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Fenway forward: LGBTQ health center moves on after sexual harassment, bullying controversy By: Al Gentile & Mike Givens/TRT Reporter and TRT Assistant Editor, Respectively

IN THE LIMELIGHT

For 46 years, Fenway Health (http://fenwayhealth.org; FH) has served as a landmark healthcare resource for LGBTQ people in Greater Boston. However, in midDecember, the health center took a significant hit to its reputation in the wake of a Boston Globe article (https://goo.gl/8QYhE4) detailing a years-long pattern of cover-ups related to bullying, mismanagement, and sexual harassment within the facility. According to the article, at least three male employees made allegations of sexual misconduct against former Fenway physician Dr. Harvey J. Mackadon, the first documented accusation dating back to 2013. Reportedly, former Fenway CEO Stephen Boswell was aware of the allegations and also of Mackadon’s purported reputation for bullying, but chose not to terminate Mackdon’s employment, going so far as to ignore legal advice from the center’s attorneys and paying a former employee a $75,000 settlement. In March, Mackadon was forced to resign and, in the wake of the Boston Globe article, both Boswell and Fenway board chair Robert Hale stepped down from their posts. “You deserve an exemplary workplace environment at Fenway Health and The Fenway Institute,” reads a portion of an open letter from the board of directors to

Fenway Health

clients, donors, and employees (https://goo.gl/9fxt2U) in the wake of Boswell’s resignation. “We want our employees to always feel valued and heard. To help achieve that, we will be holding staff listening sessions to understand your concerns and your challenges. We need to hear your perspectives and pledge to use them to inform our thinking going forward.” Jane Powers, the interim chief executive officer, conducted listening sessions with staff, starting shortly after she was appointed. Powers formerly served as the di-

PHOTO: FENWAY HEALTH

rector of behavioral health at the facility. The board of directors will be conducting more listening sessions this month. Philip Finch, vice president of communications at Fenway Health, said the sessions are part of an effort to allow all parts of the organization to have a voice in the future of the center. “We’ve been embarking on a series of listening tours by Jane, the CEO, and the board is going to be doing listening tours with staff and the community as well to really get a handle to make sure all voices are

heard,” Finch said. Tara Swartz, an employment attorney in Boston specializing in sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, wage violations, whistleblowing and contract disputes, said that the listening sessions are a good start. “Listening sessions can be valuable, but only if employees feel comfortable coming forward and action is taken based on the feedback and concerns,” she said. “Given the allegations with respect to Fenway’s past, it will take real work on both sides for these sessions to be meaningful and effective.” As of publication, no new policies have been developed, according to Finch. “I don’t know that we have specific action items yet, I think we’ll work on those after we hear ... from the Board,” Finch said. “There’s a real desire to work on making the organization different, and change it to help the organization address some of the issues that have been found, but I think it’s too early to think we have new policy out of this just yet.” Next Steps Finch said there is currently a search for an interim CEO that will take the place of Powers as soon as possible. “We will have a new permanent CEO within the year, and that person will be charged with how they want to best structure the management of our organization...

See Fenway Forward on Page 19


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NYT Interview implicates Trump further In 2018, let’s choose not to be victims, but fighters By: Nicole Lashomb*/TRT Editor-in-Chief

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hrough trial and triumphs, 2017 brought us highs and lows like never experienced in U.S. modern history, starting with the presidential inauguration of egomaniac and alleged sexual predator Donald Trump. As the year unfolded, we learned that his presidency was even more dangerous than previously anticipated by many as he actively sought to strip away rights from Americans from nearly all backgrounds, diverse populations and those most marginalized. In opposition response, we saw an immense resistance movement

payer dollars were spent relentlessly in an attempt to satisfy the ego of the insatiable Commander-in-Chief while he desperately tried to strip away one of the hallmarks of President Obama’s legacy and leave millions of Americans without reasonable access to healthcare coverage, again. Ultimately, he and his Washington cronies failed (https://tinyurl.com/yc2q2kgy). Trans Military Ban In the direct line of repeated fire was the transgender community, whose members actively serve in the military at disproportionately higher numbers when compared

AT VERY BEST, HE IS A MANIPULATIVE SEXUALLY ASSAULTING ENTERTAINMENT HOG THAT HAS LEARNED HOW TO PREY ON AND CON THE MOST IGNORANT AMONG US FOR HIS OWN GAIN AND HIS OWN GAIN ALONE. (https://tinyurl.com/yb4t3t6l) to his presidency that still continues into 2018. On the very day of the January 21, 2017 inauguration, more than 5 million marchers took to the streets to raise the voice of women (https://tinyurl.com/yaaqskw9), who were and have been under attack by the current administration. The “pu$$y hat” was created, worn and touted by millions of marchers in response to Trump’s encouragement and gloating of his own sexual assault on women. That was just the start of it all. Healthcare Despite multiple attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), the efforts were in vain. However, it cannot be ignored that millions of tax-

to their counterparts. When Trump announced the Transgender Military Ban (https://tinyurl.com/yd2zvykz), the country went on firestorm in support of transgender service members. The fight ensued for months (https://tinyurl.com/y8zd7zsb) but the resistance was relentless to not allow trans service members be dismissed from their posts and excluded from defending the United States due to gender identity. After allowing transgender troops to openly serve in the military for a year prior and under President Obama’s direction, to strip the courageous decision to serve away from the community was reckless, discriminatory vile and reprehensible. The courts found so too and in ruling after ruling, Trump lost (https://tinyurl.com/yd39cbov).

See NYT Interview on Page 11

Lessons from Ala.—Drawing strength from ’17 By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist

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FAITH

he LGBTQ community let out an enormous sigh of relief when Judge Roy Moore (https://goo.gl/3GaCpT) came up short in his effort to win the U.S. Senate seat once held by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (https://goo.gl/vtqehj). Many in the LGBTQ community feared the worse and chose to avoid the news. In one case, my best friend, a news junkie, often a night owl, and a married gay man with two children, chose to go to bed early. He was preparing himself for the election of a man accused of raping underage girls. Had he been elected, Moore would have brought rage and hatred toward Muslims and the LGBTQ community into one of the most powerful legislative chambers in the world. Being a glutton for punishment, I had to watch CNN. By the way, it’s a New Year’s resolution to watch less news in the coming months and spend more time praying, gardening, meditating, seeking stillness, and better managing my anxiety-eating stem-

ming from happenings in Washington. On election night, I texted my best friend with the great news, Doug Jones had won (https://goo.gl/unzhP9). It woke him from his sleep and he immediately called. We talked about hope in what had been a confusing, threatening year. As I processed this near-miss and the case now before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a baker who refused to make a cake for a same-gender couple (https://goo.gl/7WVbXy), I wondered, as I often have, whether the competing social, religious, and political interests adequately represent the larger issue of religious freedom. I tend to reflect on the type of America we’ll get, if we’re not careful and fail to think things through. Imagine turning away someone from medical care because he or she is Muslim. Imagine turning away a Southern Baptist evangelical at a bed and breakfast in Vermont because the family is socially conservative. In some ways, it’s less about what social conservatives or the LGBTQ community

See Lessons on Page 15

By: Mike Givens*/TRT Assistant Editor

It was 1968, and the six of them lived in a small house in southeastern Virginia. Tom, 31, and Elizabeth, 28, lived with their four young children on a plot of family land several acres long and wide. The children—two boys and two girls—were each a year apart; the oldest, Beverly, was 11, the youngest, Sharon, was 8.

children. “I don’t remember that much about it because I was a kid and the adults protected us from a lot of things,” she said, recalling the event. What she did remember was that she was so afraid she couldn’t go to the bathroom by herself. According to Elizabeth, 10-15 black men who lived in the community armed themselves and stood watch over

SHE DOESN’T RECALL WHEN THE KKK LEFT; IT COULD HAVE BEEN

LATE AT NIGHT OR EARLY THE NEXT MORNING. THE

IMPORTANT THING WAS THAT THEY WERE GONE. The news was scandalous and scary. A white man who lived nearby, also a landowner, had nefarious plans. He’d walked around the neighborhood putting flyers in the mailboxes of his neighbors about a meeting he was hosting. “He let [the Ku Klux Klan] come on to this land to start something,” said Elizabeth, reflecting on the incident. By “start something,” she meant burn crosses, harass—and possibly murder— innocent black families who lived in the community. Race relations weren’t tense in that area back then, according to Elizabeth. White’s had their own enclaves in the community and blacks had the same. There were no hostilities or fights and Elizabeth recalled the community being relatively benign. Sharon’s recollection of the time was colored by her parents’ sense of duty to their

Letters to the Editor [Re: Polyamory: Polyamorists Talk Experiences, Fears, Philosophies] Dear Editor, Very glad to see poly relationships discussed in your publication — thank you! Longtime reader, out bisexual for over 20 years, —Sunny S., Online [Re: Democrat for Governor CandidatePlans to Expand Economic Opportunity for Women] Dear Editor, As a Transgender woman myself I have lost my family,friends, employment all because I came out as my true self. And then to have the LGB community to do the same towards me? Stonewall was started by transgender females not for ourselves, but all of us!! Then to slowly be erased! Wow. —Jayme Lynn McIntyre, Online Read more “Letters to the Editor” online, found at the end of every story or column published via The Rainbow Times’ print and online editions. “Letters to the Editor” should be sent to: editor@therainbowtimesmass.com.

their own houses waiting for the KKK to strike. Women and children were sequestered in their own homes in case the “start something” actually happened. “The blacks were ready for them,” she ...

See Not Victims on Page15

The Rainbow Times The Freshest LGBT Newspaper in New England—Boston Based TheRainbowTimesMass.com editor@therainbowtimesmass.com sales@therainbowtimesmass.com Phone: 617.444.9618 Fax: 928.437.9618 Publisher Graysen M. Ocasio Editor-In-Chief Nicole Lashomb

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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: editor@therainbowtimesmass.com. 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.


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Pride & prejudice: Queer Caribbean expatriates discuss culture, discrimination, life By: Mike Givens/TRT Assistant Editor

In part one of this series (https://goo.gl/PYHmu5), The Rainbow Times introduced our readership to LGBTQ Caribbean expatriates living and working in Massachusetts. In the final part of the series, we’ll delve further into their lives and explore the queer Caribbean experience. As a youth, Claudia grew up as an effeminate gay male in rural Jamaica, an economically depressed area that saw few jobs and opportunities. Unfamiliar with gender dysphoria or that there would someday be an opportunity for her to live authentically as a woman, she accepted herself as a gay young man. “I’ve always been feminine since I was younger,” said Claudia, who asked not to be identified by her real name for this article. “If I ever tried to pretend to be masculine, it wouldn’t work. It was like I was putting on a show.” At the age of 16 and still living as a gay male, Claudia moved to a small Jamaican city, and the homophobia was rampant. Often called names such as “batty boy” and “faggott,” Claudia had to live with the fear of being attacked by a mob or that a threat of having her family’s house burned down would come true. “For me it became unhealthy because I couldn’t focus,” she solemnly reflected, noting that she was often worried for her safety. “ I had to think about my safety when coming from work, or going home, or doing any activities when in the community.” By her mid twenties, Claudia was accepting her womanhood and wanted to leave the island. “Jamaica for me was not a safe place at all because I would not be able to express myself … ” she said, noting that living in Jamaica as an openly gay male was “a tough road” for her, which she knew would be even more difficult as a transgender woman. m In November of 2013, Claudia came to the United States on a temporary visa and became enamored with the freedom she had living as a woman. In the last four years, she’s described her experience of living in Massachusetts as “amazing” and has made peace with her decision to leave Jamaica behind.

Charlene Charles

PHOTO: CHARLENE CHARLES

“I feel empowered,” she exclaimed. “I feel like I’m in a place where I can be myself. I feel like I can accomplish what I want to accomplish.” Claudia said that there’s still a fair amount of prejudice in Massachusetts, but that the prejudice isn’t as bad as the discrimination and threats of violence she experienced in Jamaica as a transitioning woman. “You have to present yourself in a particular way in order to be respected,” she said of social dynamics in her home country. “Gason Makomè” Dr. Diana Fox, an anthropologist and professor at Bridgewater State University (https://goo.gl/9jTzBp; BSU), said that Christian fundamentalism and socially entrenched heteronormative mores contribute deeply to a pejorative attitude towards LGBTQ identities on many of the islands in the Caribbean. “Generally, [Caribbean islanders] view homosexuality as immoral—lacking Christian morality in particular,” she said, noting that many view LGBTQ people as pedophiles, spiritually lost, and predatory. Charlene E. Charles hails from Trinidad and Tobago, more than 600 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and right off the east coast

of Venezuela. Having travelled back to the country to see family and friends with three different partners, she said that she’s had a lot of experience observing LGBTQ culture on the island. “There are multiple spaces for queer folks in Trinidad, such as clubs, cafes, restaurants, LGBTQ centers, groups that organize movie events, seminars, workshops, safe spaces, talks, and social gatherings,” she said. “There are also groups that are working with LGBTQ youth, and one focused on changing the [anti-buggery] laws in the country.” Dr. Krystal Ghisyawan, who earned a doctorate in sociology at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and coordinates the sexualities working group of the Caribbean Studies Association (https://goo.gl/6v1LJY), said that the LGBTQ experience in the Caribbean is dependent upon several factors. “There is huge diversity in the region when it comes to norms and expectations related to sexual practices and sexual identity, including within islands and among them, with there being vast differences in how day-to-day life is configured,” she said. “Race, age, socioeconomic status, religion, gender identification and expression, are some of the factors that shape day-to-day realities across the region.” According to Ghisyawan, in particular, social and economic support can be crucial for positive experiences for LGBTQ people. “Having the support of family or friends, a safe place to live and work, being able to financially support oneself ... really determines the extent to which a person can be LGBTQ and explore that identity,” she continued. While there are ample spaces for LGBTQ people in Trinidad and Tobago, Charles said that homophobia and transphobia still exist. “Unfortunately it is not a very safe country for [trans] folks,” she said, noting, “there have been many murders in the past years that have not gotten media attention, and it is rumored that there is serial killer targeting trans women. “I have personally seen many trans women out in public and working in stores while shopping in the city of Port of Spain, so it appears that there is some freedom for [trans] women, but there is definitely a safety concern.” Ghisyawan elaborated on the dangers that face trans people, particularly trans women. “For trans persons, issues of privacy, visibility, and safety become even more important,” she said. “Their transgressions of

gender and sexual norms, especially maleto-female trans-persons, is often met with disgust and anger. More than their sexuality, their embodiment of femininity is seen to directly challenge the social order.” Yvon Adony M. Gachette grew up in Haiti as a child and currently lives in Cambridge. While growing up in Haiti, he said he never observed violence towards LGBTQ people, but did take note of how queer lifestyles were demonized. “The attitude towards queer people in Haiti is generally negative, it's an abomination in the eyes of the Christian majority there, it's an ‘abomination’ even to those who are not even devout,” he said. “Growing up there, I observed the way they refer to homosexuality and condemn it even worse than theft and murder at times. Ghisyawan said that religious discourse in many Caribbean nations contributes to entrenched ways of thinking about LGBTQ people. “Many countries have what is called religious nationalism, where religious doctrine is very influential on state policies,”

Yvon Adony M. Gachette PHOTO: YVON ADONY M. GACHETTE

she said. “This includes refusals to accept gender diversity and non-reproductive sexual contact. Christianity is dominant, but some regions have other religions being widely practiced. “Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad for instance, have large numbers of Hindus, and Muslims in smaller amounts. Megachurches from outside the region also have grasped the attention of many Christians within the region, further contributing to anti-gay rhetoric and the ex-gay ministries.” Though homophobic and transphobic sentiment was high during his childhood, Gachette said that violence was more verbal than physical. “For example, I remember seeing crossdressers being out and open and unapologetically being themselves, referred to as "gason makomè", which is Creole for "lady boy" ... the extent of the homophobic abuse is ridicule, not bodily harm as I can remember.” Race and Class When it comes to living in the United States, Charles said that she can’t imagine living anywhere other than the Bay

See Prejudice on Page 10


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The Best of 2017 in LGBT-cultural content By: Romeo San Vicente*/Special to TRT

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DEEP INSIDE HOLLYWOOD

he past 12 months have seen us finding refuge in our own queer selves. The sheer volume of LGBT-themed cultural content allowed a lot of us to see taking the occasional break from the harsh political and social climate of this year as a form of self-care, even if it was just to swoon to the TRL-endorsed, girl-loves-girl pop of upstart singer Hayley Kiyoko. Her summer single “Feelings” was the bounce we needed and we want 2018 to make her a household name. And on the subject of amazing lesbians, if you haven’t had a chance to get into Netflix’s Godless, a western that involves a town populated almost entirely by women, then you’re late to the romance between Mary Agnes (Nurse Jackie’s Merritt Wever) and Callie (newcomer Tess Frazer). Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) is in this one, too, so stop what you’re doing and watch. They have rifles. We’re also very here for the bisexual journalist and herbal healer Nova (Rutina Wesley) on the amazing and gorgeous Queen Sugar (not to mention transgender actor Brian Michael who played a trans

Call Me By Your Name

male police officer on that show), for the comics-nerd-power lesbian Maggie Sawyer (played by Floriana Lima) on Supergirl, and for Melanie Chandra on CBS’s Code Black. The medical drama is, OK, fine, kind of for your parents, but we can’t get enough of Chandra’s lesbian doctor. And she’s the only Indian lesbian character on network TV, so she’s vital (also crush-worthy, as several woman-loving women we know have informed us). Lesbians behind the camera made a dent in year-end critic’s polls, with Dee Rees’s Mudbound (also on Netflix, see how easy this is?) earning acclaim and a Golden Globe acting nomination for Mary J. Blige, while Angela Robinson’s ambitiously polyamorous Professor Marston and The Wonder Women earned critical respect if not the huge audience it deserved. We also

loved the powerful documentary Whose Streets? from directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis. It told the stories of Ferguson, Missouri, protestors, some of whom were queer people of color putting their beliefs into actions for the cause of justice. In theaters, the gay hot ticket was (and still is) Call Me By Your Name, a beautiful post-Brokeback love story between young men not having to hide their affection quite as much as those vintage cowboys. Making a smaller cultural splash was the UK indie God’s Own Country, but it was no less moving or sexy. When it hits home video, go find it (and turn on the captions because those Yorkshire accents are tough). Will & Grace came back, as though it had never left the ’90s, and it felt like comfort food; American Gods gave us two queer Muslim characters (Omid Abtahi and Mousa Kraish) and a mind-blowingly tender and wildly explicit sex scene that scorched its way into our hearts while serving a big, erect, middle finger to the current belch of anti-immigrant ideas swirling around the cultural swamp; Talk Show the Game Show was the weirdest, queerest, big-word-havingest thing on deep cable thanks to creator and host Guy Branum refusing to dumb it down for you; a middleschool-aged character (Joshua Rush) came out in a sweetly moving sequence on the hit Disney Channel show Andi Mack; Star Trek: Discovery finally put gays in space, and The Exorcist finally gave us a priest

PHOTO: SONY

making out with a man on national television. Triumphs, all. Last but not least, Broadway, which matters deeply if you can afford the ticket prices. Dear Evan Hansen won Tony Awards, made audiences cry, and turned Ben Platt into a Millennial heartthrob, which works for us. And the Spongebob Squarepants musical (yes, automatically queer, don’t argue with us) has people all turned on by the guy who plays the plankton. So here’s to 2018, which promises more queer rebellion, an all-Cher jukebox musical, and the possibility of a Trump indictment. Now, why did Hulu have to go and cancel Difficult People? *Romeo San Vicente was accepting champagne donations for New Year’s Eve.

The Menopausal Mermaid—A Parody Reimagined Hilarious Spoofs on Songs! New Dancers & Choreography! New Set & Costumes! BOSTON—Ariel, everyone's darling from The Little Mermaid, is not feeling it. Betrayed by Eric and cursed by Ursula, she is ready to kick ass and take names in this 90-minute musical parody that picks up where the Disney fairy tale left off. Tired of playing by the rules, Ariel is reinventing herself, and along the way she takes on love, fame, Walt Disney, and anyone and anything that's ever tried to keep a woman in her place. The show runs from January 11 – March 25 at Club Café. “Ariel was the Disney ‘It girl’—and yet her story was to give up her voice and her family—to land a man,” said Playwright and Director Michael Gaucher. “I thought it was time Ariel reinvented herself. A smarter, sexier, and sassier Ariel, a timely antidote to the Me Too moment in which we are now living.” The show is a kaleidoscope of fantastic drag, sexy sailors, outrageous costumes, and all your favorite 80s disco tracks reimagined and served up hot. Grab your BFFs, throw on something cute, and get ready to rock the house with Ariel and her boys in this must see theater event! “I love that Ariel pushes aside all the fantasies about love and relationships and comes back to the central truth regarding love for oneself and the right every person has not to compromise their values,” Gaucher said. “And of course it doesn’t hurt that she’s spreading this gospel surrounded by three sexy sailors!” Gaucher brings in an unexpected dramatic twist—Ursula and Ariel unite. “My favorite scene is the exchange between Ariel and Ursula—two ambitious

women that are seen through very different filters—that come to realize they are two sides of the same coin rather than mortal enemies,” Gaucher explained. This must-see parody kicks off on January 11 and runs through March 25 at Boston’s Club Café—Moonshine Room, located at 209 Columbus Ave. Ticket holders to this hilarious show are also eligible for a 20% food discount with cabaret-style table service for dinner/bunch. For more information about the Menopausal Mermaid including its cast, show dates and times and ticket purchase, visit menopausalmermaid.info. Or, check them out on social media at the listing below. FaceBook www.facebook.com/pg/menopausalmermaid/ Instagram www.instagram.com/menopausalmermaid/ Twitter https://twitter.com/BitterBProd About Playwright & Director Michael Gaucher Gaucher received an MA in writing from Emerson College. He was the author of several blogs including P-town True Review, Behind Bars in P-Town, and Let Them Eat Cake, and has been a contributing writer to multiple periodicals. He was a principle writer and performer in the drag cabaret comedy troupe Fresh Fruit.

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10 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com • 10th Year Anniversary

State. “In Massachusetts, I am able to be who I want to be where and whenever I want to,” she said. “I have never felt uncomfortable around other Caribbean non-queer people, and have never felt the need to hide my queer identity from them. Many of my family reside in Massachusetts and are all very accepting of me and my fiancé. I have not knowingly experienced homophobia from others in the Caribbean community.” Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin immigrated to Massachusetts from Puerto Rico in her early 20s and noticed for the first time in her life something she identified as “skin privilege.” “When I moved to Massachusetts in 1998, being a pale-skinned Puerto Rican [I did not realize] that I was a person of color and what that really meant,” she said. Valentin said that moving to the Bay State forced her to realize the stark reality of racism. Having straight hair, no discernible accent, and pale skin, Valentin said that she was often told she didn’t, “look Puerto Rican.” And other injustices exist as well for Caribbean-identified people. Erick Diaz from the Dominican Republic said compared to other people of color, say American-born blacks, Caribbean people can face severe challenges. “Being displaced from your home country to the U.S. puts you at a disadvantage [when] comparing yourself to someone who was born here,” he said. “Also, language can be a barrier to care, housing, education, and the list goes on. However, I am

a firm believer that race determines class as well as your access to healthcare, housing, [and] education.” For Charles, the inequities exist, but she found a safety net in a strong sense of community when she came to the U.S. “When I came to the U.S., there were clubs in high school and college that specifically catered to those of Caribbean descent, we sought out each other, and leaned on each other for support and shared resources with each other,” she said. “For Caribbean people, they come to the U.S. and immediately seek out others and build a community with them. Getting access to healthcare, housing, and education seemed

Breaking Through Stereotypes According to those interviewed for this series, there are an abundance of stereotypes that persist about Caribbean people. Valentin, for example, said that she consistently observes a perception of Latinx people being a drain on public resources. “There’s the stereotype that we’re lazy and live off the government and live off of transitional assistance,” she said. “Some of the hardest working people I know are Puerto Ricans.” Valentin says this misconception of Latinx people flies in the face of the actual reality of the work immigrants actually do.

“I LOVE BEING DOMINICAN. THE ISLAND IS VERY BEAUTIFUL AS WELL AS THE PEOPLE. THE CULTURE IS A MELTING POT OF THREE DIFFERENT WORLDS COLLIDING TOGETHER—THOSE BEING

AFRICA, SPAIN, AND HISPANIOLA ITSELF.” simple because there was always someone who had already gone through it there to show you how to and where to go to get what you needed.” Like Valentin, Gachette said that colorism is very pronounced in Caribbean countries and in Haiti he definitely noticed a toxic dynamic between those with differing skin tones. “Colorism is one thing, so even within any given Caribbean country there is a disparity between dark skin and [light] skin,” he said. “In Haiti, for example, where the [more than] 90 percent majority [of the population] is black, light skin and white Haitians are favored. “I think that the same prejudice is found in the U.S., anywhere, really. And I think it goes without saying that if you're Asian, you're easily more tolerated by the powers that be than Black [and] Caribbean folks, therefore having more access to get by … ” http://bit.do/hrcspan

http://bit.do/hrcspan

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“Mexican immigrants, Puerto Ricans, [and] Dominicans are put in the same conversation and put down as lazy, yet those are the folks doing the work that other folks don’t want to do,” she said, noting that these immigrants often take on housekeeping and farming jobs. Charles said she notices a consistent perception of Caribbean people as homophobic and transphobic, but that the reality is much different. “ … many of my friends and family who live in Trinidad today, who would [have] considered themselves to be homophobic, have sat and talked to me about how I have changed their views and have made them think differently,” she said. “They've become more open and accepting and are able to have conversations with their children who are growing up in a very different time than they did in the 70s and 80s when in the Caribbean queerness was associated with HIV/AIDS.” Gachette said that there’s a strong misperception of all Haitians being practitioners of voodoo. “Interestingly enough, if the majority of us in fact practiced and lived by voodoo philosophy, Haiti would be the most LGBTQ friendly place,” he said, noting the irony of the stereotype. “The stigmatized religion we are taught to fear and reject— while favoring Christianity—is the one that has always been accepting of different sexualities and gender expressions.” Pride and Prejudice Claudia has applied for asylum in the United States and has been waiting for four years for an interview. She has a work visa and is hoping that after her interview, she’ll be granted asylum based on persecution of her gender identity in Jamaica. She’s ...

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NYT Interview from page 6 As of January 1, 2018, transgender service members will have the right to enlist openly (https://tinyurl.com/y99ht69o). Muslim Travel Ban Just days after taking office, Trump signed an Executive Order banning immigration from seven primarily Muslim nations (https://tinyurl.com/ya4m98wz) and indefinitely blocked Syrian refugees from seeking asylum and LGBT rights organizations jumped in, in fierce opposition, reported The Rainbow Times (https://tinyurl.com/y7s6vv9n). “President Trump’s attacks on immigrants and refugees are a direct assault on America’s most fundamental values,” said HRC President Chad Griffin via a statement. “Donald Trump’s unjust and unconscionable executive orders make life more dangerous for countless LGBTQ people, and could equal a death sentence for those trying to escape violence and persecution from places such as Syria. No wall, no matter how high, can block America’s promise of liberty and justice for all.” After several court battles and rulings, marches and protests, the U.S. Supreme Court wiped out the ban (https://tinyurl.com/ybbcgpzz). And, Trump’s tactics failed again. Religious Exemption Executive Order A directive that has worried many in the LGBTQ community and women in general reared its ugly head in May 2017. “Trump, with the stroke of his pen, put into motion that executive order promoting ‘Free

Speech and Religious Liberty,’ which weakens the wall between church and state and allows employers to use religious belief as a reason to deny preventive health care coverage to their employees,” The Rainbow Times reported (https://tinyurl.com/y89tnt32). With civil rights organizations springing into action from the time the pen slid across the paper, Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, said that “the executive order signed today is yet another horrifying example of this administration’s disrespect for women,” read her statement. “To be clear, the Trump administration is resorting to executive action to roll back equity in reproductive health care because the American people overwhelmingly support women’s access to full bodily autonomy. Those who would be most harmed are the communities already under constant attack from this administration—women, LGBTQ people, and people with low incomes.” This order jeopardizes the health and wellness of virtually every group and would give employers control over the health and wellness of their employees. Essentially it is a license to discriminate. “It also exempts private employers from offering their employees many forms of reproductive health care mandated by the Affordable Care Act based on religious beliefs,” said MassEquality’s Executive Director, Deborah Shields, JD, MPH, as reported by The Rainbow Times. This could lead to the loss of insurance coverage for common types of preventive care such as contraception, vaccines against HPV and other STDs, and possibly for family-build-

ANYTIME THAT TRUMP SHOUTS “FAKE NEWS,” YOU CAN LIKELY BE ASSURED IT IS

NOT.

ing technologies such as assisted reproduction. It could also open the door to denying coverage for PrEP and other HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment medications, and even lead to LGBTQ people being refused medical treatment or access to preventive care such as cancer screenings and mammograms. In November 2017, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined 18 other attorneys general in defending the constitutionality of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, arguing that a business owner’s personal held beliefs cannot be used as a justification to discriminate (https://tinyurl.com/y7rbxbwf) against customers—a commonly used strategy by others who assert the “religious freedoms” claim. “More than 50 years after we desegregated lunch counters in this country, businesses cannot pick and choose which customers they’ll serve based on their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation,” said AG Healey in a report published (https://tinyurl.com/y7rbxbwf) by The

Rainbow Times. “We are filing this brief to stand up for the rights of all Americans to fair and equal treatment.” Quite literally, under this administration, the federal government is doing and supporting all it can to ensure benefits and protections for some Americans but not all, especially if you belong to a group outside of its convoluted definition of deserving, which serves as a catalyst to ignite hate (https://tinyurl.com/y89jx35r). Fake News Don’t believe that … it’s fake news! Anytime that Trump doesn’t like something that a report or televised segment has revealed about him or those in his inner circle like Putin (https://tinyurl.com/y93kqovm), he calls it fake news—even when it’s not. Though we all should have learned what fake news is by now, the problem is those that blindly follow Trump have been fooled into believing America’s great conman, again. In a culture saturated with blogs, social media and self-reporting, which doesn’t have the same level of integrity that journalism does, many of the general public does not educate themselves properly on credible sources or a run of the mill blog. My hope for 2018 is that people will empower themselves with truth and indisputable information through credible websites, publications and news sources. Calling media outlets like CNN, the New York Times (NYT), MSNBC, NBC and reputable journalists “fake news” is like calling Putin an ally to the United States. Journalists have rigorous standards ...

See NYT Interview on page 20


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From trauma to triumph: Gay man’s mission to overcome PTSD, educate others on sexual assault By: Mike GivensTRT Assistant Editor

It happened on December 21, 2011. “That night I was home in my seventh floor loft in downtown Phoenix and I woke up and it was happening to me,” said Ron Blake. “My domestic partner of so many years was drunk, he let two guys in … and I was held down and sexually assaulted that night and it was horrific for me.” According to Blake, his partner, who he said had a history of substance abuse, invited two acquaintances into their home and the three proceeded to rape him. Making his way to his balcony during the assault, Blake was able to call the police. Blake said he was disturbed by his partner and two acquaintances describing the assault as a misunderstanding, a situation that got out of control. Not wanting his partner of eight years to go to jail, Blake didn’t file charges. “It wasn’t a misunderstanding,” he said. “I understood what had happened and it wasn’t good for me.” “You’re angry at the world” According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey produced by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://.cdc.gov; CDC), one in nine men are the victims of intimate partner violence, including rape (https://goo.gl/ToX5MA). The study also noted 1.7 million men reported that they were the victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes with one in nine men reporting that they experienced physical and

Ron Blake (center) poses for a photo with staff members of a Starbucks

sexual violence within an intimate relationship. Blake and his partner would stay together for another two years after that December night. Between his partner and the two other men dismissing his purported rape al-

PHOTO: RON BLAKE

legation and what he described as severe reading an article in Time Magazine about confusion and pain that came with being sexual assault and he finally accepted what violated by a loved one, Blake would spend happened to him on that evening. He filed those two years mired in uncertainty and a police report in August of 2016, but decided against pursuing criminal charges. self-doubt. “The therapist said it was dissociative amnesia,” he said. “A lot of victims … and “I needed everything to stop” In the summer of 2014, Blake started atsurvivors have dealt with dissociative amtending therapy to unpack and process the nesia. assault. By the summer “It’s like looking in of 2015, after a year of a mirror and it’s and counselors, cracked. A lot of the HE PROJECT CULMI therapy he was still struggling pieces are there, but with depression and they’re just fragmented and I always NATED IN A NEARLY Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One told people after that evening, it all came to a night that I knew MINUTE DOCU head. something happened Feeling as though the that night I just didn’t HE world was closing in on want to talk about it.” MENTARY CALLED him, Blake took a mix of Blake said he never sleeping pills and pain labeled the experiLAKE ROJECT medications. ence as a sexual as“I knew the medicasault in the months WHICH WAS NOMI tions were contraindiafter that night and cated by the doctors, but said that anger conNATED FOR A OCKY by that point I needed sumed him along everything to stop,” he with a feeling of said. needing to be isoOUNTAIN MMY He woke up the next lated. afternoon, still de“I was such a greWARD pressed, but alive. He garious person my whole life and I knew something was continued seeing counselors and getting wrong at that point because there were therapy, but still struggled with what he three and four-month stretches where I deemed as an emptiness. would come home from my job and I didn’t Blake described an almost zombie-like want to be around people,” he said. state of watching television without emoSuffering from explosive outbursts and tion or comprehension of what he was an increasingly unhappy relationship with watching in the years after the assault. his partner, Blake said he took ownership On November 2, 2015, he’d have another of the assault and blamed himself. watershed moment, but this one would sig“You’re angry at the world” were some nal a dramatic turning point. of the final words Blake’s ex-partner said “It was on that night that I tell everybody when the two ended their relationship. After the breakup, Blake said that he was See Blake on Page 18

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We Are All Allison Janney: Girl crushes, quest to play ‘pioneering lesbian’ By: Chris Azzopardi*/Special to TRT

A

llison Janney shares many of your concerns, like, what’s up with the president’s wild contra-dictions and flat-out lies? And what will happen to the LGBTQ community under his administra-tion? And, of course, something we’ve all wondered from time to time, and an issue she definite-ly plans on addressing with her agent soon, because it’s high time: “Where are all my lesbian roles?” Though her latest turn in I, Tonya is not queer by definition—but, as infamous figure-skating icon Tonya Harding’s mother (Harding is played by actress Margot Robbie), one of her very best and most Oscarbuzzy roles, so all is obviously forgiven – the chameleonic 58-year-old actress has delightedly dipped into some impressive gay fare both onstage and in film. Here, the beloved and soon-to-be-lesbian-somewhere Emmy winner discusses Harding as a queer icon, identifying with the LGBTQ community as an outsider herself and kissing “a lot of cool women.” Q: LGBTQ people – we are all Tonya. A: Right? Everyone identifies with her. Everyone can identify with Tonya because she’s strug-gling to have a voice, and the powers that be deemed that she was not worthy of having a voice in the figure skating world, didn’t think she fit in. It’s so classic. And then the press vilified her and we were all told what to believe about her, and we kind of believed it, because it was

the advent of the 24-hour news cycle. Just spoon-fed to us every day: Tonya, bad; Nancy—princess, good. So, to do this movie and to see all the different things that were at play in her life makes you have so much more empathy for her. And I was so excited to meet her at the premiere. She was there! I just wanted to hug her and hold her. Sometimes I’m not great with words, and I just wanted to hug her. Q: You mentioned Tonya as the “underdog,” a word you have also used to describe yourself. A: Yeah. Q: Do you think that has anything to do with why you’ve attracted a doting LGBTQ following? A: Maybe that’s it! I was always just told I was too tall to act and told I wasn’t pretty enough, that I didn’t have enough edge. Didn’t have this, that. Everyone in the business told me that, and it was heartbreaking to me; and yet I tried to find other things to do, but this was really the only thing I was really meant to be, this time ’round (laughs). I think it might also just be the characters that I get to play. Some of them speak to the communi-ty because they are that underdog character – now I’m trying to make up a theory out of some-thing I haven’t thought about (laughs). But I also think it’s that I love to bring the humanity to every character I play.

Q: I’m sure that your gay fans also appreciate that you seem to enjoy randomly kissing women. A: I do! (Laughs) Oh my gosh, I don’t know if you’ve seen my kiss with Cloris Leachman but that is, like, the best kiss. Q: Better than Kate Winslet even? A: How about that moment?! That floored me. And I just thought, “Did she just say my name?” (Winslet gushed about Janney at the Hollywood Film Awards in November.) It was one of the funniest moments for me, and I thought, “How can I not just go up and kiss her?” I mean, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet—I’ve kissed a lot of cool women, and men! Q: In our 2016 interview, Meryl Streep told me kissing you was a real “perk.” A: She said “perk”? I love her! Q: Is that what all the women say about kissing Allison Janney you? A : I don’t know! Meryl is the only one I’ve gotten feedback on. Actually, no, Rosie! I got to kiss Rosie. Rosie said I was a good kisser. And Rosie O’Donnell is a great kisser, I have to say. She’s a very good kisser. On (the CBS sitcom) Mom, she plays a woman that I used to have a relationship with and there’s one episode where I kiss her a couple of times and it was really—she’s a good kisser! (Laughs) Q: Of the lesbian characters you’ve played, from Sally in The Hours to your lesbian roles in stage productions like Eve Ensler’s Ladies and Alan Ball’s Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, which do you wish you could’ve gotten to know more? A: Probably my character in The Hours with Meryl. I would’ve liked to have gotten to know Sally and really explored that relationship. You know, my famous story with her with that kiss is that she gave me a facelift. She didn’t like the

way we were lit in the scene and she said, “I’m gonna do you a favor, honey.” So she placed her hands on the side of my face and lifted it ever so gently. When you watch it next, look at that – it’s pretty great. A little Meryl lift. I got a little lift from Meryl. It was fantastic. Q: If you were to play another lesbian role, who would be your ideal co-star? A: Whoa. Well, I kind of have a girl crush on Margot Robbie right now! (Laughs) She is so tal-ented and so friggin’ beautiful – it’s kind of remarkable. I just find myself staring at her, like, how can anything be that beautiful? And she’s a really good actress, and you know, why not? Margot is on my mind right now, so I’m saying Margot. Q: You’ve said you like to use your platform and acting to support important causes, which you’ve done in projects like 2009’s Funny or Die’s Prop 8 – The Musical. Do you recall the point in your life PHOTO: PAUL NEON or career when you became passionate about queer issues? A: I have so many gay friends in my world, and having such close friends in the gay community made me more aware of different issues. So, I’d naturally get involved through my friends. It happened when I came out to L.A. and I was doing West Wing. Once you start becoming someone— you know, a celebrity person—you realize, “Actually, I could help just by showing up there and by doing this.” It was a wonderful thing to realize, that I could use my name for something good other than the acting. Q: Does it feel even more important right now to take on projects that can make a difference? A: Yes, yes! It really does. And I don’t know what I’m gonna be asked to do next, but I hope that I will be able to contribute. Q: Considering your trove of lesbian parts, I’m surprised lesbian roles aren’t just rolling in for you. A: I don’t know—I don’t think so! I’m gonna have to call my agent: “Where are all my lesbian roles?” Oh, a pioneering lesbian! Amelia Earhart. I don’t know if she was. I’m gonna get on that though. I’m gonna start looking. That’s a good thing to Read the rest of this story at: https://goo.gl/okTvyN


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Not Victims from page 6 said quite proudly with a slight grin on her face. Elizabeth said that the entire evening she was not afraid, though. “Tom was out there with his gun,” she said of the night she watched over her four children while black men patrolled their property and, not too far away, white men with evil on their minds congregated. The evening was uneventful. She doesn’t recall when the KKK left; it could have been late at night or early the next morning. The important thing was that they were gone. Rumor has it that the man who owned the land had to answer to an angry wife. Apparently, she was so infuriated that she left him. *** It’s not known what happened to that

property owner who invited the KKK to ...

North Korea. To say the least, the country scares me. Between the terrifying case of Otto Warmbier (https://goo.gl/U22oL6), the unadulterated propaganda and brainwashing that go into convincing North Koreans that Americans are maniacal, and the mental instability of our nation’s current president, I fear we could very well be on our way to another war. And let’s not forget that Austria, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, recently voted into office a far-right nationalist party (https://goo.gl/vhqKs3) that could have a frightening impact on European politics (note: Austria is the first European nation to elect a far-right leader since World War II). And then there’s the United States. We’re one year into a disastrous presidency that has not —and will not—pass federal policies that benefit those who need it the most.

EVIL IS AROUND US EVERY DAY. MAYBE NOT THE KIND OF EVIL MY GRANDMOTHER AND MOTHER SAW

1968, BUT EVIL NONETHELESS. AN EVIL THAT PRIZES POWER OVER PROSPERITY, MONEY OVER HUMAN LIFE. AN EVIL THAT DIVIDES BASED ON WEALTH, SKIN COLOR, NATIONALITY, RELIGION, AND SO MUCH MORE. BACK IN

live on his land or whether he’s even still alive today. I like to think that people of his ilk die off with little fanfare. Think of a it: a community where blacks and whites co-exist together peacefully and without incident is unsettled by one man’s ignorance and prejudice. I don’t know what his intentions were in allowing these Klansmen to camp out on his land that evening, and I don’t care. I listened to the first-hand accounts of this night from Elizabeth and Sharon. Of course, I call them “Gram” and “Mom,” respectively. I grew up in that house, in that community. I took school bus rides past the land where those Klansmen once camped out. And who knows? Maybe I even went to school with their grandchildren. I guess that’s the scary thing about evil. It can hide in plain sight, under a mask. We all have a small bit of it in us and it can be nurtured and stoked. It can be fed by sheer hatred, delusion, or the stifling narrowness of ignorance. It’s a lot like carbon monoxide: odorless, colorless, tasteless, but fatal when consumed in large amounts. The day before listening to my grandmother and mother recount that night back in the late 60s, I was sitting in my mother’s dining room while my sister sat in the next room watching a CNN documentary on

The nation’s president rules by ego, not intelligence. Racial divisiveness and regressive sentiment are at an all-time high and I have little hope in our national leadership to help us. Civil rights are on the chopping block and none of us (at least none of us who are members of an oppressed class) are safe. Evil is around us every day. Maybe not the kind of evil my grandmother and mother saw back in 1968, but evil nonetheless. An evil that prizes power over prosperity, money over human life. An evil that divides based on wealth, skin color, nationality, religion, and so much more. But, I keep my head up. In times and circumstances like this, victimhood is a state of mind and rather than choose to be a victim, I choose to be a fighter. In the same way my grandfather protected his family from the KKK that night with a gun, I’ll be doing the same to protect my rights and the rights of others. Instead of a gun, however, I’ll use the truth. *A graduate of the Boston University College of Communication, Mike Givens has been a social justice advocate for 10 years. During that time he’s worked on a range of initiatives aimed at uplifting marginalized populations. An experienced media strategist and communications professional, Mike currently devotes his spare time to a number of vital issues including racial justice and socioeconomic equity.

Lessons from page 6 think. There is a much bigger issue at stake. What kind of country do we want? Perhaps I’m a jaded optimist with a longterm view. I’m inclined to believe even if there are three steps forward and two backward, the LGBTQ community is still ahead of the game. Advances to civil and human rights will continue, with setbacks, yet with a forward path that will zig zag to and fro. It’s likely Doug Jones won’t be re-elected in one of the reddest states in America in 2020. Yet his victory is historic for all the

night at a home game (https://goo.gl/QUa6W1); Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the new conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, became the first openly gay and married maestro in the organization’s history (https://goo.gl/g8ooce); A Tennessee judge ruled gay couples with children have the same rights as heterosexuals with children born through artificial insemination (https://goo.gl/4P8YGU); Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New

YET HIS VICTORY IS HISTORIC FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS. right reasons. The advance for civil and human rights, though slow and incremental at times, is the focus. I look on the past year with guarded hopefulness. One of the most important things an individual can do during difficult personal and professional circumstances is to be actively grateful. Gratefulness changes one’s attitude, renews the spirit, and gives an individual the encouragement not to give up, especially during a storm. Here are some of the things I’m grateful for in the past year: The National Basketball Association (NBA) joined with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. to help promote LGBTQ businesses (https://goo.gl/x1fMrv); More than half of Major League Baseball teams hosted an LGBTQ community

Jersey signed into law a requirement that public schools enable students to use bathrooms of their choice (https://goo.gl/6UYu3P); and The President of Germany signed a bill into law allowing marriage rights for samesex couples (https://goo.gl/9CAQBz) Although I love the majesty of snow storms, absent the shoveling that comes with it, the days are growing longer. Darkness is receding. In about 100 days, spring flowers will be making their appearance. It’s something I spend more time thinking about while being grateful for the goodness over the past year. *Paul is a corporate chaplain, seminary trained priest, and lawyer in greater Albany, NY. He’s also author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”


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A dilemma: Handling varying degrees of acceptance from others By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist

I

TRANS OPINION

n 2017, I had some personal breakthroughs. I shared meals with each of my two sons. It was wonderful as I hadn’t seen either of them for seven-and-a-half years and one of them hadn’t even talked to me in more than a decade. I had been on the outs with them because they didn’t like me being a trans person and especially since I transitioned to living as female. Me living my life had become a wedge in our relationships. I was finally getting used to the wedge figuring that I had to wait it out, but now that time had come. My sons were talking to me and sharing meals with me! Yes, it was a long time coming with lots of lonely holidays and birthdays, but now I am back in their lives. It’s wonderful! At one of the meals, one son remarked that I am still doing it—that is, presenting as female—and he followed that with he was okay with it if I am happy. I smiled and

thanked him and thought that all was good and that the wedge was gone. Upon reflecting on his statement later that night when I got home, however, I realized that he still may not be accepting of me as a female now, but rather he accepts that I present as female and that I am happy. I suppose that

son’s comment. I felt that he viewed me as a certain fraction of a woman rather than as a complete woman. I get the same feeling when I see people in public. They see me and acknowledge me as a trans woman, but I can’t help but feel that they also see me also as a certain

I FEEL THAT IF THEY THOUGHT OF ME AS 100 PERCENT FEMALE THEY WOULD BE OKAY WITH INTRODUCING ME TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IMPORTANT IN THEIR LIVES. it is a win, but it doesn’t feel like a complete win. It felt like he still didn’t accept me as female, but he accepted me as a person presenting as female. Even though times have changed, and many people know some trans people, I still feel that trans people are still not yet on a par with cisgender people. I still feel sometimes that I am not fully accepted as a woman. I felt it when I reflected on my

fraction of a woman and not equal to a cis woman. My point gets driven home even more when I think about all the men who I’ve dated and how they would never introduce me to their parents or their friends. I feel that if they thought of me as 100 percent female they would be okay with introducing me to the people who are important in their lives. Instead, they see me as a trans woman and I need to be kept on the down

low. Again, my “fraction of a woman” thought hits me. Yes, at times I feel that people see me as less than a woman. So, what to do about it? I could demand that they accept me as a total woman, but I feel that I would just get lip service, and nothing would really change. I still wouldn’t be thought of as a woman who was assigned female at birth. I still wouldn’t get the friend and family introductions from my boyfriends. Another option is that I should simply accept the fact that most people do not accept me totally as a woman and wait for the times to change when they might accept me . Maybe before I die I will be totally accepted as a female. I don’t know. I dream of the day when people completely accept others as they are, and that people will proudly introduce their loved ones to their families and friends and not feel hesitant to do so. What a wonderful time that will be! Ah, but when will this time be? How long will it take? What shall I do until that time? I guess that I will have to wait and see. I don’t see any other answers for me right now. *Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren.

Asking a trans woman about age, fame, and bathrooms in the New Year By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist

PHOTO: DAVID MEEHAN

This month’s Ask a Trans Woman column will focus on readersubmitted questions. When are you too old to transition? —Kimmi E. hort answer? Never. You are never too old to transition. Transitioning is something we do for ourselves more than anyone else. We do it to feel whole and happy. We do it because we must. We do it to feel complete and correct in our own skin. We do it for any number of reasons. But none of those reasons are limited by age. Sure, many of us who are older may wish we had transitioned when we were younger. But frankly, I find these sorts of regrets to be the devil’s game. It’s interest-

S

ing to think about “what ifs” and certainly hard to avoid doing so. But ultimately, it’s not really useful to our current happiness and wholeness to live in and be limited by those “what ifs.” All we ever truly have is the moment we are in and the moments that will follow. That is all we can change. And if that means transitioning at 50, 70, 90 or 100 years old, even if that means being happy and whole for just a very short time, isn’t that worth it? My direct, non-philosophizing advice? If it is at all possible for you to transition, no matter how old you are, if it is something you truly feel like you need to do in order to be happy, then you should do it. Why is it only the rich and famous transgender people who get interviewed for any public exposure? Why not show the reality of trans people? —E.K. McC.

... IF THAT MEANS TRANSITIONING AT 50, 70, 90 OR 100 YEARS OLD, EVEN IF THAT MEANS BEING HAPPY AND WHOLE FOR JUST A VERY SHORT TIME, ISN’T THAT WORTH IT? I could teach a whole lecture series delving into this one. But since this is a short answers column, I’ll be brief. I’m going to assume that by “interviewed for any public exposure” you are referring to the mainstream media. And the answer to that is quite simple: “Mainstream media” is a business. And unfortunately, and increasingly, the mainstream media, including those parts we think of as including more serious “news” and information, is in the business we call “show.” “Show business” basically makes money in three ways: advertising revenue, direct sponsorships, and subscriptions. And there is steep competition for all of these resources. That competition means the content has to be “flashy” enough to attract an audience. The easiest shortcut to this sort of attention is name recognition. Hence, putting the spotlight on people who already have some degree of fame or fortune. Although, I would note, it can be important to make that “or” distinction. As a person who spends a bit of time in the spotlight myself, I can tell you that fame often does not equal fortune. I have known quite a lot of fairly famous people who often struggle financially. But I digress. The last thing I will say, though, is that if you want to see this change, if you want to see the “reality of trans people” gain more of the spotlight, then the best thing to do is to go looking yourself. We have never lived

in a time where the tools of the media were more freely available to the masses. There are so many great YouTube shows, podcasts, live theater events, and even independent media outlets like this paper, that spotlight, or are even made by, non-rich and famous trans people, that don’t get nearly enough of the attention they deserve. And that is because you have to make just a little more effort to find them. But you can and you should. Don’t rely on the mainstream media to tell you who you should pay attention to. They have their own agenda. But, if enough people actively turn their attention elsewhere, we can change the whole game. As a cis woman I've always told people "I love sharing the women's room with trans women (who I know and I've been friends with) because they're always so respectful and clean and proper." But is that an unfair demand of all trans women? Like, it has always been my experience, but trans women have the right to be slobs like the rest of us.” —Emma R. Well Emma, to be honest, I have two answers to this. The first answer is that, yes, it is unfair and unreasonable to expect that all trans women should behave in any more cohesive manner than any other group ...

See Ask a Trans Woman on page 23


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5 ways to be a better queer in the New Year By: Mikey Rox*/Special to TRT

THE FRIVOLIST

1. Give more of your time to local LGBTQ orgs Most communities have an LGBTQ support center, but you might not know it if you’re not seeking LGBTQ support. Still, it’s there, and it may need your support. In 2018, make it a point to pop in to offer your assistance. Maybe you can volunteer your time for an upcoming event; attend an activity (I had a fun evening at drag bingo hosted by my local center recently), mentor LGBTQ youth who desperately need responsible, caring adults in the lives; or offer financial support to keep the center’s valuable programs on track. For many of these organizations, just opening the doors on a daily basis is a struggle, and they will appreciate every hour and dollar donated by community members like you. 2. Support an LGBTQ film festival I’ve attended several LGBTQ film festivals over the years—in my hometown of Baltimore; my current home of Asbury Park, N.J.; and most recently the OUTshine Film Festival (which is really top-notch, by the way), both in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida—and these programs are the only place you’ll find a conscientious slate of curated films that represent the entire queer community in one mega-celebration of diversity filmmaking. If your home city doesn’t offer a film festival, maybe it’s time you and your group of go-getters put the wheels in motion to establish one. Otherwise, travel to the LGBTQ film festival near you—or plan a vacay around this affair—so we can all continue to push LGBTQ movies into mainstream consciousness. Hollywood will take notice of our full breadth of films eventually, like it has in the past 18 months with Moonlight; Call Me By Your Name; and 20th Century Fox’s groundbreaking gay-teen romance Love, Simon, in theaters nationwide on March 15 (which is a big frickin’ deal, if you don’t already know). 3. Serve as a mentor for LGBTQ youth It may seem like the world is a more accepting place than ever for LGBTQ youth (and on the whole it is), but there are still kids out there who struggle not only with their sexual orientation and identity but

also with friends, family, teachers and authority figures that refuse to accept them as they are—and that’s where you come in. If you’re a successful queer person, contact your local school district to find out how you can speak at Gay-Straight Alliance meetings to let these youth who may be having a hard time know that it does, in fact, get better. Moreover, programs like Live Out Loud’s Homecoming Project helps connect high school alumni to their alma maters, making it easier for you to reach out and inspire. You’ll make a bigger difference than you realize, I promise. 4. Spend more money at LGBTQ-owned businesses I’m not recommending you stop spending your money at hetero-owned business—though I’m sure there’s a faction of us out there who would recommend that— but rather take some time to research your local retailers and restaurants to see who’s family. Many times you can glean this information by word of mouth or just a little digging on social media. When we support each other personally and professionally, our communities are stronger. Just look at what we did to San Francisco. And New York. And L.A. And Miami… 5. Stand up for yourself and your sexual orientation Don’t let people put you down, and don’t let anyone make you hide in the closet— period. Actress Marsha Warfield recently relayed an anecdote about how she’s been out privately forever, but her mother didn’t want her to come out publicly because she’d be embarrassed by it. Whitney Houston dealt with the same issue, as do countless other ordinary people. F#@k that, OK. This is your life, you get one shot at it, and if anyone is embarrassed by who you are, you should feel confident enough in yourself to tell that sad, angry person that you will only be better without them. You don’t need that $hit. Because it’s 2018, honey. F#@king LIVE! *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 (https://goo.gl/DbjD7h).


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Blake from Page 12 that everything for me began in a positive way,” he said. “There was a moment of laughter while I was watching the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “What was important about November 2, 2015 is when that show came on and I laughed it was the fact that I recognized that I laughed. I paused the show for three minutes and just sat there and thought, ‘God, there’s still something good coming out of me. I’m going to do something with this laughter.’” The Blake Project “I went to bed with hope,” Blake said of the rest of the evening. Determined to get on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (https://goo.gl/c5xbbk) and share his story with the late-night talk show host and his audience, Blake gained a sense of purpose. He purchased eight poster boards at Staples the next day and on November 12, 2015 he began a campaign to gather signatures. “I had this vision I would go on the Late Show and I would get up every day and start talking with strangers and reengage with society again,” he said. He set about having conversations with complete strangers about his story: the alleged rape, the suicidal ideations and attempt, the isolation, the anger. The campaign started off as a petition, a way of documenting his efforts to engage the public about his experience with a goal of getting on the Late Show. He’d spend

“RON DESERVES A CHANCE TO TELL THE WORLD HIS STORY AND SHOW THAT IT IS THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE THAT CAN SPARK JOY AND INSPIRATION TO KEEP CARRYING ON.” anywhere from two to 12 hours each day speaking to people. “The reactions to him approaching always vary … but most people have stopped to listen to his story,” said Jay Roberts, who met Blake in 2015 at a networking event. “I’m pretty proud that he’s spreading the message and challenging people to become aware of the issue he faced. Most wouldn’t try something so bold.” Blake said the people he met wouldn’t just write their signatures, they’d include poems, artwork, Bible verses, and other inspirational messages. “Talking publicly and candidly about the issues that he has faced and removing some of the stigma is important,” said Andrew Thoesen, who met Blake at an event called Ignite Phoenix #18 (https://goo.gl/LQKi8w) in 2016. “It really broadens the conversation and helps other people not to suffer alone.” The event is an opportunity for people to get on stage for five minutes and in a speedy presentation discuss their experiences and what they’re passionate about.

Thoesen said he was scheduled to present after Blake that evening. “I went immediately after he did, and there was some confusion because he got so much applause they actually sent him back out for a second round of applause,” he recalled. “It was a tough act to follow!” In the spring of 2016, three Arizona State University (https://.asu.edu; ASU) students had an encounter with Blake that would give his work a signal boost. Alicia Gonzalez, Sierra LaDuke, and Graham Bosch were taking a documentary film class together and ran into Blake while he was gathering signatures on campus. “He told us his story and we signed his board,” LaDuke said. “After chatting with him for a few minutes, we went on our way. About 20 minutes later … we realized that this was the story we wanted to tell in our documentary. “It was pretty amazing that all three of us so readily agreed on this subject. We all grew to love Ron and became passionate about championing his mission.” The project culminated in a nearly 30-

minute documentary called “The Blake Project” (https://goo.gl/n8WE2F), which was nominated for a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award (https://goo.gl/E8DnBB). “What particularly stands out to me about Ron is that he has this aura about him, this energy that brings everyone up to his level,” said Bosch. “During the Phoenix Pride Parade last year, I followed Ron on his path up 3rd Street in downtown Phoenix and watched as he approached complete strangers to share his story. Within moments, he would have people crying or hugging him or sharing their own painful stories. I've never seen someone with such an intuitive understanding of human nature and other people's emotions.” A Robust Form of Therapy As of mid-December, Blake said he has 23,663 signatures and messages on the more than 350 poster boards he’s used during his campaign. That includes roughly 1,200 personal stories shared. He estimates that he’s devoted more than 6,000 hours to the project and has signatures and messages in 86 languages. New Year’s Day marked the 782nd day of Blake’s unique form of therapy. The most surprising aspect of his campaign is the mental impact he’s said it’s had. “For 14 months now I haven’t needed to take any prescription pain meds, sleeping pills, or psych meds,” he said. “All of the medication I’m off of … I haven’t been to any professional or therapy sessions in 14

See Blake on Page 23


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Fenway Forward from page 5 We’ve grown tremendously over the years, and the management should naturally change with that,” Finch said. “The new CEO will have a real opportunity [to] figure out the management structure we need for the next generation.” Swartz said that one of the next steps the organization should take is creating a culture that allows for open dialogue around bullying and harassment concerns. “Victims have not come forward in the past because they fear retribution—being called a liar, told he or she ‘asked for it,’ or retaliation for complaining and potentially losing their jobs,” she said. “The more victims are empowered to come forward when the abuse occurs, the more companies will be able and required to react in a manner that ceases the conduct.” Swartz also said that Fenway will have to practice what it preaches. “Best practices are those where the company does not have policies that are lip-service,” she said. “They [meaningfully] investigate, take action, and require respectful and professional workplaces.

Moore said the Board of Directors has been aware that restructuring was needed for some time. “Every time you get to certain sizes, you need to reexamine your organizational structure,” Moore said. “That was something the board was already starting to work on.” Finch said that the transformation Fenway will experience in response to recent events will include ensuring that the organization mirrors the community Fenway serves. “I think one of the things we’ll see is a more diverse organization,” he said. “We’re going to want to mirror the board to our patient base. We need perhaps more transgender people on the board as well.” Finch said that Fenway now serves approximately 4,000 transgender people, and heterosexual people are becoming a larger part of the population, as well as women. Swartz agreed that a diversity in leadership can help move the organization forward. “Diversity helps change culture by, among other things, providing varied per-

QPuzzle: My father would lift me high, no doubt

“TO BE HONEST, OUR CONTINUED SUPPORT OF FENWAY IS CONTINGENT ON HOW THEY HANDLE WHAT IS GOING ON. REALLY SPEAKING UP AND BEING STRONG ABOUT OUR STANCE IS WHAT WE FELT WE HAD NO OPTION BUT TO DO.” “Companies are made up of people. There will always be bad actors, no matter how many wonderful people work at a company or how well-intentioned the company and its leaders are. It is how the company reacts to complaints and the steps it takes to ensure it does not happen again that matters.” Generational Change Board of Directors member Kendra Moore has served for five years and in her time, she said, Fenway has grown tremendously to an approximately $100 million organization. Much of that growth has taken place within the last 10 years and, according to Moore, Fenway is a different type of organization from what it was back then. The search for new leadership will have to take into account societal and cultural changes within the organization, along with needs for more transparency, Moore said. Moore is not on the search committee to find a new permanent CEO. “I’d imagine the search committee is going to focus both on the traditional issues of running a business as well as the personality and the prior experience of a potential applicant to manage change and particularly cultural changes, and to expand the focus of activities to include greater diversity and inclusion,” she said. Although not a complete part of the problem, Moore said the growth Fenway has undertaken in the recent past has created an organization that was long overdue for a reassessment of management structure.

spectives,” she said. “If Fenway wants its internal culture to change, differing points of views, backgrounds, and experiences will be an important component of that change.” Finch shared that as Fenway moves into the future, a stronger desire for transparency and accountability is something the organization must be responsive to. “Organizations existed for many years without the need for transparency, because there weren’t these many outlets to voice opinions in a public forum like there are now,” Finch said. The Rainbow Times interviewed a former Fenway employee who agreed that culture change is needed. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the employee said that he often experienced senior management blaming their mistakes on staff while holding little accountability. The former employee said that there was an instance where he felt harassed by a supervisor and when he attempted to file a complaint, management agreed to terminate his employment and support any claim for unemployment benefits he made. “ … in order for Fenway Health to become a safer environment to work for with fewer to no instances of sexual harassment and bullying [they should] … revise the sexual harassment policy [to] include ‘bullying’ and all senior management staff should take a training on sexual harassment and bullying.” The former Fenway employee went on to

See Fenway Forward on Page 23

Across 1 Old news agency of Nureyev's land 5 Rock Hudson roles, usually 10 Band that goes either way? 14 A word from Pilate 15 Any song by Patsy Cline 16 Trick 17 2nd number one hit of Luther Vandross 19 Janis Joplin's "Down ___" 20 Of the season after Mardi Gras 21 Reaction to a hottie 23 "Do" equivalent for the von Trapps 24 Dorothyís home 26 Subway vehicles 28 Like phone sex 32 Bentley of American Beauty 35 Bedfellow 36 Etheridge instrument 37 Rosie O'Donnell's Exit to ___ 39 Stan's straight man 41 Former Chicago Cub Sammy 42 "More!" on Broadway 44 Pigged out (on) 46 Census goal helped by gay sex (abbr.) 47 Singer LaBelle who recently outed Vandross in an interview 48 Czech composer AntonÌn 50 Comes to terms 52 Center

56 Liberace portrayer Douglas 59 Barber composition 60 Estefan's eight 61 Song that earned Vandross his first Grammy Award 64 The Minnesota Lynx, for one 65 Went down on with gusto 66 Finance major's subj. 67 Verb of Verlaine 68 Hairy, stocky men 69 Trust in, with "on" Down 1 "Bust a Nut" band 2 Emulated Miriam Margolyes 3 Triangular treat 4 Disney dwarfs, e.g. 5 Bird in a simile about being nuts 6 Eliza Doolittle's 'ades? 7 Busy activity 8 Love seats 9 Voyeurs, e.g. 10 With 38-Down, Dionne Warwick song covered by Vandross 11 ___ mots (witticisms) 12 Tallulah's home state, for short 13 Jump for Doug Mattis 18 Nero's land 22 Surfer's paradise 24 To ___ a Mockingbird 25 Number one hit for Vandross in 1988 27 It's for skin 29 The whole shebang 30 Grating sound

31 Pull a boa behind you? 32 Have an emotional discharge 33 John Travolta's Hairspray role 34 Religious offshoot 36 Will of The Waltons 38 See 10-Down 40 LGBTQ people can now say them in Australia 43 Latvia's capital 45 Ripley portrayer Matt 48 Cut 49 More charitable 51 Get straight 53 "___ with My Father" (Vandross song quoted in the puzzle title) 54 Seat in a gay bar 55 Of the Cowardly Lion's hue 56 Tiny speck 57 Thespian rapper 58 Burn a bit 59 Suckers 62 Ready to Wear actor Stephen 63 Cont. of gay Paree

SOLUTION


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NYT Interview from Page 11 and guidelines (https://tinyurl.com/y9c7kvbd) to follow in order to uphold the journalistic integrity— not to mention to avoid lawsuits and libel. Anytime that Trump shouts “fake news,” you can likely be assured it is not. Which leads me to Trump’s year-end interview with the New York Times (NYT, https://tinyurl.com/y8obak9l), where his omnipotent delusion is evident. Echoing pompous grandeur throughout, his “Trump brand” continues to be built on outright lies and manipulation, and expecting others to blindly follow suit. NYT Year-End Interview According to CNBC (https://tinyurl.com/ycm89yh2), “what made the president's year-end NYT interview (https://tinyurl.com/y8obak9l) notable was repetition of a particular brand of untruth,” its website read. “Even as his administration struggles with historic unpopularity and extraordinary dysfunction, Trump ascribes to himself qualities that surpass all predecessors—even reigning Republican icon Ronald Reagan.” At the beginning of his term, Trump’s

Republican candidates, making it nearly impossible for a Democrat to win in some districts. Though once in place to prevent a tyrant from assuming the Oval Office, it provides the possibility for the loser of the popular vote—Trump in this case—to still “win” the presidency. Thankfully, President Obama and his post-presidency machine are working hard on redistricting (https://tinyurl.com/ycszxb2x) so that gerrymandering’s grip is lessened. Trump also insisted that he has been absolved of collusion with Russia on election interference. In the interview (https://tinyurl.com/y8obak9l) he said, “I think it’s all worked out because frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that’s been proven by every Democrat is saying it.” Clearly, not true and the logic is hard to follow given the incoherent statement. Nonetheless, the investigation is ongoing. Likewise, Trump asserts that he can do whatever he wants with the Justice Department. But, the reality is that he cannot. Either he does not understand the different branches of government and their functions or he expects people to believe him without questioning. However, you would think that the massive opposition he has received

HE IS A DISASTER & IS TAKING THE UNITED STATES DOWN WITH HIM. cheerleaders often defaulted to the sound byte that he needed to “learn the ropes” since he isn’t a standard politician—always a safe bet for the highest office in the country. I’ve grown accustomed to such non-sensorial commentary from the Trump camp and I assume many of you have too. Yet, in just a year, we find ourselves in the midst of a petulant Twitter rampage between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, lending itself to a potential catastrophic nuclear arsenal discharge. Then, there is the ongoing scandal of collusion between Trump’s inner circle, campaign members, cabinet officials and Russia with links to the Kremlin and Putin. Under Trump’s direction, the U.S. has lost credibility around the world even requiring the United Nations to step in at times to literally discredit and protect the planet from Trump’s careless, cantankerous and delusional actions. This administration has lowest presidential approval rating in history (https://tinyurl.com/yck6rb4n), hovering around 35 percent, with the country being heavily divided between those in power and those not. As time continues, it has proven to be undoubtedly clear that we have a madman-in-chief that could care less about the American people so long as he creates division among us (https://tinyurl.com/y89jx35r), while lining his pockets and those of his family and friends. The most recent “tax-cut” is evidence of that, which temporarily cuts taxes for the middle class and excessively and disproportionately cuts taxes for corporations indefinitely. In the NYT interview (https://tinyurl.com/y8obak9l), Trump contributed his defeat of Hillary Clinton to his skill in overcoming the Electoral College, which favors democrats. Yet, that is a blatant lie. The Electoral College is constructed by a system in which gerrymandering favors

would have enlightened him ever so slightly. However, it only causes him to double and triple down on the con of the day. Trump’s delusion is further amplified when he claimed that Republicans in Congress “love him.” Republicans such as John McCain have outwardly tangoed with Trump on issues like healthcare. Trump’s repeal and replace “Obamacare” failed miserably, yet he still credits himself for “winning over Republicans.” According to CNBC, he claimed he has an “understanding of public policy superior to any president in American history,” read the report. “I know the details of taxes … better than the greatest CPA;” and of health care system, “better than most.” Oxymoronic in nature, just seconds later he said, “millions of people are joining” his health plan. This is an impossible claim since he was never able to implement any type of directive relating to healthcare. Trump’s repeated crash and burn policies have made it evident that he has no clue what he is doing and doesn’t care to know better. At very best, he is a manipulative sexually assaulting entertainment hog that has learned how to prey on and con the most ignorant among us for his own gain and his own gain alone. He is a disaster and is taking the United States down with him. “I'm going to win another four years,” Trump said to the NYT while attributing such inevitability to the alternative fact that “newspapers, television, [and] all forms of media will tank” if he is not there. “Because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes,” he exclaimed. And the resistance continues. Carry on … *Nicole is the editor-in-chief of TRT. She has an MBA from Marylhurst University and a BM from the Crane School of Music, (SUNY Potsdam, NY).


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Looking back on 2017 in HIV/AIDS – and what’s in store for 2018 By: Kenyon Farrow*/Special to TRT

I

can safely say this was a year for the record books, and in some ways that we’d never expected. Given the Trump Administration and the Paul Ryan (R-WI) / Mitch McConnell (R-KY)-led House and Senate, we were in danger of losing so much ground by the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The President’s budget called for major cuts in domestic and global HIV spending. Work to end mass imprisonment and the war on drugs was set back by the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, who vowed to ramp up the full prosecution of people under criminal drug laws, no matter how minor. The threats to immigrants in the United States have created an even more hostile environment, particularly for people of color, and the list can go on and on. But the HIV community fought. Not only did the community fight, we won several key battles. HIV/AIDS organizers Jennifer Flynn, Jaron Benjamin and Paul Davis created a national, grassroots strategy of civil disobedience (https://goo.gl/GgHmUc) that mobilized thousands of people to demonstrate against the rollback of the ACA. And their strategy – which many believe was the deciding factor in pushing back round after round of terrible bills – helped do what many of us always say we want to do: move HIV out of its silo and connect it to larger movements for social justice. Positive Women’s Network (https://goo.gl/jrdqnU), under the leadership of Naina Khanna (https://goo.gl/QGBfdz), created toolkits and mobilized call-in days for people living with HIV around the country to become local leaders in the fight. In conjunction with the grassroots mobilizing, The Federal AIDS Policy Partnership worked tirelessly on The Hill to advocate against the regressive bills that would have left millions without health coverage. It’s no exaggeration to say that if it were not for the HIV community stepping up with those waves of civil disobedience, reproductive rights/justice, disability justice organizations and the entire country could have lost all of the unnamed benefits and protections that the Affordable Care Act put in place. Not Just Defense: Progress in the PreTrump HIV Agenda Not all the work that happened was fighting against losses. Many people in the community continued to pursue the fights that were important before this Administration and Congress took seat in office. Advocates in several states introduced legislation to end or severely reduce the use of HIV criminalization laws (https://goo.gl/9PFW4J). We were most successful in California and Colorado, where we won clear victories. Advocates across the country continued to support Michael Johnson in Missouri; though he remains in prison, he did win an appeal which led to a reduced conviction of 10 years, and an admission by the prosecutor that the law (one of the most severe in the nation) should be repealed. Missouri advo-

cates are currently working to build off the momentum to develop a new bill to repeal this law. Other activists continued to join the national movement to develop local, county and state “ending the epidemic” or “getting to zero” plans. The ACT NOW: END AIDS coalition led a fiery plenary session at this year’s USCA conference, showing the collaborative leadership of activists, providers and health department leadership. Treatment Action Group and Southern AIDS Coalition partnered to support key jurisdictions in the South to develop End the Epidemic plans; Nashville, Alabama and Louisiana have held meetings to begin working on those in 2018. And in New York state, the first to launch a plan, there’s evidence that the strategy working: they recently reported drops in new HIV diagnoses – even among Black and Latino gay and bisexual men, where very few jurisdictions have seen any success. Unfortunately, rates of HIV remain extremely high among Black gay/bisexual men nationwide, and HIV rates for Latinx gay/bisexual men and transgender women continue to climb, for reasons we have yet to find. Resources for transgender women and men facing HIV remain low. One of the most significant game-changers in HIV happened this year when CDC announced (https://goo.gl/Zym7sV) it was adopting the science that shows people who are undetectable are also untransmittable. This change happened not just because of the incontrovertible science on this issue. The Prevention Access Campaign (https://goo.gl/EaE5zC), which launched the U=U movement, organized for more organizations and health departments to sign on to this statement, and continued to advocate for CDC leadership to do the same. Issues Brewing for 2018 So while there were some major successes in the field over 2017, we still have some major issues developing in 2018 to which we will be paying close attention. In addition to the outright attacks on the ACA, the tax reform bill (the final version of which is being voted on the week this article was written) threatens to upend the individual mandate upon which the ACA depends. This would mean that individuals could choose not to purchase insurance, removing the incentive for insurers to offer plans on the ACA marketplace to begin with. This would leave fewer options in plans for people living with HIV, and make the existing plans largely unaffordable. And people with HIV living in states that did not expand Medicaid have even fewer options for coverage. Other issues brewing for 2018 abound, with many direct threats to existing HIV research, prevention and care. Recent news reports have suggested Congress is considering moving resources from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program into opioid addiction treatment and services. Indeed, Evidence-based harm reduction models and drug treatment are critical to a comprehensive strategy to prevent HIV. But there are debates about whether the focus on creating more infrastructure on opioid use in rural and white America would come at the

Kenyon Farrow

detriment of resources for urban and Black and Latinx communities—including resources for HIV care. While federal spending on research through the NIH is often touted as one of the few areas of bipartisan support in Congress, HIV research funding has specifically been questioned by Republican members of Congress and may not be receiving overall increases to the NIH budget that have been appropriated in recent years. And while AIDS research funding itself remains in question, the NIH has begun its

process of restructuring and setting priorities for its global AIDS research networks, which will affect the HIV research portfolio through 2027. News and Facts Matter We have a lot of things happening at once that may challenge our ability to keep making gains in ending the epidemic, even as we’re beginning to see some new possibilities for success.

See HIV/AIDS On Page 22


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Prejudice from Page 10 involved in a local LGBTQ task force in her community and enjoys working with other Jamaican expatriates to get them settled in Massachusetts. “I’ve been struggling, but have always met supportive people,” she said of her journey to build a life for herself in Massachusetts. But given her Caribbean roots, is she proud of her Jamaican culture? “No, because back there I was scared,” she said, noting that she couldn’t live authentically as female in a country where people are routinely killed for living authentically. “I can’t go to Carnival and dance and shake my booty. I’m scared.” Cultural anthropologist and BSU Professor Diana Fox, though, observed that there is a some hope on the horizon. “On Cape Cod, and New England generally, there is an expanding Jamaican population, that comes for seasonal migratory labor,” she said. “Some of the Jamaican people have settled on the Cape, in Provincetown, of all places, which is really interesting. “They work in restaurants and also in the hotels and guest houses, in the kitchens and as housekeepers and throughout New England there are people who come from Jamaica to pick apples. Fox said that this exposure to the LGBTQ community, particularly in places like Provincetown, can have a small impact on attitudes. “They are exposed, especially in Provincetown, to an actively public gay community and this is diametrically opposed to what they experience, for the most part, at home,” she continued. “But I think

HOLYOKE CITY COUNCILOR JOSSIE VALENTIN IMMIGRATED TO MASSACHUSETTS FROM PUERTO RICO IN HER

EARLY 20S AND

NOTICED FOR THE TIME IN HER THING SHE

FIRST

LIFE SOME-

IDENTIFIED AS

“SKIN PRIVILEGE.” that this migration process is important because over time as people meet people who are LGBTQ, their stereotypes start to break down. It is also mainly young people migrating to the Cape who already have more open attitudes in part because of social media. They have no choice but to interact with the local population, whereas in Jamaica straight people can refuse service. Many people actively refuse service to

LGBTQ people. I had that experience myself when in Jamaica filming a documentary, and a man selling coconut water refused to sell me a coconut.” Fox said this accidental exposure helps open the minds of Jamaican migrants and carry those ideas back to Jamaica when the season is over. Unlike Claudia, Jossie Valentin said she’s quite proud of her Puerto Rican heritage. “Everywhere I go, I talk about being a woman, being a lesbian, and being Puerto Rican,” she said. “And those three are not interchangeable in terms of priorities for me. They’re all the same. They’re all equally important to me.” Diaz from the Dominican Republic echoed Valentin. “I am very proud of my roots,” he said. “I love being Dominican. The island is very beautiful as well as the people. The culture is a melting pot of three different worlds colliding together—those being Africa, Spain, and Hispaniola itself.” Charles said her Caribbean identity is at the forefront of who she is. “Yes I am very proud of my culture,” she said. “For me … I am first Trini, second multiracial, third woman, forth queer. My Trinidadian heritage plays a major part in who I am as a person, the foods I eat and cook, the way I speak and dance, and my values.” NOTE: Part one of this story (https://goo.gl/Z85UKk) erroneously stated that fundamentalist Christianity was introduced into the Caribbean during the Colonial period. While Christianity was introduced in the Caribbean around the time of colonialism, fundamentalism emerged in the Caribbean in the 1980s.

HIV/AIDS from Page 21 We end the year with news that we may be going back to explicit or implicit gag orders on word usage, Bush-era style, including words central in HIV like “transgender” and “evidence-based.” The Federal Communications Commission voted to end net neutrality, which means even public health news sources like TheBody.com could be blocked by internet providers because they don’t like the content that provides news and information about sexual health for people and communities living with HIV. But the reason I’ve remained in HIV so long is not just because I’m a Black gay man. It’s not just because, despite being HIV negative, it remains a primary issue that impacts me and my community. I have continued to do this work because I have found community in some of the bravest, smartest, strategic people I’ve ever known, despite being among those who are the most socially maligned. The HIV community knows how to show up, despite our many differences, when we need to save people’s lives. We remain committed to facts, to evidence, and to sharing information as resources to help people feel less alone, less afraid. In the HIV media, we will continue to provide the news, the analysis and the opinions of the community. We don’t have a choice—lives are at stake now. But for us, they have been for a long time. Kenyon Farrow is the senior editor of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com. Follow Kenyon on Twitter: @kenyonfarrow (https://goo.gl/ighWDT).


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Ask a Trans Woman from Page 16 of women. I know plenty of cis women who are obsessively neat and courteous, or “respectful and clean and proper” if you will. And I know plenty of other cis women who are horrifying slobs, and rude to boot. That’s just how any group of human beings are; diverse in belief and behavior. To expect trans women as a group to be any different is not a fair standard. How-

...

AND EVEN

when it comes to public restrooms. But I think that has more to do with the fact that public restrooms are an actively hostile and dangerous place for trans people in the current (and much of the past) political and social climate. It is not necessarily a behavior that is inherent to us. Rather, in its deviance from cis norms of “disrespectful and messy and improper” behavior it is an intentional defense. So, by all means, keep using this argu-

INDEPENDENT MEDIA OUTLETS LIKE

THIS PAPER, THAT SPOTLIGHT OR ARE EVEN

MADE

BY,

NON-RICH AND FAMOUS TRANS PEOPLE, THAT DON’T GET NEARLY ENOUGH OF THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE. ever, speaking as an activist and a polemicist, I think this is an excellent argument. It may not be absolutely “true” across the board. But it’s emotionally resonant and it helps to counter certain problematic views of trans people and bathrooms that are equally false and actively negative. As an argument, it is, “true enough.” And yes, in fact it is also my own experience that many trans people are sort of extra “respectful and clean and proper”

Blake from Page 18 months.” Blake credits the interactions with strangers, the stories shared, the hugs, and bonding over shared experiences. Sydney Grover was at a downtown Phoenix coffee shop with a friend when Blake approached her and shared his story. “Ron uses his pain to raise awareness … ,” she said. “He is someone who is driven by passion created from pain. When someone is so tragically broken, it can take years to find something to create happiness again. A Champion, not a Victim Blake attended an LGBT festival in Phoenix once and said that he told a group of about eight people his story. After sharing his story and asking for signatures on a poster board, one man in the group confessed that 15 to 20 years ago, when he first started coming out, he was raped. “It was a powerful moment because all of his friends got up and hugged him,” Blake said. People were crying.” The friends were asking why he’d never told them and he said that growing up in rural Oklahoma in small community as a young gay male, it was difficult to talk about rape. Blake estimates that of the more than 1,200 stories he’s heard during his journey, between five and 10 percent come from gay men, but most predominantly come from women. “I’ve been told by a lot of gay men who are raped that it’s a rite of passage and you have to just deal with it, buck up and move on,” he said. “You should have known his reputation.” “You learned your lesson.”

ment with your cis friends. It’s a pretty good one. Just don’t expect it to always be true once the revolution comes. Slàinte! *Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer, and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender and sexuality to her at: askatranswoman@gmail.com.

THERE’S AN EPIDEMIC OF VICTIM BLAMING AND GAY MEN HAVE OFTEN INTERNALIZED THE SHAME ACCOMPANYING RAPE. “You’ll know better in the future.” Blake said he’s heard these lines before and that there’s an epidemic of victim blaming and gay men have often internalized the shame accompanying rape. “Rape in our community is not a right of passage, just like for women, sexual harassment in the workplace is not a rite of passage,” he said. “You don’t have to deal with it, you don’t have to go through it.” “What’s resonated the most is he’s become a champion to a cause rather than a victim,” said Roberts, Blake’s friend. On March 2, Blake did a TEDx Talk, “Strangers, Hope, and Sharpie Markers Saved My Life (https://goo.gl/o8pQgS)” and said he has also given three other similar public talks. As of mid-December, he’s reportedly spoken at 21 colleges and universities and other than Arizona has taken his campaign to the states of California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas. “It's been more than a year and a half since we premiered our documentary, but Ron is nowhere near finished,” said Bosch, the ASU alumni.

Fenway Forward from Page 19 list other ways the organization can do better. “If a staff member comes [forward] and reports a sexual harassment claim, it should be investigated within 72 hours,” he continued. “If a person is found guilty of sexual harassment or bullying, they should be fired and if it pertains to a CEO, a protocol should be implemented on how that situation is reported and handled to avoid ‘favoritism’ or cover-ups.” Swartz added that internal transparency when it comes to incidents of harassment or bullying are good first steps and that the board should be aware of major incidents and any settlements that may be offered to victims. However, according to Swartz, transparency between Fenway and the larger public could prove more challenging. “There is always a balance between internal organizational operations and what is necessary for the public to know, and what a victim of sexual harassment—or other forms of workplace violations—wants the public to know,” she said. “In my experience, some clients want the opportunity to disclose what happened to the world. Others want privacy and anonymity at all costs. How do we balance these competing interests?” A Time to Heal Finch said the support Fenway has been receiving from donors and the community stems from the organization continuing its mission of serving LGBTQ people without fail. “We’ve had a number of conversations with our donors,” he said. “We’ve sent them several communications, and some of our development officers are reaching out with specific people they work with. By and large, we’ve received overwhelming support from our donor base. I think donors are looking to us, and they’re willing to continue supporting us, but they want to see more transparency.” Kaden Stearns is co-chair of the Young

Leaders Council, a group of emerging LGBTQ leaders who engage in community events and philanthropy to benefit Fenway Health. Stearns said how Fenway handles this transformation will determine whether the council continues to support the organization or not. “We were informed by the development office right before the [Boston Globe] article was going to drop, and as a group that feels very passionate about this, and a number of us are survivors ourselves, it was important to mobilize and not be silent,” Stearns said. “To be honest, our continued support of Fenway is contingent on how they handle what is going on. Really speaking up and being strong about our stance is what we felt we had no option but to do.” After the incident concerning Makadon, Stearns said the council wrote a letter detailing what they wanted to see moving forward. “Our letter to the Board called for the use of a third party in hiring Fenway Health’s next wave of leadership and an external, comprehensive investigation to determine who else was responsible in protecting Dr. Makadon,” Stearns said. “We hope for greater transparency and accountability throughout the rebuilding process.” Finch confirmed that Fenway will be hiring a third-party firm in the search for a new CEO. As part of an ongoing promise to work more transparently within the organization, Finch said a large part of the organization will be brought in to help find Fenway’s new leader. “We’ll likely hire a search firm and make that search firm known to everyone,” Finch said. One of the key components of making the process transparent is that a search committee, which Finch said will most likely include non-management staff, will make public the results of the organization’s search process, including a list of finalists. Finch says the search for a permanent CEO will take from six months to one year.

Don’t miss North Shore Pride’s Annual LGBTQ Professional Networking Event - Feb. 1, 2018 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Mass.


24 • The Rainbow Times • TheRainbowTimesMass.com • 10th Year Anniversary

January 4 , 2018 - January 31, 2018

The Rainbow Times' Jan. 2018 Issue  

Boston Based, The Rainbow Times' New Year 2018 Issue has more exclusive reporting, starting with the Fenway Health story about moving forwar...

The Rainbow Times' Jan. 2018 Issue  

Boston Based, The Rainbow Times' New Year 2018 Issue has more exclusive reporting, starting with the Fenway Health story about moving forwar...

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