Connect with us

News

Bomb threat disrupts Gay Men’s Chorus of LA performance

“The show must go on,” says Jonathan Weedman, Executive Director

Published

on

The moment the opening of the show was interrupted to announce the bomb threat. (Photo by Mike Pingel)

Just as the star of Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles was being introduced to the crowd of more than 700 on Saturday afternoon at Glendale’s Alex Theater, the curtain began to lower and stagehands raced to push performers behind it.

A visibly confused Leslie Jordan fell silent as did the entire 300 member cast on stage.

Then this.

“Please find the nearest exit, ladies and gentleman.  Please find the nearest exit and leave the building. This is not a test, this is an actual emergency. Please leave the building calmly.”

Patrons exiting after warning. (Photo by Troy Masters)

Stunned audience members, at first unsure what to do, looked around in shock as it began to dawn on them that something had gone very wrong.

But what was it? Everyone was left to wonder.

As people calmly exited to Brand Avenue, one man said:  “Maybe someone didn’t like Jonathan’s speech about Trump and the border crisis.” An elderly woman being pushed out in her wheelchair asked, “Why are we leaving?”  There was a sense of orderly confusion.

Executive Director Jonathan Weedman told the Los Angeles Blade, “someone called in a bomb threat just before the show began, apparently, and police told us just seconds before we announced it.”

Hundreds of people streamed into the streets, awaiting word on return, but the performance was cancelled.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the theater has been evacuated,” a post on the GMCLA’s Facebook page said. “In our near 40 year history we do not believe this has happened until today. Everyone is safe. WE WILL NOT BE DETERRED.”

Milling about on the sidewalks of Brand Avenue, audience members soon realized the afternoon show would not resume. “Yeah, we’re going to have a show tonight. Come on back, bring your tickets.  We’d love for you to come,” repeated Weedman to passersby.

Many people were left speculating on what may have happened. But one man offered a story that was repeated by several people.

“We saw a very suspicious man in his late 20 come out of the theater, skinny, I would say 5’10 or 5’11” wearing a white T-shirt, black jeans.  He stood there in front of that restaurant, staring at the whole crowd then went down the street and stared again. Then security came out and he left,” said Mark Jackson, a volunteer with the chorus.

“I told the cops about this and they said, ‘No, he came from inside the theater’ but to me he looked like someone who was enjoying the chaos he created; he looked not healthy, he looked weird,” said Jackson.

Calls to Glendale Police Department have so far been unreturned.

“We will do a forensic on this and will get to the bottom of it, I can assure you,” demanded Weedman.

John Jude Duran, Mayor of West Hollywood and GMCLA’s Chairman of the Board said it was “the first bomb threat of a GMCLA event, and the first bomb threat at Alex theater.”

Leslie Jordan was undeterred.  “I am going to take my Uber home and get some rest. I’ll be back to do the next show and then again tomorrow,” he said.

And the 8:00 PM show was indeed stunning.

The 8:00 PM Show went perfectly. (Photo by Jeff Olde)

Jeff Olde, a longtime supporter of Gay Men’s Chorus, and his husband Alan Uphold said “Being forced to leave the theater only strengthened the absolute resolve of those in attendance to return for the 8pm show, and it was packed, resilient, joyful and determined. GMCLA handled it beautifully and perfectly. ‘The show must and WILL go on’ was the message. And rightly so. We will not be silenced. They put on a fantastic, wonderful show that made everyone in that room proud to be there. THIS is who we are”

“The evening was amazing. FABULOUS, a lot of fun and emotion,” said Kathryn Davis of the TransChorus of Los Angeles.

Christian Anaya, a Glendale resident said it was a heartwarming, positive connection. It was what we need right now in this day and age.

“M,” a chorus volunteer said it (Pink Carpet) brought queer history to the present beautifully.” They added,  “It was an amazingly supportive audience.”

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

The White House

Los Angeles to host Summit of the Americas in June

The U.S. will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas in LA in June 2022 focused on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, & Equitable Future”

Published

on

President Joe Biden (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON – The White House announced Tuesday that Los Angeles has been chosen by the Biden administration to host this year’s Summit of the Americas, the institutionalized gatherings of the heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere.

The Summit of the Americas is where leaders discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level to address continuing and new challenges faced in the Americas.

The United States will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June 2022 with a focus on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for the Western hemisphere.

The vital national interests of the United States are inextricably bound to the fortunes of our closest neighbors in the Americas. To that end, the ability of our democracies to close the gap between what we promise and what we deliver depends in no small part on what we do, together, to make it better,” President Biden said in his statement.

“The Summit of the Americas is the only hemisphere-wide convening of leaders from the countries of North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean. U.S. leadership in the Summit process underscores our deep and historical commitment to the people of the Western Hemisphere as well as our commitment to realizing the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative,” the statement said.

“Working with the city of Los Angeles, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, and Governor of California Gavin Newsom, the United States looks forward to convening leaders and stakeholders across the hemisphere to advance our shared commitment to economic prosperity, security, human rights, and dignity,” the statement added.

U.S. officials hope will help mend diplomatic fences in the Western Hemisphere, officials familiar with the decision told the Los Angeles Times.

The administration is expected to cite the city’s “deep and robust” ties throughout the hemisphere as one of the reasons it was selected, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of the formal announcement.

Continue Reading

Ohio

Marriage equality plaintiff Obergefell running for Ohio state legislature

Obergefell was the plaintiff seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide

Published

on

Jim Obergefell (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

SANDUSKY, Oh. – Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the litigation that ensured same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide, announced on Tuesday he’d pursue a new endeavor and run for a seat in the state legislature in his home state of Ohio.

“You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,” Obergefell said. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just.”

Obergefell, who claims residency in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a seat to represent 89th Ohio District, which comprises Erie and Ottawa Counties. A key portion of his announcement was devoted to vowing to protect the Great Lakes adjacent to Ohio.

“We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake, and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” Obergefell said.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the consolidated litigation of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell was widower to John Arthur, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was seeking the right to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate. The ruling in the consolidated cases ensured same-sex couples would enjoy the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement on his candidacy.

Continue Reading

Arizona

Arizona lawmakers and activists push back against anti-LGBTQ bills

Arizona is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ bills. In 2020 lawmakers sent an anti-LGBTQ education bill to Republican Gov. Ducey’s desk- he vetoed it

Published

on

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs hung Trans & LGBTQ+ Pride flags on the balcony of the historic state Capitol building on Friday, June 28, 2019. Courtesy of Arizona Secretary of State’s Office

PHOENIX – Political leaders and activists in Arizona are sounding the alarm bells over nearly a dozen anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by Republican lawmakers in the state legislature. 

The discriminatory bills – totaling nine to date, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – mirror much of the anti-LGBTQ bills introduced last year around the country, in what was a record year for legislation attacking the LGBTQ community, particularly trans people. 

Three of the bills – Senate Bill 1130, which would ban gender-affirming care for minors, Senate Bill 1165, an anti-trans sports bill, and House Bill 2112, which could prohibit the teaching of racism and sex discrimination – are set for committee meetings this week. 

Senate Bill 1130 was introduced by Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who, as the Blade reported last year, is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and a member of the far-right anti-government militia organization Oath Keepers.

Other bills would limit gender markers on official documentation to only “male” and “female,” make educators only use incorrect pronouns for students if it differs from their birth certificate and force students to get written permission to join clubs involving gender identity or sexuality. 

“This is an attack on human rights,” said Arizona state Rep. César Chávez, chairman of the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, at a press conference hosted by the HRC. “We’re criminalizing individuals for being who they are. On top of that, we’re criminalizing doctors and health care workers, individuals that are doing their job.”

Sponsors of these bills say that they will benefit their communities and protect women and children. However, Chávez accused the Republican party of wanting to “attack our youth and those individuals who identify as LGBT+.” 

Lizette Trujillo, a parent of a trans child in Tucson, Arizona, detailed the toll that the proposed legislation takes on her son and her family. 

“Legislators in our state are wielding their power to leverage the most vulnerable youth in our state to further their political careers,” she said, adding: “This causes irreparable harm on the transgender community.” 

She also had an urgent message for members of her community: “Help us stop power-hungry legislators in this blatant attack,” she said. “Help us stop our government from using parents like me and kids like mine as their political pawns. Transgender kids exist – protect them, believe them, support them and affirm them.

Trujillo, who is also a member of the HRC Foundation’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council, has become accustomed to the fight for her son’s rights. In 2019, the HRC featured her for “leading the charge” for LGBTQ-inclusive education within the Tucson Unified School District. 

Arizona is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ bills. Last year, state lawmakers sent an anti-LGBTQ education bill to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. But he ended up vetoing the bill, calling it “broad and overly vague.” 

Now, pro-LGBTQ lawmakers and activists in the state are readying to push back against such legislation. 

According to Bridget Sharpe of HRC Arizona, the group plans to show up to the statehouse and testify against the anti-LGBTQ legislation. She said that is the best way to get results. They will make their first appearance Thursday, where Trujillo will be a speaker. 

Chávez wants to have conversations with his colleagues across the aisle, noting that it has “become a rarity here in the Arizona State Legislature,” but that they are “very meaningful.”

“I will say that it’s going to take political will from my Republican colleagues to be able to vote against these bills,” he said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular