Connect with us

a&e features

‘Boy Erased’ confronts conversion therapy with compassion

At a time when the community fears erasure, a timely movie

Published

on

Lucas Hedges, Troye Sivan and Devin Michael in ‘Boy Erased.’ (Photo Courtesy Focus Features)

When Garrard Conley’s book, “Boy Erased: A Memoir,” was published in 2016, only five states had adopted legislation that banned so-called “gay conversion therapy” for minors.

Two years later, that number has grown to 15, if you count the District of Columbia – meaning that, in nearly 70 percent of the United States, it is still legal to subject your child to a practice deemed by the American Psychiatric Association to have “serious potential to harm young people.”

Now, at a time when the current presidential administration is pursuing the kind of regressive policies that make it seem particularly timely, comes the highly-anticipated film version of Conley’s memoir.  Written and directed by actor/filmmaker Joel Edgerton, “Boy Erased” adapts the book – which combines Conley’s personal experiences with a more journalistic look at the “ex-gay” movement – into an intimate coming-of-age tale about a 19-year-old college student (Lucas Hedges) who is “outed” to his conservative Baptist parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) and subsequently forced to attend an evangelical counseling program.  It’s Conley’s own story, though the names are changed, and the author worked extensively with Edgerton throughout the project.

Edgerton’s film takes a different tack than “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” this year’s other gay-conversion-camp movie, in which the camp and its counselors – at least in the beginning – are treated with a touch of tongue-in-cheek irony; the tone is light, almost comedic, until the seriousness of what is being done in the name of “curing” these children begins to become clear.

With “Boy Erased,” however, there is no distancing humor. Its young protagonist truly thinks there is something wrong with him, and the staff, far from the pseudo-hippie goofiness of the “Cameron Post” crew, are true believers – almost chillingly so.  It’s clear from the start that what is going on here is not just wrong, but dangerous.

It’s as upsetting to observe as you might expect. We’ve heard the stories, we know what goes on in these places – the shaming, the judgment, the gaslighting designed to brainwash participants into believing they are “broken” and must be “fixed.”  Even so, seeing it depicted here is sure to outrage any viewer already opposed to such practices, and – hopefully – call them into question for any who are not.

Though the movie is unequivocal in its harsh view of conversion therapy, it is more charitable toward the motives of the people who buy into it. “Boy Erased” portrays the parents as well-meaning, loving people who act in what they genuinely think are the best interests of their son; as Conley has said, they simply “put their trust in the wrong people.”

For many, especially at a time when the words “sincerely-held religious beliefs” are widely seen as code for bigotry, it’s a bit of a hard sell to see such parents as blameless; but it helps that they are played by two of the finest screen actors of their generation. Crowe, who submerges himself completely in his role, exudes a quiet strength clearly founded on sincerity, however misguided the principles behind it may be; and Kidman, superb as always, radiates with such innate kindness that we simply know her complicity cannot last – a knowledge which provides us with a ray of hope even through the movie’s darkest moments.

As for Hedges, he continues a run of performances that is fast making him one of the standout young actors in Hollywood. This is his largest role to date, placing the burden of the film essentially on his shoulders, and he proves himself more than capable of carrying it. The casting of a non-gay performer (Hedges has said he is not ready to put a label on himself, but that he acknowledges he “exists on a spectrum”) has inevitably provoked controversy, but author Conley – whose story, after all, is the one being told – stands by the choice. In any case, from the standpoint of talent, there is no reason to object; his work is stellar.

In supporting roles, Edgerton himself plays the program’s “ex-gay” director, in a solid and surprisingly likable performance; Flea (bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) is a strong standout as a menacing staffer who puts a face on the ugly homophobia which underlies the entire concept of conversion therapy; and out musician Troye Sivan has a memorable scene as a program participant who shares his savvy and surprising truth in a private moment with Hedges.

The fine cast is showcased by Edgerton’s confident but low-key direction, and like them, he favors underplaying. He keeps the tone soft, even tender, so that when the shocking moments come, they strike us hard. This tactic mostly serves him well, but it must be said that the overall impression left by the film is oddly muted; the emotional highs and lows never quite seem to reach fruition, leaving the viewer without a satisfying release.  At the same time, there are a few scenes that feel contrived – confrontations and climactic moments that feel a little too on-the-nose, orchestrated for dramatic purposes (or perhaps, more cynically, to provide an “Oscar moment”) and not quite in keeping with the otherwise lifelike flow.

Still, the film’s messaging is on point, and it’s impossible not to be affected by the empathy which is its defining quality. It extends compassion to all its characters, and although it delivers a damning indictment against a barbaric practice, it does so without demonizing or grandstanding; rather, it tells a simple, human story which reaffirms both the individual right to live one’s own truth and the power of our common bonds to bridge the gaps between us.

In a time when our culture feels irreparably divided, it’s a message that seems too good to be true; but thanks to its loving heart and its good intentions, “Boy Erased” makes us almost believe it.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

a&e features

‘Blindspot’ reveals stories of NYC AIDS patients that haven’t been told

Former Blade reporter’s podcast focuses on POC, women, trans people

Published

on

Kai Wright, a former Blade reporter, hosts the podcast ‘Blindspot.’ (Photo by Amy Pearl)

“We said that people had The Monster, because they had that look,” activist Valerie Reyes-Jimenez, said, remembering how people in her New York neighborhood reacted when people first got AIDS.

They didn’t know what to call it.

“They had the sucked in checks,” Reyes-Jimenez, added, “They were really thin…a lot of folks were saying, oh, you know, they had…cancer.”

“We actually had set up a bereavement clinic where the kids would tell us what they wanted to have when they die,” Maxine Frere, a retired nurse who worked at Harlem Hospital for 40 years and was the head nurse of its pediatric AIDS unit said, “How did they wanna die?”

“Nobody wanted to come on,” said former New York Gov. David Paterson, who in 1987 was Harlem’s state senator.

At that time, Manhattan Cable Television gave legislators the chance to do one show a year. “So I decided to do my show on the AIDS crisis and how there didn’t seem to be any response from the leadership in the Black community,” Paterson added.

These unforgettable voices with their searing recollections are among the many provocative, transformative stories told on Season 3 of “Blindspot,” the critically acclaimed podcast. 

“Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows” is co-produced by the History Channel and WNYC Studios. The six-episode podcast series, which launched on Jan. 18 and airs weekly through Feb. 22, is hosted by WNYC’s Kai Wright with lead reporting by The Nation Magazine’s Lizzy Ratner.

The show is accompanied by a photography exhibit by Kia LaBeija. LaBeija is a New York City-based artist who was born HIV positive and lost her mother to the disease at 14. The exhibit, which features portraits of people whose stories are heard on “Blindspot,” runs at the Greene Space at WNYC through March 11.

If you think of AIDS, you’re likely to think of white cisgender gay men. (That’s been true for me, a cisgender lesbian, who lost loved ones to AIDS.)

From the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, most media and cultural attention has been focused on white gay men – from playwright and activist Larry Kramer to the movie “Philadelphia.”   

“Blindspot” revisits New York City, an epicenter of the early years of the HIV epidemic.

The podcast reveals stories of vulnerable people that haven’t been told. Of people of color, women, transgender people, children, drug-users, women in prison and the doctors, nurses and others who cared and advocated with and on their behalf.

“Blindspot,” through extensive reporting and immersive storytelling, makes people visible who were invisible during the AIDS epidemic. It makes us see people who have, largely, been left out of the history of AIDS.

Wright, 50, who is Black and gay, cares deeply about history. He is host and managing editor of “Notes from America with Kai Wright,” a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future.

Recently, Wright, who worked as a reporter at the Washington Blade from 1996 to 2001, talked with me in a Zoom interview. The conversation ranged over a number of topics from why Wright got into journalism, to how stigma and health care disparities still exist today for people of color, transgender people and poor people with AIDS to the impact he hopes “Blindspot” will have.

“I came to work at the Blade in 1996,” Wright said, “the year after I got out of college.”

He’d done two six-month stints at PBS and “Foreign Policy.” But Wright thinks of the Blade as his first proper journalism job.

From his youth, Wright has been committed to social justice and to understanding his community. Reporting, from early on, has been his connection with social justice. “I often say, journalism has been my contribution to social justice movements,” Wright said.

His first journalistic connection to the Black community came when he was 15. Then, Wright became an intern with the Black newspaper, the Indianapolis Recorder.

“That’s how I got the [journalism] bug,” Wright said.

Since then, Wright said, he’s worked almost exclusively with media that have a connection with the community.

Wright grew up in Indianapolis and went to college at Emory University in Atlanta. He didn’t intend to be a journalist, he wrote in an email to the Blade. At Emory, he studied international politics.

Wright’s life and work changed direction when he began working at the Blade. “I was a kid,” Wright said, “I’d just come out. I used journalism to find out what it meant to come out.”

Wright, when he came to Washington, D.C., was, as he recalled, just a kid. He didn’t know anyone in D.C. and there was a Black, queer community. This helped Wright to come out. “I couldn’t have told you that at the time,” he said, “but in retrospect I can see that I moved to  D.C. to come out.”

Journalism was Wright’s way of finding his way through coming out.

“I didn’t know if the Blade was hiring,” Wright said, “I just walked in.”

He didn’t have a deep resume but he had a lot to say. The Blade hired him and immediately put him to work reporting on AIDS.

“It was a pivotal cultural and political moment – a pivotal moment for the community,” Wright said.

That year, when Wright began working with the Blade, life-saving treatments (early drug cocktails) were emerging for AIDS.

“There was no way that HIV and AIDS wouldn’t become a central part of my journalism,” Wright said, “I really wanted to report on it.”

With the emergence of treatments, white gay men with health insurance began to feel that they were turning the page and that AIDS was no longer a death sentence.

“But, as a reporter, I was meeting Black gay men who were going into emergency mode about the AIDS epidemic,” Wright said.

Black people, poor people, drug users and others without health insurance and access to treatment were still dying and transmitting AIDS. “‘This is getting more and more dire,’ the activists said,” Wright recalls.

They told Wright, “The rest of the community is starting to turn the page. We can’t turn the page.”

In D.C., Wright could see, through his reporting, the racial discrimination in the community at large in the AIDS epidemic, and in the queer community.

Two things are true simultaneously, Wright said, when asked if there is still stigma and discrimination around HIV and AIDS today.

“Science has made so much progress,” Wright said, “It’s no longer necessary for any of us to die from HIV.”

“I take a pill once a day to prevent me from catching HIV,” he added, “I can do that. I am a person with insurance…with a great deal of social and economic privilege.”

But many people in the United States don’t have health insurance, and exist outside of the health care system. The divergence in treatment and stigma that he saw as a young reporter in 1996 are still there today, Wright said.

“The divergence in class and race has grown even more profound,” he said, “among people of color, young people – transgender people.”

Wright hopes  “Blindspot” will make people who lived through the epidemic and whose stories weren’t told, feel seen. And that “they will hear themselves and be reminded of the contributions they have made,” Wright said.

The queer press plays an important role in the LGBTQ community, Wright said. “We need a place to hash out our differences, share stories and ask questions that put our experience at the center of the conversation,” he emailed the Blade.

“There’s more space for us in media than when I started my career at the Blade,” Wright said, “but none of it is a replacement for journalism done by and for ourselves.”

Continue Reading

a&e features

LGBTQ+ Critics Announce nominations for 15th Dorian Film Awards

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to watch the Dorians – not even via streaming – because there isn’t an actual presentation

Published

on

Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott star in ALL OF US STRANGERS, nominated for 9 Dorian Awards by the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics.

HOLLYWOOD – If you’re one of the many LGBTQ movie fans who were disappointed when your favorite queer film or performance or director didn’t get the nominations you KNOW they deserved, take heart. This year’s “awards season” just got a lot more rainbow-tinted, thanks to GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, which on Monday announced the nominations for its 15th annual Dorian Film Awards.

While they may not be as glamorous or prestigious – yet! – as the Oscars, the Dorians (named, of course, in homage to iconic queer writer Oscar Wilde and his quintessential novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”) are not to be taken lightly. GALECA is a well-established and respected organization consisting of over 500 entertainment critics, journalists and media icons, one of the largest entertainment journalists organizations in the world, with “an impressive roster of members who contribute to some of the most revered and distinct media outlets in the U.S. and beyond.” Each year, they turn a “queer eye” toward picking the best from the annual crop of entertainment, with separate awards presentations – spaced throughout the year – for film, television, Broadway and Off-Broadway, with categories focused on both mainstream and LGBTQ-themed work in these various media; and although their choices often mirror those of other awards bodies like the Academy, SAG, or the Golden Globes, they’re also known for asserting that “certain perspective” which has always helped the queer community to be at the forefront when it comes to being “tastemakers” in the wider culture.

Some of their film award categories are specifically designed for this – for instance, in addition to separate awards for mainstream and queer films, they present a “We’re ‘Wilde’ About You” award for rising stars, and include categories for “Most Visually Striking,” “Best Unsung” and “Campiest” movies of the year. Even within the general categories, however, they often elevate the kind of films that are typically passed over by more “traditional” awards – as is evidenced in their strong slate of contenders for 2024’s honors.

Most obviously, perhaps, this alternate perspective is reflected in the fact that “All of Us Strangers,” writer-director Andrew Haigh’s melancholy-yet-romantic gay ghost story that was completely left out of the Oscar nominations despite being widely touted as a favorite in several categories, received the most nods of any other film from the Dorians with 9 nominations. In second place is “Barbie,” with 7 nominations (including one for director Greta Gerwig, whose snub in the parallel Academy Awards category led to a flurry of vocal criticism on social media), queer cinema icon Todd Haynes’ “May December” (also snubbed by Oscar) is in third with 6, and Celine Song’s Korean-language “Past Lives” (5) and Greek absurdist auteur Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things” (4) rounding out the top five most-nominated titles.

It probably also goes without saying that the Dorian nominations tend to be much more inclusive of queer talent, even in mainstream categories. This year, Oscar nominees Colman Domingo and Jodie Foster are joined by fellow out LGBTQ+ actors Andrew Scott and Trace Lysette in the Best Performance and Supporting Performance categories – which, notably, are inclusive of all genders, with one individual winner in each.

This year, the Dorians also introduce three new awards: LGBTQ Screenplay, LGBTQ Non-English Language Film, and Genre Film. The latter is an especially  interesting move that seems reflective of the oft-ignored but widespread influence of “gay geek” culture as well as a response to calls for other awards bodies to make space for the fantasy, sci-fi, and horror films that are often disregarded when it comes to awards due to long standing bias within the industry establishment against the artistic merits of such content.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to watch the Dorians – not even via streaming – because there isn’t an actual presentation, though some have been held in past years. Maybe someday they’ll be the must-see TV event we all KNOW they deserve to be, but in the meantime, don’t worry: we’ll make sure and fill you in on all the winners after they’re announced on Monday, February 26.

The complete list of nominations is below.
____________________________________________________________________________.

Film of the Year

All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Barbie (Warner Bros.)

May December (Netflix) 

Past Lives (A24) 

Poor Things (Searchlight)

LGBTQ Film of the Year

All of Us Strangers (Searchlight) 

Bottoms (MGM)

Passages (MUBI, SBS)

Rustin (Netflix)

Saltburn (Amazon MGM) 

Director of the Year

Greta Gerwig, Barbie (Warner Bros.)

Andrew Haigh, All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Todd Haynes, May December (Netflix)

Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer (Universal)

Celine Song, Past Lives (A24)

Screenplay of the Year

Original or Adapted

Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, Barbie (Warner Bros.)

Samy Burch, May December (Netflix)

Andrew Haigh, All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Arthur Harari, Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall (NEON)

Celine Song, Past Lives (A24) 

LGBTQ Screenplay of the Year

Andrew Haigh, All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Arthur Harari, Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall (NEON)

Dustin Lance Black, Julian Breece, Rustin (Netflix)

Arlette Langmann, Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias, Passages (MUBI)

Emma Seligman, Rachel Sennott, Bottoms (MGM)

Non-English Language Film of the Year

Anatomy of a Fall (NEON) 

The Boy and the Heron (GKIDS, Toho)

Godzilla Minus One (Toho)

Past Lives (A24)

The Zone of Interest (A24)

LGBTQ Non-English Language Film of the Year

Afire (Janus Films, Sideshow)

Anatomy of a Fall (NEON)

Cassandro (Amazon MGM)

Monster (Well Go USA, Gaga, Toho)

Rotting in the Sun (MUBI)

Unsung Film of the Year

To an Exceptional Movie Worthy of Greater Attention

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (Lionsgate)

Monica (IFC)

Origin (NEON)

Theater Camp (Searchlight)

A Thousand and One (Focus Features)

Film Performance of the Year

Colman Domingo, Rustin (Netflix)

Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers (Focus Features)

Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple, Paramount)

Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall (NEON)

Greta Lee, Past Lives (A24)

Trace Lysette, Monica (IFC)

Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer (Universal)

Natalie Portman, May December (Netflix)

Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Emma Stone, Poor Things (Searchlight)

Supporting Film Performance of the Year

Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple (Warner Bros.)

Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer (Universal)

Jodie Foster, NYAD (Netflix)

Claire Foy, All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Ryan Gosling, Barbie (Warner Bros.) 

Rachel McAdams, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (Lionsgate)

Charles Melton, May December (Netflix)

Paul Mescal, All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Rosamund Pike, Saltburn (Amazon MGM)

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers (Focus Features)

Documentary of the Year

American Symphony (Netflix)

Beyond Utopia (Roadside Attractions, Fathom Events)

Kokomo City (Magnolia)

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

20 Days in Mariupol (PBS Distribution)

LGBTQ Documentary of the Year

Every Body (Focus Features) 

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (HBO, Confluential Films)

Kokomo City (Magnolia)

Little Richard: I Am Everything (Magnolia)

Orlando, My Political Biography (Janus Film, Sideshow)

Animated Film of the Year

The Boy and the Heron (GKIDS, Toho)

Elemental (Disney)

Nimona (Netflix, Annapurna)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (SONY)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Paramount)

Genre Film of the Year

For excellence in science fiction, fantasy and horror

All of Us Strangers (Searchlight)

Godzilla Minus One (Toho)

M3GAN (Universal)

Poor Things (Searchlight)

Talk To Me (A24)

Film Music of the Year

Barbie — Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt, et al. (Warner Bros.)

The Boy and the Heron — Joe Hisaishi (GKIDS, Toho)

The Color Purple — Stephen Bray, Allee Willis, Brenda Russell, Kris Bowers, et al. (Warner Bros.)

Oppenheimer — Ludwig Göransson (Universal) 

The Zone of Interest — Mica Levi (A24)

Visually Striking Film of the Year

Asteroid City (Focus Features)

Barbie (Warner Bros.)

Oppenheimer (Universal)

Poor Things (Searchlight)

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (SONY)

Campiest Flick 

Barbie (Warner Bros.)

Bottoms (MGM)

Dicks: The Musical (A24)

M3GAN (Universal) 

Saltburn (Amazon MGM)

“We’re Wilde About You!” Rising Star Award

Ayo Edebiri

Lily Gladstone

Jacob Elordi

Charles Melton

Dominic Sessa

Wilde Artist Award

To a truly groundbreaking force in entertainment

Quinta Brunson

Ayo Edebiri

Greta Gerwig

Lily Gladstone

Todd Haynes

GALECA LGBTQIA+ Film Trailblazer Award 

For Creating Art That Inspires Empathy, Truth and Equity

Colman Domingo

Jodie Foster

Andrew Haigh

Todd Haynes

Andrew Scott

Timeless Star (Career Achievement Award)

Honoring an exemplary career marked by character, wisdom and wit, the winner of this award will be named along with the other final victors on Feb. 26. Past recipients include Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and John Waters.

Continue Reading

a&e features

Subjects matter: an interview with author Martin Duberman

New book ‘The Line of Dissent’ debuts Jan. 8

Published

on

Gay writer and historian Martin Duberman is the very definition of a living legend. At the age of 93, with nearly 40 books to his credit, Duberman shows no signs of slowing down. His latest book, “The Line of Dissent: Gay Outsiders and the Shaping of History” (G&LR Books, 2023), out Jan. 8, compiles a dozen essays (many of which were previously published in “Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide”), along with a pair of codas. Some of the names, including W.H. Auden, Alfred Kinsey, and Sylvia Rivera, will be familiar to many readers, while others are sure to be revelations. Duberman was gracious enough to make time for an interview in advance of the book’s publication.

BLADE: In the introduction to “The Line of Dissent,” you write that the book is “opinionated” and “contains no demolition jobs,” and you note “appraisals are mostly appreciative.”  Is this in response to something you’d seen other historians doing?

MARTIN DUBERMAN: Historians, being human, have a wide range of responses to the individuals they choose to write about. In my earlier books (“Charles Francis Adams, 1807-1886” and “James Russell Lowell”), I felt personally more distant from the subjects. But my recent work follows the trajectory of my politics — that is, moving steadily leftward.

BLADE: Most of the essays in “The Line of Dissent” previously appeared in “Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide.” Was the idea to compile the essays into a book your idea or G&LR publisher Richard Schneider’s?

DUBERMAN: The idea for the book was mine though Richard was immediately enthusiastic.

BLADE: Were there any essays of yours from “Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide” that didn’t make the cut for the book?

DUBERMAN: There are 12 essays in the book, and I’ve probably written some 20 (my memory’s a little shaky here), which, if accurate, would mean some seven to eight didn’t make the cut. David McReynolds would be one example.

BLADE: In many ways, “Gay & Lesbian Review” fills a void left by the loss of “Christopher Street,” as well as the death of several regional LGBTQ newspapers. What does it mean to you that a publication such as “Gay & Lesbian Review” exists?

DUBERMAN: I think the role “Gay & Lesbian Review” plays in the community is significant. No other publication reaches an educated, but not academic, audience.

BLADE: 2023 turned out to be a year in which historically significant LGBTQ people — including Bayard Rustin, Diana Nyad, and Leonard Bernstein — are the subjects of high-profile biopics. Are there one or two people about whom you wrote in “The Line of Dissent” that you think would make a good subject for a movie?

DUBERMAN: Lord, yes! Offhand, I couldn’t name even one who wouldn’t qualify for a film, and who wouldn’t find an audience. Every one of their lives was dramatic and rich. As were dozens of other LGBTQ+ people not in the book. Check out the lists in “Outwords” (theoutwordsarchive.org) as one source for candidates. It’s an invaluable resource for candidates to write about and to honor.

BLADE: Essay subjects Essex Hemphill, Andrew Dworkin, and Lincoln Kirstein are people about whom you also wrote the full-length books “Hold Tight Gently,” “The Feminist as Revolutionary,” and “The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein,” respectively. What makes a person a fascinating subject worthy of a book-length project to you?

DUBERMAN: Using “drama” as a guideline, I’d say that Sylvia Rivera’s life was especially full of vivid and sometimes hair-raising episodes. Ditto Essex Hemphill and Andrea Dworkin. A film on Andrea was recently completed, but I haven’t seen any release date for it.

BLADE: When you write a revelatory essay such as “Edward Sagarin: ‘Father’ of the Homophile Movement,” are you as excited about sharing your knowledge and/or the results of your research as you hope the reader will be when they receive the information?

DUBERMAN: My level of excitement varies with the subject. The three you cite are among the most important. In a semi-conscious way, I tend to respond to “second rank” figures — that is, people who in their own day made a substantial political contribution but the general public has forgotten.

BLADE: “The Line of Dissent” opens with the dedication: “To the current generation of queer radicals. Please hurry!” I live in South Florida, which is suffering greatly under anti-LGBTQ Gov. DeSantis and his cronies. However, we are seeing young LGBTQ people in the state taking action and becoming activists in response. That’s not just happening in Florida, but in other places, as well. Does that give you a sense of hope for the future?

DUBERMAN: Yes! I see lots of evidence of activity emerging from the latest generation. Alas, I also see Young Republicans who are equally outspoken. It could come down to a dogfight, with damn near everything at stake. For now, I’m still sticking with my optimistic prediction.

Continue Reading

a&e features

The ultimate guide to queer gift giving

Perfect presents for everyone from roommates to soulmates

Published

on

Searching for special deliveries for that special someone? Consider these elf-approved, consciously curated presents perfect for everyone from roommates to soulmates. 


Star Wars Home Collection

Movie nights in bed get a comfort upgrade from the Force – for those who uphold Jedi code in the streets but embrace the Dark Side in the sheets – with Sobel Westex’s Star Wars Home Collection, five- to seven-piece twin, queen and king sets suitable for either alliance. Cop a bootleg of the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special” (legal copies don’t exist, nor has it been rebroadcast since its one-and-only airing in 1978) and settle in for a snacky screening with premade Johnson’s Popcorn (a Jersey Shore staple) or Pop ’N Dulge’s DIY gourmet kits. SobelAtHome.com, $350-$390; JohnsonsPopcorn.com, $27+; PopNDulge.com, $23


Bird Buddy Smart Feeder

Avian enthusiasts get up close and semi-personal with feathered friends thanks to the Bird Buddy smart feeder that allows safe viewing via a solar-powered, app-enabled camera, along with adorable add-ons like a suet ball holder and three-in-one nutrition set to keep the neighborhood’s population happy and healthy. MyBirdBuddy.com, $299-$415


Jewelry – but make it an experience. That’s the premise behind Link x Lou, a quick-fitting accessory service providing recipients with in-person appointments for custom-linked, clasp-less 14-karat white- and yellow-gold necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and rings that wear until they’re worn out. Money’s on ’em lasting longer than the situationship you’ve got goin’, but may the odds be ever in your favor. LinkxLou.com, $55-$500


Orttu Shelton Puffer

Guess who’s coming to dinner? It’s you as an alt-timeline Tom of Finland in Orttu’s fully quilted, oversized Shelton Puffer comprised of double-layered high-sheen fabric and press-stud fastening that results in a slick style statement vers-er than you are. Orttu.com, $203


Winter Discovery Mini Scented Candle Set

Apotheke takes the guesswork out of choosing just the right ambiance-inducing aroma with its Winter Discovery Mini Scented Candle Set, featuring six fragrant two-ounce tins in seasonal smells that include birchwood apple, black cypress, blackberry honey, cardamon chestnut, charred fig, and firewood (with a combined 90-hour burn time), and packaged in a nostalgically illustrated gift box accentuated by festive gold detailing. ApothekeCo.com, $64


Polaris General 1000 Sport

Resort communities across the country have adopted golf carts as a preferred mode of transportation, and you can establish yourself as a local baddie in Polaris’ General 1000 Sport – in ethereal colorways like ghost gray – equipped with a four-stroke DOHC twin-cylinder engine, 100 horsepower, 1,500-pound hitch-towing capacity, and enough street cred for Boomers to shake their fists at. Polaris.com, $17,500+


‘Arquivistas’ Crystal Book

Brazilian crystal devotee Tatiana Dorow has curated an impressive collection of more than 1,000 rare and exquisite minerals – ranging from one ounce to over 5,000 pounds – the comprehensive record of which is now compiled in the sizable coffee-table tome “Arquivistas” (Portuguese for archivist) that’s sure to satisfy, delight, and provide endless holiday-party talking points to the New Agers in your life. (You know they will.) ArtAndAnthropologyPress.com, $350


Bovem Globe Trimmer 2.0

There are plenty of manscaping tools on the market, but perhaps none are designed with your delicate bits in mind like the handsome second-gen Bovem Globe body and groin trimmer with its ergonomic textured grip, powerful 6500 RPM with low vibration, varying guards, and replaceable TrimSafe blades that tidy you up without cutting skin or pulling rough hair. Deck the halls! – no more bloody Christmas balls. Bovem.co, $60-$87


Lexington Glassworks Decanter Set

Pour one out from Lexington Glassworks’ hand-blown whiskey decanter, each one individually crafted in the company’s Asheville, N.C., studio and detailed with an elegant crackle finish that lends an air of sophistication to any home bar cart. Pair with a set of LG’s complementary rocks glasses, in the same distinguished style, for a cherished gift. LexingtonGlassworks.com, $280


Joule Turbo Sous Vide

Your fave chefs’ autopilot cooking technique hits home countertops in Breville’s sleek Joule Turbo Sous Vide stick, which cooks seasoned-and-bagged meats and veggies to a faster-than-ever optimal internal temperature (unattended, no less) before a lickety-split sear and serve results in restaurant-quality dishes deserving of at least a couple Michelin stars for your minimal-mess kitchen. Breville.com, $250


Outlines Shower Liner System

Holiday hosts can practice responsible replenishment amid our planetary plastic-waste crisis when you gift Outlines’ thoughtfully designed Shower Liner System that provides users with a machine-washable cotton top piece and fully recyclable bottom to replace when it’s time to ditch the grime. Set it and forget it with three-, six- or nine-month auto-deliveries. LivingOutlines.com, $50


Barbie Perfume

Fight the patriarchy doused in Barbie’s sweet-and-fresh fragrance that, from top to bottom, features notes of strawberry nectar and red cherry, peony and pink magnolia, and sandalwood and soft musk for an extraordinary scent that’s more than Kenough. DefineMeCreativeStudio.com, $65


AiRROBO Pet Grooming Vacuum

Posh pets enjoy salon-style luxury in the comfort of their homes when treated to a grooming session by the AiRROBO vacuum (think Flowbee for cats and dogs), a five-tool, one-stop solution for keeping furbabies’ hair, dander, allergens and mites to a minimum. The portable pamperer includes an electric clipper, crevice and de-shedding tools, and grooming and cleaning brushes housed in a space-saving, HEPA-filtered capsule. US.Air-Robo.com, $110


Aura Smart Sleep Mask

What does the future of total relaxation and deep sleep look like? Blackout darkness and complete serenity in a dream-state sanctuary when you spend your nights in the Aura Smart Sleep Mask with built-in speakers for guided meditation and snooze-inducing ASMR, zero-pressure eye cushioning, and light and sunrise therapy to help you wake rested and refreshed at home and (especially) away. Indiegogo.com, $190


Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBTQ lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

Continue Reading

a&e features

Black Deafhood: A journey at the intersection of sexuality, disability, race

Gallaudet’s Bobbi-Angelica Morris on their activism and art

Published

on

Bobbi-Angelica Morris is a Gallaudet University graduate student, activist, and artist.

Editor’s note: One in four people in America has a disability, according to the CDC. Queer and Deaf/disabled people have long been a vibrant part of the LGBTQ community. Take two of the many queer history icons who were disabled: Michelangelo is believed to have been autistic. Marsha P. Johnson, a hero of the Stonewall Uprising, had physical and psychiatric disabilities. Today, Deaf-Blind fantasy writer Elsa Sjunneson, actor and bilateral amputee Eric Graise and Obama administration Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez are just a few of the people who identify as queer/Deaf/disabled. The stories of this vital segment of this queer community have rarely been told. In its series “Queer, Crip and Here,” the Blade is telling some of these long unheard stories.

“My ‘coming out’ story looks more like me telling someone my favorite cookie flavor is chocolate chip,” Bobbi-Angelica Morris, a Gallaudet University graduate student, activist, poet, photographer, videographer and visual artist, told the Blade, “than an emotional roller coaster.”

“I’ve always embodied this carefree energy pertaining to who I am, what my purpose is, and how I show up for others,” added Morris, who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing and identifies as a Black, nonbinary, queer and abolitionist artist.

Earlier this year, Morris, 23, received the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award from the National AIDS Memorial, the San Francisco organization that displays the internationally acclaimed AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Over the phone and in email, Morris spoke with the Blade about a range of topics – from her “Deafhood” to how she felt safe at a queer Halloween party.

Morris, who uses she/they pronouns, grew up in different parts of the East Coast. They spent most of that time in Richmond, Va.  

“Growing up, most of the people around me would ask if I was gay,” Morris said, “because I fit into the stereotypical realms of present day msc [masculine] presenting dykes.”

“No one questioned me when I actually came to terms with my queer identity,” they added.

Before enrolling in Gallaudet, Morris spent most of their time as a student with hearing people in schools, where most teachers and students didn’t communicate in American Sign Language (ASL). Morris was the only Deaf student in their classes until they graduated from the University of Virginia in 2022 in Charlottesville. There, they majored in global development studies and minored in ASL with a concentration in disability studies and community development.

Growing up, Morris didn’t know about ASL or the creativity and history of Deaf culture.

“It wasn’t until I was in elementary school,” Morris said, “that an audiologist said I qualified for hearing aids.”

In their poetry, Morris, who speaks and signs their work, reflects on their family and their experience of being Deaf.

“I reflect on my own Deafhood:/ my playground fights/ with uneducated parents,” Morris writes in a poem, “When little Black Deaf girl doesn’t hear someone speak to her,/that someone thinks little Black Deaf girl is disrespectful.” 

Like many Deaf/Hard of Hearing people, who go to school when they don’t know American Sign Language, and there are no ASL interpreters, Morris felt isolated.

“I had no knowledge of the Deaf community or of Black Deaf history,” they said.

Some in Morris’s family and community couldn’t accept that Morris is Deaf. “Some, not out of maliciousness, prayed for my healing,” they said.

What Morris calls her “Black Deafhood,” has been a long journey at the intersection of sexuality, Deafness, disability, Blackness, gender, activism, and art. 

Deafhood is a “journey that a Deaf person undertakes to discover his, her or their identity and purpose in life,” according to a Deafhood Foundation statement on deafhood.org.

Hearing people often perceive of Deafness as a disease that should be cured, and of Deaf people as incompetent, second-class, less-valued, citizens.

Just as coming out helps queer people to affirm their sexuality and connect with the LGBTQ community and history, Deafhood empowers Deaf people to have pride in themselves – to connect with the Deaf community, history and culture.

As it often goes with finding and loving your queer self, Deafhood is a process. 

In middle school, Morris watched “Switched at Birth,” the popular TV series. The teen and family drama features Deaf and hearing actors and scenes in ASL.

The show jump-started Morris’s interest in Deafness and the Deaf community. “But, I still didn’t understand my connection [with the Deaf community],” Morris said.

Curious to discover something about Deaf culture, Morris started an informal class – a club. There, they and their friends learned signs from YouTube videos.

At the University of Virginia, Morris took a sign language class. They studies abroad for a time in India.

At Gallaudet, Morris began to feel connected to the Deaf community. They are a student in the Master of Social Work program at Gallaudet’s School of Civic Leadership, Business, and Social Change. Morris will graduate with an M.S.W. degree in 2024.

They are equally committed to making art and activism – to working for social justice for Black, Deaf/disabled, queer, and other marginalized groups. A love of art and social change is etched in their bones.

“I am an abolitionist and an artist,” Morris said, “I cannot be one without the other.”

Their abolitionist identity is connected to how they experience intersectionality. Morris sees their life as connected “to the movement for total liberation of all our people, beings, and non-beings in this present day and beyond,” they said.

Because they are an artist, they have a responsibility to use their skills to educate, inspire and protect “everyone and everything that abolitionists fight for daily,” Morris said.

From early on, Morris loved being creative. During an unstable childhood, art helped Morris to express their feelings.

Fortunately, art ran in Morris’s family. “My bio-mom is an amazing artist,” Morris said, “so we would draw things together.”

Later, Morris’s god-mom gave Morris materials that sparked their interest in painting and photography.

In middle school, Morris got into spoken word poetry when one of their Boys and Girls Club mentors showed them a spoken word video. At the University of Virginia, Morris participated in poetry slams. In their Gallaudet social work program, they impressively deploy their artistic and activism chops.

Their advocacy projects are numerous. Morris is developing ASL G, a non-profit organization. The group’s mission “is to develop community garden coalitions and programming for art and health wellness through disability justice,” Morris said.

Morris was the former creative outreach coordinator of VOCA, a non-profit that supports BIPOC, Deaf artists.

“I have family members that have been incarcerated,” Morris said. “Because of that, I want to fight the injustice of the prison industry and mass incarceration.”

Morris is the president of Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI), a student club at Gallaudet.

Ableism, audism (discrimination against Deaf people), homophobia and racism are issues for Morris. “The white presence is prominent in many institutions,” they said, “often they’re predominantly white.”

Morris likes being a Gallaudet student. But, “there’s a lack of racial competency at Gallaudet as there is in the whole of America,” they said.

The queer community has provided safe spaces for Morris. 

Once, Morris and their partner attended a queer Halloween party in Charlottesville. “Half the people in attendance knew or were learning sign language,” Morris said. “I think it was then that I realized how connected the queer community was in ensuring no one was left out.”

Morris went to the party as Beast Boy, and their partner went as Raven from Teen Titans.

Follow Morris on Instagram @Blckrainbow5

Continue Reading

a&e features

Charles Busch reflects on the paths he didn’t take in new book

‘Leading Lady’ a riveting memoir from legendary entertainer

Published

on

'Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy' comes out on Sept. 12.

“Charles, I’m telling you, I go to plays in rat-infested basements where I’m the only one who shows up,” the late queer icon Joan Rivers once told the queer, legendary playwright, actor, director, novelist, cabaret performer and drag icon, Charles Busch. “I can see the actors peeking through the curtain and groaning, ‘Oh God, that old bitch in the fur coat is here. Does that mean we’ve gotta go on?’”

Busch reminded Rivers that she’d seen him perform in a rat-infested basement.

This is just one of the many stories that Busch, born in 1954, tells in his riveting memoir, “Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy,” which comes out on Sept. 12.

“Leading Lady” is a page-turner. Some of its tales of Busch’s life and career, such as his account of a Christmas party with Rivers as a guest, are dishy. Others, like his memories of trying to care for his beloved Aunt Lil, when he knew she was dying, would make even the Wicked Witch in Oz tear up.

The memoir, is, as Busch says on his website (charlesbusch.com), the story of “a talented artist’s Oz-like journey.” 

“Leading Lady” isn’t linear. This isn’t a detriment. Busch deftly intertwines memories of his life and career from his mom dying when he was seven to being raised by his loving Aunt Lil to being the author and star of the cult classic “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” to watching Kim Novak handle fans to being the Tony-nominated writer of “Tales of the Allergist’s Wife” to being creative during the pandemic.

“Storytelling is a huge part of my life,” Busch told the Blade in a lengthy phone interview, “I get into various adventures and, I think, this could be a good story to tell.”

Interviewing Busch is like chatting with a fab storyteller over coffee or a glass of wine. Except that you’re talking to a legend who’s entertained and inspired queers (and discerning hetero audiences) for decades. (I’m wearing my “Vampire” T-shirt as I write this.)  

As a playwright, Busch writes “linear” plays, with a beginning, middle and an end, he said. As a cabaret singer, “the way I sing songs is telling a story,” Busch said.

Since childhood, he’s been creating vivid scenes in his imagination. From early on, Busch has felt as if he’s both a spectator and star in the movie of his life.

It seemed inevitable that he’d write a memoir. It’s the ultimate form of storytelling. “You reach a certain point in your life,” Busch said, “where you’re more reflective and see your life as a whole.”

“You reflect on the paths you didn’t take,” he added.

Busch spent his childhood in Hartsdale, N.Y. He had two older sisters, Betsy and Margaret. His mother’s death was devastating for Busch. His Aunt Lil and Joan Rivers have been among the women who have been “mothers” to Busch since his mom died.

Once, Busch said he and Rivers dined with friends. “Joan Rivers said ‘I wish I had a gay son I could phone at midnight and discuss whatever movie was on TCM,’” he recalled.

Busch would have loved to have been Rivers’s “gay son.”

Life in Hartsdale was hard for Busch after his mother passed away. His father was often absent and showed little interest in his children.

Things were miserable for Busch when his grandmother, for a time, cared for the family. He knew, as a boy, that he was gay and hated going to school where a movie-and-theater-loving kid who liked to draw wasn’t one of the cool kids.

Yet Busch forgave his “father’s failings,” he writes in “Leading Lady, “because he gave me the theater.”

Busch became entranced with the theater when his father, an aspiring opera singer who performed in summer stock, took him to the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City to hear Joan Sutherland sing the role of Amina in Bellini’s “La Sonnambula.”

Busch was saved from a life of boredom and bullying when Aunt Lil, his mother’s sister, took him to live with her in Manhattan. There, like Auntie Mame, she raised him. She prodded him into applying to the High School of Music and Art in New York City. He was accepted there.

After high school, Busch graduated with a bachelor’s degree in drama from Northwestern University in 1976.

“My Aunt Lil is the leading lady [of the title of his memoir],” Busch said, “she was the most influential person in my life.”

One of the reasons why Busch wrote “Leading Lady” was to paint a full portrait of her. “It was important that it not be this kind of gauzy, sentimental memory piece,” he said, “making her out to be a saint.”

Aunt Lil adopted Bush when he was 14. Her goal was that he would go to college, become independent, be a survivor – make a place for himself in the world.

“I don’t know what would have happened if she hadn’t stepped in,” Busch said.

“She was very intellectual,” he added, “I’ve never met anyone [else] with such a pure devotion to thinking. It was a little intimidating.”

Aunt Lil’s standards for caring – for giving of oneself – were so high that it was almost impossible to meet them. “She believed that you should anticipate what people would need,” Busch said, “before they told you.”

Looking back, Busch is most proud of himself when, “I’ve gone past my natural self-absorption,” he said, “when I’ve thought of someone else.”

Busch is being too hard on himself. In “Leading Lady,” and when interviewed, he’s caring and curious as well as witty, savvy, and as you’d expect, a bit campy.

His sister Margaret died recently. “She declined gradually over nine months,” Busch, said, choking up, “I gave her my bedroom and I slept on my sofa.”

Like many of her generation, Aunt Lil didn’t understand queerness or drag. But she loved Busch. She didn’t go to see his productions, he said. “She could have gone like other parents,” he said, “and been tight-lipped. And said something nice that she didn’t believe.”

But “she didn’t want to lie or be hurtful,” Busch added, “so, for her, it was: can’t I just love and support you, and not go?”

Aunt Lil didn’t get Busch’s sexuality. But she knew about secrecy. Busch learned of a terrifying secret that his aunt had long kept hidden. In the 1930s, during the Depression, Aunt Lil worked as a nurse. One day, when she worked overtime, one of the patients suffered a burn. She had to leave nursing. “Her sister in a nasty mood revealed this,” Busch said, “Aunt Lil never discussed it.”

In the 1970s, Busch had trouble getting into theater because there were only roles for actors playing straight male characters. “The only way I could get on stage was to write my own roles,” he said, “I have a rather androgynous nature.”

Busch found that the feminine within him was a place of authority and strength. “I’m fine when I play male characters,” he said, “but I’m better when I play female characters.”

Why this is so liberating for him is a bit of a mystery to Busch. “But I accept and love it,” he said.

Times have changed since Busch made his first big splash with “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.” “In 1985, being a drag queen was considered a negative,” Busch said, “my generation of drag performers bristled at being referred to as drag queens.”

Busch no longer bristles. “I feel like the characters,” he said, “I enjoy costumes and getting the right wig.”

“But, I go from male to female not through trickery or anything visual, I transfer through my soul.”

In “Leading Lady,” Busch recalls AIDS and other dark moments from the past. Many of his friends and colleagues died from AIDS. “AIDS was the World War II of our generation,” he said.

But Busch, in his memoir and in his life, isn’t only looking back. He’s very much in the present. Busch is embarrassed to say he was lucky. During the pandemic, devastating to many, he made art. He did play readings on Zoom and finished writing “Leading Lady” which he’d worked on for 14 years.

During the pandemic, Busch with Carl Andress co-wrote and co-directed the movie “The Sixth Reel.” The film’s cast includes Busch, Julie Halston (Busch’s longtime muse), Margaret Cho and Tim Daly.

Busch describes the film, an homage to the Hollywood madcap movies of the 1930s, as “a comic, caper movie.” 

“I play a disreputable dealer in movie memorabilia,” Busch said, “a legendary lost film is found, and I see it as my ticket out of debt.”

The “Sixth Reel” is playing from Sept. 21 to Sept. 27 at the LOOK Dine-In Cinema West 57th Street in New York City.

“I hope the run in New York will encourage people to distribute this little movie,” Busch said.

Continue Reading

a&e features

Meet ‘one of the most powerful disabled people on the planet’

Eddie Ndopu a wizard of advocacy and glam

Published

on

(Book cover image courtesy of Amazon)

(Editor’s Note: One in four people in America has a disability, according to CDC. Queer and disabled people have long been a vital part of the LGBTQ community. Take two of the many queer history icons who were disabled: Michelangelo is believed to have been autistic. Marsha P. Johnson had physical and psychiatric disabilities. Today, Deaf-Blind fantasy writer Elsa Sjunneson, actor and bilateral amputee Eric Graise and Kathy Martinez, a blind, Latinx lesbian, who was Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy for the Obama administration are just a few of the people who identify as queer and disabled. Yet, the stories of this vital segment of the queer community have rarely been told. It its series “Queer, Crip and Here,” the Blade is telling some of these long un-heard stories.)

Everything comes full circle: back to Britney Spears for Eddie Ndopu, 32, a queer, Black, disabled man who is a wizard with advocacy and glam.

“I knew I was queer early on,” Ndopu whose memoir “Sipping Dom Perignon Through a Straw: Reimagining Success as a Disabled Achiever” (Legacy Lit) is just out, told the Blade recently in an extended interview, “though I didn’t have the language for it.”

Ndopu, whose mother fled from South Africa because of apartheid, was born in Namibia. At age nine, he and his family moved to Cape Town, South Africa. He was raised by his mother, a single mom.

When he was two, he was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. He was expected to die from this degenerative disability by the time he turned five.

Decades later, Ndopu knows what it means to live with declining strength, and the knowledge, that while we’ll all die, he’ll likely die sooner than most of us.

At the same time,through his queerness, disability, and imagination, Ndopu said, he embodies what it’s like to live a fabulous life.

It began when he was a child watching and listening to Spears. “Britney was the first pop star I encountered as a young boy,” Ndopu said. “She was iconic in so many ways. I adored her! I watched her dance.”

His mother gave him an album by Spears. “It was my thing,” Ndopu said, “The first thing I owned.”

Spears seemed unstoppable to Ndopu. It triggered something in him. “It made me want to be on the global stage,” he said.

Years later, Ndopu empathized with Spears when she fought to be released from the conservatorship she was under from 2008 to 2021. 

“Disabled fans, especially, were with Britney in her battle to be free,” Ndopu said, “because often, disabled people, particularly intellectually disabled people, have been denied agency. Have been denied their autonomy.”

We owe Spears an apology, Ndopu said. “It’s analogous to what disabled people go through,” he added, “we’re owed an apology for all the ways in which we’ve been made to endure so much [through ableism].” (This reporter is queer and disabled.)

Since childhood, Ndopu has loved beauty, fashion and glam. “My first dream was to be a designer,” he said, “I sketched in art classes in school.”

Ndopu daydreamed about living in the United States – about being based in New York City. He watched the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.” “I didn’t watch for the stories about the characters,” Ndopu said, “I watched for the fashion! It gave me glimpses into a world where I wanted to be.”

But as his disability progressed, Ndopu lost strength in his hands. He could no longer draw. “I had to dream a new dream,” he said, “I knew I wanted to do something extraordinary. I imagined an escape.”

One day, he looked through a magazine and saw a story about a school, the African Leadership Academy, that was going to train young people in Africa to be future leaders. He applied to the school.

“They rejected me. Because they didn’t know what to do with me,” Ndopu said, “I wrote to them and got in.”

“I don’t know if I’d do that today,” but I did then,” he added, “that was my saving grace.”

Going there was Ndopu’s first big break. When he was only in his teens, Ndopu was speaking about disability justice.

After graduating from the Leadership Academy, Ndopu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Carleton University in Canada in 2014. In 2017, Ndopu was the first African student with a degenerative disability to graduate with a master’s in public policy from the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. Based at Somerville College, Ndopu received a full scholarship from Oxford.

Today, Ndopu, known for his fab oversized, bejeweled sunglasses, is an award-winning global humanitarian and social justice advocate. Time magazine has called him “one of the most powerful disabled people on the planet.”

Ndopu, fulfilling his childhood daydream, now, lives in New York City.

He is on the board of the United Nations Foundation, a group founded by Ted Turner to support the work of the UN. He works for the UN as a global advocate for sustainable development on issues from climate change to hunger.

Ndopu likes to identify as queer because, he believes, the word “queer” embodies all of his identities – from race to disability to sexuality to being fabulous. “I love to identify as queer,” he said.

In college, Ndopu was infatuated with a guy on the basketball team. He was heartbroken when his affections were unrequited. “That was the moment when I fully embraced my queerness,” Ndopu said, “I came out with my first heartbreak. There was no sitting with it. I went from zero to 100!”

Ndopu became one of the directors at Carleton’s gender and sexuality resource center. He studied queer theory.

There’s a critical contradiction for queer, disabled people, Ndopu believes. At its best, queerness (and the queer community) celebrates the full spectrum of bodies, sexuality and gender from nonbinary to pansexual to two-spirit. “The body is at the center for queer folks,” he said, “that’s something to celebrate.”

On the other side of the coin, though, the queer community doesn’t want to accept, “doesn’t want to have a conversation about bodies that aren’t the socialized idea of the body,” Ndopu said.

That often boils down to ableism toward queer, disabled bodies, Ndopu said. If you’re queer and disabled, you go through “the tension between acceptance and desire,” Ndopu said.

There are many “inspirational” memoirs by disabled people – tales of “overcoming” disability – of overpowering insurmountable odds. 

Thankfully, Ndopu’s memoir doesn’t fit this bill at all. “Sipping Dom Perignon Through a Straw” is searing and intimate. Ndopu describes his family: what it was like to grow up with an absent father, how oppressed his mother was by apartheid and how loving and caring she was of him. But much of the memoir is focused on his year at Oxford. 

For most people, queer, non-queer, disabled or nondisabled, being at Oxford would have been like being in a fairy tale. Like living the fantasy of your life.

For Ndopu, it was a crowning achievement. He had friends, studied what he wanted to study at a renowned university, and, even became student body president of his program.

Yet, from the get-go, his time at Oxford was riddled with ableism. The physical inaccessibility of the buildings was bad enough. But, Ndopu needs help 24/7 with activities of daily life from getting dressed to going to the bathroom. Finding and paying for caregivers at Oxford was a nightmare for him.

“A sharp, illuminating debut memoir,” Publishers Weekly, said of Ndopu’s book, “…Ndopu shines a light on ableism both conscious and unconscious.”

His experience at Oxford made Ndopu realize that being successful wouldn’t protect him from disability-based prejudice and discrimination. Being brilliant wouldn’t guarantee that you’d have a caregiver to help you pee. He came to believe exceptionalism is used against disabled people (and other marginalized groups).

 “The idea that we have to be resilient – that if we have enough grit we’ll overcome all obstacles is used to oppress disabled people,” he said.

You might think that, given his shortened life expectancy and experience of ableism, homophobia, and racism, Ndopu would give up hope. But you’d be wrong.

“I’m going to go out like a fucking meteor!” queer and disabled icon Audre Lorde says in the epigraph to Ndopu’s memoir. 

“I deliberately chose this quote from Lorde’s Cancer Journals,” Ndopu said, “I hope I’ll die in as close to a transcendent experience as possible.”

No matter what, Ndopu will be fabulous. “It’s not a frivolous thing,” Ndopu said, “being fabulous makes me, visible.”

For too long, queer and disabled people have been invisible, he added.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

Continue Reading

a&e features

Red, White & Royal Blue’ director on new film, royal weddings, and more

Matthew López moves from theater to movies with gay rom com

Published

on

Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine in ‘Red, White, and Royal Blue.’ (Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video)

These days, it seems that gay rom coms are as prevalent as right-wing religious fanatics protesting said movies. There is even a preponderance of gay Christmas movies. On the Hallmark channel, no less. So, does “Red, White & Royal Blue” have what it takes to stand apart from the pack? Based on the popular novel by queer writer Casey McQuiston, “Red, White & Royal Blue” isn’t just notable for its storyline involving the budding romance between Alex, the bisexual First Son of the first female POTUS, and gay British Prince Henry. “Red, White & Royal Blue” marks the directorial debut by Tony and GLAAD Media Award-winning gay playwright Matthew López (“The Inheritance” and “Some Like It Hot”). Matthew generously made time in his busy schedule for an interview in advance of the movie’s release, which premiered last week on Prime Video.

BLADE: Matthew, considering your long and lauded history in the theater, was the prospect of directing your first feature film daunting, thrilling, or both?

MATTHEW LOPEZ: Generally thrilling, occasionally daunting. But it was only daunting in that there was just a steep learning curve. I was acutely aware of the things I didn’t know, and on occasion, there were things I didn’t know I didn’t know until I had to know it [laughs], at the risk of sounding like Donald Rumsfeld. But it was mostly thrilling, and it was great fun, really. I’d do it again if they let me.

BLADE: With actors such as Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine in the lead roles of First Son Alex and Prince Henry, “Red, White & Royal Blue” will have no trouble drawing gay men. Do you think the actors could have the same draw on straight audiences?

LOPEZ: I hope so. I’ve spent a lifetime as an avid consumer of straight love stories, and not just because I had no other options, but because I genuinely wanted to see any of those particular films. I don’t see any reason why the stream doesn’t flow in both directions. This is as unapologetically a queer rom com as “Moonstruck” was as unapologetically an Italian rom com. It is part of what makes this movie unique. It is inescapable, but it also is, we hope, if we’re successful and if we’re lucky, it becomes part of the larger canon of rom coms, rather than simply kept in a corner. We want as many people to see this movie as possible, but we also knew that we wanted to make a movie that was as specific as possible. We never tried to hide who we were in order to find an audience. I think that kind of specificity is what people are really desiring these days.

BLADE: There are some powerful and emotional scenes in “Red, White & Royal Blue,” but the one that hit me the hardest is when Alex, son of the first female POTUS, came out to his mother Ellen, played by Uma Thurman. What was it like to work with Uma?

LOPEZ: I adore her. She was so very happy to be in this movie, which was so wonderful. She really understood Ellen. She and I had so many wonderful conversations about her before production. I involved her in a lot of costume design decisions. She was really wanting to understand this woman holistically. That scene was just so beautiful. By the time we shot it, she and Taylor had really bonded, and they had shot a lot of scenes together at that point. It was the loveliest, warmest environment on set. I mean, it was a very lovely, warm environment on set every day, but that day you can just see in that scene the genuine affection that these two actors have for one another. It was real.

BLADE: Ellen is a staunch Democrat. As a Florida native, and considering what has occurred here during the reign of the current governor, was that in any way what appealed to you about directing and co-adapting the screenplay for “Red, White & Royal Blue”?

LOPEZ: No, I loved the story, and I didn’t give a shit what the governor of Florida thinks about it. I couldn’t care less what that man thinks, only as it relates to the health of the union. I didn’t have this story growing up. I didn’t have access to characters such as these when I was younger. It took until I was in my 40s to read it, to get a novel that had a character like Alex. That I knew implicitly was really special. To me, it was really powerful to read a novel that had a queer, Latino, young man at the center who was a very positive characterization of a queer Latino man. Someone who was filled with hope and possibility. I wanted to bring that into the world. The politics in the novel and in the movie are a hopeful one. It’s not something that is, I hope, too much of a fairy tale.

BLADE: I loved seeing out actor and writer Stephen Fry’s name in the credits at the beginning, and without giving anything away, was surprised to see him, very close to the end, in the role he plays. What did it mean to you to work with Stephen?

LOPEZ: I’ve always been such a fan of his and really admired him greatly. We had had some sort of communication through other people over the years because he had seen “The Inheritance” in London. He got word to me, through our producers, how much he loved it. I had been working at one point on another film that I thought I was going to make, and when he found out that I was working on it, he was like. “I’d really love to be a small part in it if you have anything.” But I never talked to him and never met him. When this role came around [laughs], we thought, “Let’s see if he really means what he says!” He jumped at it! It didn’t take long at all for him to say, “Yes.” That was fun. Just to watch him and work with him is just a great thrill and a pleasure. It was for everybody. Everybody was really excited the day that he came on set.

BLADE: “Red, White & Royal Blue” is being released at a time when, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth and the situation surrounding Harry and Meghan, questions about the necessity of a monarchy have gotten more attention. Do you think “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a help or a hindrance in that regard?

LOPEZ: I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other about that because I think that the movie isn’t actually about the royal family. It uses the royal family as a vehicle to tell the story of a person trapped in a circumstance. I think the thing that is so amazing about Casey McQuiston’s novel is that Casey actually gives us a character that, historically, we haven’t had too much sympathy for. And yet, because Casey draws this character in a way that a lot of us can relate to, which is a person trapped against their own will and circumstances that they are powerless over, you really care for Henry and you really feel deeply for Henry. I also knew that, as we were making this film, I didn’t want the audience to think about the actual royal family when they were watching the film. Because I think if they did, they would be taken out of the story. I think we use the trappings of royalty as a way to tell our story, but it doesn’t take an opinion one way or another, because that’s not what the movie is about.

BLADE: The movie begins with a storybook royal wedding, but the real love story is the one between Alex and Henry. In recent years, the UK has begun taking actions such as the posthumous pardoning of thousands of gay men for gross indecency, and such, as well as Prime Minister Sunak’s recent apology to LGBT members of the military. With that in mind, do you think that the characters of Alex and Henry could also have a storybook wedding?

LOPEZ: Absolutely! I think the British people would support it. The British people are no different than the American people in many ways. There are, of course, great pockets of resistance to change. There is an adherence to traditionalism. I live in London, I’m a resident of the UK. The people that I know there are good and accepting people by and large. I think that Alex and Henry absolutely could have the wedding that they wanted if they wanted it.

BLADE: Have you started thinking about your next film, theater, or writing project?

LOPEZ: I’ll honestly tell you that the thing I’ve been thinking about lately is getting a fair deal from the studios for writers and for actors. As a striking writer who also happens to be a non-striking director, beyond releasing this film, my primary concern is making sure that we can go back to work with a fair contract.

Continue Reading

a&e features

Turning pain into positive & using art as therapy – Carl Hopgood

He knew he wanted to embark on a path toward a “bold, exciting life” among other “creative people” while “doing amazing things and living”

Published

on

Carl Hopgood (Photo by Magnus Hastings)

LOS ANGELES – Like many people born with an inclination toward creative expression, Carl Hopgood has known from a very young age that he wanted to be an artist.

Growing up on a small farm in rural Wales, the Cardiff-born Hopgood spent his childhood surrounded by animals and nature, letting his imagination run wild and creating worlds he envisioned with baskets, fruit boxes, flowers, stones, tabloid clippings, and other items that struck his fancy. Then, at 7, he was invited to spend an afternoon with his best friend, whose cousin was visiting; that cousin happened to be Richard Burton, and he happened to be accompanied by his even more famous wife, Elizabeth Taylor.

Hopgood was not just star-struck, he was inspired.

“My world was never the same after that day,” he tells the Blade. “They told stories about Hollywood, London, glamorous parties, movies, photography… and Andy Warhol! Andy Warhol was my first artist crush. He was also born on a farm, so I felt an immediate connection.”

After that experience, he knew he wanted to embark on a path toward a “bold, exciting life” among other “creative people” while “doing amazing things and living.”

Four decades and one continental transplant later, it can safely be said that Hopgood has accomplished his goal.

A successfully established LA-based artist, he’s created a unique body of work that includes pieces in Neon, Sculpture, Film / Video Installation, and canvas painting; his collectors include Morgan Freeman, Eugiono Lopez, The Vinik Family Foundation, The Groucho Club and Rupert Everett; and recent exhibitions of his work – like his neon art installations ‘Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places’, ‘My Heart Is Open’,  and ‘You Changed My Life’ at the Maddox Gallery in West Hollywood, and ‘Chair Therapy’ at United Talent Agency’s UTA Artspace LA – have garnered a flurry of enthusiasm and increasing national attention.

Hopgood’s sculpture, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places” (Photo Credit: Steve Jacqueline)

The latter installation created a particular stir with its inclusion of a controversial neon sculpture called “Just Say Gay”, Hopgood’s response to the draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation championed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; that work was acquired by prominent collector Beth Rudin DeWoody and will be on display from December 2023 at her Bunker Art Space in West Palm Beach, Florida.

When talking with the Blade, Hopgood is keen to focus the discussion on a new goal – the completion of a documentary about the creation of “Chair Therapy” – but he’s certainly willing to start the conversation by talking about the sense of queer defiance behind “Just Say Gay” and many of his other works, because the two subjects go hand in hand.

“Being a gay man of Welsh and Greek heritage,” he proudly proclaims, “the fight against bullying, repression, injustice and discrimination became central themes of my artistic expression.” 

As he explains, that fight is rooted in a traumatic childhood experience. “I was bullied by classmates,” he remembers. “They would chase after me, push me to the ground and kick me in the groin. I managed to escape and found sanctuary under a stack of chairs in the school assembly hall. The school therapist helped me cope by using a technique called Empty Chair Therapy, where you would talk to an empty chair about your feelings.

“I decided turn this pain into something positive and use art as my therapy.”

Much later, the young Hopgood would be inspired by the confrontational aesthetic of Damien Hirst – after reading a scathing criticism of one of his works in the paper – and follow in the controversial artist’s footsteps to Goldsmiths College in London, eventually becoming part of a movement with fellow graduates like Steve McQueen, Jason Martin, Ceal Floyer, Angela De La Cruz and Alessandro Raho. 

“It was an incredible moment to be a young artist in 1990s London.”

Nevertheless, after 20 years in the London art scene, he decided it was time for a change.

“I had just watched a documentary featuring David Hockney,” he explains. “The freedom and possibility of David’s work was clearly inspired by Southern California with its beautiful palette and open, sunny skies. It was a stark contrast to the gloomy weather of the UK, and the anxiety and depression that accumulated over the years. I had heard about the growing LA art scene –LACMA, MOCA and The Broad were beginning to attract an international audience – and I decided that moving to Los Angeles would be good for both my mental health and creativity.”

The choice was a fortuitous one for him – “It was the perfect time to go,” he says, “and I was ready to work in new mediums and expand my repertoire.” Then, like the rest of us, he had to put all his plans indefinitely up in the air.

“In early 2020, when the pandemic hit,” he tells us, “I would see all the bars and restaurants shuttered in West Hollywood. It was like a ghost town. Looking through the store front windows, all I could see were chairs stacked on top of each other – and that image took me straight back to my unhappy childhood.”

He decided to use it for inspiration and began work on the first sculpture in the “Chair Therapy” series (“My Heart is Open”) – which as he describes, addresses “toxic masculinity, oppression and queer identity, themes I’ve always championed.” 

Those themes are doubtless also at least partly behind his desire to see the planned documentary – titled “Fragile World” – reach fruition. Filmed during the pandemic, it profiles Hopgood by charting his personal artistic journey, but centers on the development of “Chair Therapy”, in which he combined found and vintage wooden chairs with neon lights shaped into positive words to provide hope, love and support for a community who were hardest hit by Covid and the shutdowns it necessitated.

“Seeing those stacked chairs and tables, in those empty establishments, I knew some would be forced to close for good. I felt so helpless, but I knew there was something I could do.”

“Far From Fear” by Carl Hopgood (Photo Credit: Jeff McClane)

Now, with his own hard-hit community – alongside many others – facing aggressive legislative oppression from the extremist right, he’s determined to see the film finished, so that the same empowering message of optimism embodied in his work can be spread to a larger audience as a reminder not to let the bullies break their spirit. To that end, the documentary’s director and producer, LA-based British filmmaker Kate Rees Davies, has set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funding necessary to finish the project.

Another motivation, perhaps even more personal, might be found in Hopgood’s revelation of a hidden influence in another work from the “Empty Chairs” series: “Twelve Steps”, which explores the massive financial success of a California citrus industry made possible by the hard work of a segregated Mexican immigrant labor force. “I was also inspired in that piece by a line from Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos,” he says, “who was sidelined by the Greek literary community in the 1970s because he was gay. It’s a small but powerful couplet which was included in the collection ‘The Body and the Wormwood’ that reads, ‘What didn’t you do to bury me, but you forgot that I was a seed.’”

For Hopgood, perhaps, the documentary also represents a seed, one that he himself has planted in hope of spreading its positive power into the world – and he’s counting on the support of his patrons through Indiegogo for the water, light and nourishment it requires to grow.

Hopgood poses with his works, “Twelve Steps” and “Just Say Gay” (Photo Credit: Magnus Hastings)
Continue Reading

a&e features

Renowned historian Martin Duberman reflects on a full life in ‘Reaching Ninety’

New memoir looks back at Stonewall, efforts to ‘cure’ homosexuality

Published

on

‘Reaching Ninety’ is a memoir in which Martin Duberman quotes the dictum, ‘aging is not for sissies.’ (Book cover image courtesy Amazon)

Renowned queer historian, playwright, author and LGBTQ activist Martin Duberman, 93, began writing stories when he was four. “They still exist,” Duberman, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at City University of New York (CUNY), told the Blade in a telephone interview. “They’re with my papers at the New York Public Library.”

Duberman doesn’t understand what drove him to create. “I’d write these moralistic tales,” he said, “hand-sewn inside covers. About how Alice learned to do what her mother told her to do.”

Duberman who has written some two dozen books as well as plays, hasn’t stopped writing. 

Name most anything or anyone and he’s written about it: from the Stonewall Uprising to actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. His memoir “Cures” recounts how mental health professionals tried to “cure” him of his “homosexuality.”

When he was 70, he wrote “Haymarket,” a novel set in 1886 in Chicago during protests by labor activists.

His newest book “Reaching Ninety,” is a memoir. In it, Duberman recalls the people, events and work of his life – from coming out to his student years – to his relationships to his beloved puppy Emma (named after iconic feminist and anarchist icon Emma Goldman) to aging.

In “Reaching Ninety,” Duberman quotes the dictum “aging is not for sissies.” But, “The trouble is that I am one,” he adds, “It’s part of my cultural heritage.” There’s a thread running through his work, Duberman, who founded CLAGS: CUNY’s Center for LGBTQ Studies, the first university-based LGBTQ research center in the United States, said. “I’ve been trying to reinvent historical writing.” 

It’s essential if you’re an historian and you’re presenting an account of past events, to remain true to the known evidence, Duberman said. “But you have to be clear,” he added, “the evidence that has come down to us is  partial and skewed.”

At the beginning of his career as an historian, Duberman wrote with a more traditional view of history: that history could be known and chronicled objectively. As if the historian’s background had no impact on how they wrote history.

Duberman’s early work was well-received. His 1961 biography “Charles Francis Adams, 1807-1886″ won the prestigious Bancroft Prize.

But, as he matured personally and professionally, Duberman began to question the pretense of objectivity. He came to see that subjectivity is an essential part of writing history.

“The historian – with their own background  – in their own time – is always present in the history they write,” said Duberman, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1957.

Historians must adhere to the evidence, Duberman emphasized. “But, they need to decide to come clean about who they are even, in part, to write in the first person. To explain their reaction to evidence.”Historians’ reactions to the evidence they uncover about the past could impact how they write history, he noted.

Historians don’t always know the full extent of how their backgrounds contribute to their interpretations of history. But they should take it for granted that at least some of their eras and views are present, Duberman said.

“To me, the choice comes down to how explicit I should be,” he said, “and how am I going to make it known.”

This was a new way of thinking and writing about history. Take Duberman’s 1972 book “Black Mountain: an Exploration in Community.” In the 20th century, Black Mountain College was a community for artists. But it was, as per the times, homophobic. A faculty member of Black Mountain was arrested for having sex in a car with a minor, Duberman writes in “Reaching Ninety.” He was let off with a suspended sentence. He became an “instant pariah,” resigned immediately and no one from the community at the college offered any help, Duberman writes.

When writing his Black Mountain book, Duberman felt compelled to come out as gay. To be, as an historian, transparent about how his biography impacted his view of history.

“It’s hard to think well of a place that could cooperate as fully as Black Mountain did in an individual’s self-destruction,” Duberman wrote in his Black Mountain book about how the college treated the gay teacher, “indeed to have assumed it as foreclosed.”

“But perhaps I exaggerate, a function of my own indignation as a homosexual, a potential victim,” he added.

In 1972, when the book was published, Duberman’s coming out in his reaction to an incident in the history of Black Mountain College received mixed reviews.

He was denounced in historical journals. “The New York Times reviewer dismissed my coming out as a vaguely unclean bit of business,” Duberman writes in “Reaching Ninety.”

“Other people were well-disposed toward the book,” Duberman said, “they were academics, not historians.”

Historians are a conservative group of people, Duberman said. “They devote their lives to preserving — underline it — the past,” he said, “They’re not likely to be interested in any combined format that merges the past with the present.”

Duberman doesn’t have a clue as to what got him hooked on history. “It was inescapably an unconscious decision,” he said. “I was torn between literature and wanting to be a writer. To find out more about the past and how come we’re at the point of time that we are.”

When Duberman was a freshman at Yale University, the man who taught his history class was only five years older than he. “At his very first class we took to each other,” Duberman said, “and became friendly. He became a role model for me.”

“He just died at 99,” Duberman added, “we never talked openly about homosexuality. But I got the strong impression that he, too, was gay.”

Duberman, who was born in New York, wasn’t out in college or graduate school. Though, he checked out the two gay bars in Boston when he was at Harvard.

Coming out wasn’t an option for people in Duberman’s generation who came of age in the 1940s and 1950s. You could be arrested, expelled from school, kicked out of your apartment or fired from your job if you were open about who you were. People warned him “against coming out to any degree,” Duberman said.

Duberman and his older sister were raised in a secular Jewish household. His father, as a young man, escaped from working in a beet plantation in Russia to Germany and then to New York. His mother went to high school at night while working as a secretary. 

From childhood on, Duberman was bitten by a love of theater. He went to theater camp and performed in high school plays.

As a student at the (then) boys prep school Horace Mann, he played female as well as male roles. One night, his friend Bob’s girlfriend noticed that Duberman was the “actress” who portrayed a “stewardess” in a play that evening, Duberman recalls in “Reaching Ninety.”  “‘But you can’t be,’ she gasped, ‘you have such beautiful legs!’” Duberman remembers her telling him.

Duberman, a polymath, would grow up to become a privileged insider while remaining an observant, critical outsider.

His many honors include: the Vernon Rice/Drama Desk Award, three Lambda Literary Awards, a special award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters for his contributions to literature and the 2007 lifetime achievement award from the American Historical Association. He’s been a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist.

He and his life-partner, Eli, a psychoanalyst, have just celebrated their 35th anniversary. He’s revered for his pioneering work in queer history.

Yet, even though he’s white, cisgender, and privileged, Duberman hasn’t ever been complacent or content. He still remembers how horrified he was back in the 1960s when he taught at Princeton. “I taught about slavery,” Duberman said, “I was thunderstruck! The white, privileged undergrads were on the verge of defending slavery.”

“It shocked me,” he said, “I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was.”

The more he taught, the more discontented Duberman got with, what he saw, as the authoritarian system of education at universities. “I didn’t see the teacher as an authority figure,” he said, “but as a fellow learner.”

Though he had tenure, Duberman resigned from Princeton because of this. Also, he dared to move from Princeton to New York. “Then, people at Princeton thought: How could you leave the loveliest town in the world,” Duberman said.

Duberman deplores Trump and anti-queer right-wingers. But he also has been a long-term critic of the LGBTQ rights movement. Queers should be less concerned about marriage equality and more concerned about issues of race, class, and economic justice, he believes.

“There’s resistance to Trump’s lies,” Duberman said, “and it’s appearing in the mainstream – in The New Yorker – even The New York Times.”

The electorate is the greatest roadblock to social change, Duberman said. “The LGBTQ community, like a lot of the country, is conservative,” he added.  

Duberman isn’t feeling terribly optimistic at this moment. But, “I keep hoping that one of the upcoming generations will turn out to be different,” he said.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

Continue Reading

Popular