Los Angeles Blade: LGBT News, Rights, Politics, Entertainment http://www.losangelesblade.com America's Leading LGBT News Source Fri, 22 Jun 2018 10:58:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Trans Pride 2018 in pictures http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/trans-pride-2018-in-pictures/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/trans-pride-2018-in-pictures/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:41:08 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710775

Several hundred people participated in the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Trans Pride LA festival, one of the oldest and largest trans celebrations in the world, held June 15 and 16, at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza in Los Angeles.

For the seventh consecutive year, Trans Pride LA kicked off with the Center’s ongoing community forum series, Big Queer Convo, this year featuring Minneapolis City Council member Andrea Jenkins, the nation’s first openly transgender African- American woman to be elected to public office.

After Big Queer Convo, Trans Pride LA presented Let Me Show You Something Beautiful, an art exhibit at The Village’s Advocate & Gochis Galleries, featuring the photography of Academy Award- nominated filmmaker/photojournalist Kimberlee Acquaro.

On Saturday, TransTribe LA hosted a gender nonconforming/nonbinary panel, followed by a resource fair featuring an array of services and programs vital to the trans community.

The weekend included a Happy Hour event presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, a catered dinner for more than 500 people, a special awards presentation and a “VarieTy: show featuring Transparent’s Alexandra Billings, RuPaul’s Drag Race vet Kelly Mantle, Sharon Brown, Billie White Acre, Jordan Balgat, Heather Barron, Ezra Michel, members of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, and Kai Gloger, a nine-year-old trans female who read her coming out essay.

Trans Pride LA was funded in part by the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, The Fight Magazine, Happy Hippie Foundation along with the Transgender Law Center and TransTribe Los Angeles.


Staci Spencer and Sabel Samone viewing the Trans Pride LA 2018 art exhibit at Los Angeles LGBT Center, Advocate & Gochis Galleries. (Photo by Sabel Simone)


Trans Pride LA goers dancing to the beats of DJ Shane Ivan Nash. (Photo courtesy Nash)


Community activist and DJ Shane Ivan Nash. (Photo courtesy Nash)


Rizi Timane of St. John’s Trans Health Program checking out the schedule of events at Trans Pride LA. (Photo by Christina Timane)


Trans Pride LA rolled out the red carpet on Friday night at the Big Queer Convo. (Photo by Sabel Simone)


Trans Pride LA hosted a panel discussion on Gender Non Conforming, Non Binary identities. (Photo by Sabel Simone)


A bunch of the men of Trans Pride LA showing off their pride at the Ed Gould Village. (Photo by Sabel Simone)


Trans Pride LA – I Hope U Know How Loved U Are. (Photo by Sabel Simone)


Andrea Jenkins, the first black openly transgender woman elected to political office in the U.S., was the special guest for Trans Pride LA’s Big Queer Convo. (Photo by Sabel Simone)


LA City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell greets attendees at the Big Queer Convo. (Photo by Sabel Simone)

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/trans-pride-2018-in-pictures/feed/ 0
Urban Pride celebrates a new generation of Black LGBTQ Pride for all http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/urban-pride-celebrates-a-new-generation-of-black-lgbtq-pride-for-all/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/urban-pride-celebrates-a-new-generation-of-black-lgbtq-pride-for-all/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:08:58 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710604

Brandon Anthony’s Urban Pride event kicks off Friday, June 22 at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, with a special performance by Superstar Trina. (Photo Anthony’s Facebook Page)

Brandon Anthony is an outside-of-the-box thinker.

Urban Pride is his passion project, and as its event promoter, he wants to make sure everyone who loves urban culture and hip-hop music feels absolutely included.

Urban Pride has become this year’s most highly anticipated LGBTQ event among young African American and Latino people and is one of the largest urban, hip-hop Pride events in Los Angeles and SoCal.

Anthony has worked as a program and talent coordinator on the Christopher Street West, LA Pride for several years, and took over promoting Urban Pride three years ago.

He says he chose the term Urban for the name with intention: he wants to remove race from the event and focus simply on a Pride based hip-hop culture.

“Growing up I always felt I was too straight to be gay and too gay to be straight. I was too black to be white and too white to be black. I just adjust and adapt,” Anthony says.

He says it’s important to him the event removes color because it’s more welcoming to everyone who enjoys urban culture. Also, the name “looks and sounds great for sponsorships,” he says.

A local nightlife impresario behind some of West Hollywood’s big recurring club nights, including Starboy Sundays at Rage and ACCESS at Villa Lounge, Anthony grew up in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. He’s a proud African American/Creole of Haitian descent, which gives him an intimate understanding of America’s melting pot.

His plan for this year’s Urban Pride aka “Summer Bash 2018,” happening on the same weekend as the many Black Entertainment Television (BET’s) events, is to offer a place where the young, hip and often brown LGBTQ kids can come out and party.

“BET weekend generally offers a lot of events that non-celebrity people can’t easily get into,” Anthony told the Los Angeles Blade. He says he’d like Urban Pride goers to have a place where they can go and celebrate their culture.

Traditionally held on the Fourth of July, this year Urban Pride will kick off the Friday before, on June 22 as the 4th falls on a Wednesday.

Anthony is well aware of the issues facing gay men, particularly gay men of color. He says it’s vital for the event to be fun, while still addressing the issues of HIV, it’s stigma and mental health. According to the CDC, African Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses, those living with HIV, and those who have ever received an AIDS diagnosis, compared to other ethnicities. In 2016, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of HIV diagnoses, though they comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population.

“Racism, homo-negativity and the experience of violence and discrimination contribute significantly to mental disorder burden and morbidity in this community,” Louis F. Graham, lead study author and a Kellogg Health Scholars postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Black Radio Network.

Thirty percent of men in the study reported depression and 33 percent reported anxiety, which is higher than rates for people in the general population – with 95 percent of study participants experiencing them at least once in the last year.

Anthony says, “You can enjoy urban culture, but let’s not forget why we do this. I may have not experienced racial profiling, but I have experienced friends passing away from HIV.”

Jeffrey King, founder of In The Meantime Men’s Group, a 20-year-old non-profit community service organization for gay black men, says club promoters like Anthony are keeping things alive when it comes to providing a space for young, black LGBTQ to come and party.

King says he believes Anthony is one of the few who’s been able to get in the door, represent the community effectively, and is doing a great job of getting black talent involved in Pride, and most importantly he’s bringing the kids into the mainstream Pride.

Anthony says he just wants to create an event that “really means equality.” A place he says, where no one feels left out of experiencing the weekend.

The event kicks off Friday, June 22, with a party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood (6801 Hollywood Blvd.), with a special performance by Superstar Trina.

For those early-bird folks, Urban Pride offers a “Day Party,” Saturday, June 23rd, at Boulevard3 (6523 Sunset Blvd.) from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday night, there’s a special performance by 702 at the Roxy Theatre (9009 Sunset Blvd.) from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Lastly, Sunday, June 24th, party kids can let loose at Rage (8911 Santa Monica Blvd.) in West Hollywood from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., with a performance by City Girls.

All Access passes for the entire weekend are $75 dollars. Individual Location General Admission Tickets are $20. Individual Location VIP Passes are $30.

Brandon Anthony’s Urban Pride event kicks off Friday, June 22 at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, with a special performance by Superstar Trina. Day Party Tickets are $15.

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/urban-pride-celebrates-a-new-generation-of-black-lgbtq-pride-for-all/feed/ 0
The overshadowed LGBT fight for ‘normality’ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/the-overshadowed-lgbt-fight-for-normality/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/the-overshadowed-lgbt-fight-for-normality/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:56:46 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710454

Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and John Fryer, who’s in disguise.

For decades, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) labeled homosexuality a mental illness, thereby justifying the criminalization of homosexuality and permitting discriminatory practices against gay men and lesbians by government agencies, businesses, schools and churches repulsed by those branded “sick” and “perverted.”

But homosexuality was also believed to be a deviant behavioral choice that could be “cured” through medical and psychological treatments such as electroshock, chemical castration, ice pick lobotomies or aversion “therapy” akin to the torture in “A Clockwork Orange.”

Not all mental health professionals thought gay people were degenerates. In 1953, with Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy in his prime demagogically chasing down and destroying communists (the “Red Scare”) and homosexuals (the “Lavender Scare”), Evelyn Hooker, Ph.D., sought funding from the National Institute of Mental Health to research “normal homosexuals,” prompted by her close friendship with a former UCLA student, Sam From. Through him, she gained access to LA’s secret gay subculture and volunteers from the Mattachine Society. Hooker’s presentation at the APA’s annual convention in 1956 was groundbreaking— there was no scientific data on gay people who were not incarcerated or in mental wards. The bottom line result: expert clinicians could not distinguish between gay men and straight men, findings that were soon validated by other researchers.

But the APA did not remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III (DSM) until 1973. “Cured,” an in-production documentary directed by award-winning filmmakers Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer, details the story of how LGBT activists joined forces with other minority groups and allies to take on the psychiatric establishment in the late 1960s and early 1970s to change the DSM.

As befitted the time of upheaval with students protesting the war in Vietnam and civil rights groups morphing into liberation movements, the fights against the APA were not quiet. One of the first demonstrations was staged in San Francisco by 20 members of the Gay Liberation Front and Women’s Liberation Movements. “It put the psychiatrists on notice,” Sammon said, “that gays and lesbians were fighting back. It really was the start of the outside activism that put attention and pressure on this issue.”

From California, protests spread to other cities, like Chicago and New York. “The interesting thing about this is there was no coordinated strategy, in terms of one person deciding what would happen. It was a grassroots effort,” Sammon. “That was an important piece of the equation that we discovered during the research process.”

But there were pioneering leaders with vision from Barbara Gittings of the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, Frank Kameny, co-founder with Jack Nichols of the Washington, D.C. branch of the Mattachine Society, and Morris Kight and Don Kilhefner, co-founders of the Gay Liberation Front/LA, who disrupted APA conferences by stealing the emcee’s microphones and challenging the participants. In 1972, gay psychiatrist Dr. John Fryer had enough and spoke out—albeit with his face disguised in a mask and voice distorted over the microphone. Nonetheless, “Dr. Henry Anonymous,” as he presented himself, gave such as impactful speech, history has often credited him with getting homosexuality de- listed from the DSM in 1973.

Sammon believes that much of the progress in the struggle for LGBT rights—for social, legal, and political equality—was made possible by this victory in 1973 over the APA. While still largely overlooked in LGBT history, the campaign challenging the APA represents a remarkable story of diligence and courage in the face of powerful institutional resistance.

Singer also notes that “Cured” looks at how the modern LGBT rights movement continued after Stonewall. “How did the spark that was ignited at Stonewall and other uprisings around the country get channeled? What was the next stage of activism?”

Sammon hopes older LGBT audiences will see an accurate reflection of their lived experiences, of the pain caused by the message from scientific and medical institutions that they were sick. “If from the age of 12 or 13,” he told the Los Angeles Blade in a June 19 interview, “everything you read or everything you’re told is that you’re mentally ill, that starts to impact you. That starts to affect your self-esteem. It causes internalized homophobia.”

In the years since, leading organizations representing scientists and physicians have uniformly denounced treatments intended to change a patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity. More recent progress on this front includes the decision by the World Health Organization to remove gender incongruence from the mental disorders listed in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the eleventh revision of which was released June 18.

However, despite this, disproven pseudo-scientific ideas about the mental health of LGBT people are still used to support so- called “conversion” or “reparative therapy,” religious-based counseling and other harmful sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

The campaign against the label of mental illness chronicled in “Cured” is not “a relic from history,” Singer said. “People are still clinging to this junk science that’s being held up to give LGBTQ people this bogus sense that they can change, that they should change, and that homosexuality is a choice.”

Sammon agreed: “The roots of this mental illness label are ideas that are still parroted by people who believe in conversion therapy,” he said. “Hopefully, this film—while not specifically about that issue [of conversion therapy]—can help illuminate that ongoing discussion, while weakening this argument that LGBT people have chosen to be the way that they are.”

“There’s still a learning curve when it comes to these fundamental issues,” Singer said. “We’re seeing it with the attempt to roll back the Pentagon’s policy on trans service members, with ongoing opposition to marriage, with bathroom bills…many of these positions come from prejudice based on junk science and religious belief.”

“Cured” is a warning that the fight for equality is ongoing—that progress can be ephemeral. It is also an homage to the activists who sacrificed much but recognized the importance of the fight.

“I hope older audiences, through the film, will receive some appreciation for the work they did to get us to the point where we are now,” Sammon said. “There are so many people who helped in so many ways, and this is a way to honor them.”

Charles Francis, president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., told the LA Blade that they decided to sign on as financial sponsors of “Cured” because the film debunks the myth that the LGBT community has won the battle against those who wish to call them mentally ill.

“It’s a myth,” Francis said, “because not only was it hell to accomplish this thing [striking homosexuality from the DSM], with real community activism, but even today the debate is not over. Our enemies are making the case they we are somehow spiritually or psychologically broken, even now in 2018.” At the Mattachine Society, Francis is engaged in historical research about the institutionalization of LGBT people in places like St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Washington, DC where the APA’s mental illness label and legislation like the District’s Sexual Psychopath Act of 1948, resulted in people being subjected to “treatments” that included icepick lobotomies, hysterectomies, and castration.

Even today, Francis warned, mythical ideas about LGBT mental illness have lead to young LGBTQ people being put in harm’s way. Among the most troubling recent examples are reports of young people who have died as a result of abuse incurred at residential programs associated with the billion dollar “troubled teen industry”—a sexual orientation change efforts into which youth are sometimes enrolled by their parents.

“This movie is not just for gay history geeks,” Francis said. “I think all activists, all audiences, all people concerned with the Trump-Pence Administration would do well to see this movie and to see how old school community activism works. Getting out into the streets, into the communities, convincing people, making the arguments… this is an early example of passionate, community-based activism. I think it’s a movie for everybody, especially in these challenging times.”

After its 1973 decision, the APA came out against discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment (1988) and in the armed forces (1990). Then, in 1998, the organization issued statements that opposed psychiatric treatments that (1) are based on the view of homosexuality as a mental disorder, and (2) are administered to “change” the patient’s sexual orientation.

The mainstream medical establishment is now allied with efforts to protect young LGBT people from conversion therapy, which marks a significant step forward. Interestingly, science and medicine have recently been harnessed to oppose these practices from a different angle.

A bill spearheaded by Equality California and introduced by out Assembly member Evan Low would include, among the business practices outlawed under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the sale of therapies that constitute sexual orientation change efforts because research indicates they are ineffective.

“The bill does one thing and one thing only;” said Low, in a press release, “it declares conversion therapy (for money) for what is, a fraudulent practice.

The directors hope to release “Cured” in 2019— the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/the-overshadowed-lgbt-fight-for-normality/feed/ 0
Queery: Jorge Gutierrez http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/queery-jorge-gutierrez/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/queery-jorge-gutierrez/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:39:26 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710331

Jorge Gutierrez (Photo provided by Gutierrez)

Jorge Gutierrez packs a lot of punch in his small, tight, brown body.

I first met Jorge during a protest action of young activists marching at a May Day Trans Queer Contingent (MDTQC) in downtown Los Angeles in 2015. It was a transformative event for Jorge; he felt compelled to organize a similar march in Orange County and so he set about organizing, eventually establishing Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, a national LGBTQ Latinx organization working at the intersections of LGBTQ and immigrant rights, and racial justice.

This was exactly what organizers of MDTQC had hoped would happen.

Similar events sprouted up in other cities around the country, demanding that LBGTQI migrants be considered both by immigration reform groups and by our very own LGBTQI movement leaders.

His organization led a public campaign to shut down a transgender ICE detention facility in Santa Ana, California and won. They organized important actions in DC and throughout the country calling for the closing of these detention facilities, abolishing ICE completely and mobilizing the LGBTQ Latinx community across the country.

Jorge is first and foremost a strategist, a tactician, always analyzing and breaking down the political climate, thinking through how the collective can approach and pressure the system best.

He is part of a bold, fresh crop of organizers ready to take the streets with his leadership. His willingness to discuss strategy and his appreciation for organizing a base has touched a cord with a community under fire.

In an age where millennials spend more time on social media than organizing and talking face to face, Jorge has helped spark an activist immigration policy movement focused on local and national issues, debate with attorneys and politicians, average people and other immigrant workers.

I have seen Jorge take on the white establishment, even among the LGBTQ movement, challenge leaders and elected officials and do the nitty gritty work of raising up a national organization.

Jorge instinctively knows when to step back and retreat and let LGBTQ Latinx community members lead. 

When Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement shut down West Hollywood for May Day one year, many white middle class LGBT residents reacted poorly and almost in fear of these trans and queer brown bodies blocking the street.

But for Jorge and Familia: TQLM this was all in a day’s work.

“Part of my work and Familia: TQLM’s work is to move LGBTQ and immigrant rights organizations to engage in grassroots organizing and direct action. Our people are ready and want direction so it is our duty to step up to the challenge and be movement builders,” he says.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I knew I was queer since I could remember but I remember clearly telling myself I was different when I was 7 or 8 years old. I came out to my mom when I was 15 and I was scared. My relationship with my father was violent and abusive because I was gay so I was scared my mother was not going to accept me. But she was loving and unconditionally supportive from the beginning. She’s my main girl, I have her back and she has mine.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Some of the trans and queer folks I admire tremendously are Isa Noyola, Jennicet Gutiérrez, Mariella Saba and all the LGBTQ undocumented immigrant leaders and organizers in our communities taking care of our people, especially Zoraida Reyes.

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?

My favorite spots were Circus and Arena but gentrification has once again pushed out LGBTQ people of color from our clubs, neighborhoods, etc. I miss those dance floors.

Describe your dream wedding.

I’d have a celebration by the beach with lots of booze (especially tequila and vodka), live mariachi and banda, dope DJ, lots of dancing and I’d invite all my friends and family. I want everyone drunk, looking glamorous, busting their best dance moves and living their best lives.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Immigrant rights and abolishing the systems that continue to criminalize, incarcerate, deport and kill people of color. Whenever I get asked this question I can’t help but think of Audre Lorde’s quote “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

What historical outcome would you change?

The colonization of our lands, languages, art, culture and bodies. Capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy have and continue to destroy the lives of indigenous tribes and people of color all over the world.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Watching Juan Gabriel perform traditional Mexican folklore music on TV and performing unapologetically gay as fuck across the stage when I was 8 years old. It gave me hope as a gay boy. #QueVivaJuanGabriel.

On what do you insist?

I continue to insist on love and engaging in meaningful friendships and relationships. I know I haven’t always been the best lover or friend but I try everyday. There’s a lot of love in this little brown body.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Reminding folks to donate to grassroots LGBTQ and immigrant rights organizations in this moment.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

It would probably be titled “Brown, Jota, Bitter, and Fabulous.”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I’d run away and stay queer as fuck!

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I’d like to think that our energies travel throughout this earth and the universe.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Less ego, more organizing and more impact.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My mother, friends, maybe love, and definitely for tacos.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

Hmmm, that we are the same as straight people or this whole notion of love is love bullshit. We are different and that’s what makes us shine and makes this world less dull. Ain’t no queer trying to be basic.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Definitely “Moonlight,” in the last five years. The story, acting and the cinematography are gorgeous.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Not showing emotions and being vulnerable, show it and feel it baby!

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I have this bizarre dream that someone is going to invite me to be part of a film and I’m going to act for like 10 minutes, steal the entire damn film, and then win an Oscar. Just like Penelope Cruz did in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That even when I fuck up I still deserve to be happy and loved.

Why Los Angeles?

Mostly cause I love being around a lot of brown people.

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/queery-jorge-gutierrez/feed/ 0
Margaret Cho says people don’t ‘get’ bisexuality http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/margaret-cho-says-people-dont-get-bisexuality/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/margaret-cho-says-people-dont-get-bisexuality/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:26:51 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710275
Margaret Cho, gay news, Washington Blade

Margaret Cho (Photo by Mary Taylor)

Margaret Cho got candid about the stigma behind bisexuality in an interview with the Huffington Post. 

The comedian reveals that at first she thought she identified as a lesbian before understanding she was also attracted to men.

“I thought I was a dyke. I thought I was a lesbian,” Cho says. “And then I realized, ‘No, I’m actually attracted to men as well.’ So then it became something really confusing for me.”

She says that while her family was accepting of the gay community, they didn’t understand what it means to be bisexual.

“My family had a gay bookstore, they were in the gay community, they were working in and around the gay community, so they really were aware of gay people and lesbians but they didn’t understand bisexuality,” Cho says. “It’s still a sensitive issue for many people in my life. They really don’t get bisexuality.”

She continued on that she’s struggled with suspicion in her relationships with both straight and gay people.

“I’ve had this suspicion with every partner that I’ve ever had [that they didn’t get it]. I’ve never been with another bisexual person. I’ve only been with either straight or gay people, so, it’s a very suspicious place,” she says. “Nobody has ever really accepted that I’m truly bisexual. Nobody has ever allowed it. It’s still very much a point of argument between anybody that I’ve been with. People just don’t accept it.”

Cho considers herself an active member of the LGBT community and frequently participates in Pride events. However, she wishes Pride was more inclusive of bisexuals.

“We’ve traditionally looked at Pride as being a very white male movement and of course there’s now so much more involved in thinking about Pride,” Cho says. “Before we didn’t acknowledge the trans community. We still don’t really acknowledge the bisexual community. But now there’s more of looking towards a sense of unity and diversity and I think that’s really important.”

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/margaret-cho-says-people-dont-get-bisexuality/feed/ 0
EJ Johnson recalls crying with dad Magic Johnson after coming out http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/ej-johnson-recalls-crying-with-dad-magic-johnson-after-coming-out/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/ej-johnson-recalls-crying-with-dad-magic-johnson-after-coming-out/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:20:35 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710233

EJ Johnson, son of Magic Johnson. (Screenshot via YouTube)

EJ Johnson and his mother Cookie Johnson recounted the emotional time for their family when EJ came out while speaking with Jada Pinkett Smith on her Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk.”

Cookie remembers she was the first to notice EJ’s sexuality when he was 15 years old.

“We went to Hawaii once and I’m sitting behind him and his friend,” Cookie says.”The girls go by in their bathing suits and the guys go by and when the guys go by, they were like, ‘Whoa! Hey!’ and then girls go by and nothing. So I was like, okay, we need to have a talk.”

When EJ decided to come out to his father, Magic Johnson, Cookie admits it was a hard conversation for everyone.

“We had the talk with Dad and that was a little tough,” Cookie begins. “My husband is the kind of person like he reacts quickly. Everything that came to the top of his head, he just let it out.”

“It hurt my feelings and I know it probably hurt [EJ’s] feelings.” Cookie says. She recounts Magic saying “This is not what I wanted for my son. And do you realize what you’re saying because the world is not going to like that and do you want to live this life?”

“Afterwards, I told him, I said, ‘I thought that was a little tough. That wasn’t right.’ Then he didn’t say anything,” Cookie continued.

EJ says the next day his father came into his room “And was like, ‘We’re going to get through this and I just need time.’ And we both started crying a little bit.”

Despite the emotional moment, EJ says his relationship with his father didn’t improve until he went away to college.

“But then, I moved to New York to go to college and when he came back to visit, he picked me up for dinner and was like…he hugged me so hard, he almost broke my back and then at that point I was like, we’re gonna be okay. I could really feel the love. We’re gonna be fine,” EJ says.

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/ej-johnson-recalls-crying-with-dad-magic-johnson-after-coming-out/feed/ 0
Fran Drescher dishes that there could be a ‘The Nanny’ revival in the works http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/fran-drescher-dishes-that-there-could-be-a-the-nanny-revival-in-the-works/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/fran-drescher-dishes-that-there-could-be-a-the-nanny-revival-in-the-works/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:15:22 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710198

Fran Drescher (Screenshot via YouTube)

Fran Drescher spilled that there have been discussions for a possible “The Nanny” revival.

Drescher revealed to Entertainment Tonight that the sitcom, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, may be headed back to the small screen.

“We’re talking about it,” she says. “Peter [Marc Jacobson] and I are talking about it.”

Drescher and her ex-husband Marc Jacobson created the show, based loosely on her life growing up in Queens, New York, in 1993. It chronicled the adventures of Fran Fine as she became the nanny to British Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield’s three children. The sitcom would go on for six seasons before ending in 1999.

“The thing is our show would be the same characters 20 years later. We can’t just pick up where we left off. But in a way, that could be really good because the show can have a whole fresh bend to it,” Drescher says.

As for what her sitcom counterpart would be up to these days, Drescher believes she would be politically outspoken.

“That’s what I think Fran would be doing now — opening her big Queens mouth for the greater good,” Drescher says.

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/fran-drescher-dishes-that-there-could-be-a-the-nanny-revival-in-the-works/feed/ 0
Asia O’Hara says she was ‘threatened to be burned alive’ by online trolls http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/asia-ohara-says-she-was-threatened-to-be-burned-alive-by-online-trolls/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/asia-ohara-says-she-was-threatened-to-be-burned-alive-by-online-trolls/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 18:12:01 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25710160
Asia O'Hara, gay news, Washington Blade

Asia O’Hara (Photo courtesy Project Publicity)

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Asia O’Hara revealed she received death threats on social media because of her race in a heartfelt Twitter post.

O’Hara, who is a finalist on season 10, posted an emotional note on Twitter explaining her absence from the social media platform.

She revealed that at 11 years old a group of neighborhood kids attempted to set her on fire for being gay.

“Since that night, I have grown to what I thought was a strong, resilient person,” O’Hara writes. “I left that night and those faces behind me, never telling a soul.”

While she says the horrific incident made her a “strong, resilient person” she encountered an online troll who threatened to burn her alive but this time for her race. It brought her back to the same fearful place she was in as a child.

“This time not because of my flamboyance or vibrance, but because of the color of my skin,” she continued. “That strong and resilient person I had become was instantly reduced back to that 11 year old boy.”

“It is through sharing this story, I’m hoping to regain my strength and joy,” she writes. “I’m on my way back to the person I know I can and should be.”

Other “Drag Race” queens offered words of support including her fellow season 10 contestants Aquaria and The Vixen.

“You are one of the fiercest and strongest people I know. I love u so much and will fight anyone that fucks with you,” Aquaria tweeted.

“So, you know i’m not gone rest until you tell me names, Twitter handles, Addresses, Church affiliations and social security numbers of anyone dumb enough to come for my sister! Love You! (i heard they got blow torches on amazon) We gone Stay Ready,” The Vixen tweeted.

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/21/asia-ohara-says-she-was-threatened-to-be-burned-alive-by-online-trolls/feed/ 0
WeHo’s My 12 Step Store celebrates Pride in New York’s Times Square http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/20/wehos-my-12-step-store-celebrates-pride-in-new-yorks-times-square/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/20/wehos-my-12-step-store-celebrates-pride-in-new-yorks-times-square/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 23:30:44 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25705247

My 12 Step Store, West Hollywood’s retail space for recovery-themed books and gifts is headed to the heart of the Big Apple.

The world-famous WeHo outlet announced its partnership with New York-based Gay and Sober Men (GSM), hosting a pop-up store that will open during NYC Pride Weekend, June 23 to 24, 2018.

Gay & Sober is an LGBTQ nonprofit organization that aims to provide “a safe, fun, and enriching experience to the sober community.” Each year the group hosts a national men’s conference in New York City that is devoted to celebrating recovery from Alcoholism & drug addiction.

During NYC Pride, when hundreds of thousands of people from around the world descend on New York, Gay & Sober offers a weekend of innovative health & wellness workshops, big speaker meetings focused on individual and spiritual growth, dance parties, and top entertainment. 

This year’s featured entertainer is comedian and showbiz veteran Sandra Bernhard, whose set will feature a dose of comedy, social commentary, and even cabaret.

Gay and Sober attendees, including family and friends of people in recovery, can join in for a host of athletic events, social/networking functions, meetings, games, dances, and health/wellness workshops administered by GSM between Thursday, June 21 and Sunday, June 24.

Online pre-registration has closed, but on-site registration is available, if space allows, for $170 at the locations listed in GSM’s agenda—where attendees will also find My 12-Step Store pop-up spaces on Saturday and Sunday.

There, some of the most popular items from both the online store and the West Hollywood retail space will be available, including “Pride Rainbow Swarovski Crystal Bling Medallions in various styles, along with our limited-edition GSM Commemorative coin, signature recovery t-shirts, various medallions covering a vast number of years, and much more,” according to My 12 Step Store owner RJ Holguin.

Events will kick off at one of three locations: The Hotel Moxy Times Square, NYC Rosenthal Pavilion, and the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise at Pier 83, West 42nd Street. Each of the four days will begin with morning runs, yoga, and on Sunday, breakfast, followed by other events that will extend late into the evening and conclude with midnight meetings. On Sunday, festivities will be rounded out with a closing cruise, featuring DJ Eddie X (which is open to all LGBTQ people).

GSM participants represent multiple 12-step programs, and the conference is intended to encourage and enhance sobriety.

The program grew from a small Facebook group formed in 2009 to a gathering of hundreds of guys in recovery, with a social media presence larger than any other group of its kind.

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/20/wehos-my-12-step-store-celebrates-pride-in-new-yorks-times-square/feed/ 0
What’s next for LA Pride? http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/20/whats-next-for-la-pride/ http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/20/whats-next-for-la-pride/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 20:28:26 +0000 http://www.losangelesblade.com/?p=25704046

CSW Board President Estevan Montemayor with wedding cake on June 10. (Blade photo by Karen Ocamb)

The annual Los Angeles LGBT Pride celebration has threatened to go off the rails at several junctures during the past few years in a roller-coaster ride of internal conflict, public discord and political machinations. But Christopher Street West survived, enabling tens of thousands of people to come together for three days in June to proudly, authentically and safely celebrate LGBT uniqueness in the world. 

Perhaps one of CSW’s proudest moments came two years ago when organizers summoned the courage and determination to defiantly and joyously march anyway, despite the horrendous Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando the night before and knowing a man with a car full of guns had been arrested in Santa Monica on his way to West Hollywood for the parade just hours earlier.

The #ResistMarch last year was the colorful political LGBT reflection of the #WomensMarch. Organized by Brian Pendleton and friends when CSW seemed too crippled by ego to remember their larger responsibility, the march felt like a 21st century homage to Stonewall and Black Cat, only this time with Hollywood stars and some of America’s most powerful political allies marching, too.

What would CSW do for an encore?

Would they carry on behind closed doors, bound by curious Non-Disclosure Agreements to remain silent about internal operations? Or would they engage with the community as activist caretakers of both a legacy and a dream?

The 2018 LA Pride parade and festival will probably best be remembered for the surprise appearance by singer Christina Aguilera at a drag competition, the large transgender contingent leading off the parade before the Dykes on Bikes and the upset over the first-ever Saturday night festival ticket sellout.

CSW apologized for that surprise overcrowding and said it is issuing refunds by emailing help@seetickets.us.. The refund request will be processed by their ticket vendor, Seetickets.

“Historically, CSW has sold more tickets because what we have found is people will come to the festival for a few hours and they will leave. They don’t stay for the whole day,” new CSW Board President Estevan Montemayor told the Los Angeles Blade. “For the first time in CSW’s history, people got there right when the gates opened and they never left….I think that positivity and the thirst to be around like-minded people and to celebrate us, to be proud of us, was really necessary for a lot of people.”

But, he adds, “We need to do better and we are working already to ensure that next year none of this happens again. But I don’t want it to be missed that more people want to be at Pride and that’s a good thing.”

There were political notes, too, notably, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and others encouraging prominent trans businesswoman and Grand Marshal Michaela Mendelsohn to cut a huge wedding cake with two grooms and two brides on top, a sugary middle finger to the recent Supreme Court decision favoring a Colorado baker who refused to bake a same-sex wedding cake.

The Gays Against Guns contingent signaled the significant shift in attitude towards the NRA after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with signs like “NRA, Sashay Away.” And this year, longtime LGBT ally attorney Gloria Allred offered an amusing bit of ironic self-promotion for her Netflix documentary by having a bevy of look-a-likes (including many in drag) wearing all red outfits and carrying #MeToo signs.

Despite some missteps, there was a sense LA Pride was bouncing back under Montemayor’s smart and savvy new leadership. The 27-year old’s unanimous election by the CSW Board of Directors on May 10 followed their decision to hire Madonna Cacciatore as the organization’s first full-time executive director. She officially starts on July 1.

Montemayor, the Director of Communications and External Affairs for LA Councilmember David Ryu and a former West Hollywood public safety commissioner, told the LA Blade that he and Cacciatore will go on a “listening tour” to engage with the LGBT community on a grassroots level.

“There has been so much negativity lately in our world,” he said. “I think people are tired of fighting, people are tired of the constant negativity in the news cycle. I think people wanted to be uplifted and that’s what Christopher Street West was seeking to do—create those environments where everyone is welcomed and everyone is accepted….This year was back to the festive mood that I think a lot of people are accustomed to and were hungry for.”

Montemayor, who worked for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) in the federal fight to overturn Prop 8, noted the importance of kicking off the parade with the symbolic cake.

“CSW was birthed out of the commemoration of Stonewall,” he said. The “Pride parade is reflective of all of our community, all of our history, our future as well, all the young people that come. That’s an enormous task but it’s a task that we have to fulfill and it’s something that we’re excited about.”

The LGBT community has “won significant victories but there’s so much more to do. And CSW has had a role in that in the past and I think as a board and as a part of our mission statement, we want to continue to play an activist role moving forward,” he said. “We are a non-profit. That being said, we will continue to be activist and we will continue to create those opportunities….We believe that we should have our cake and our equal rights, too. We can have a good time, we can come together to celebrate but we also have to be clear about where we still need to go and that’s what CSW will continue to do.”

The next step is figuring out CSW’s vision. “We believe in Pride 365 days a year, not just one weekend in June. And what that means—we will continue to discuss that as a board. And we will also continue to discuss that with the community,” Montemayor said. “Madonna and I plan to go to various organizations, various community leaders—anyone who is willing to have a conversation with us—sit down with them and figure out what are the concerns that they have with Pride, with CSW, what can be improved, what do they love, and then how can we play a role together in partnership with others throughout the year.”

Additionally, CSW board meetings are open with a period for public comment. “Folks are welcome to come and if they’d like to speak and present something to the board, they can email me directly and it can be agendized,” he said.

Montemayor said board members still operate under non-disclosure agreements but CSW’s financial statements are on the website and available to the public.

“As Madonna and I begin to have conversations with the community—and we are calling this our listening tour because we really want to listen to the community—we are very open about other ways that we can best be transparent. And so if the community wants to offer additional ideas, we will be open to those and see if they’re feasible or not,” he said. “Then we can figure out how to best move forward.”

Montemayor got emotional talking about CSW co-founder Rev. Troy Perry, with whom he watched the parade. He recounted a long conversation before Pride weekend.

“I learned so much from him and I learned about his motivations and his desires, his hopes and his dreams for our community,”Montemayor said, adding that Perry reminded him of “the many people who have come before, all the members of our board who have fought for our right to celebrate and to be ourselves.”

Perry told him “the work [CSW does] is important—the visibility that we create for our community—because there are young people around the world that look to us and see that we are marching, that we’re in a parade, we’re in a festival, we’re waving our rainbow flags, being ourselves. The message that sends to those people is very powerful.”

CSW co-founder Rev. Troy Perry, his husband Phillip Ray DeBlieck with Estevan Montemayor and Madonna Cacciatore.

But what brought the LGBT community together 48 years ago to commemorate the Stonewall Riots does not motivate this generation. “For this generation, it’s different. It’s a different experience,” he said. “A lot of victories have been won but there are different challenges today than there were then. There’re a lot of questions about how people identify and we want to be a part of that education process.”

Montemayor thinks his strong partnership with Cacciatore can help create new ways to share. “It’s quite incredible that a young Latino gay man is serving as board president and a lesbian woman who has gone through several of the most important moments of our LGBT history is serving as our executive director,” Montemayor said. “I think together we will bridge the divide that has been created generationally. Our community is stronger together and that’s what’s most important.”

http://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/06/20/whats-next-for-la-pride/feed/ 0