LGBTQ venues, Julia Sikut, who performs under the drag name Sarah Palegic, notes that, "there are many spaces in Providence and Boston that I cannot access whatsoever whether it be due to stairs or narrow spaces or no accessible bathroom, etc." "My number one pet peeve is when there is no information regarding accessibility on a venue’s website," she continued. Sikut explained that inaccessibility is exclusionary and a type of legal segregation: "It's very important that I'm able to find [accessibility] information before I travel all the way to a gig only to find out I can't get inside." This is one example of how inaccessibil-

ity impacts LGBTQ people. In this case, the accessibility issue isn't limited to a physical barrier, it's also an intangible barrier that forces PWD to plan for multiple scenarios, creating additional work for them and their support system. And if the location where a PWD is supposed to go to is inaccessible, it can create a negative impact on their experience. There is not a single place where Sikut said doesn't experience the effects of ableism, including from people who identify as LGBTQ. "For me, my disability is a large part of my identity, but certainly not my whole identity,” she said. “For strangers I meet, my disability is my entire identity. And this becomes so tiring. I have many folks approach me to tell me I am inspiring, courageous, amazing, etc. without even bothering to ask my name. “These folks don't know anything about me yet they are blindly attributing these characteristics to me because the bar has been set so low for disabled people that my mere presence in a nightclub is awe inspiring. It becomes very tiring to constantly be seen as a beacon of strength." For Alex, who is housebound and depends on personal care attendants (PCAs) daily, it's difficult having to hire, train, and keep PCAs if they don't know about trans people, or people who struggle with mental health conditions, like agoraphobia. "I've been agoraphobic since I was in [the] double digits,” they said. “I lost mobility really rapidly and never got an explanation, so I'm literally trapped in my apartment. If no one shows up, no food, no nothing." Agoraphobia, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (; DSM-5) is an anxiety disorder in which individuals have a disproportionate fear of public places, often perceiving such environments as too open, crowded or dangerous. Many of Alex's former and current PCAs have not understood how much more difficult it is for a housebound person, who is also agoraphobic, trans, and wheelchair bound, to deal with a world so inaccessible. Therefore, the support they provide around leaving their apartment for appointments is sometimes not enough, or misguided. “A Crisis of Hate: A Report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Hate Violence Homicides in 2017” was released by the National Coalition of AntiViolence Programs (; NCAVP) on January 19, and the statistics line up with the experiences of heightened violence for trans people, women, and people of color. However, “A Crisis of Hate” does not include information about PWD. This presents another accessibility barrier: the invisibility of communities in our queer and trans justice movements. Without data, it is difficult to justify funding for accessible programs since the systems that control those sources of funding prioritize hard data over the experience of queer and trans PWD, and it's essential for organizations to centralize PWD's needs to combat that invisibility.

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FUNDRAISER.” The Problem with Pride There are different ways to work towards building accessibility. Hunter of the Trans Women of Color Collective believes one way is being fairly paid for one's work. "We must be paid for our labor,” she said. “All of it! Emotional labor is work. Every

time you are asking trans people to explain and justify their existence you should be writing a check. Every time you misgender a trans person or remain silent when we are experiencing violence, you should be clicking the donate button on someone's fundraiser. Every time you learn something from a black or brown trans person's Facebook post you need to be pouring into our lives." This, however, becomes an issue for PWD who depend on services that limit and control their earnings or savings. For Sikut, living off of Social Security and disability income (SSDI), "makes it so that I cannot save money; I have no room for growth. This has prevented me from chasing some of my dreams such as modeling because ultimately, what I earn might not always be more than what I would lose in benefits. These kinds of laws make sure that disabled people stay poor and have no means of financial growth.” Alex explains that they need to save money in a jar, "even if it's easier for PCAs to steal from me, because I can't have more than $2,000 in my bank account otherwise I lose my benefits." These regulations are, according to Alex, a symptom of institutional ableism. "I don't know when I will be able to work and when I won't be able to work, and if I'm able to work, I can't save money because they'll cut my SSDI." "I don't see local queer activists including PWD in their platforms,” they continued. "We have been an afterthought and it's violent. I don't feel safe going to any Pride events, to the ones that are accessible anyways." “Trans Women of Color Collective usually hosts healing events, outdoor concerts or parties geared toward celebrating our history resisting state sanctioned violence as well as our ancestors who made it possible for us to exist and resist today," Hunter explained. "I do not attend commercial Pride events as they are not rooted in the history of Pride.” She reminds us that, “even before Stonewall there were the Compton Cafeteria Riots of 1966 and Cooper Donut Riots of 1959," and all of these movements and riots are historically known to be the roots of Pride. Those riots were led by individuals who often held multiple oppressed identities. Marsha P Johnson, for example, was a black trans woman, who was also poor and a PWD. And for some LGBTQ people, Pride events may sometimes be the only local event in which they may feel safe. For this reason, Pride events need more accessibility information on their websites. Sikut explains why accessibility information is important. "Pointing out spots for handicap parking, accessible toilets, etc. on a website would be a huge help for disabled people who are trying to determine if they can handle a Pride event." Ultimately, when services are built around the needs of those who experience the most compound oppression, they become accessible. This is why our queer and trans justice movements must centralize the Read the rest of this story via The Rainbow Times’ website

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February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018 • The Rainbow Times • 13

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Manning, ‘The Fosters,” Cumming, more By: Romeo San Vicente*/Special to TRT


XY Chelsea brings trans whistle-blower Manning to theaters A documentary feature on Chelsea Manning, whose journey as a transgender military service member reached its public moment at the same time she was handed a 35-year prison sentence for revealing state secrets, is on its way later this year. The film is called XY Chelsea, it’s from filmmaker Tim Travers Hawkins, and it follows Manning as she leaves prison and moves forward with her life. Her sentence commuted by President Obama, she then steps into a new role as a trans rights activist and as a somewhat controversial media figure with first-hand experience with what happens when individual conscience comes into conflict with national security and government policy. Showtime will release the film theatrically and then across the network’s various streaming platforms, then you can hear it all from her in her own words. Alan Cumming updates Death to Instinct at CBS A lesson in TV development: things change, sometimes for the better. Back in 2016 Alan Cumming had a new series set up at CBS called Dr. Death, based on an upcoming book by James Patterson. But now the show, in which Cumming portrays an eccentric, crime-solving genius, is called Instinct, and his character is gay and married. At recent press events Cumming praised CBS for the step forward with the character, a seasoned CIA veteran who now teaches and writes but gets drawn back into detective work when a serial killer needs catching. Last time we covered this project we were hoping for a Murder, She Wrote situation, and that desire has not changed. Go forth and conquer murders queerly, please, Mr. Cumming. We’ll accept a touch less coziness in exchange for the pleasure. Now there’s going to be a The Fosters extended television universe

CHEFS-The Sizzling Kitchen Showdown comes to Springfield’s CityStage Dan Reynolds

All good things come to an end and it’s the same with The Fosters. The series that broke network TV ground with its depiction of a close-knit family with two lesbian moms will wrap up soon with a threeepisode finale, the way any narratively responsible family drama should. But wait, that three show arc will be the set up for a spinoff series that will follow the young adult lives of sisters Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Callie (Maia Mitchell). Creators Peter Paige, Bradley Bredeweg and Joanna Johnson will place the sisters in Los Angeles, pursuing grown-up lives and careers, while still keeping them in touch with the Foster family. In other words, you know your mom(s) never let you stray too far away without at least a weekly Skype call, so cameo drop-ins can be expected. Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds is a Believer Hetero ally Dan Reynolds of the band Imagine Dragons is about to stir up a hornet’s nest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is Mormon himself, and he’s also the lead figure in a documentary called Believer, directed by Don Argott (DeLorean, The Art of The Steal). This story continues on this page, below.

Feast your eyes on CHEFS! These hilarious (and delicious) hunks give you a peek behind the apron as they slice, dice, and spice things up in the kitchen through a series of escalating culinary challenges where the stakes are high: if they lose a challenge, they lose their shirt. Literally. CHEFS is a fully interactive experience where you will vote for the winner and may even join the boiling hot chefs onstage for uproarious cooking demonstrations. Outrageously bold and hysterically funny, CHEFS is “too hot for TV,” making it the perfect night out! (Not recommended for children - adult audiences only). Roslyn Hart, director and writer of CHEFS dished out the spicy info for the show, set to hit CityStage next month. TRT: Sexiness and food clearly go well together. What inspired you to create CHEFS? Hart: The opportunity to work with Chef Patrick Wilde—the sexy bad boy of the culinary world, a former stripper who opened his first Michelin-starred restaurant with the million in singles he earned from stripping—was too good to pass up. He's having a culinary tournament to find a chef to run his new Vegas restaurant, and all contestants must be male strippers. He wants to give other male entertainers the chance to “Get off the pole and into the pantry." This is the hottest cooking contest in the world. Q: If the chefs loose a culinary challenge, they loose their shirt, literally. What else do they loose as the challenges progress?

only 3 pieces. You do the math. Q: Your website states that the show is more interactive than the Blue Man Group and Magic Mike. How so? A: I don't believe in spoilers, but I can tell you the entire audience [is] involved from start to finish. You'll vote for your favorite chef, yell at the losing chefs to TAKE IT OFF, throw things, catch things, taste things—and many audience members will be called onstage to help the chefs complete their challenges. Sit close and you might become a slicer, a dicer or even a human dessert. So, get those abs in shape, and learn where the eggplant emoji is on your phone. You're gonna need it. Q: Are the hunky chefs actually professional culinary experts or is this experience more about the sexy nature of getting behind the apron? A: Not only are these ridiculously hot chefs experienced in the kitchen—one was a prison cook profiled on the Food Network, another is a cowboy who bakes pies over an open flame—they are also world class male strippers. So, every time they lose a culinary challenge, they don't just take off an article of clothing, they have to PERFORM while taking those clothes off, and they may pull you onstage to help with that performance. Expect virtuosity, theatricality and lap dances. Q: If you could describe this show in 4 words, what would they be? A. Chopped meets Magic Mike.

A: Well, there are 7 challenges, one winner per challenge, and their uniform consists of

Grab tickets to this sizzling performance at

Continued from Above

It’s impossible to predict if this could spark a cultural shift in the notoriously anti-queer sect, but it’s good to know Reynolds is on the side of justice and decency for queer kids from a place inside the church.

The film will follow Reynolds as he investigates the abuse of LGBTQ people in the church and the rise in Utah teen suicide over the past decade. The film is produced by Live Nation Productions, and premieres at the Sundance Film Festival this month, with an HBO air date to follow this summer.

*Romeo San Vicente is a missionary of pleasure. • The Rainbow Times • 15

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LGBTQ Acceptance from page 2 “somewhat” comfortable with LGBTQ people across seven situations. This is a significant decline from 53 percent last year and the first time the Accelerating Acceptance report has shown a drop in acceptance for LGBTQ people. 2. GLAAD and The Harris Poll found that 55 percent of LGBTQ adults reported experiencing discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. This number is a significant 11 percentage point increase from the previous year (44 percent). 3. There was a decline in non-LGBTQ adults’ comfortability around LGBTQ people, particularly in more personal situations. Compared to last year’s results, significantly more respondents noted that they would be uncomfortable learning a family member is LBGTQ (30 percent vs. 27 percent), having their child’s teacher be LGBTQ (31 percent vs. 28 percent), and learning their doctor is LGBTQ (31 percent vs. 28 percent). There have been attacks against the LGBTQ community repetitiously since the Trump administration took over the White House. Nearly all rights gained have been challenged to some degree or another. Just hours after the inauguration, the LGBT content mantled on official government websites was scoured from the White House, Department of Labor and Department of State URLs. If that doesn’t signal discriminatory intent and inner workings of the minds behind such division from the start, I don’t know what does. In February 2017, the attacks against the transgender community began when the “Trump administration announced plans to rescind Obama-era guidelines that barred discrimination against transgender students,” reported The Rainbow Times. “The federal guidelines were based on policy pioneered in Massachusetts. The guidance asserts that denying transgender students equal access to school programs and activities in accordance with their gender identity is a violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in public schools.” Later that same year, Trump proposed a transgender military ban, which he ultimately lost. The Department of Justice policy interpreting Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, and also discrimination based on gender identity was reversed, LGBT Pride Month was ignored, the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS was dismantled, “religious liberties” have surfaced again and are condoned to be used as a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups. Women’s rights have been trampled on and reproductive health choices have been stripped away. Immigrants brought to this country when they were children have been torn away from their families in the United States and sent back to countries that they have no ties to, and often times do not even speak the language needed to survive there. Trump has diminished and demeaned the



CAUSE THE TIDE IS CHANGING. dire situations of refugees who flee their countries of origin due to situations far beyond an individual person’s control such as war, famine, and social norms that quite literally could mean the death penalty for anyone belonging to the LGBTQ community. This administration has grossly signaled to the world that marginalized groups are not a part of his priorities, not even close to it. As a matter of fact, I believe Trump’s thought process is more in line with “jokingly” claiming that Mike Pence preferred to see gay people hanged. I believe there is a modicum of truth to that. But, have people’s perspectives really changed that much in a year? Or, is it simply that they are emboldened by the “faux” Leader of the Free World to voice their opposition to others in ways that were otherwise unacceptable, inexcusable, and despicable that would carry serious consequences? Regardless of the reason for the appalling results of this survey, this is the reality of which we live. It is a reality that we live in a divided nation where money and power often win out over compassion and kindness. It is a reality that we have more antiLGBTQ judges appointed to the lower level courts than ever before. It is a reality that Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court, despite his staunch record of opposition to LGBT equality and protections. It is a reality that through a stroke of a pen, the Affordable Care Act has been weakened. It is also a reality that more Americans are becoming involved in civic duties and politics to help manifest the America they believe in. It is a reality that no matter how hard he tried, Trump was unsuccessful at barring transgender military members from serving. It is a reality that the Affordable Care Act could not be dismantled, despite multiple strategies used to ensure its repeal. It is a reality that the politicians responsible for putting Trump in office in the first place now have their own political careers in jeopardy as Trump continues to spin out ...

See LGBTQ Acceptance on page 23

16 • The Rainbow Times •

Christa from Page 3 England Trans United March and Rally with Power, the first of which took place on October 3 of that year. In 2010, she started the Christa Hilfers Show podcast, a program in which she—along with other members of the trans community—discussed the struggles of being trans. Christa also frequently uploaded YouTube videos delving into similar topics and showing support for her community. She became the face of the New England trans community, described by others as “well-loved and known by many (” The Rainbow Times was able to confirm that Christa divorced Hilfers in October 2014. On April 15, 2017 she married Steele-Knudslien and soon after moved with him to North Adams. For Christa, expressing her trans identity was a difficult task in rural Massachusetts. She was no stranger to demeaning treatment on the basis of her gender identity. In a Facebook post from November 14, she described allegedly being, “ … threatened by a[n]... employee” that night at their local Wal-Mart. She frequently posted pro-trans and proLGBTQ messages to her Facebook timeline, expressing outrage at the Trump administration and wishing cities like Boston and New York, “happy Pride Day.” But what Christa was perhaps best known for, within the New England trans community, was her status as the C.E.O. and founder of the Miss Trans New England Pageant. In founding and running the event, she hoped to, in her own words, “lib-

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

erate women” and show people that “everybody has beauty, no matter who they are … not just in the trans world, but in the everyday world (” She founded the Miss Trans New England Pageant in 2009 after noticing a dearth

ors [them] and their talents while recognizing them as both women and transgender (” But the pageant didn’t just honor them, according to Christa, it also empowered trans women, inspiring them “ … to



LEGALLY DISCRIMINATE AGAINST THEM.” of opportunities for trans women to showcase and take pride in their beauty. Christa intended for the event to, “[allow] transgender women to compete for a title that hon-

Because the right to make our own end-of-life decisions matters.

achieve great things in their lives and continue to do activism in their communities.” “Christa then talked with me at length about her dream of creating a space where

trans women, particularly trans women of color, would feel safe, feel beautiful, and be publicly applauded for their skills and talents – in other words, for who they are,” Power said. “She informed me that other countries hold trans pageants and that she wanted to start them in the U.S. After a long back-and-forth about feminism, transfeminism, and bathing suits—which she did not want in her pageant—I agreed to support her in any way to make her dream a reality. "Christa was a heck of a diva, she was really driven,” said Lorelei Erisis, The Rainbow Times’ columnist and the first winner of the Miss Trans New England Pageant. “The things that she did she was absolutely determined to make happen. A lot of the things she got done, she got done out of sheer force of personality.” Erisis described her relationship with Christa as “contentious” given the fact that the two often butted heads on different issues, but said that she deeply respected and admired her. “She started the Miss Trans New England Pageant as a way for trans women to stand up for who we are and be proud as trans women,” she said. “That spirit and everything she did kicked off almost everything I do as an activist." Power said in the last few years, he and Christa had grown distant, but they had recently reconnected last year. “She came to the SMA grand opening in Holyoke in June 2017 and briefly introduced me to Mark,” he said. “Then she ...

See Christa on page 19 • The Rainbow Times • 17

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7 easy cleaning tactics to keep your home looking like gay people live there


By: Mikey Rox*/Special to TRT

Whether you have kids, pets or just a messy housemate or partner, your home can turn into a disaster area (like post holidays!) before you know it. From dirty walls to unorganized closets to stained carpets and couches, every area of your abode is susceptible to disrepair. To keep things in check—and looking fresh—here are a few preemptive tips to make sure your place is at its best all year round.

1. Scotchgard your furniture To protect fabric, furniture and carpet from stains, Scotchgard is essential. You can purchase the treatment at virtually any store that sells cleaning products, and many furniture companies offer the protection for an additional fee before you take your new digs home. Scotchgarded furniture can be costly if you have the retailer do it for you (so if you’re pinching pennies, do it yourself), but it’s worth the fee to ward off having to replace or reupholster your couch and chairs before you need or want to.

2. Bust out the broom, duster and mop Nobody likes dusting, but it’s amazing how a good wipe down of electronics, art and decorative items can restore a room to its original shine. Likewise, a sweep of the floor followed by a serious mopping can give the room an immediate aura of clean. The lemon-fresh scent doesn’t hurt either. 3. Use bleach in the bathroom There’s nothing more powerful or potent than bleach. It gets your whites whiter, but it’s also a critical cleaning agent to remove mildew and prevent mold in the bathroom. Tile grout can get gross quickly, especially around the tub, which makes it essential to attack the problem areas with bleach once a month before too much gunk builds up. To protect yourself from the fumes, open the windows and turn on the exhaust. To keep your clothes from getting stained, get naked and clean the shower while you’re taking one. Two birds, one stone. 4. Wipe down the walls If you think dust, dirt and grime are only on your floors, furniture and appliances,

you’re wrong. Inspect your walls and baseboards closely and you’ll see stains that will make you scratch your head. How did they get there? Who knows—but a quick wipe down with a rag, soap and water will restore your walls to pristine condition. Avoid chemical cleansers at all costs in this area careful because some of them can strip the paint right off—a preventable problem you don’t need. 5. Put things away habitually Even if your home is “clean,” it won’t seem that way if you have odd items—like clothing, newspapers and magazine, and dishes—lying around everywhere. For some, this is a hard habit to break, but making it a point to put your stuff where it belongs will keep your place guest-ready at all times, prevent unwanted intrusions from pests, and free up your time since you won’t have to schedule time to do what you should have done throughout the week. 6. Windex your mirrors and glass Fingerprints, toothpaste and dust seemingly appear on your mirrors, windows and other glass out of nowhere. A paper towel and a few spritzes of glass cleaner go a long way to maintain their natural sparkle. And don’t forget about framed artwork when you’re in glass-attacking mode, an oftenoverlooked necessity in making sure your home appears cultured but also clean and comfortable. 7. Clean out your closets every six months Yes, every six months. Get rid of old clothes; donate dust-collecting electronics and media, like CDs and DVDs; and sell any unwanted-but-still-valuable items on Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, or local marketplace apps like Letgo. Fold your clothes and place them neatly in the closet. Buy organizers to hide shoes and accessories. Chaos only breeds more chaos; you’ll feel better about your space when everything is tidy and in its place. *Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He splits his time between homes in New York City and the Jersey Shore with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.

Where Passions Meets Lifestyle by Aydian Ethan Dowling

18 • The Rainbow Times •

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Radical religion rears its ugly head once again, more than before By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist



n the name of religious freedom, or, “conscience rights,” the Trump administration has provided legal sanctuary for religious groups from the federal government with the creation of an oversight entity within the Department of Health and Human Services. This new entity will be called the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division (” This entity will review cases of people who legally refuse to comply with laws and regulations that violate their religious beliefs. This will allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions, gender confirmation surgeries, and other procedures. I’m not certain what the other procedures are, and I don’t really know how far some religious people may take this. It’s already bad enough as is, but hopefully it won’t spread to the point where people can refuse to deny you their services, whether it’s a person who works in a pharmacy who refuses to sell you your meds or a server in a restaurant who refuses

to wait on you because of their religious beliefs. It is not in the nation’s best interest to allow people to discriminate against American citizens. It is simply un-American. This new addition to the Department of Health and Human Services may legalize

posed of far-right Christians. I did not notice any Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, or any other faiths, just Christians. Where do these radical Christians get the idea that they can deny services and rights to other Americans? I’m not completely sure, but I am willing to guess that they are

NOW, WHETHER THEY WERE “INSPIRED” BY THEIR GOD IS QUESTIONABLE. I PERSONALLY HAVE MY DOUBTS. discrimination against Americans, specifically women and trans people. Now, I realize that some people truly love their religion and that they think that they are following their religious beliefs, but they cannot circumvent the rights of other Americans because of it. Once again, I believe that it is mostly the radical Christian element, which is pushing this agenda. I remember within the past 10 years attending hearings and votes in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut and the State House in Massachusetts on trans rights and the opposition was always com-

following their version of selected passages from the Bible. They may think that the Bible is the word of God. I would like to point out that God did not write the Bible. The Bible was written by men, not women, but men, hundreds of years ago. Now, whether they were “inspired” by their God is questionable. I personally have my doubts. If religious people can legally discriminate against women and trans people, who else could they discriminate against? Muslims? Jews? Black people? All three of those groups have gotten a bad rap from ex-

tremist Christian interpretations of the Bible. I remember hearing radical white Christians expressing Islamophobia, dislike of Jews, and somehow rationalizing that black people are inferior to white people. It boggles my mind to think that true Christians could possibly think like this. Would Jesus preach fear of the Muslims, dislike of Jews, (by the way, wasn’t Jesus a Jew?), and claiming that black people are inferior to white people? (By the way again, wasn’t Jesus black or brown?) I can’t help but think that radical Christians are twisting select verses from the Bible to support their own prejudices. Haven’t far-right Christians always done this? Think of the white slave owners who whipped their slaves into submission or religious men who oppress women. I’m sure you can find many other examples of Christians doing horrible things to other humans if you study history. So, what can we do about this? Contact your lawmakers (, both state and national, and let them know that discrimination by radical Christians is not allowed. This is the United States of America and we cannot let a religious minority set their own rules for discrimination. *Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren.

Mourning a loved one: Living with the lingering, raw pain of a friend’s death By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist



’m going to be honest with you dear readers, I’m having a very hard time. You see, a friend of mine was murdered quite recently. Her name was Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien. If you’d like to know the more factual, newsy details of the story, there have already been a good number of stories written, including quite a good one in this very paper ( But I’m not here to give you the just-thefacts reporting about my friend’s murder, even though I was interviewed for almost all those stories. I honestly doubt I’d be capable of writing a story like that myself. It’s too close. I don’t stand a chance of even

pretending to be unbiased about this. Because I am hurting. Nothing prepares you for something like this. There’s no manual for how to deal with a friend being murdered. And sadly, I am no stranger to death. Not even of the tragically-too-young variety. Before I turned 30, I had already lost two of my best, closest friends to drugs. One, when we were both just 20, from an apparent heroin overdose. The other, shortly after he actually managed to get clean from several years of Adderall abuse, among other drugs, had his heart just given out on him. Then, there were the various family members who died too young. An uncle died from suicide when I was very young; another uncle from a vicious cancer that returned suddenly after years of remission. And, there was also a favourite aunt whose system was just wrecked from too many

I’M SURE THAT EVENTUALLY I WILL HAVE MORE INSPIRING WORDS. IT’S WHAT I’M GOOD AT AFTER ALL. IT’S WHAT I DO. years from drug and alcohol abuse. That’s not considering all of the other family members who died of more natural causes during my own lifetime or the less close friends and acquaintances who died too young because of drugs, accidents, bad luck, or just dangerous lifestyles. In fact, just about two weeks before Christa was murdered, I found out through Facebook that a friend of mine from High School had died unexpectedly. With everything going on, I still haven’t even had the chance to find out how. At this point, you would think I’d be an old hand at dealing with death. My mother even told me recently that I write really good eulogies. I do know a few things. The cycle of it has grown all too familiar. There’s the initial shock of finding out, followed by gutwrenching grief, usually hand-in-hand with uncontrollable sobbing tears. Then, there’s a general sadness and bleak feeling to pretending to be okay, which hopefully leads to feeling not awful for a while. Eventually, little by little, life keeps moving on. There are a few disconcerting moments of joy as you get the hang of living life again. Eventually, the pain fades to a dullness that can be dealt with and packed away in a dusty corner of the mind. It never does go away, though. The strangest, most unexpected things can

bring that pain right back up to the surface. But the murder of a friend and comrade is something altogether new and awful to me. Especially in that this death happens to intersect directly with, well, everything I’m doing with my life as an artist, activist, and writer. This wasn’t just a friend who was murdered. This was a trans woman. The first trans woman, that we know of, to be murdered this year in the U.S., which makes it particularly newsworthy. A big part of my often hard-to-pin down gig is being a trans person that the media can go to, to help them parse trans-related news. It’s a gig I’m good at partly because I have years of experience in and around media and entertainment. Mainly because I seem to have a talent for making big ideas feel more personal and relatable. But this is already very, very personal for me. There’s absolutely zero distance. And there’s no getting away from it. With most of the death I’ve dealt with, there’s a brief explosion of grief and mourning among the group of people most closely affected. But then it fades from my feeds. Folks talk about it less. The pain is allowed to recede a bit, become more private. However, this death is everywhere I look.

See Ask a Trans Woman on page 22 • The Rainbow Times • 19

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Christa from page 16 reconnected with me via text message in October 2017 and sent me what would be her final text on January 1 wishing me a rainbow Happy New Year.” “I still haven't processed it yet,” said Jasmina Andino, who won the Miss Trans New England Pageant in 2014. “I have a heavy heart. Christa has been a great friend and helped me get through some difficult times.” Gunner Scott, a friend of Christa’s and a Miss Trans New England attendee, recalled her sense of humor. “She was funny. I remember her … funny, sometimes self-deprecating humor, but she made me laugh,” he said. “She also had this enthusiasm for wanting to shine a big, positive, sparkly … bright spot [of] light on trans women in the community.” “We are devastated,” said Dr. Shelley Janiczek Woodson, a psychologist in Granby, Massachusetts, and a close friend of Christa. Janiczek Woodson said she was the last non-family member to speak with Christa before her death. “She was fierce,” she continued. “A whirlwind of a girl. She was passionate about pageants … [and] the Miss Trans New England Pageant was glorious.” According to Janiczek Woodson, Christa was also passionate about restoring her home. “This is how she spent her last days: repairing, restoring, and decorating. She loved it, and she was good at it. “She cared about people. One of the last messages I received from her was, ‘How’s it going girl? You okay? Here for you.’ For her to die the way she did is unbearable.” “We need to start talking about the violence occurring within our communities” “We are heartbroken and outraged,” said Janis Broderick, executive director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center (, the domestic and sexual violence response center for Berkshire County, in a joint statement with four other domestic violence agencies. “As a transgender woman, Christa was a vital part of the LGBTQ community as well,” she said. “Her murder reminds us that trans and gender-nonconforming people face extraordinary levels of violence, and that sometimes they experience this violence at the hands of the people closest to them.” Marl Greist voiced similar sentiments regarding the murder. “I am appalled at the brutality of [it],” he said. “I live in Greenfield, which is a working-class town with a high domestic abuse statistic. But it’s … shocking when it happens to someone you know. It has made me realize that trans women need access to domestic abuse support services. All women need our support.” “Christa’s murder was, in my opinion, a domestic violence homicide,” said Scott, former executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (; MTPC). “The rampant homophobia and sexism in our society has helped to create an environment that allows for acts of partner violence to be ignored and for victims to be made invisible. “As a transgender person, I … see her death as part of the epidemic crisis of violence and murder facing transgender women—a crisis which only seems to be

QPuzzle: We present: “The Left Hand of Darkness”

Christa Leigh


accelerating in this political climate.” Power agreed with Scott’s contention. “We must all demand an end to the killings of trans people,” he declared. “We must take to the streets to express our outrage, call our representatives in congress and the senate, sign and circulate petitions, and more, to demand respect and equality for trans people.” "The [LGBTQ] communities are no stranger to mourning the violent loss of community members," said Sabrina Santiago, co-executive director of The Network/La Red (; TNLR), in the joint statement with the Elizabeth Freeman Center. "We talk about homicide, especially towards trans women, as hate crimes rooted in homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. However, we don’t talk about the [LGBTQ] homicides that occur in relation to domestic violence. We need to start talking about the violence occurring within our communities." Based in Boston, TNLR is a domestic violence agency that serves the LGBTQ, polyamorous, and sadomasochism communities. JP Delgado Galdamez, an outreach and education associate for TNLR, described the murder as outrageous and noted that though Massachusetts is thought to be a progressive state, discrimination and violence still exist. “For a state that is thought to be more ‘[LGBTQ]’ friendly than most, hate crimes still happen here, domestic violence still happens here,” they said (note: Delgado Galdamez uses the pronouns they and them). “Transphobia is everywhere, even in this ‘trans-friendlier’ state. “For example, the Massachusetts Transgender Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum is an example that even in places where transgender and gender non-conforming people are more accepted and visible, there will be people looking to be able to legally discriminate against them.” Delgado Galdamez estimates that between 25 and 33 percent of LGBTQ people experience intimate partner violence and noted that the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey ( reported that 54 percent of respondents had experienced intimate partner violence ( They went on to state that a possible remedy for domestic abuse is to end the silence and stigmatization around it. “When survivors are believed and are given spaces where they can speak their truth, and when organizations whose mission is to look out for the safety of all survivors are adequately funded, trained and staffed, then we will see less and less instances of partner abuse, especially within

See Christa on Page 23

Across 1 Lesbos, even to straight people 5 Bodies of sailors 10 "How queer!" 14 Sphincter opening? 15 It can cut your pole 16 Kill, as a bill 17 Words from Rimbaud 18 Playful aquatic critter 19 Michelangelo's David, and such 20 Beginning of a quote from The Left Hand of Darkness author Ursula Le Guin (19292018) 23 Guys and Dolls co-creator Burrows 24 Long, to a Samurai? 25 Robin William's Mork and Mindy partner Dawber 26 Poke fun at 28 Spoke like Sparky on South Park 30 Boom Boom Room beach 32 Say without thinking 33 Org. for Dr. Susan Love 36 Mapplethorpe models, often 37 Boxers eat it on the floor 38 Bodies of soldiers 40 Cincinnati team 41 More of the quote 44 Atlantic City casino, with "the" 47 Blow job with a twist? 48 Up to, for short 51 In-your-face 53 Market tail?

54 Seine feeder 56 "What Will Mary Say" singer Johnny 58 Where a top puts it? 59 End of the quote 63 One that attacks a fly 64 Where a queen may rule 65 Elizabeth of Transamerica 66 Janis Joplin's "Down __" 67 Montezuma, for example 68 Parker of South Park Down 1 "___ Spartacus!" 2 One of Frosty's pair? 3 Get slick in the shower 4 Showboat's "Nobody ___ But Me" 5 Sated 6 Be unfaithful to 7 Piercing rebuke from Caesar? 8 Sassy kid 9 Aileen Wuornos' kind of killer 10 Porter's "Well, Did You ___" 11 Close role in Hamlet 12 Got 13 Deer in Maria's song 21 Nureyev's refusal 22 Guy under Hoover 23 Mamma Mia! band 27 Opera villain, typically 29 Fast food pioneer Ray 31 Richard Simmons, to fitness 33 Corydon author Gide 34 A. A. for children

35 One may shed this 38 One, to Frida 39 Gay Games VI site (abbr.) 42 Top floor 43 Sex appeal 44 Red fruit used as a vegetable. 45 "DeDe Dinah" singer Frankie 46 It's tossed off a ship 48 Bear or bull 49 Chant 50 Street named for writer Harper? 52 James Beard partner William 55 Roll with the punches 57 Felder or Teasdale 58 Gomer Pyle's branch 60 "___ who?!" 61 Inked decoration, for short 62 Heady stuff

We’re Yours!

Be Ours?

Happy Valentines!


20 • The Rainbow Times •

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Chaz Bono: Acting Out—How his transness was what made him stop acting By: Chris Azzopardi*/Special to TRT

and she and her best friend Paulette did a binge of the show, but they didn’t know I had gotten killed already, so I think that was a realization. She tweeted me about that and was like, “Was this on yet?”

As a radical right-winger on last year’s American Horror Story: Cult, a far cry from his own liberal leanings, Chaz Bono had his breakout role at the age of 48. Why did it take so long for Bono, who just happens to be Cher’s transgender son, to make his mark as an actor? Because Bono was often in conflict with the female gender of the person he was playing but didn’t know why. At least not at first. Then, suddenly, his interest in male roles changed more than just his acting career – in 2009, the activist transitioned from female to male. Years later, in 2016, Bono followed a recurring role as Reverend Rydale on The Bold and the Beautiful with a foray into Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story anthology, first on Roanoke and then on the prolific TV creator’s grisly Trump-era Cult. Here, Bono opens up about why understanding his gender identity was the long first step to acting again, the “bizarre” possibility of working with mom Cher and what he’s learned about LGBTQ representation from trans youth.

Q: Why have you purposefully avoided playing trans roles? A: It’s really a twofold thing. First of all, I really consider myself a character actor, and I really like playing parts that are very different from myself. That’s what I enjoy about acting, that’s what’s fun for me, and I think it’s what I’m really good at. I don’t really have any interest in playing a trans guy because I don’t want to play something that’s close to me. If I wasn’t trans, I probably would wanna play a trans person because that’s the kind of actor I am, but it doesn’t interest me that much because I’ve seen so many actors that I know who are trans playing trans parts and I wanted to try to establish myself as not that. I wanted to show people that that’s just a ridiculous thing and I didn’t want to get pigeonholed, so I just waited and took small stuff here and there that wasn’t that because it’s just not the career that I want.

Q: One of my favorite parts of you starring in American Horror Story: Cult was reading your mom’s tweets about the show. A: You know, she gets confused a little bit. (Before I was killed off) she was in Vegas,

Q: You hear stories from celebrities who don’t necessarily want their child to go down the same showbiz path they did. Was that the case for you growing up? A: No, not at all. My mom was actually the one who got me into acting. I was 14 and a


Chaz Bono

really miserable kid in middle school, not relating to other kids at my school and just really unhappy, and my mom made me go to an acting class. I was kind of like, “Oh god, why do I have to do this?” and I ended up totally falling in love with it. Then, I auditioned for a performing arts high school and got in and moved to New York, so yeah, my mom has always been incredibly supportive of creative endeavor. Q: Regarding your sexuality and gender identity, I know you’ve gone through a lot with her. A: She has evolved a lot! Q: She’s getting the pronouns right these days? A: She does get the pronouns right. Now she just gets mixed up and calls me my brother’s name. (Laughs) Q: When did you come to the realization that you couldn’t play female roles? A: I was 18. I was a senior in high school and I got cast as a male in A Midsummer

Night’s Dream, our big senior production at performing arts, and it was the first time that I really felt like I knew what I was doing and felt comfortable and was really good. It was like, “OK, why do I have a handle on playing a middle-aged man? Why is that easier than playing a teenage girl?” Q: Does the fact that last year we elected trans officials, such as Danica Roem of Virginia, excite you? A: Yeah, totally, that was amazing. That was awesome. That was a little bit more exciting, but I have to say I also get excited about any person that is a minority—that is the first person to get, in this climate, ahead. So, any people of color, people of Muslim faith, anybody who is marginalized. Because at this point in my life, I see us all as the same thing. I really don’t differentiate. To me, I’ve evolved to the point where we’re all the same, and I think if everybody Read the rest of this story at The Rainbow Times’ website • The Rainbow Times • 21

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Study finds erosion of LGBTQ acceptance DAVOS, Switzerland—In late January, GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, announced the findings of its fourth annual Accelerating Acceptance report, a national survey among more than 2,100 U.S. adults conducted on GLAAD’s behalf by The Harris Poll. The results were announced during a panel discussion hosted by GLAAD and The Ariadne Getty Foundation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. For the first time in the report’s history, GLAAD and The Harris Poll found a drop in acceptance of LGBTQ people. As President Trump prepares to address the heads of state, business leaders, and largest philanthropists at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, GLAAD is on the ground in Davos to shine the spotlight on the rollback of LGBTQ acceptance, debut new initiatives, and be the lead voice for LGBTQ people around the globe. “In the past year, there has been a swift and alarming erosion of acceptance which can only be fought by being visible and vocal,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This report puts numbers to the bias that too many LGBTQ Americans have recently experienced. GLAAD is fighting the rollback by enlisting philanthropic leaders like the Ariadne Getty Foundation and global changemakers attending the World Economic Forum to use their platforms and move our community forward.” GLAAD also announced a $15 million lead gift from the Ariadne Getty Foundation to fund part of the GLAAD Media Institute’s launch along with investments in LGBTQ ventures, including media and small businesses, that create social impact worldwide and accelerate acceptance. See the full Accelerating Acceptance report here: GLAAD and The Harris Poll Results Show LGBTQ Acceptance Dropping GLAAD and The Harris Poll’s Accelerating Acceptance report, which measures

Americans from Page 2 out of their comfort zones to experience the diversity that is life. It applies to everyone. Because many Americans don’t even own a passport, she decided to go to them. No doubt she planted a seed that may germinate in the future with a better understanding of the LGBTQ community. Despite the current president, she believes even the people who sent him to the White House are good and decent. People remain America’s best hope. The great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein observed (, “One person fighting for the truth can disqualify for me the platitudes of centuries.” No matter how misguided, uninformed, Bernstein insisted, “I believe in people. I believe that man’s noblest endowment is his capacity to change. “I believe in the potential of people. I cannot rest passively with those who give up in the name of ‘human nature.’ Human nature is only animal nature, if it is obliged to remain static.” Without spiritual growth

American attitudes toward LGBTQ people and issues, shows a dramatic drop in the number of non-LGBTQ U.S. adults who were “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with LGBTQ people. Less than half of non-LGBTQ adults (49 percent) reported being “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with LGBTQ people across seven situations. This is a significant decline from 53 percent last year and the first time the Accelerating Acceptance report has shown a drop in acceptance for LGBTQ people. GLAAD and The Harris Poll found that 55 percent of LGBTQ adults reported experiencing discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. This number is a significant 11 percentage point increase from the previous year (44 percent). There was a decline in non-LGBTQ adults’ comfortability around LGBTQ people, particularly in more personal situations. Compared to last year’s results, significantly more respondents noted that they would be uncomfortable learning a family member is LBGTQ (30 percent vs. 27 percent), having their child’s teacher be LGBTQ (31 percent vs. 28 percent), and learning their doctor is LGBTQ (31 percent vs. 28 percent). The Harris Poll was conducted online November 16-20, 2017 among a total of 2,160 US adults. 1,897 are classified as non-LGBTQ adults. “An unseen casualty of a tumultuous year Read the rest of this story at:

and maturity, there is no divinity, no Creator. It’s a proposition Bernstein can’t accept. Often it’s said you are what you believe. If you think you’re fat and unlovable, it becomes a self-fulling prophecy. If you think America can’t become better, then it won’t. Shifts in attitude only occur with listening, learning, and engagement. If that occurs, Margolyes and Bernstein are right. Bernstein approached his music with a spiritual awe. He participated in the transcendental act of creation. He saw his music as a unifier no matter race, gender, religion, or sexuality. Although Margolyes uses a different medium, she too is creating. Everyone reading this column has an opportunity to create. Join a Rotary club or volunteer in groups in addition to those focused on LGBTQ issues. Go beyond comfort zones to engage and change the world. *Paul is a corporate chaplain, seminary trained priest, and lawyer in greater Albany, New York. He’s also author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”

22 • The Rainbow Times •

Wigfall Page 8 ridiculed and harassed by classmates for his penchant for dancing and singing. Around the age of 12, Parker was accepted into Walnut Hill School in Natick, Massachusetts (, a private boarding school for youth interested in the arts. McLaughlin said that Parker received a $30,000-a-year partial scholarship to the school. With two other children besides Parker, both parents had to foot the bill for the remaining $18,000 in tuition and fees, but it was worth it. “He got support and friendship and

Ask a Trans Woman from Page 18 It’s in the newspapers and all of my social media feeds. It’s on the lips, whether spoken out loud, or awkwardly unspoken, of everyone I know. Every interaction fills with this calculus of, “Do we talk about it, or do we pretend everything’s normal?” I have no reasonable expectation that this will change anytime soon. This was the first trans person killed after the yearly reset of our ghastly headcount. Christa’s name and story will likely remain relevant for quite some time to come. We, as a trans community, remember our dead, or at least we try to. Gods know I’ve written a fairly large number of columns about the need for us to do so and the importance of not turning away from this pain that we all share for our fallen trans siblings. If this were a normal column, this is where I’d pull all the threads together and leave you with a pithy or poignant point that I want you to take away. But, as I said

friends that supported him,” she said, noting that she felt it was a transformative experience for the four years he attended. McLaughlin said that her most vivid memory of Parker being at Walnut Hill was when he was cast in a production of the 1930s musical, “42nd Street.” “I remember being in the audience, and the curtain going up, and seeing his feet— his feet were the first ones there—and I got goosebumps, and I knew it was going to be amazing,” she said. McLaughlin said she’s certain she cried throughout the entire performance. at the beginning, I’m being honest with you. I am literally crying as I type this. I’m sure that eventually I will have more inspiring words. It’s what I’m good at after all. It’s what I do. I’ll be able to wrap up and contain my grief a bit. I know it won’t go away, it never really does. But hopefully I will be able to use it to keep telling Christa’s story and to keep speaking for those trans people who I am sadly sure will follow her in the list of names. Sooner or later the fire will burn away the tears and I will stand up again to fight and speak out for my trans sisters, brothers, and siblings. But now I hurt. We hurt. It is difficult even to imagine a world without this grief. And I am tired of writing eulogies. *Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer, and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender, and sexuality to her at:

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

“He taught most of the kids who were in the play how to tap dance because tap dance is definitely his forte,” she said proudly. Parker’s father recalled a different occasion when his son, around the age of 5 or 6, showed off his dancing talent. The family was out to dinner at an outdoor seafood restaurant with a cover band. “I don’t remember the song that they were playing, but they usually did Jimmy Buffett, or James Taylor, or some Cat Stevens … AJ got up and he danced to every song.” Jonathan Parker remembers the band’s singer saying to the audience, “Ladies and gentlemen, this was the first time we’ve had interpretive dance done.” “ … twerking is one of the best stress relievers out there!” Parker attended the Boston Conservatory ( for college from 2012 to 2016. During his sophomore year, a student group put on a drag show to benefit the Trevor Project (, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention in the LGBTQ community. Thinking it would be a fun time, Parker decided to perform at the event. “I never thought about looking good,” he reflected on his first drag performance, which he admits was over-the-top, but not as polished as a professional drag queen. He enjoyed the experience so much that for the rest of his time at the conservatory, he participated in the fundraiser, even going so far as to coordinate the event his junior year. “I still didn’t think about looks at that point,” he recalled with a laugh. “I really didn’t think about looks until I moved to New York, it’s how the game is played here.” Jonathan Parker recalled his son’s announcement of his first drag performance. “AJ was very good at introducing his father to drag,” he recalled with a chuckle.” One day he came home and he had some lipstick on, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s different.’” “One day, he came home and had lipstick and nail polish on and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s following it a little more,’” he continued. “Then one day, he says, ‘Dad, I’m doing a drag performance’ and I was like, ‘Well, that’s not really unexpected at this point.’” The elder Parker never hesitated in supporting his son, saying that his next response was whether he could attend. “It’s a feeling of pride, it’s a feeling of love,” he said. “It’s just a little feeling of discomfort because you’ve never been there before. It was something I had never experienced before. But, I got over it and honestly it was a blast.” Rosie Ramos, who met Parker at the conservatory and quickly became friends with him, recalled how they bonded over dance. “We hit it off right away and enjoyed dancing [and] twerking to Beyoncé, JLO, Britney Spears, Ciara, you name it,” she said. “We always found time outside of class to create art that spoke to us. He helped me realize that twerking is one of the best stress relievers out there!” Ramos also recalled watching Parker’s first performance in drag.

“What struck me the most was his ability to put together a cohesive piece that had purpose,” she said. “His special attention to detail really shined in that performance as well as all performances that I have witnessed.” After graduating from the Boston Conservatory with a bachelor of fine arts in 2016, Parker moved to New York. “I just wanted to meet these people and be in the hustle of it,” he said. He currently resides in Washington Heights, on the border of Manhattan and the Bronx. He pursued projects in art, fashion, design—anything that would allow him to create. He landed a job at Kidville, (, a daycare for infants and children from 0 to 6 years old, where he teaches dance. “It’s really sweet and awesome,” he said. Miz Diamond Wigfall In October 2016, the Manhattan gay bar, Boots and Saddle, was having a drag competition, Vincent Cooper Presents: Lady Liberty, an opportunity for aspiring drag queens to perform and showcase their skills. Parker decided to participate. Wearing short-shorts, a pink velvet croptop, a torn skirt, and big white leather boots, Parker performed in his first major drag show. “I didn’t feel good about my look,” he recalled solemnly. But he didn’t let that deter him. “I was like, I don’t look as good as other people,” he continued. “I’m not wearing nails, but I know I can kill this routine because I practiced and it’s mine and I know that it’s something that I can do that’s fun. It was the first time I lip synced to people in a bar.” He made it to the top 3 and though he didn’t take home the top prize, he had a realization. “Why would I pretend like I would want to do anything else,” he realized. He took money from a security deposit he received and started to buy wigs, makeup, and other necessities to fashion a drag persona. He frequented the gay night scene, meeting other drag queens, learning makeup tips, and building up his confidence to begin his own career. “You have to be polished to do anything here,” he said. “[Miz Diamond Wigfall] was just me dressing up as a girl for a while. I didn’t know who she was. “It was a great way for me to learn. I learned how to do hair. I was doing my own hair at that point. I don’t think my hair is amazing at this point, but it’s definitely come way, way far and I am constantly working on it.” Parker would go on to compete in more competitions, all the while refining the Wigfall persona, improving his application of makeup, buying better wigs and outfits. “I would always try to do new looks and push my makeup and push myself,” he said. “I would do a competition once a month or twice a month.” Parker would do drag performances in New York and Massachusetts, all with the encouragement of family and friends. “I was excited for him because I could always see him doing it,” said his older sister Read the rest of this story at: • The Rainbow Times • 23

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

Christa from Page 19 the [LGBTQ] community,” they said. “We cannot expect anything to change if we aren't ending the silence around partner abuse. We need to educate ourselves about what abuse is, and be willing to hold abusers accountable to the choices they make in exerting power and control over their partner.” An Alarming Trend M. Dru Levasseur, Esq., a senior attorney and director of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project (, said he met her at the first New England Trans Pride in Northampton, Massachusetts. He said that she was pivotal to empowering the trans community. “Christa contributed so much to the trans community, particularly for trans women to feel empowered in their own skin, to have dignity, and to feel beautiful in a world that tells them they don’t belong,” he said. “She was a sister in our community, raising the platform for others. She was part of our trans family.” Levasseur said that though the media has done more to shine a spotlight on violence against trans women, there’s still an uphill battle to ensure the violence ends. “I attended the White House briefing in March 2015 ( where this issue was discussed,” he said. “But, we have since had an administration that has gone on record to try to harm and erase our lives, even at a moment when the statistics tell us that this is a highly marginalized, at-risk population.” Power is mobilizing for an action in early February. “I, through the SMA, am organizing with Gery Armsby, through the Trans Caucus of Workers World Party, Boston, a standout protest and rally led by trans people against the killings of trans people— nearly one trans murder each week!—primarily of trans women of color,” he said of the protest, which is tentatively scheduled for February 7 ( “We will gather outside the courthouse in Berkshire County when Christa’s killer will have a public hearing. Organizations and individuals from Boston to western MA and eastern NY state will be participating, including the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, Berkshire Pride, Elizabeth Freeman Center, and more. We want to show our outrage and demand an end to trans killings, as well as to keep a watchful eye over how Christa’s murder case is handled by the court.”

Accessibility from Page 10 "Don't assume your disabled friends are ok. Call them and ask them what they need. Especially if you're able bodied," Alex said, after explaining how things like winter, and the snow that comes with it, exacerbates PWD's lack of access to services. "Don't assume their needs. Ask them." We must, then, think beyond our personal experiences when building our queer and trans justice movements and organizations, and in our personal lives as we make our activism a reality through community support and financial justice. *Name has been changed to protect confi-











Andino, who said that she is a survivor of domestic abuse, hopes that Christa’s death will help increase awareness. “It’s sad that she is the first [reported] trans person murdered in 2018,” she said. “Hopefully through her death, more awareness is brought to the issues that trans people face. Especially domestic violence or abuse towards the trans community.” Delgado Galdamez said education and advocacy are key to eradicating domestic violence. “We need to educate ourselves about what abuse is, and be willing to hold abusers accountable to the choices they make in exerting power and control over their partner,” they said. “Real change is going to require mainstream domestic violence programs to fully integrate [LGBTQ] survivor experiences into all their work and then create competent services that serve all survivors regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.” “I hope Christa is remembered for the good she tried to do in her life and the man that murdered her is forgotten once he is tried and convicted,” said Scott. Andino said that Christa’s pageant work has done a lot to lift up the identities of trans women and that it needs to continue. “Christa’s legacy was the Miss Trans dentiality. **Alex identifies as a disabled person, and not as a person with a disability. Born and raised in El Salvador, JP Delgado Galdamez is a Boston-based activist, drag performer, and educator. They focus on bringing together politics, anti-oppression work, and comedy through lip synching and commentary. When JP isn't performing, they are doing trainings and outreach for The Network/La Red, a local LGBQ/T social justice organization that works towards ending partner abuse. You can follow them at @dragqueenjp on social media.

New England pageant and trans rights,” she said. “I would love to run the pageant with the help of other former winners. It would be sad to see the pageant end, it should still happen. That's Christa's legacy.” Levasseur said that it stings doubly to know that another trans person has died as a result of violence and was a dear friend. “I have lost many trans community members to suicide and death,” he said. “It is devastating to start another year off and learn about another murder, [and] for this person to be someone you know with whom you organized, someone who made a difference for her community, and to know the impact this is having on so many of my friends who are suffering and grieving. My heart goes out to her family and close friends, as well as everyone who is impacted by this murder. Christa was a powerful organizer and fierce activist.” A GoFundMe page has been setup to help pay for Christa’s funeral services ( The Network/La Red has a hotline for members of the LGBTQ, polyamorous, and sadomasochism (SM) communities to talk about their experiences and relationships or for people who were triggered or traumatized by the death of Christa. The number is 617-742-4911 (voice), 617-227-4911 (TTY), and 800-832-1901 (toll-free). It is open 24 hours from Monday to Friday and from 8 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, The Network/La Red offers support groups, housing assistance through its housing pathways program, and advocacy for survivors of abuse. The Network/La Red also provides trainings and technical assistance to organizations, especially domestic violence organizations, that want to move towards being more inclusive of the LGBTQ, polyamorous, and sadomasochism communities. Services and resources are also offered in Spanish. Organizations such as Safe Passage in Northampton (, Jane Doe Inc. in Boston (, and the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT) in Greenfield also provide services for victims of intimate partner violence.

LGBTQ Acceptance from Page 15 of control and lose popular support. It is a reality that though more anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in Congress at alarming rates; many are being defeated or never actually brought to the floor. It is also a reality that some are not. It is a reality that Democrats are winning Senate seats in some of the deepest red states like Alabama, because the tide is changing. Every day is a battle—a battle for life, a battle for those who are less privileged than you may be, a battle for truth and justice to prevail, a battle that good will win over evil. Despite what these survey percentages indicate, more Americans are rising up to counter hate in every way imaginable—marches, business partnerships, non-profit development, education, social media strategies, speaking out and holding each other up—even though each day is a battle. What I know for sure is that history repeats itself and the only way we can move ahead is by battling these wars together. Ellis, from GLAAD, is right. The negative change in the survey results “can be seen as a dangerous repercussion in the tenor of discourse and experience over the last year. [The year] 2017 brought heightened rhetoric toward marginalized communities to the forefront of American culture. … LGBTQ visibility slipped in news and entertainment media—Americans can no longer see LGBTQ stories that change hearts and minds with the same frequency.” My only question to you is what are you going to do about it? Be visible. Be proud. Never surrender. This is a battle. *Nicole Lashomb holds a BM from the Crane School of Music (SUNY-Potsdam), and an MBA from Marylhurst University. She has been a social justice advocate for more than a decade, often writing and speaking at events on various human rights topics. You can reach Nicole via The Rainbow Times at:

24 • The Rainbow Times •

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2018

The Rainbow Times' Feb. 2018 Issue  

Boston-based and New England read, this issue of The Rainbow Times brings you the hottest topics in LGBTQ culture in New England. An updated...

The Rainbow Times' Feb. 2018 Issue  

Boston-based and New England read, this issue of The Rainbow Times brings you the hottest topics in LGBTQ culture in New England. An updated...