Connect with us

Events

The Advocate Turns 50! Remembering Editor-in-Chief Richard Rouilard

A groundbreaking magazine

Published

on

The Advocate’s Lucas Grindley and Paul Colichman with Nancy Cohen at a 50th anniversary party on June 15, 2017. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

The Los Angeles Advocate started in the late 1960s, as the anti-Vietnam War movement swelled and the liberation movements overwhelmed the long civil rights movement. The newsletter, produced and distributed by the Gay Liberation-inspired political activist group Personal Right in Defense and Education (PRIDE) informed the local gay community about news and events happening during that heady time. It was, after all,  created in response to the LAPD raid of the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake on January 1, 1967 and the community needed to know when and where the next anti-LAPD demonstrations would occur. In September 1967, the newsletter became a newspaper. By 1974, The Advocate printed 40,000 copies an issue.

The Advocate has undergone tremendous changes since then, which Here Media owner Paul Colichman, editor-in-chief Lucas Grindley, Neal Broverman, Diane Anderson-Minshall  and the whole team have recognized in an <ahref=”https://www.advocate.com/advocate50″>amazing tribute to the 50 year old LGBT institution they now run and protect.

I have written intermittently for The Advocate over the years, starting in 1990. My editor was Mark Thompson, for whom The Advocate stood as a “hopeful beacon, holistic in its concern for a people previously broken, adamant in its conviction that the pieces stay mended together. ‘The Advocate was for many of us the first exposure we’d had to the idea that what we are is not bad,’ says one longtime reader, speaking for many. ‘It was alight in the dark by which we could navigate,’” as I wrote in my tribute to him last year.

I was introduced to Mark in 1990 at The Advocate offices in Hollywood by editor-in-chief Richard Rouilard. We felt a responsibility to discern what stories were real, what was spin, and how to report on a controversy with both color and an ethical obligation to the larger context. It wasn’t always easy, but he took the struggle to heart, apologizing profusely when another, more senior editor changed the headline of my story on a confrontation faced by a woman author to make it more snarky: “She took a licking and kept on ticking.”

Before he left, Mark edited the exquisite Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History Of The Gay And Lesbian Movement in 1994. In it is a short essay by Rouilard on the importance of 1990, the year he took over as editor-in-chief of The Advocate.

The Advocate changed dramatically in 1990. Aggressive investigative reporting was initiated by the editorial staff,” Rouilard wrote. “Cover stories attacked corporate giants like AT&T and Bank of America for employment discrimination, unveiled AIDS-phobia and homophobia in Hollywood, on Madison Avenue, and on Seventh Avenue, and explored the gay revolution on American college campuses. The staff also instituted the annual Sissy Awards for America’s worst homophobes. The winner that year was cover boy Jesse helms, whose lips were smeared with a very unflattering shade of red lipstick. Advocate news reports and feature stories were picked up by mainstream media around the world. The Advocate, like the gay nation it reflected, entered the gay nineties with a roar.”

In his Introduction, Thompson noted how Rouilard amplified that roar. “Above all else, the colorful editor-in-chief plunged The Advocate back into the community, a place from which it had been estranged for some time. Under his leadership, the magazine achieved a new standard of excellence for gay journalism, a quality not seen since (Robert I.) McQueen’s early days as editor.”

Rouilard,” Thompson wrote, “had a genius for making the world take notice.” That’s something of an understatement.

Bob Sipchen wrote this in the Los Angeles times on June 28, 1990: “REQUIRED READING: * Webster’s Dictionary has two definitions for the word “sissy.” One is “effeminate.” The other is “cowardly.” In its July 3 issue, The Advocate, subtitled “The National Gay Newsmagazine,” adopts the second meaning and attaches it to its “First Annual Sissy Awards,” dedicated to “some of America’s biggest homophobes.” The issue, he wrote, “is worth picking up if only to see the cover shot of Sissy Award winner Jesse Helms, wearing editorially applied magenta lipstick.”

Richard Rouilard loved being editor-in-chief of The Advocate. Ideas shot out of him like fireworks on Independence Day—ideas to make the magazine better, of higher-quality, and more important with a cutting edge to get more leverage in the mainstream media, and by extension, influence the nation’s premier influencers.

Like Thompson—and most of the other reporters, editors and staff I met when I freelanced there, Richard was furious about anti-LGBT discrimination. He insightfully saw the gay activism stirring around the country and not only seized on being the first to tell the story—but virtually advocated for ACT UP and Queer Nation and the zines popping up with a stunning array of self-expression. And he didn’t stay cordoned off in his Hollywood office or in his well-appointed West Hollywood condo with his beloved partner Bob Cohen. When California Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the gay rights bill AB 101, Richard was on the streets protesting, putting his body on the line, stopping traffic. I know. I was there. I have pictures.

Richard took the gay rights movement very seriously—and personally. Having been abandoned as a baby, he was later rejected by his adoptive parents when he became too effeminate. He turned that into being too fabulous, adopting his French mother’s maiden name and transforming himself into a  gossipy American Anna Wintour with a law degree and biting sense of humor.

He co-founded the National Gay Rights Advocates, the first gay public interest law firm, in 1979, hiring Democratic honcho Jean O’Leary as executive director.  Two years later, he created a society column called “Bunny Mars” for several local newspapers and magazines, though best known in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Over his career, he worked as an editor or reporter or consultant for scores of magazines and newspapers and helped co-found the Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Richard’s Rolodex could fill a closet. But he relied on friends like LA Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center executive director Torie Osborn and entertainment manager/producer Barry Krost for help, tips and balance. He was a mentor and a mensch, a diva, a dragon and a diplomat. And he really, really cared about gay people.

My first cover story for Richard was Aug. 26, 1990. He wanted a story on fundraiser—but not just the “usual suspects,” the big dollar donors who were in many ways carrying the movement as more and more people died of AIDS. He wanted stories about fundraisers in their own communities, no matter what the “big bucks” dollar size. He wanted to give them props, in his own fashion.

I was in the office one day when he came bounding over, incredibly excited to share some news with me: the next issue would say “The Advocate: The National Gay and Lesbian Newsmagazine.” It was the Oct. 29, 1990 cover featuring two white presumably gay men giving a half hello/half-Nazi salute under the headline: “Gay Right-Wingers: Traitors to the Cause?” The top banner headline read: “The Man Who Outed John Travolta Apologizes.” I don’t know if anyone noticed the change.

My next cover story proved problematic. I had been assigned over the summer to find and interview students on college campuses who were acting up, fighting back, resisting, disrupting and being downright rude about it. They were loosely known as Queer Nation. The problem was—no one was on campus during the summer. And then, when I came in for a story conference and Richard excitedly showed me the cover art—I blanched. I had the fists, I had the middle finger. But I didn’t have the equivalent of a student’s hand holding dynamite. “Find it,” he told me. The cover was done. I had to fit the story to the cover. That was not the way I had done journalism before. Luckily, I fund students in an uproar over a cancelation of a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at a museum in Cincinnati, Ohio that resulted in the Contemporary Arts Center and its director being put on trial for obscenity.  The jury acquitted in early Octoberbut I had my stick of dynamite in the fight for the First Amendment and to protect the arts.

He made news by publishing Michelangelo Signorile’s outing of Pete Williams who served as Pentagon spokesperson while there was a ban on gays serving openly in the military. Williams is now the Supreme Court correspondent for NBC News.

“Outing is a very nasty business,” Richard told the LA Times in 1992. “But homophobic homosexuals are a nastier business. I don’t think homosexuality is a privacy issue.”

Richard Rouilard died of AIDS on Wednesday, May 8, 1996. He had resigned from The Advocate in 1992 after getting into fights with the publishers over his enthusiastic spending of their money.

“I think he was most proud of turning The Advocate around and being on the vanguard of bringing gay rights into the mainstream,” LA Times reporter and close friend Mary McNamara told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He was able to approach very serious subjects with intense attention but also with a great sense of humor and empathy.”

Richard’s last Editor’s Note for The Advocate was in the August 13, 1992 issue with the cover story: “Eating Our Own.” It is as important today as then. Here’s what he said, as re-printed in the San Francisco Examiner.

“In a speech at a recent journalists’ conference, author Randy “And the Band Played On” Shilts referred to just about anyone who disagrees with him as a “lavender fascist.”  Later he told The New York Times that the lavender fascists were nothing more than third graders whining, “Do what I want you to do, or I’ll tell on you.”

Knowing beforehand that Shilts was going to make this unusual speech, I had to respond.  Someone had to defend lavender fascists, whatever they are.

As a joke, I had a dozen T- shirts made up that read LAVENDER FASCIST on the front, The Advocate on the back.  The New York Times then reported that those at the conference who were in favor of all-out outing — that is, the now- defunct OutWeek’s position, certainly not The Advocate’s — were wearing “earrings and sassy T-shirts.”  The anti-outers were allegedly suited.

I am no more a “lavender fascist,” and all-out outer, than Shilts is a “homocon,” a conservative homo opposed to outing under any circumstances whatsoever.  This kind of reductionist thinking about the gay, lesbian and bi community is best left to the straight press, which needs to pigeonhole us because they don’t take the time to find out about the depths of diversity in this hodgepodge we call the gay community.  We shouldn’t take them seriously.

But when we start seeing each other as enemies — reducing our complicated lives to black and white, left and right — we are in serious trouble.  Our greatest task now is to try to understand, to tolerate, to trust each other a little.

We must.  We have precious little in common.  We are Republicans, Democrats, rich, poor, black, white, brown, yellow, men and women — just for starters.  Our community, our few institutions are under attack from a well-financed, highly organized Right.  And if a Washington Times report is accurate, the anti-gay right has the blessings of President Bush.

The backlash against us is raging unchecked across America in small towns and cities.  The recent destruction of the offices of Campaign for a Hate-Free Oregon has Urvashi Vaid, the head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, worried, deeply worried.  Vaid knows that the anti-gay juggernaut is being fueled by this election year’s great American grandstanding issue — family values.

We have become the Willie Hortons of ’92.  Obviously, we can’t afford to be “eating our own” this year. But what is eating our own?  Is any criticism, any disagreement, an example of eating our own?  Shilts, referring to those with whom he disagrees as lavender fascists, and I with my sarcastic T-shirts are nothing more than two old, bitchy queens going at each other.

Marvin Liebman, a co-founder of the American conservative movement, an out gay man and an old friend of mine, called me an “idiot” in the New York Post for outing an acting chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Anne-Imelda Radice, a friend of his.  Well, ditto for Marvin, and he’s older than Randy and I put together.

Eating our own and political disagreements are two very different animals.  But past disagreements that are left unattended can, on occasion and frighteningly quickly, turn into the frenzied phenomenon we recognize as eating our own.  Two of our most prominent organizations, National Gay Rights Advocates (NGRA) and the Fund for Human Dignity, were eaten alive recently by vast differences of opinion.  The parties at odds refused to deal with each other.  The disputes became public.  Fund-raising abilities collapsed.  The organizations folded.

I was the board chair of NGRA during this period.  I could not get the two sides to deal with each other as anything but enemies.  The animosities were overwhelming.  There were voracious beasts on the sidelines — oppression, sickness, internalized homophobia, anti and pro-establishment agenda-ism anti-authority forces and God knows what else; I don’t.  Two years later, I still can’t say which one of the beasts was more prominent.

The beast is at the doorstep again.  This year’s gay pride parade and festival in Los Angeles was marred by a public dispute between Queer Nation and event organizers Christopher Street West.  QN claimed that the entrance fees at the festival and CSW’s attitude towards minorities and drag queens were not conducive to creating a fully diversified ambience.  CSW protested.

In an essay in the event program, activist Torie Osborn suggested that QN was involved in eating our own.  No.  Not quite.  Not yet.  Nonetheless, Osborn’s call for unity must be heeded because this fracas could easily become a cannibalistic frenzy if it continues.

The differences of opinion here — angry ads were placed in the local gay press by QN — are too dramatic.  The drama, a natural result of our diversity, is the signal that discussion is imperative.  But how to get these two sides to sit down with each other is the problem.
Where is the meeting ground when some multiculti-queers suggest that one of our finest leaders, Vaid, should be tried for treason?  What happens when Tom Stoddard has committed Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund to a fund-raiser in New York at a performance of “Miss Saigon,” a show being boycotted by Asian-American groups?  Should Stoddard have canceled the benefit, thereby threatening Lambda’s fund-raising base for the year?  Is Stoddard the enemy?

On the other hand, just how long must women and minorities wait for recognition of their needs, acknowledgement of their absolute right to participate in decisions that intimately affect their lives, decisions that are sometimes made by white-male-run organizations?

There are no easy answers.  Seemingly, there are no answers.  I think I’ll give that bitch Randy Shilts a call.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Events

Pansexual Visibility Day 2022 is May 24

Days like Pansexuality Visibility Day are perfect for educating people about the various ways people experience sexual & romantic attraction

Published

on

Graphic via Project MORE

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project is honoring Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness and Visibility Day on May 24, noting that it is a day to celebrate the pansexual and panromantic community and educate others on the community.

As part of creating awareness for the pansexual community, The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, captured important data related to the experiences of pansexual youth, who made up 20% of the survey sample.

2022 National Survey Data on Pansexual Youth

  • 53% of pansexual youth reported that they seriously considered suicide and 21% reported they attempted suicide in the past year.
  • 66% of pansexual youth reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and 79% reported experiencing symptoms of depression.
  • 36% of pansexual youth reported that they have been physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation.
  • 69% of pansexual youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

The Project MORE Foundation, a leading nonprofit service and support provider to the Northern California Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ+) and Ally community explains what it means to be Pansexual:

One common misconception that even members of the LGBTQ+ community have is that pansexuality and bisexuality are the same. Bisexuality can loosely be defined as attraction to more than one gender, but many define it with the more narrow definition of attraction to both genders, i.e,: men and women.

Pansexuality differs in that it includes sexual attraction inclusive of ALL gender identities, which means that people can also be drawn to those who are gender fluid or genderqueer. It is similar for people who are panromantic. When a person identifies as panromantic, it means that they can feel romantically towards anyone of any gender identity. 

When people come out as pansexual, headlines often emphasize that it’s different than being bi, and while that’s true, somebody who is bi may also identify as pan and vice versa. The bisexuality umbrella term includes those who feel attracted to two or more gender identities. Pansexuality refers to people who feel sexual attraction to any gender identity, but because their preference includes two or more genders, they could also consider themself bi. Being pan doesn’t mean that a person is going to be attracted towards everyone, but simply that gender identity doesn’t play a role in that attraction. 

There are many people who identify as pansexual or panromantic, such as Jazz Jennings, the famous 20-something LGBTQ+ rights advocate who came out as trans as a child. Authors Dana Mele and Caitlin Ricci identify as panromantic. Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monáe, and Brendon Urie are also among famous celebrities who identify as pansexual. 

It is quite common that people who are pansexual go on a journey of self-discovery to figure out their true sexuality. Some, like Bella Thorne, initially identified as bisexual, but then grew to realize that gender plays little to no role in their attraction, so her definition of her sexuality changed to reflect that. 

Miley Cyrus, who came out in 2015 as pansexual, is among one of those who went down the path to self-discovery when it came to her sexuality. In an interview with Variety, she said that an interaction with a non-binary individual helped her understand that she felt attraction towards them regardless of how they expressed their gender. In that moment, she didn’t feel gay, straight, or bi, because she wasn’t.

Because definitions can be held loosely, one of the most important takeaways is that how a person identifies their sexual or romantic attraction can differ from one day to the next, but celebrating and respecting a person for who they are is what matters most. Days like Pansexuality and Panromantic Visibility Day are perfect for educating people about the various ways people experience sexual and romantic attraction.

About the 2022 National Survey

This survey is one of the largest and only surveys of its kind, representing the experiences of nearly 34,000 LGBTQ young people ages 13-24 across the U.S. It’s also one of the most diverse surveys of LGBTQ youth ever conducted – with 45% of respondents being youth of color and 48% being trans or nonbinary.

Lastly, The Trevor Project has a guide, “How to Support Bisexual Youth: Ways to Care for Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, and Queer Youth Who are Attracted to More than One Gender” that offers best practices for those looking to support the youth who are attracted to more than one gender in their lives.

Continue Reading

Events

The universe comes out to jazz and violins and you’re invited

LA prides itself as home of the stars. Don’t limit yourself to the mere mortal stars of Hollywood, when the universe is opening its doors

Published

on

Past Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome (2018) Photo credit: Irina Logra

LOS ANGELES COUNTY – Starlight, starbright: Bathing yourself in the magnificent skies has returned to Los Angeles as the historic Mount Wilson Observatory announces… shall we say it… a heavenly lineup for its 2022 program.

The program offers something for everybody: From the universe-fascinated who want to observe and soak up astronomical knowledge to the bright light and musically discerning who are there just for the mind-blowing beauty alone. 

Since its founding in 1904 by astronomer and visionary George Ellery Hale, Mount Wilson Observatory has played host to some of the most important discoveries in modern astronomy. Located on Mount Wilson, a 5710-foot (1740-meter) peak in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest, Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) features the Snow Solar Telescope (largest in the world from 1905-1908 and the mountain’s first installation), a 60-inch telescope (the world’s largest operational telescope from 1908-1917), and the 100-inch Hooker telescope (which featured the world’s largest aperture from 1917-1949). Mount Wilson Institute has independently operated and maintained the Mount Wilson Observatory since 1989 under a long-term agreement with the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The observatory offers a series of tours throughout the season for the scientific tourist in you. For the mechanically inclined, you can take an engineering tour of the huge telescopes and understand how they have enabled historic discoveries. For the stargazers, there are public and private tours to actually use the telescopes and peep in on our nearest planetary and constellation neighbors. For the gazers who want to keep things even closer to home, take a look right into our own Sun with the Lunt Telescope.

There is no better way to observe the universe than to do it wrapped in gorgeous music. The observatory steps up and takes advantage of the dome’s sensational acoustics by presenting Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome. Top jazz, violinist, brass talents and more will perform in events at 3:00pm and 5:00pm May 22- October 21. The season aesthetics are capped off with [email protected] Observatory in the later summer months which explores sound art in the dome, plein-air painting and sculpting.

It would be a shame to visit the observatory for its visual and auditory sensual offerings alone, however. For those who want to deepen their mind, the season also offers an incredible roster for the astronomy intellect. Lectures from the top experts include discoveries of the deep space mission, women scientists at the observatory, the work of George Ellery Hale, and more.

The gates to Mount Wilson’s acreage opens at 10:00am every day and close at 5:30. Visitors can hike the grounds, gaze at the telescope domes that dot the landscape, and browse through the Historic Museum in the Lecture Hall.  Members from the Los Angeles Astronomical Society will gather around the grounds during each of the events during the season and set up specialty telescopes for a view of various night sky objects while attendees await their turn to look through the grand telescopes in the domes.

Los Angeles prides itself as home of the stars. Don’t limit yourself to the mere mortal stars of Hollywood, when the universe is opening its doors to experience stellar wonders that will really blow your heart and your mind. We hope to see you at the observatory to experience magnificence together.

For more information:  

Concerts: https://www.mtwilson.edu/concerts 

Engineering Tours: www.mtwilson.edu/engineering-tour

Public Ticket Nights:  mtwilson.edu/public-ticket-nights

Private Telescope Reservations: mtwilson.edu/observe

Solar Viewing: mtwilson.edu/solar-observing

Tours: mtwilson.edu/weekend-docent-tours

Mt. Wilson Observatory: https://www.mtwilson.edu 

MWO Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WilsonObs 

MWO Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mtwilsonobs MWO Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtwilsonobservatory

Continue Reading

Events

Padilla joins women’s march rally in LA to advocate for abortion rights

“We’re coming together this weekend with a powerful message to those who wish to control our bodies & our futures”

Published

on

Graphic via Planned Parenthood

LOS ANGELESU.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will join the Women’s March Foundation along with local and national leaders for a National Day of Action, the ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ Reproductive Rights Rally. Padilla will deliver remarks on the importance of defending access to safe, legal abortion at the federal level.

Senator Padilla joins leaders in Los Angeles for this day of action following a leaked draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade and roll back abortion access protections for millions of women across the country.

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif. (Screenshot C-SPAN2)

Earlier this week, Padilla voted in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law, and spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to pass the bill. 

The “Bans Off Our Bodies” daylong event is organized by groups including Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, UltraViolet, MoveOn, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

“We’re coming together this weekend with a powerful message to those who wish to control our bodies and our futures: Keep your bans off our bodies,” said Planned Parenthood national organizing director Brianna Twofoot.

WHEN:TOMORROW, Saturday, May 14 at 10:00am PT
WHO:Women’s March Foundation
WHERE:Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular