Arts & Entertainment
Matt Bomer tackles trans role in delicate ‘Anything’
Should the part have gone to a transgender actress?
In an entertainment culture largely barren of transgender-inclusive narratives, the arrival of a movie like “Anything” is always a welcome surprise – but one that comes with the potential for being a powder-keg in the arena of identity politics.
Written and directed by Timothy McNeil, this unorthodox indie romance – which debuted at last year’s Los Angeles Film Festival and is receiving official release later this month – is the story of Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch), a middle-aged Mississippian whose beloved wife dies in a car crash after decades of happily married bliss. Despondent and suicidal, he is persuaded by his sister (Maura Tierney), to sell his insurance business and relocate to Los Angeles, where he eventually finds a small apartment right in the sleazy heart of Hollywood. Though his polite Southern manners make him a fish out of water in his new surroundings, he begins to connect with his neighbors – one of whom is a transgender prostitute named Freda (Matt Bomer). As they spend more time together, their friendship begins to blossom into something more – but objections from Early’s over-protective sister and skepticism from Freda’s friends on the street threaten to put an end to their unexpected love story even before it begins.
Looking at its bare bones, “Anything” is standard material; damaged boy meets outsider girl and finds romance. What makes it different, of course, is that the boy is an overweight, over-the-hill “cracker” (as he is dubbed by one of his jaded, initially hostile neighbors) and the girl is a trans streetwalker.
That difference is likely enough to prevent the movie from enjoying a long run in theaters across a wide swath of the country. It’s also enough to invite criticism from some members of the trans community or their advocates, who may believe that a film about trans experience written and directed by a cis-gender male cannot help but be problematic, no matter how well-intentioned it may be – especially when that film gives us yet another big screen depiction of a trans woman as a sex worker.
The biggest point of controversy, though, might be the casting of decidedly male Matt Bomer in the starring trans role – particularly at a time when the movie industry is buzzing with talk about appropriate representation and inclusivity. To be sure, Bomer is a talented actor and here gives a sensitive, heartfelt performance (more on that below); in addition, he is not only a star, he’s a “gay heartthrob,” which lends his presence a certain degree of box office power. Still, it’s impossible not to wonder what “Anything” might have been like had it used an actual trans star in its key role. There may not be a trans actress – at least not yet – that could be considered as much of a draw, but for a movie to take a chance on such a performer would be a major step forward.
“Anything,” unfortunately, is not that movie – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
McNeil’s gender-bent twist breathes new life into an otherwise familiar formula, transforming what might have been just another indie yawner about too-cute tragic hipsters into a paradigm-challenging tale featuring fully formed human beings. Early is uncomfortably real; he’s an innately good guy, you sense it from the start – but he is broken, numb, and on the brink of a lonely slide into depression and alcoholism that is all-too-common for men like him in the real world. Freda, though ostensibly a stereotype, is just as authentic; struggling to stay above the dirty, dog-eat-dog world on which she depends for a living, she presents the obligatory mask of caustic humor and defensive anger to protect herself from the growing fear that her aspirations for a better life will forever be out of her reach.
Though the screenplay occasionally cuts corners, eliding a bit of development in the interest of setting up the central relationship, it still manages to create a tangible bond between these two characters. Even better, it gives them each the individual dignity they deserve; neither exists solely to serve as a counterpart for the other, which gives us a much greater investment in their story than we might have in any number of the “normal” romantic movies that perennially come our way.
None of that would be possible, though, without the performances of the two leads.
Lynch, a seasoned character actor who has lent his familiar face to countless roles over the last few decades, is truly wonderful as Early; his seemingly effortless underplaying of the character’s grief in the first part of the film provides much of the gravitas needed as a foundation for the delicate story it will later tell, and his tenderness, throughout, is genuine enough to infuse him with a nobility that never seems false or saccharine.
As for Bomer, he quickly defies skepticism to prove that he is not interested in giving a “stunt” performance. His Freda is much more than a display of affected mannerisms, and he dedicates himself to showing us the person underneath them; hard-edged but fragile, bold but insecure, cynical but deeply romantic – she may be an embodiment of clichés, but the actor portraying her makes them all ring true.
There are other praiseworthy contributions as well. The supporting players, particularly Tierney, are equal to the stars in presenting their roles with integrity, which goes a long way in the film’s sensitive delivery of its life-and-love-affirming message. McNeil’s direction is restrained, never veering too far toward the kind of cloying sentiment that could easily have plagued such a story, but not afraid of allowing a little sweetness to creep in during the bleakest moments. He provides some visual treats as well, particularly for those Angelenos who delight in seeing their beloved local landmarks prominently featured on the big screen.
Ultimately though, it’s the performances – and the chemistry – of the two stars that hold it all together. They make the love between these seemingly mismatched misfits not only understandable but entirely believable. Their work provides a lovely core for a movie full of lovely moments, and more than anything else, it’s the reason for seeing this film.
Zachary Zane is on a mission to destroy sexual shame
The bisexual influencer, sex columnist, & author of the memoir Boyslut opens up about his career, his anxiety, and his upcoming vasectomy
By Rob Salerno | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Zachary Zane isn’t having fun this weekend in Los Angeles.
While normally the Brooklyn-based sex columnist and bisexual influencer would have a string of sex parties lined up for a trip to his hometown, Zane says he’s had to restrain himself because he’s freezing his sperm in advance of an upcoming vasectomy.
“This weekend is particularly boring,” he says with a broad laugh over coffees in Studio City. “There are a lot of fun sex clubs and parties here. It’s a lot of house parties that turn into orgies. That’s one of my favorite things.”
It’s the sort of frank, guileless admission that’s become the 33-year-old’s trademark through his “Sexplain It” column at Men’s Health and substack newsletter, which has made him an icon of the bisexual community and led to his book Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto.
Zane says he was motivated to get the snip after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last year gutted abortion rights in the United States.
“After Roe v. Wade got overturned, I kind of wanted to take control, and no longer have it be that the impetus has to be on the woman,” he says. “I do not want to have kids. I like having unprotected raw sex. I like being able to cum in my partners. Over the years, you have close calls, and the science is here, you don’t have to worry about it.”
And this too is surprising, given that Zane’s online presence seems to embody the “chaotic bisexual” character type.
“My editors say I’m cautious and take calculated risks. I’ve never turned in a story late. In many ways I’m a sexually chaotic bisexual, but I’m also very on top of everything,” Zane says.
Reading Boyslut, Zane’s tendency for over-preparing, cautious planning, and protecting the feelings of others is evident and oddly refreshing, whether he’s writing about his struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxieties about his remaining sexual hangups, juggling polyamorous relationships, or broaching a truly shocking fetish with his partners (I’ll leave that for you to read about in the book).
If you were picking up Boyslut expecting it to be a polemic about sexual libertinism, you might walk come out surprised by the degree to which the book advocates for caution, comfort, and compassion as much as it’s an endorsement of reckless, uninhibited sexual pleasure.
Indeed, Zane says an early title for the book was “Cautious Slut.” And, lest you think the actual title is exclusionary, Zane defines a “boyslut” as “a person of any gender or sexual orientation who approaches sex without a lick of judgement or shame.”
“I’m trying to help people live unabashedly in whatever their relationship is with sex. It’s not just about being slutty and having sex with as many people as possible. If you are asexual I want you to own that,” Zane says.
Zane also makes a compelling argument for the importance of having a community of people you trust to overcome sexual shame.
“Of course, I experience shame. I’m not superhuman. I live in society,” he says. “When I do experience shame, I try to differentiate between feeling shame or feeling guilt. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by it, I think a lot of the answer is having this community and friend group that I can call instead of going home and crying alone.”
It’s hard to imagine that the guy who regularly writes about his prodigious sexual escapades could suffer from shame, but Zane insists there’s plenty he still holds back.
“I’m vaccilating between the things that cause me shame and things I don’t need to share with everyone,” he says. “I feel very comfortable writing about very raunchy sexual experiences – me getting DP’d and my hairy asshole. But I don’t talk about my breakups online, my relationship with my family. Even when I talk about my OCD and anxiety, it’s usually from a humorous place and not like, ‘oh, this was crippling.’”
Though he insists that he’s very sexually open, it was in fact his anxiety over sexual shame that led him to his current career.
“I chose a career where, if my nudes leaked, that would be the best thing that happened to me. I wouldn’t get fired – I would get great articles from it,” he says. “I did that purposely because I didn’t want to have that fear and anxiety.”
So is that the answer? Share everything that causes you anxiety?
“I think all of us have different levels of risk tolerance,” he says. “Engage with the amount of sharing you want to do. I’m talking about cultivating a friend group or community where you feel loved and embraced by people who really cherish you and know you. I’m not encouraging people to just overshare online and seek validation from headless torsos and strangers. It’s about having these more meaningful connections that matter more.”
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of a column in a national magazine to exorcise their anxieties into.
But over the three years that Zane has written Sexplain It for Men’s Health, he believes he’s contributed to a culture shift both at the magazine and in the broader culture.
“Men’s Health has always been slightly gay, just by being a men’s fitness magazine with half-naked men on the cover,” he says. “A lot of closeted bi guys who’ve been married for twenty years, they don’t feel comfortable to read Out or Pride.com, but they do feel comfortable to go to Men’s Health and if they’re on the site and they see something, they’re going to click. So I’m reaching an audience who arguably needs it the most.”
“I was really part of this new generation at Men’s Health. They have a lot of queer men on staff, a lot of women on staff, and they’re making it more feminist and queer and intersectional.”
And what even qualifies Zane to be a sex advice columnist anyway?
“First and foremost, I was a journalist. In the first Sexplain Its, I always reached out to an expert in the field.” Zane begins to explain how he reads every relationship book out there and sifts his reader submissions to only answer the questions he feels comfortable with.
Then he gets wistful as he begins to tell a story that led him to believe he could write authoritatively on sex.
“It’s a weird thing about being a sex expert. I had a date with this woman when I was 22. She was like 50 and a sex expert/therapist. A funny thing was I was the same age as her kids. So, I was at the beginning of my career, trying to break into this, and I asked, ‘What constitutes a sex expert?’ And she goes, ‘For anything, being an expert is when you say you’re an expert and people believe you.’”
Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto is available in stores now.
Rob Salerno is a writer, journalist and actor based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.
We don’t need another hero, there will only ever be one Tina Turner
Her voice was not one of sweetness and ice cream sodas. She was the real deal. Right from the start, she sang from the edge
HOLLYWOOD – Legendary singer Tina Turner, dubbed the ‘Queen of Rock’ n Roll,’ has died at the age of 83 at her home in Switzerland after a long illness, her publicist Bernard Doherty told the PA news agency. A statement read: “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”
Today, upon her passing, everyone around the world is declaring Tina Turner “an icon.”
It doesn’t fit. There are icons, an atmospheric leap, all of Heaven, and then, and only then, sitting above it all… is Tina Turner.
Simply, The Best.
For the non-conforming male personas amongst us, and for the female personas among us, she was our phoenix rising from the ashes of toxic masculinity, over coming it, and becoming the epitome of the queen, the warrior, the triumphant. She was the diva of rock, not just as in “Rock and Roll”, which was true, but as in “rocking your world”. When she borrowed Sir Elton’s “I’m Still Standing”, we knew she meant it.
In case you missed her story told many times, written about and immortalized on film, she was born Anna Mae Bullock. An up-and-coming musician named Ike Turner domineered her into his act and gave her the name “Tina Turner.” In classic “star is born” form, Tina Turner overcame her mentor in talent and popularity, and he married her.
Her voice was not one of sweetness and ice cream sodas. She was the real deal. Right from the start, she sang from the edge. She was not likely to be mistaken for Doris Day or Petula Clark, no, Tina Turner had grit, strength and even a tone of rage.
While other “iconic” singers debuted in film as sweet innocents, Tina’s launch was as the Acid Queen in Tommy. She played an erratic prostitute who advocated prophetic LSD in an effort to cure the title character.
With her humanness, her fight, and her willingness to be authentic, she spoke to, and for, many in the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
As we enter an era where identities are valued and under siege, Tina Turner was a pioneer. While she was a cisgender woman of color, and none of those descriptions were ever challenged, she famously stood to fight for something that was… her name. When, during their contentious divorce, and Ike sought to deprive her of the identity she had built for herself, she fought back and she fought back hard.
She gave up everything to keep what she treasured. She famously said, “Except my name. I’ll give up all that other stuff, but only if I get to keep my name. I’ve worked too hard for it, your Honor.”
For our transgender and drag brothers and sisters, hear her. She blazed a trail for the chosen identity, and who could deny that “Tina Turner” was not the real her?
The outpouring of love and respect from the world’s LGBTQ+ population is deserved. She has been a longtime supporter and adored queen diva of the gay and LGBTQ community forever. She pioneered when others wouldn’t, by performing at the opening ceremonies of the first ever Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982. It was a watershed moment in sports for LGBTQ athletes and allies. She has been imitated by drag queens for decades on platforms all across the world in the best “imitation is the highest form of flattery” way, beyond the point of homage and in some cases, to the point of worship.
She loved us back. Tina frequently expressed her gratitude and love for her gay fans in interviews and concerts. She did not capitalize on her own sexuality but acknowledged her bisexuality and her relationships with women. While being open about her sexuality, she did not consider it a defining factor of her identity or her music.
Only Tina Turner defined Tina Turner.
She meant something to all of us. Grief and wonder is pouring out from everyone from Diana Ross to NASA.
NASA, not an organization to normally recognize celebrities, but an absolute authority on things Heavenly, tweeted, “Simply the best. Music legend Tina Turner sparkled across the stage and into millions of hearts as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Her legacy will forever live among the stars.”
Mick Jagger said, “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.”
“Rest in peace to one of my favorite artists of all time, the legendary queen of rock n’ roll Tina Turner,” stated Magic Johnson.
Speaking for many under and over the rainbow, George Takei stated, “She was our River Deep and our Mountain High, the Private Dancer in our hearts. She showed us that love really does has everything to do with it, and that we really did need another hero. And she was it.”
It was not just that Tina Turner was a hero. It was that she was a survivor, trailblazer and hero to so many. From women of color who needed to see their strength demonstrated, to people in abusive relationships who needed to see their possibilities illuminated, to beaten gay boys who needed to see the power in standing and fighting, she gave hope to them all.
She showed us all how to embody our authentic selves and capture our creativity, our innovation and our truth. She said, “Sometimes you have to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything – whatever is bringing you down – get rid of it. Because you will find that when you are free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
There is a line from We Don’t Need Another Hero: “So what do we do with our lives? We leave only a mark. Will our story shine like a light? Or end in the dark? Give it all or nothing.”
She gave us her all, and the mark she left?
Her story does not just shine like a light, it seared every person, every walk of life, she touched. She lived as any true hero would and has gone out in a fierce blaze of glory.
Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.
He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.
He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.
He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .
Star Trek stars back striking WGA writers, queer actors picket
The writers & actors walking the picket lines represented the entire franchise from the original series of Star Trek to Star Trek Picard
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Members of the Writers Guild of America are getting some bicoastal star support in their strike, now three weeks old, from actors, producers, writers and fans of Star Trek.
Trek actors showing solidarity on the picket line with Trek writers… #bydhttmwfi@ToddStashwick @JeriLRyan @MicaBurton @TerryMatalas pic.twitter.com/8FgvKqXbaH— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) May 22, 2023
LeVar Burton, Jeri Ryan, Scott Bakula, Denise Crosby, Todd Stashwick, Ethan Peck, Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Robert Picardo, Tawny Newsome, Celia Rose Gooding, Santiago Cabrera, Chase Masterson, Jess Bush, Cirroc Lofton, Armin Shimerman, Anthony Montgomery and Star Trek Prodigy voice actor Jason Mantzoukas were among the stars who joined out LGBTQ+ actors Anthony Rapp, Blu del Barrio, Stephanie Czajkowski, Jonathan Del Arco and Mary Chieffo on the picket lines outside Paramount studios in Hollywood and New York City.
Star Trek Day marching at Paramount in solidarity with the @WGAWest with Jonathan Del Arco and @MikeOkuda . HUGE turnout and great energy! #SAGAFTRA #wgastrong #1u pic.twitter.com/cycC4SRdE3— Jeri Ryan (@JeriLRyan) May 19, 2023
Carrying signs and chanting “No wages, no pages, no contract, no scripts,” a large contingent of Star Trek actors marched outside Paramount offices on both coasts Friday, calling for public support of the unionized writers.
Today at the @WGAEast Star Trek picket in NYC, WE HAVE: some hotties, more hotties plus baby Rai, a damn good sign, and the man who created TUVIX. 🚨 THIS IS NOT A DRILL.🚨 #wgastrike pic.twitter.com/3qjtcxFrgf— Tawny “My Name is Tawny” Newsome (@TrondyNewman) May 19, 2023
As Trek Movie reported, the writers and actors walking the picket lines represented the entire science fiction franchise, from the original series of Star Trek to The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery as well as Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks, Prodigy and Paramount’s most recent streaming hit series, Star Trek Picard.
Captain on the line! Marched today with my fellow #picardseason3 family in solidarity with #wgawest We are stronger together! pic.twitter.com/LIVSRShBkT— Todd Stashwick (@ToddStashwick) May 22, 2023
The writers on hand ranged from the famous, such as out gay writer David Gerrold, who wrote the famous “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode broadcast in 1967, to the still struggling, like out transgender writer and author Tilly Bridges, who also marched in the “Trans Takeover” protest outside Netflix on Thursday.
WGA captain Carlos Cisco, one of the organizers of Friday’s gathering, revealed in a tweet how it all came together.
Other creative types who toiled behind the scenes of Star Trek came out to show support, including legendary art supervisor, graphic designer and Picard consultant Michael Okuda, writers Mark Altman, Mike Sussman, Deep Space Nine showrunner Ira Steven Behr, showrunner of Voyager and Enterprise, Brannon Braga, Prodigy showrunners Kevin and Dan Hageman as well as Picard showrunner Terry Matalas.
Making the Trek to Paramount to support our guild for #StarTrek Day. #wgastrike #wgastrong pic.twitter.com/UmJlxan4Gn— Mark A. Altman * (@markaaltman) May 19, 2023
Friday’s turnout was so large for this “Star Trek Day” protest that picketers lined the entire block of Melrose Avenue outside Paramount.
Out here with some of my fellow Star Trek alums supporting the writers. #wgastrong #writerslife #sagaftra #leadbyexample pic.twitter.com/4JNtxF0XRU— Anthony Montgomery (@MrAMontgomery) May 19, 2023
On Monday, more stars came out to walk the picket line, specifically in support of the writers of Picard. That show’s writing room included queer writers and assistants.
Star Trek Strong 💫🖖🏽 pic.twitter.com/q1rCH5rAX7— Mica Burton (@MicaBurton) May 22, 2023
Walking the picket lines outside the studios alongside the writers and the actors — who are voting in their own union’s strike authorization ballot – are members of the Producers Guild of America, animators, IATSE teamsters and politicians, from the mayor of Burbank to Congressman Adam Schiff. Trans WNBA star Layshia Clarendon of the Los Angeles Sparks has also joined the picket line.
Crazy day at the picket line with all my #StarTrek peeps. Walked about 4 miles and talked Star Trek with everyone for about 4 hours. pic.twitter.com/HncJY2Xf1z— 𝕖𝕝𝕚𝕒𝕤 𝕥𝕠𝕦𝕗𝕖𝕩𝕚𝕤 🖖 (@EliasToufexis) May 19, 2023
Out trans journalist Melody Maia Monet of Orlando, Fla. joined this reporter, a 36-year member of the Writers Guild, on the picket line Monday. We were thrilled at the opportunity to show support for the union as well as to meet Matalas and several Star Trek writers and actors.
For more pictures, check out the photo galleries assembled by Brittany Woodside and JW Hendricks.
If you’d like to know who else was in that “Star Trek family photo” Hendricks snapped on Friday, watch this video by Larry “Dr. Trek” Nemecek:
Find out how you can show support for the striking writers by visiting the Strike Hub website or their Amazon Wish List. They are marching on the picket lines on weekdays. The schedule of picketing can be found here.
LA Dodgers apologize, reverse decision on disinviting drag group
“I was honestly moved and grateful by the commitment in the room by all the parties, especially Dodgers President Stan Kasten”
LOS ANGELES – In a tweet Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball franchise reversed last Wednesday’s decision to disinvite the LA Chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from a scheduled “Community Hero Award” presentation for the team’s annual Pride Night on June 16.
May 22, 2023
Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath announced on Twitter Monday afternoon after the Dodgers apology, and its accompanying public acceptance by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, that she had been pleased to have assisted in facilitating a meeting between the team, the Sisters, and stakeholders in the LGBTQ+ community’s leadership both non-profit and political to come to an understanding.
Thanks to the @LADragnuns for your work to serve & uplift the LGBTQ+ community. You model the best of my faith.— Lindsey P. Horvath (@LindseyPHorvath) May 23, 2023
@Dodgers, it is rare for an organization like yours to publicly recognize mistakes & commit to doing better – thank you 🙏🏼
In a Monday afternoon phone call with the Blade, Supervisor Horvath explained that important dialogue between the Dodgers and other parties had commenced. She said that earlier on Monday, in a meeting at Dodger Stadium, the stakeholders met to work out a solution. “I was honestly moved and grateful by the commitment in the room by all the parties, especially Dodgers President and part-owner Stan Kasten,” Horvath said.
In addition to the representatives from the Sisters drag group, the meeting was also attended by Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief Executive Officer Joe Hollendoner, LA Pride President Gerald GarthBoard, the City of West Hollywood’s Mayor Sepi Shyne, Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur, and California State Senator Caroline Menjivar. Zbur and Menjivar attending on behalf of the California Legislative LGBTQ caucus.
Horvath indicated that she felt it was a critically important meeting with all stakeholders as they worked through the anger, sense of betrayal, and misgivings over the Dodgers actions. She pointed out that she was convinced that the Dodgers president was genuinely remorseful and apologetic.
In an email Monday night, Assemblymember Zbur told the Blade: “It was clear that today’s meeting followed meaningful internal dialogue among Dodgers management, with whom I had numerous frank conversations during the week and weekend. I’m pleased that the Dodgers came to understand the genuine hurt and injury caused by the decision to exclude the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – one that did not reflect our Los Angeles or California values.
As the only LGBTQ members of the Legislature representing Los Angeles, Senator Menjivar and I participated in the meeting at the request of the California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus to express the serious and uniform concern of Democratic members of the California Legislature.
After hearing the perspectives of the Sisters, L.A. Pride and the LGBTQ+ leaders in the room, the Dodger management apologized unequivocally for their mistake, re-invited the Sisters to participate in the event, and engaged in a discussion about the steps that they could take to reconcile with LGBTQ+ community.
I was proud of the Sisters, who demonstrated resilience, strength and a commitment to the LGBTQ+ community during the discussion, and I was impressed with the sincerity of the apology by the Dodger management.”
The Los Angeles LGBT Center had called on the team to cancel Pride Night altogether. After the Dodgers had made their public apology, LGBT Center’s CEO Joe Hollendoner issued the following statement:
“Today’s decision by the Dodgers to publicly apologize to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and roll back their exclusion from next month’s Pride Night is a step in the right direction, and we support the Sisters’ vote to accept their much-deserved Community Hero Award.
Last week’s debacle underscores the dangerous impact of political tactics by those who seek to stoke the flames of anti-LGBTQ bias at a time when our rights are under attack. We must continue to stand together as a community in defense of the rights and recognition of LGBTQ+ people in Los Angeles and beyond.
The Center is filled with gratitude to our Los Angeles community, who mobilized to support the Sisters, all of which compelled the Dodgers to ultimately do right by LGBTQ+ people everywhere. We are proud to stand with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and will join them at Pride Night to honor their many important contributions to our movement.
The Dodgers’ course correction and the conversations we have had with the organization’s leadership since last week demonstrates the version of allyship we have come to expect from the team over the years. The Center will always strive to hold our corporate partners accountable—which means so much more than waving a rainbow flag.”
The team announced last week it would drop the drag group from its celebration of LGBTQ+
fans, the day after a letter-writing campaign was launched by the anti-LGBTQ Catholic League. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, accused the team of “rewarding anti-Catholicism” by honoring the group.
“The Catholic League has been the leading critic of this bigoted organization for many decades,” Donohue wrote on the organization’s website. “… These homosexual bigots are known for simulating sodomy while dressed as nuns.”
He added, “Just last month, they held an event mocking our Blessed Mother and Jesus on Easter Sunday.”
One of those writing, was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who also sent a letter to Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred, stating that he was questioning whether the League is “inclusive and welcoming” to Christians.
At the time, the Dodgers said they removed the group from their Pride Night celebration “given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the Sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits … of Pride Night.”
On Saturday, the mayor of Anaheim Ashleigh Aitken invited the drag group to Angels Pride Night in a tweet, as reported by the Blade: “I’m inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to join me for @Angels Pride Night at Anaheim Stadium on June 7. Pride should be inclusive and like many, I was disappointed in the Dodgers’ decision,” tweeted the Mayor .
Neither the Angels nor the mayor’s office confirmed that invitation as of press time, and also did not comment on the Dodgers’ reversal.
However, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange took aim at Mayor Aitken for extending the invitation to the drag group:
“The decision to openly embrace a group whose demeaning behavior is anti-Catholic and anti-Christian is misguided and disrespectful to the sisters of the Catholic Church who minister in Orange County and selflessly dedicate their lives to God’s underserved people,” said Jarryd Gonzales, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange on Monday.
“We cannot condone any actions that have historically shown such high levels of disregard for the sincerely held beliefs of the faithful,” he added.
“Our June 7th Pride Night is part of Major League Baseball’s league-wide effort to raise awareness and promote acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. As in the past, OC Pride has assisted our Organization in the planning of this event as well as outreach to all fans throughout Southern California,” an Angels spokesperson said on the mayor’s invitation.
The Sisters have not indicated publicly if they plan to attend the Angels Pride Night as of yet.
Sources tell the Blade out gay Dodgers VP Erik Braverman was being advised on this crisis by Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler. When contacted by the Blade, Zeigler declined to comment
A spokesperson for the Dodgers did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Google ‘Doodle’ honors Native American lesbian activist
A Google ‘Doodle’ is a temporary alteration of the company’s logo to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, & notable historical figures
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – The Google ‘Doodle’ for Monday May 22, honors Barbara May Cameron on what would have been her 69th birthday. Cameron, who died on February 12, 2002 at age 48 was a well known lesbian Native American photographer, poet, writer, and human rights activist in the fields of lesbian/gay rights, women’s rights, and Native American rights.
A Google ‘Doodle’ is a temporary alteration of the company’s logo on its homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures.
In a Jan 28, 2021 article, San Francisco’s NPR public radio and PBS television KQED wrote in a profile of Cameron, a Hunkpapa Lakota born on Standing Rock Indian Reservation, in North Dakota:
“In 1963, when Barbara May Cameron was just 9 years old, she read an article about San Francisco. At the time, Cameron, a Hunkpapa Lakota, lived on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota with her grandparents. As soon as she read about the far-away California city, she confidently informed her grandmother that, one day, she would live there. “And save the world too,” she added.”
Just over a decade later, Cameron made it to San Francisco and got to work. First, she co-founded Gay American Indians (GAI) alongside her friend Randy Burns. Cameron viewed GAI as both a support group for Native lesbians and gay men, and a means to carve out space for them within the wider (and whiter) LGBTQ+ community.”
KQED also noted:
“Cameron’s passion, resilience and dedication allowed her not only to become a beacon and a voice for marginalized groups in the Bay Area, but also to act as a bridge between them. Chrystos, a Native American poet and activist, once said that Cameron had given her, “a sense of dignity about my place in the world, and my right to be in that place.” Cameron did that for countless Indigenous and LGBTQ+ people like her. Inspired by that, last year, (2020) the Pride is a Protest project honored her life with artwork displayed just across from the Ferry Building in San Francisco.”
Out director brings queer perspective to mainstream with help from DeNiro
‘About My Father’ feels like a screwball comedy from the Golden Age
In all the discussion about the need for more and better queer inclusion in mainstream Hollywood movies, we sometimes overlook the trailblazers who are already working in the system, bringing their queerness – and the perspective that comes with it – into the mix even when the story isn’t queer at all.
Take, for example, Laura Terruso, a queer director who, only eight years out from film school, already has three feature-length releases under her belt, and whose fourth – “About My Father,” starring popular comedian Sebastian Maniscalco and screen icon Robert DeNiro – opens on May 26. In it, Maniscalco plays the son of a Sicilian immigrant hairdresser (DeNiro, of course) who reluctantly agrees when his fiancée (Leslie Bibb) convinces him to bring his very working-class father to a weekend getaway with her very wealthy eccentric family at their lavish summer estate. Needless to say, it’s a culture clash waiting to happen; but when it does, the complications that ensue are mostly comedic. You can’t get much more mainstream than that.
That’s not a bad thing. “About My Father” is a refreshing, feel-good comedy with a uniformly excellent ensemble cast that seems to be having the time of their lives. And while it gets a lot of mileage out of the contrast between his obstinately independent working class dad and the amusingly tone deaf attitudes of his goofily eccentric in-laws-to-be, it remains good-natured enough to show us the flawed, funny, perfectly relatable human beings behind the stereotypes on both sides of the equation (even Kim Cattrall’s staunchly conservative matriarch) even as we laugh at them.
Indeed, it feels more than a little nostalgic, and — as the Blade found out when we sat down to talk to Terruso about being a queer female director at the helm of a mainstream Hollywood feature — that’s not an accident.
Our conversation is below.
BLADE: Your movie feels like a screwball comedy from the Golden Age. Was that deliberate?
LAURA TERRUSO: I’m so glad you picked up on that. That was a huge part of my vision for the film. The work of Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder — those are some of my favorite movies, and I really tried to incorporate the themes, even some of the visuals. I particularly love Depression-era comedies, and I really look to them a lot for inspiration, because I feel like the time we live in right now is not dissimilar from that time, in terms of what’s going on.
BLADE: Part of the similarity also has to do with the way you poke fun at the characters – especially the one-percenters – without being mean-spirited or angry.
TERRUSO: That’s something that’s very important to me. I want to make kind comedies. I feel like nothing dates a comedy more than unkindness. The humor should come from the characters, and the situations, not from insults or ridicule – that stuff is just so tired, you know? – and I wanted this to be a film that everyone could love, that everyone could see themselves in and enjoy.
BLADE: Do you think that’s because you’re coming at it from a queer perspective? Even though the movie isn’t a “queer” movie, it’s certainly relatable for queer audiences with its story about trying to fit in a world where you don’t belong. And there are a few nods to the queer audience, too, like a certain celebrity cameo we won’t give away, and that flash-mob wedding proposal near the top of the film.
TERRUSO: Yes! And it was important to me to find real queer actors and dancers for that scene – which we did. [Laughing] In Mobile, Alabama, of all places. But definitely, as a queer filmmaker, I feel like I’m bringing my perspective to the work. Even if it’s not themed in that way, I approach everything I do with that worldview in mind.
BLADE: That begs the question: as someone who is on the “inside” of the system, how do you think mainstream Hollywood is doing when it comes to queer inclusion?
TERRUSO: There’s a lot of work to be done, but I think it all presents opportunity for us to tell our stories – because they haven’t been told yet.
For instance, for my last film, a big studio movie called “Work It,” there was a little bit of a battle with the original studio attached to the project, because they didn’t want Keiynan Lonsdale to play an antagonist – they were like, ‘Oh, he should be the best friend!’ Fortunately, Netflix came in and took over that production, and let us cast Keiynan the way we wanted. It worked beautifully, and people loved it – and, of course Keiynan l both loved it.
BLADE: It’s ironic that there’s an over-cautiousness now after all those years of villainizing us on the screen.
TERRUSO: There’s this beautiful book called “In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado, a queer author, and there’s a section where she talks about the trope of “queer villainy,” and how incredibly important it is because it’s a part of our humanity – if we’re only ever playing ‘the best friend’ or one of those other “safe” tropes, it’s not really a full portrait of who we are.
That’s why I think it’s important for queer people to work in the mainstream, because those kinds of conversations, left in the hands of people not in the community, would always be going the way of the “best friend”. We want more nuance in our movies, and we can only do it by infiltrating the system in this way.
BLADE: What do you think is the most important thing that Hollywood needs to work on when it comes to telling our stories on the screen?
TERRUSO: I think the question that studio heads need to ask themselves when making a decision like that is, “Who’s telling the story?” If you have a queer director and a queer actor and they are saying “this is what we want,” trust them. If not, then maybe you can question it, but looking at who is telling the story and the point of view of the artists is so important to the nuance of this conversation.
BLADE: One last question: Was it great working with DeNiro?
TERRUSO: He’s an absolute legend for a reason, incredible to work with. And he saw that I had a real personal relationship to the material – which Sebastian co-wrote with his writing partner, Austin Earle – because my mother and Sebastian’s father are both Sicilian immigrants, who came to this country around the same time. When I read the script, I was like, “I have to direct this film!”
I find that sometimes the beauty of comedy is that you can heal wounds – you can make right things that maybe in life were left unresolved. My mom and I have had our challenges – when I came out, it was tough, I mean, she’s a Sicilian mom – but she’s so supportive now, and I feel so fortunate I was able to write a love letter to her with this film.
Besides, now I’ve introduced her to Robert DeNiro, which is basically like introducing a gay person to Beyonce, so I win. I’m a Black Sheep no more!
Chasten Buttigieg’s new book a comforting read for teens
Coming out tale told with an upbeat, fatherly calm tone
‘I Have Something to Tell You’
By Chasten Buttigieg
c.2023, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Experience, they say, is the best teacher.
Once you’ve done something, you can say you like it and you’ll do it again or not. The subject comes with a different viewpoint, once you’ve gotten a little experience with it. You’re wiser, more confident. As in the new book “I Have Something to Tell You” by Chasten Buttigieg, you’ll have the chops to offer valid advice.
If you’d have asked 8-year-old Chasten Buttigieg what life was like, he probably would’ve told you about his big brothers and how wild and daring they were. He would’ve said he didn’t have many friends and that he loved his parents. He wouldn’t have told you about being gay, though, because he had no frame of reference, no experience, or role models. He just knew then that he was “different.”
A year later, he watched “Will & Grace” on TV for the first time, and it was hilarious but he had to be careful. Already, he understood that being “someone ‘like that” had to be hidden. He watched Ellen and he was sure that “gay people weren’t found in places” like his Northern Michigan home town.
For much of his childhood, Buttigieg says he was bullied, but being lonely was worse. He was awkward, but he found his happy place in theater. “In school,” he says, “I felt a constant tug-of-war between where I was and where I wanted to be,” between authenticity and pretending. A year as a high school senior exchange student in gay-friendly Germany, then a “safe space” in college in Wisconsin clarified many things and helped him gain confidence and “broaden [his] perspective.”
By the time he met the man he calls Peter, “I felt at ease to present myself in ways I hadn’t felt comfortable doing.”
Still, he says, things may be better or they may be worse, “We’ve got a long way to go, but you, the reader, get to be a part of that promising future.”
Filled with an abundance of dad jokes and a casual, chatty tone that never once feels pushy or overbearing, “I Have Something to Tell You” may seem like deja vu for good reason. This gently altered version of a 2020 memoir, meant for kids ages 12 and up, says all the right things in a surprisingly paternal way.
And yet, none of it’s preachy, or even stern.
Though there are brief peeks at his adult life on the campaign trail with his husband, now-Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the heart of author Chasten Buttigieg’s book is all memoir, set in a loving household in a small town. It’s lightly humorous but not trite; to this, Buttigieg adds a layer of subtle advice, and genuineness to a tale that’s familiar to adults and will appeal to young, still-figuring-it-out teens.
You can expect a “you are not alone” message in a book like this, but it comes with an upbeat, fatherly calm. For a teen who needs that, reading “I Have Something to Tell You” will be a good experience.
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When artists we love behave badly
New book ‘Monsters’ explores this common fan dilemma
‘Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma’
By Claire Dederer
c.2023, Alfred A. Knopf
Recently, I listened to an audio version of “The Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. I cheered when Rowling said Dumbledore is gay.
Yet, I wondered, should I read the Potter books (no matter how much I love them) when Rowling has made hurtful remarks about trans people?
That is the question many fans ask today: What do we do when artists make art we love, but behave badly?
“Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma,” by memoirist and critic Claire Dederer delves into this vexing question.
This perplexing query has no “right” answer that works for everyone. Yet, if you enjoy art, you’re likely to keep wrestling with it.
A book delving into this conundrum could be as outdated as the last news cycle. The cancel culture debate has engulfed social media for eons.
Yet, Dederer’s meditation on the relationship between art and its fans is provocative and entertaining. Reading “Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma” is like downing two, three, maybe four espressos after a couple of cups of strong coffee.
One minute, you may feel that Dederer has it exactly right. The next moment, you might wonder what planet she’s on.
I applauded Dederer when she wrote, “There is not some correct answer…The way you consume art doesn’t make you a bad person, or a good one.”
But I wanted to throw the book across the room as I read that Dederer preferred Monty Python over queer comedian, writer, and actor Hannah Gadsby. “Listen, I’d rather watch the Pythons than Gadsby any day of the week,” Dederer writes.
To be fair, Dederer opines about Monty Python to make a point about the “monster” of exclusion. “None of these guys has the bandwidth,” she writes about Monty Python, “to even entertain the idea that a woman’s or person of color’s point of view might be just as ‘normal’ as theirs, just as central.”
Dederer, the author of two critically acclaimed memoirs “Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning” and “Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses,” struggles, as a fan and critic, with many types of monsters.
Dederer, who started out as a movie critic, began grappling with monsters in 2014. Then, “I found myself locked in a lonely–okay, imaginary–battle with an appalling genius,” she writes.
The “appalling genius” was filmmaker Roman Polanski, who, Dederer reports, raped a 13-year-old. Despite her knowledge of Polanski’s crime, “I was still able to consume his work,” Dederer writes, “[though] he was the object of boycotts and lawsuits and outrage.”
Her gallery of monsters contains the usual hetero male suspects from Bill Cosby to Woody Allen. Dederer deplores Allen’s behavior, but considers “Annie Hall” to be the greatest 20th century film comedy. She finds “Manhattan” unwatchable because Allen’s character dates a high school girl, but considers “Annie Hall” to be better than “Bringing Up Baby.” (Mea culpa: I love “Annie Hall.” But, better than “Baby?)
For Dederer, monsters aren’t only male or hetero. She wonders, for instance, if the brilliant poet Sylvia Plath, was a monster because she abandoned her children for her art.
Dederer muses about the actor Kevin Spacey (who will be on trial in June for alleged sexual assault in the United Kingdom), Michael Jackson, and J. K. Rowling.
“One of the great problems faced by audiences is named the Past,” Dederer writes, “The past is a vast terrible place where they didn’t know better.”
‘But, Dederer reminds us: sometimes they did.Queer writer Virginia Woolf (author of the luminous “Mrs. Dalloway” and the gender-bending “Orlando”) is a god to many queers. Yet, Dederer reports, Woolf, though married to Leonard Woolf, who was Jewish, made flippant anti-Semitic remarks in her diaries. You could say Woolf was just “joking” as people in her time did. Yet, Dederer reminds us, gay author E.M. Forster wrote in a 1939 essay, “…antisemitism is now the most shocking of all things.”
I wish Dederer, who writes of racism and sexism in art, had written about the homophobia in art (in the past and present). I’d have loved it if she’d mused on the brilliant queer, anti-Semitic, racist writer Patricia Highsmith who gave us the “Talented Mr. Ripley.”
I’d liked to have seen some mention of Islamophobia, ableism and racism against Asian-Americans and indigenous people in art in “Monsters.”
Despite these quibbles, “Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma” is a fascinating book. There’s no calculator (as Dederer wishes there was) to tell us whether we should go with the art we love or renounce the work of the artist whose behavior we deplore. But, Dederer turns this dilemma into an exhilarating adventure.
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Arts & Entertainment
PBS documentary spotlights trans political candidate in Texas
‘A Run for More’ screened at more than 30 film festivals
WASHINGTON – Fifteen minutes into “A Run for More,” a clip shows the plunging back of Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe’s cream wedding dress embroidered with pearly white appliqués. Her smooth hands are gently clasped by her husband’s. He, Jeff Wolfe, is poised opposite her in a deep navy United States Air Force uniform.
“Jeff, I place this ring on your finger, with my everlasting love for you, as my best friend, and as my husband,” Gonzales-Wolfe breathily repeated after the wedding officiant while holding back gleeful tears.
“A Run for More,” which has partnered with multiple organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, concluded on Monday, May 15 the 11-episode eighth season of “Reel South,” a Public Broadcasting Service documentary series. “Reel South” presented feature-length and short documentaries and used diverse voices to tell stories about the complicated heritage of those who live in the South. It was produced in conjunction with a variety of Southern PBS affiliates.
“A Run for More” was filmed across three years; however, its storyline began in 2016 when Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker Ray Whitehouse met Gonzales-Wolfe in San Antonio, Texas, her hometown. There, Gonzales-Wolfe commanded a legion of local volunteers for former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for president.
Whitehouse — who was a part of the Washington Post’s Pulitzer-prize winning team for the paper’s coverage of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection — had been living in San Antonio after he’d “moved [there] for love,” and he spent his days documenting the realities of the gritty work required to volunteer for presidential campaigns.
“I think of politics … as more about how do we organize ourselves, allocate power and move forward as a society,” he said.
Consequently, he developed a friendship with Gonzales-Wolfe that saw him document moments in her personal life, including her wedding, which took place the Saturday after Clinton’s defeat and against the backdrop of dismayed Democratic supporters.
Almost three years later, Gonzales-Wolfe became the first transgender woman to run for city council in District 8 in San Antonio. When she called Whitehouse, he was excited.
“[Frankie] is just a joy to be around and she kinda has that intangible energy, and you just want to spend time with a person like that,” said Whitehouse. “What was inspiring to me was that she was trying to do something that had never been done before. And despite the fact that there were a lot of challenges, she was willing to face those challenges head on.”
Though “A Run for More” doesn’t end with a desired political victory for Gonzales-Wolfe, it’s a foray into the complexities of local politics, especially unseating an incumbent. Gonzales-Wolfe, who has worked in political campaigns since the 1990s, said the documentary is about “the Dos and Don’ts of campaigning” for trans candidates.
“I think it’s going to allow someone the opportunity to see my truth and be like, ‘One of the major mistakes that Frankie made was she didn’t own who she is as a person. And she had to learn the hard way’,” said Gonzales-Wolfe. “It wasn’t my ideas or what I was trying to implement for the community to enhance it…It really had to do with one aspect, which was who I am.”
Fully accepting her trans identity was an uphill battle especially spotlighted during a Transgender Lobby Day in Austin. At the event, Gonzales-Wolfe met trans activists from around the state, of whom she said she felt like a guest to their “sisterhood.”
“I’m embarrassed right now,” she reflected on the day, in between tears, in the documentary. She sat barefaced opposite Wolfe, her husband, in their kitchen with only her glasses on. “I felt for me, a trans woman in a group of trans women, I was a visitor.”
“Don’t be ashamed of your story; that’s your life,” Wolfe replied. “You can’t be judged for your life.”
Lobby Day not only taught Gonzales-Wolfe about the heartbreaking reality of homelessness and neglect other trans women faced, an unfamiliar experience for her, but also about her privilege as a passing, married trans woman with a support system. It helped show her how she was running her campaign as though she were cisgender.
She recalled vehemently countering some of the activists’ points, while drawing on her knowledge and experience in politics. However, her friend and Houston activist Monica Roberts encouraged her to listen.
“I was called out at the table we were sitting at pretty roughly,” said Gonzales-Wolfe.
This and other experiences became the foundation for her self-actualization and increased her confidence in her identity. Now as chief of staff to the commissioner for Precinct 1 in San Antonio, she uses her role to advocate for issues such as helping small business and improving infrastructure, and also championing trans causes.
For Whitehouse, this is part of the point of the documentary — it contributes to the drought of representation of trans legislators in the country. Only 50 legislators in the U.S. identify as either a trans man or trans woman, according to data from Out for America – LGBTQ+ Victory Institute.
“Trans people are having laws made about them but they aren’t [a part of] the legislative process,” he said.
He added that the documentary is also about love and community.
“[It shows] what it means to try and understand who you are,” said Whitehouse.
Above all, “A Run for More” is a love story about Gonzales-Wolfe and her husband and their finding each other. Although wedding pictures could show this, the documentary provides the context lost in photos.
“I’m so grateful for everyone that fought for my right to marry the love of my life,” Wolfe, the husband, said to cheers from guests at their purple-lit wedding reception. “I promise all of you, and her, that we’re not going to stop fighting for that right.”
Vice-President meets Brittney Griner before her first game back
It was Griner’s first professional basketball game back since being released from a Russian penal camp last December
LOS ANGELES – Vice-President Kamala Harris accompanied by her husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, greeted WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury star center Brittney Griner and her wife Cherelle Friday night before Griner’s first professional basketball game back since being released from a Russian penal camp last December.
According to the White House Press Pool reporter traveling with Harris, she and Emhoff arrived at Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles and met with Griner and her wife prior to the game between the LA Sparks and Phoenix Mercury.
After conversations between the four, the Vice-President met with the rest of the Mercury in their dressing rooms before meeting with host team the LA Sparks in theirs.
According to the Advocate’s reporter Christopher Wiggins, in her meeting with the Mercury, the Vice-President said:
“I came here to talk to the team to congratulate you on exhibiting excellence in every way. You are some of the finest athletes in the world, and to do what you do every day shows that it is right to have ambition,” she said.
“It is right to have aspirations. It is right to work hard. It is right to compete when you know you have put everything into it; when you have trained, when you have discipline, when you have intelligence, and when you have brilliance.”
She added, “It makes me so proud as Vice President of the United States to go around the world talking to folks about a variety of issues, and one of the subjects that does come up is the WNBA. [The world] is watching what you guys are doing, lifting up the excellence of the finest athletes in the world.”
After meeting both teams Harris then showed up at center court to cheers from about 10,000 people and received an honorary jersey from the Sparks.
Great time at the game tonight cheering on the @LASparks and @PhoenixMercury as we celebrated @BrittneyGriner's return to the court.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 20, 2023
Her grace, courage, and determination are an inspiration to all. pic.twitter.com/0fTx952IWj
The Sparks beat the Mercury 94-71 although the Advocate pointed out: ” Griner’s return to the floor and doing what she loves was more important than the result. Six rebounds, four blocks, and 18 points rounded out her performance.”
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