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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Protect against online threats

The California Dept. of Justice is providing tips to make digital security easier, Don’t wait for a data breach to protect your data

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OAKLAND, Calif. – In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October, California Attorney General Rob Bonta today provided consumers and businesses with tips to defend against cybersecurity threats.

“This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and every month, I urge Californians and businesses to protect themselves from online threats,” said the Attorney General. “The California Department of Justice is providing tips to make digital security easier for all. Don’t wait for a data breach or cyberattack to think about protecting your data — the right time is right now. Cybersecurity is a team effort, and whether you are an individual or a business, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your data.”

Consumer Cybersecurity Tips

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication. If available, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your online accounts. MFAs require both a password and a second piece of information – such as a one-time code sent to your phone via text message – in order to verify your identity when logging into one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, MFAs make it more difficult for attackers to break into accounts. As a result, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor knows your password.

Use Strong Passwords and Password Managers. Set up unique and strong passwords for each online account you use. Don’t use easily identifiable information, such as pets’ names or birthdays, in your passwords, especially for your financial or email accounts.Using long, complex, and unique passwords is a good way to stop your account from being hacked. Additionally, a password manager is an easy way of keeping track and remembering all of your unique passwords.

Perform Regular Software Updates on All Devices. Update your operating system, browser, and important apps regularly, taking advantage of automatic updating when it’s available. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system on your devices is one of the best defenses against online threats. These updates can eliminate software flaws that allow bad actors to view your activity or steal information.

Install Antivirus Software. Antivirus software protects your device from viruses that can destroy your data, slow down or crash your device, or allow spammers to send email through your account. Antivirus protection scans your files and your incoming email for viruses and deletes anything detected as malicious. Updating your antivirus software prevents the latest “bugs” circulating the internet. Most antivirus software includes a feature to download updates automatically when you are online. In addition, make sure that the software is continually running and checking your system for viruses, especially if you are downloading files from the web or checking your email. Set your antivirus software to check for viruses every day.

Check Your Privacy Settings. Be diligent to double check your privacy and security settings on all devices and applications, and be aware of who can access your information. Every time you sign up for a new account, download a new app, or get a new device, take a moment to configure the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. You should regularly check these settings to make sure they are still configured to your comfort.

Opt Out of the Sale of Your Personal Information. Exercise your rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and opt out of the sale of your personal information when you go online. Stopping the sale of your data will minimize its proliferation – and the less data that is out there, the better. Businesses that sell information have to post a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link on their websites. You can also use a browser or plugin that incorporates the Global Privacy Control, which must be honored by businesses that sell personal information.   

Limit the Use of Public Networks. Free public Wi-Fi is normally not secure, and information thieves know it. While using public networks, your passwords, account numbers, and photos may be accessible to hackers. Minimize your risk by limiting the use of public networks, especially if you are accessing your personal or sensitive information, and use a secure network – such as your own – whenever possible.

Encrypt Devices. Encrypt your devices and other sources of media that contain sensitive personal information. This includes laptops, tablets, smartphones, removable drives, backup tapes, and cloud storage solutions.

Be Careful What You Share Online. Social media allows sharing of all aspects of life, but it’s important to control who has access to the information you share. Information thieves can use social media postings to gather information and use it to hack into your accounts or steal your identity. To protect yourself, make use of privacy settings to limit the visibility of personal posts to your personal networks, and restrict the amount of information you share with the general public. Avoid taking online quizzes that could reveal the answers to your security questions.

Cybersecurity Tips for Businesses

As a company doing business in California, you have a legal obligation to implement and maintain reasonable data security, and you are the first line of defense when protecting consumers’ and clients’ personal information from data breaches. If you collect data, protect it by taking the following steps:

Train Employees in Data Security Principles. Establish essential security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords, and establishing appropriate Internet use guidelines. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.

Protect Information, Computers, and Networks from Cyberattacks. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update and install other key software updates as soon as they are available.

Provide Firewall Security for Your Internet Connection. A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home systems are protected by firewalls.

Secure Your Wi-Fi Networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name. You should also password protect access to the router.

Limit Employee Access to Data and Information. Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need in order to do their jobs and should not be able to install any software without obtaining permission.

Passwords and Authentication. Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords regularly. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry.

Data Minimization.  Review and inventory the consumer data you collect as a business and evaluate if the data is necessary. Maintain appropriate security over the data you collect and delete it once you no longer need it.

Helpful Resources

Individuals can find data privacy resources and information on our privacy and data security web page. Additional cybersecurity resources can be found on the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) cybersecurity resources website, as well as on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity website.

Businesses can find useful cybersecurity resources on CISA’s resources for business web page.

California law requires a business or state agency to notify any California resident whose unencrypted personal information was acquired, or reasonably believed to have been acquired, during a data security breach.

You can find more information regarding this requirement on our data security breach reporting web page.

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Jamaican jerk baby back ribs with peas & rice

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – Some of my favorite chefs and cookbook authors have long raved about Rancho Gordo, the largest purveyor of exotic heirloom beans in the U.S. Well, friends, these fabaceae are worth the hype. 

In case you were wondering, the peas in peas & rice = beans. And you can use virtually any variety you like, dried or canned, but RG’s ayocote morado beans are just sublime here. 

The purple-hued thick-skinned runner bean pairs perfectly with jasmine rice and these ribs, which are rubbed with a flaming hot jerk seasoning mixture and cooked low and slow until the brown sugar and spices caramelize into a beautiful crust. 

Now is the time for you capsaicin-pilled frociaggine to turn up the heat with Scotch bonnets and habaneros. Serve the ribs with crème fraiche, yogurt, sour cream, or labneh to soothe the burn. You could also discard the ribs and seeds from the peppers, but do you want to be safe, or do you want to be cool? 

Just be sure to THOROUGHLY wash your hands before touching your face, eyes, or — God forbid, and unfortunately, I am speaking from experience — your genitals. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Ribs recipe (courtesy of Harold Dieterle/Sam Sifton, New York Times Cooking): 

  1. Heat your oven to 300° F. Place one bunch of roughly chopped scallions, ½ an onion, roughly chopped, 4 cloves of garlic, and 4 habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers, 1 serrano pepper, and a pinch of salt into a food processor. Pulse until well minced
  2. Add 2 tablespoons dried thyme, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 2 tablespoons ground allspice, 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or habanero powder, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon chile powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  3. Add ¼ cup soy sauce and blend for 15-20 seconds. Add ¼ cup dark rum and pulse to combine. Add ¼ cup water and pulse again 
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to use 
  5. Remove the membrane from the backs of two racks of baby back pork ribs. Season them “aggressively” with salt and pepper
  6. Place each rack of ribs on a large sheet of aluminum foil, slathering each with the marinade. Wrap them tightly in the foil, place them on a sheet pan, and transfer them to the oven to cook for 90 minutes 
  7. Unwrap the ribs and douse them again with the jerk marinade. Return the meat, uncovered, to the oven to continue roasting for another 90 minutes “or until the meat is crusty and has just begun to pull back from the bone” 
  8. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then slice into individual ribs to serve
Photo by Dan Balinovic

Peas & rice 

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Make a sofrito by blending, with a food processor, ½ an onion, a few hot peppers, a few stalks of celery (or a fennel bulb), and a few large carrots, peeled
  3. Heat a few tablespoons of neutral oil in a high-sided heavy-bottomed vessel like an enameled cast iron Dutch oven or a stockpot. Cook the vegetables, covered, for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes, stirring more frequently. Uncover and continue to cook until the vegetables begin to brown as they fry in the oil
  4. If you’re using dried beans, add them to the pot now along with 2 quarts of water, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon of Mexican oregano. Season generously with salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for 1-3 hours until the beans are tender
  5. Add 1 cup of water and a 14 oz can of coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and stir in 2 cups of long grain white rice. Cover and transfer your pot to the oven to bake for 40 minutes. If you’re using canned beans (drained and rinsed), stir them in halfway through cooking 
  6. Remove your pot and allow to rest for 15 minutes before fluffing and serving (that’s right, fluffing and serving! Happy Pride!) 

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Molly’s monochromatic melon salad

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – Today’s recipe comes courtesy of Molly Baz and her new-ish cookbook (new to me, anyway), “More is More.” 

“This salad,” she writes, “is all about letting peak summer melon shine. You’ll make a nutty, green pistachio oil to drench it in, and then toss the fruit with thinly shaved fennel and tons and tons of thick shards of Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s crunchy and soft simultaneously; it is THE summer salad moment.” 

Melon is the least exciting part of any fruit plate situation but tell me you don’t develop some respect after tasting it with the savory treatment as prepared in this dish. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Add ¼ cup fennel fronds to a food processor with ⅓ cup salted, roasted pistachios, pulsing while slowly adding ⅓ cup good olive oil. Season with flaky salt
  2. Thinly slice 2 fennel bulbs and the flesh of one melon. Toss in a large bowl with flaky salt and the juice of 2 lemons 
  3. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, shave 5 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano 
  4. Plate by starting with a small handful of fennel/melon, topping with cheese and pistachio oil, and repeating once 
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Advice

Ask Pastor Brandan

For those in the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, & the intersection of religion in their daily lives

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Photo Credit: Rev. Brandan Robertson

The Los Angeles Blade is pleased to introduce a new bi-weekly column for members of the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, and the intersection of religion with sexual orientation or gender identity in their daily lives.

From [email protected]:

“Pride Month is a time of celebration, but I often feel conflicted because of my religious upbringing. How can I fully embrace and celebrate Pride while honoring my faith?”- Caroline, Redding, CA 

So many queer people live in the tension between having pride in the queer identity and dealing with the shame they inherited from a religious upbringing- this is true even for many queer people who are no longer religious! Religious trauma from toxic religious doctrine or rejection from our churches or families is very real for many queer people, and can negatively impact our mental health and our overall wellbeing for a long time.

Even as a Pastor, I seen my therapist weekly and a large amount of what we spend time unpacking is how religious experiences and beliefs I no longer hold to continue to cause me anxiety, fear, and shame. So first, know that you’re not alone. A lot of us experience this sense of inner conflict, even after being out for years! 

During Pride month, you will inevitably come across a religious person on social media saying “Pride is a sin!”- but they’re being disingenuous. It’s true, the Bible does call pride- or arrogance- a sin. But there is another kind of pride, one rooted in a deep sense of gratitude- the pride that these same Christians will quickly embrace when they sing “I’m proud to be an American!”

That second kind of pride is what we’re embracing at in Queer Pride celebrations. It’s gratitude to our queer forerunners for fighting to help us live and love more freely. It is gratitude to our queer family for the love, support, and endless contributions we make to the world. And for many of us, it is gratitude to God, who made us queerly beloved and delights in us just as we are. This is what Pride, at its core, is supposed to be. 

On top of the celebration, Pride is also, of course, a continuation of the resistance movement started at Stonewall, a recognition that queer folks are still marginalized and threatened in the US and around the world, and it’s a commitment to continue the fight for equality, dignity, and justice for all queer folks.

For me, channeling the wide array of emotions I feel because of the toxic religious teachings I grew up with towards activism and advocacy has been a healing path for me- so perhaps when you feel inner conflict around Pride, channel that towards speaking up and acting up for your fellow queer siblings. Turn that inner conflict towards speaking words of truth- that queer people are made in the image and likeness of God and are just as worthy of life and love as every other person in the world.

Don’t allow your inner conflictedness to bog you down in shame during this season- allow it to motivate you to celebrate harder, advocate more fiercely, and enjoy this sacred month. Happy Pride! 

“I was taught that sex outside of marriage is a sin, but as a queer person, marriage hasn’t always been an option. How can I understand my sexual ethics in a way that aligns with both my faith and my identity?” – Shane, New York, NY 

Hey Shane- thanks for this question. You want to know what’s crazy- there is not a single verse in the Bible that says premarital sex is a sin. In a few places, some translations of the New Testament render the Greek word porneia as “fornication”, which does mean premarital sex, but virtually no Greek scholar believes that is an accurate translation of that word.

Instead, what the Bible actually condemns is excessive sexuality- meaning allowing our sexual desire to control us. This is a sexual ethic that I think all people should embrace- being in control of and mindful about how you engage your sexuality, rather than using it as a compulsive behavior or as a means of escaping or numbing ourselves.

One of my favorite Scriptures that guides my own ethics comes from Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12 when he writes “All things are permissible, but not everything is beneficial”. In other words, this ethic is based not on a rigid sense of rules, but on considering what is beneficial- healthy, and good- for us.

Whenever I think about my own sexual behavior, I try to ask myself both why am I doing this and if this is beneficial to me. If I can be mindful about my intentions, knowing that I am entering into a sexual experience consensually, joyfully, healthily, and with clarity of mind, then I can’t see why I would consider it sinful or wrong.

There is no one-size fits all sexual ethic that is prescribed by the Bible, so by asking this question each of us can discern what is a beneficial and healthy sexual practice for us. The only thing the Bible is concerned with is that we maintain self-control and that our actions are always loving towards God, neighbor, and self. I hope this helps!

If you have a question you’d like Pastor Brandan to answer please send it to:

[email protected]

******************************************************************************************

Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, activist, and pastor based in New York City. Known as the “TikTok Pastor,” he engages over 220k followers and 5.5 million views with his inclusive theological content. Robertson has authored, edited, or contributed to 23 books and his writings have appeared in esteemed publications like TIME Magazine and The Washington Post. He holds degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Iliff School of Theology, and Eastern Illinois University, and is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies at Drew University.

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Fagioli for all you frociaggine

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – Firmly in my bean era, it was only a matter of time before I made pasta e fagioli, a traditional Italian soup of which Carla Lalli Music has a beautiful version that I have lightly modified below. 

Happy Pride! 

I used heirloom yellow eye beans from Rancho Gordo, which were heavenly in this. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. Soak ½ pound dry beans overnight in water seasoned with salt
  2. Make a double-batch of sofrito: In a food processor, pulse 1 large or two medium-sized yellow onion and 6 garlic cloves until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with 1 fennel bulb or four celery stalks and 4 carrots
  3. Heat a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium. Add ½ cup olive oil and cook vegetables for about 3 minutes, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, checking and stirring every 5-10 minutes, until everything is soft but making sure it doesn’t yet begin to take on color, about 25 minutes. Continue to cook with the lid on, stirring more frequently, until sofrito begins to brown, about 15 minutes more. Uncover and continue to cook until the vegetables are starting to fry in the oil
  4. Transfer ½ of the sofrito into a Tupperware and freeze for the future. Add 6 anchovies, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon turmeric, and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup tomato paste and cook until it turns a deep brick-red, about 3 minutes
  5. Add beans along with their soaking liquid. Add 3 bay leaves and enough water to cover the beans by 2-3 inches. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat. Partially cover the pot and simmer gently, stirring every 20-30 minutes, until beans are starting to soften, 1-2 hours
  6. When beans are tender, stir in a bunch of kale or half a head of green cabbage along with a parmesan rind. Cook with lid askew for 30-45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Spoon about 3 cups of soup into your food processor, blend until smooth, and stir back into your pot
  7. Cook ½ pound pasta (I used ditalini, but any short pasta shape will work) until 2-3 minutes shy of al-dente. Drain pasta and add to your soup, tasting and adjusting seasoning again 
  8. In a separate skillet, brown 1 pound ground pork until cooked through and then add the meat to your pot, stirring to combine

Serve drizzled with olive oil, fried bread, and grated parmesan (or gruyere, which I used by mistake but turned out to be delicious)

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Melissa Clark’s buttery breakfast casserole

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

WASHINGTON – Health food this is not. Make it for guests, as I did on Saturday, and you will feel less guilty about the calories (and sodium, fat, cholesterol…)

Recipe lightly adapted from Melissa Clark, New York Times Cooking

  1. Heat oven to 500° F. Slice 1 pound croissants crosswise and toast on a baking sheet, cut side up, for 5-10 minutes until well browned. Allow to cool and tear into bite sized pieces 
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add 1-2 bunches scallions, white and light green parts, and 1 pound sweet Italian sausage. Cook until mixture is well browned, about 5 minutes, breaking up the meat 
  3. Stir in 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage. Remove from heat and toss with croissants in a large bowl
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together 8 eggs, 3 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1½-2 cups grated gruyère cheese, salt, and pepper
  5. Lightly butter a 9×13” baking dish. Turn croissant mixture into the pan, spread evenly over the bottom. Add custard mixture and press into croissants. Cover and refrigerate overnight 
  6. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350° F, scatter remaining ½-1 cup grated gruyere over top. Transfer to oven and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and garnish with remaining scallion greens
  7. Serve
Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Advice

The Los Angeles Blade introduces ‘Ask Pastor Brandan’

For those in the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, & the intersection of religion in their daily lives

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Photo Credit: Rev. Brandan Robertson

The Los Angeles Blade is pleased to introduce a new bi-weekly column for members of the LGBTQ+ community who have questions about their faith, life, and the intersection of religion with sexual orientation or gender identity in their daily lives.

From [email protected]:

I grew up in the church, and it was a really meaningful experience for me. But once I came out as gay, I saw Christianity’s true colors- no one acted like Jesus, they only condemned and rejected me for who I loved. Why would any gay person want to be a part of such a hypocritical religion that has no room for us? – Jace, Philadelphia, PA 

******************************************************************************************

Jace, thanks so much for your question. First, let me say- I get it. While I am a Christian pastor, I have often found myself asking why I keep showing up to participate in a religion that has done so much harm to me personally as a queer person and to so many in my community.

There have been periods on my journey where I have all but walked away from the church- and those periods have been really healing for me. No one needs to participate in organized religion to have a meaningful life. But for me, I’ve always been drawn back because of a sneaking suspicion that the Christians with the loudest megaphones and the most power don’t actually represent the radical, social and spiritual movement that Jesus began.

The more I’ve studied the Bible and the Christian tradition through the ages, the more I’ve realized that the modern Christian establishment is a distortion of the faith of Jesus and of many millions of Christians throughout the ages. I’ve spent nearly a decade studying the Bible in academic settings and have been blown away by how much of what is preached as “clear” truth- like that being gay is condemned as a sin in Scripture- is far from the truth. There’s not a single verse in all of the Bible that says anything about homosexuality, but rather six verses that are condemning a common ancient form of sexual exploitation between men of high status and men of lower status.

Isn’t it strange that the modern Church has interpreted these verses to condemn loving, consensual same-sex relationships while turning a blind eye to the exploitation that high status men have been enacting towards lower status folks in their own churches? I also discovered that there is a ton of queer stuff in the Bible- there are men who fall in love with each other, women who commit their lives to one another, boys who dress in women’s clothes, and gender-queer individuals who are welcomed with joy into the early church. That’s all really in our Bible. 

When I started to realize this ignorance and hypocrisy, I personally felt motivated to reclaim the faith of Jesus and the Bible for myself and my community. And when I started this work, I quickly discovered that there is a long lineage of queer people who have been queering Christianity for centuries.

I also discovered that there have been other traditions- like the liberationist, womanist, and feminist traditions- that have reclaimed the Christian faith as a source of inspiration for their own spirituality and fight for a more just and equal world. But the largest institutions of Christianity have consistently marginalized these traditions and voices, which is why most people don’t know about them and just assume that Christianity is inherently corrupt. (Which again, is a reasonable assessment based on what is seen publicly!)

So I’ve made it my work to not only reclaim this faith as a queer person, but to work publicly to expose the distorted version of the faith that is being perpetuated and shine a light on the millions of progressive, inclusive, justice-oriented Christian communities that exist around the world.

I do this work not because I think that queer people need Christianity, but because I have met thousands of us who still feel a deep connection to our faith and have a right to claim it as our own. No one- be it a pope, a bishop, a denominational president, or a local pastor- has the authority to tell us we cannot and do not belong. And there is space for us- most people don’t realize that a majority of mainline Christian denominations in the U.S. are fully affirming of queer people today- so while the largest and loudest churches may spew toxic queerphobia, across every state in our nation there are hundreds of inclusive churches that welcome queer people to come just as we are.

I also think it is vitally important for progressive Christians to make our voices louder in society, taking some of the power and authority away from the queerphobic Christians who are just assumed to be the ones with the authority to speak for “true Christianity”.

When we simply write off Christianity- or any religion- as inherently queerphobic, we are consigning millions of queer people around the world to suffering, because in every corner of the globe there are governments enacting policies, justified by their queerphobic religious beliefs, that criminalize or discriminate against queer people.

One way that we can help to combat this is to show that there are other ways to be Christian- ways that are rooted in a good reading of the Biblical text and that take seriously the teachings of Jesus- that affirm queer people’s lives and love. Because the truth is that Christianity isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s vital that the queerphobic versions of it are countered with a progressive, inclusive faith. 

So Jace, all of this is to say that if the Christian faith (or any religion) is a source of trauma and harm for any queer person, I say leave it behind. But if you feel drawn to faith but feel like there’s no space for you, know that there has always been a faithful strain of Christianity that has been committed to inclusion, reformation, and justice, and there are likely communities near you that will welcome and affirm you as a queer person if you’d like to be a part of them. (I recommend using gaychurch.net to find these communities!)

At the end of the day, I’ve come to know, deep in my bones, that queer people are loved by God and that we have so much to offer the Church and the world, and I pray that more and more people will wake up to see that! Thank you for your question!

If you have a question you’d like Pastor Brandan to answer please send it to:

[email protected]

******************************************************************************************

Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted author, activist, and pastor based in New York City. Known as the “TikTok Pastor,” he engages over 220k followers and 5.5 million views with his inclusive theological content. Robertson has authored, edited, or contributed to 23 books and his writings have appeared in esteemed publications like TIME Magazine and The Washington Post. He holds degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Iliff School of Theology, and Eastern Illinois University, and is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies at Drew University.

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Advice

After 16 years together, my wife suddenly wants children

‘I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity’

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(Photo by Nyul/Bigstock)

Dear Michael,

A few months ago you answered a letter from a guy who wanted a baby but his boyfriend didn’t. I’m in the opposite situation. Carol and I have been together for 16 years (we’re married) and all of a sudden she wants to have a baby. This was never on the table until her dad died last year suddenly of a heart attack.  

Since then she’s been a different person. She tells me that she wants to focus on something “bigger” than just enjoying life and also wants some sort of sense that “life will go on.”

To me, being queer has always meant that we get to fully live life in the present, for us.  We don’t have to focus on having kids and all that entails: fertility stuff, sleep deprivation, diapers, babysitters, PTA obligations, college tuition, etc. Let straight people deal with those headaches while I enjoy myself. 

I don’t want to be stuck in restrictive heteronormativity, giving my time and energy to a kid who’s going to go from crying to whining to tantrums to rebellion to not talking to me. And then expect me to pay their bills after they’re 18.  

And why crowd the planet even more? In my opinion, having a baby on this planet is selfish sentimentality.

Carol and I always saw 100 percent eye-to-eye on this issue but now she’s gone over to the other side. I have shared all of the above to shake some sense into her but haven’t gotten anywhere. This was not our agreement at all.

I know you can’t change someone else, but doesn’t she owe our relationship a commitment to the life we already agreed on? I’ve suggested grief counseling but she says no.

Michael replies:

No one owes their partner a commitment to not change. It’s a guarantee that we all change over time. Relationships challenge us to stay with someone as we both evolve in big and sometimes unexpected ways over the years. There’s no way around this challenge if you want to stay happily married. 

It’s also true that you don’t have to keep living with someone who changes in ways you don’t want to accommodate. So, if Carol is certain that she wants to be a mom and if you are certain that you don’t, you can leave.

It makes sense that you’re sad and angry (putting it mildly) when your wife suddenly wants to completely upend your life. That said, you’re not going to improve your marriage by criticizing Carol or insulting her wish to parent. And if you pressure her to give up a deeply held wish, she will likely resent you.

Instead of these tactics, how about being curious regarding her desire to parent? What “bigger” meaning is she hoping to get from life? How does she think her father’s untimely death affected her, not just on this issue but possibly in other ways as well?

There’s great value in being curious about our partners’ differences rather than contemptuous or critical. That’s a path toward greater intimacy, in that we get to deeply understand the person we are spending our life with. While you may not stay with Carol, you still might want to have a close and caring relationship with the woman you’ve spent 16 years with. Understanding her better might also help you make some peace with her desire to parent.

I also want to encourage you to consider that there are many ways to be gay, lesbian, queer — to be just about anything. You could say it’s “heteronormative” to want to parent; but you could also view it as a common human (and non-human) desire that is unrelated to sexual orientation. Carol has different ideas for how she wants to live. This doesn’t mean that she is foolish.

I’m curious about why you have such an unrelentingly negative view about parenting and kids. Is it possible that you’ve had some tough experiences in your life that have shaped this view? 

I’m not pushing you to change your mind, but you might consider talking with some parents to get some sense of what parenting, and children, are actually like. 

You might open up your thinking, and your heart. You might decide you are willing to lean in Carol’s direction, or you might not. In any case, I’m hopeful that you would get a more balanced picture of what parenting and childhood can be. 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Indonesian chicken salad (without mayonnaise!)

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Indonesian chicken salad- without mayonnaise! (Photo by Christopher Kane/LA Blade)

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

FIRE ISLAND PINES, N.Y. – Last Monday, before heading home to Washington, I made lunch for my friends who were working from their home in the Pines. After our pasta night, they wanted a light meal, and I knew just what to do: my all-time favorite, go-to chicken salad by Martha Rose Shulman for New York Times Cooking

Let’s be honest, most chicken salads are mediocre, and many are terrible (why do people add RAISINS?! Disgusting.) An unremarkable lunch that simply gets the job done when you need to scarf something down during a busy workday is fine, but I want more for you; for all of us. 

You will never suffer through another middling, insipid chicken salad after making this recipe just once. Here you’re getting the brightness, the bite, and the complex savoriness of ingredients commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine such as fresh mint and cilantro, lime juice, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and buttermilk. Divine. 

And because it does not rely on mayonnaise to moisten the poached and shredded chicken breasts, Schulman’s recipe is also low-fat, which you should be sure to tell everyone who showers you with compliments when you bring a bowl to your next barbecue, cookout, potluck, pool party, Fourth of July party, or picnic this summer.  

  1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a rolling boil. Add 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and once the water is brought back to a boil, cover and remove your pot from the heat and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes 
  2. As you’re waiting, thinly slice 6-10 scallions (both white and green parts), sliver ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chop ¼ cup cilantro, julienne 1 red bell pepper, and mince 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper. Add everything to a large bowl and toss together with 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  3. After chicken is rested (at which point it will be fully cooked through), remove the lid, drain the water, shred the meat, season with salt, and combine with the ingredients in your large bowl
  4. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 teaspoons minced ginger, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tablespoon fish sauce (preferably Southeast Asian), and a pinch of cayenne. Stir to combine and mix in 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (creamy or smooth) along with ⅓ cup buttermilk

Taste and adjust seasonings and then serve over romaine lettuce leaves and/or bread, for sandwiches

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Business

The Abbey’s owner acquires commercial district on Fire Island NY

Included in the acquisition are ten buildings over two acres along 320 feet of Fire Island Pines’ main pedestrian thoroughfare

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Courtesy of Tristan Schukraft

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Tech entrepreneur and hospitality visionary Tristan Schukraft is expanding his portfolio of iconic LGBTQ+ venues with the acquisition of 75% of the Fire Island Pines commercial district, one of the most celebrated queer community hubs in the United States.

The purchase includes a variety of businesses including the Pavilion nightclub, The Blue Whale, the Canteen, a hotel and pool deck, retail shops, and docks, all considered the heart of Fire Island’s vibrant gay community. The currently non-operational hotel will be renovated and transformed into The Tryst Fire Island, the third location for Tristan’s budding luxury hotel brand for gay travelers.

Schukraft, CEO of Tryst Hospitality and MISTR, is on a clear mission, telling the WeHo Times: “Fire Island Pines has been a queer hub for multiple generations of the LGBT community. As businesses and neighborhoods turn over, it’s important for the next generation of gay entrepreneurs to invest in our communities, preserve our culture and help them thrive as safe havens for the LGBT community.”

Included in the acquisition are ten buildings over two acres along 320 feet of Fire Island Pines’ main pedestrian thoroughfare, including the only hotel zoned within the Pine’s commercial district. All the businesses will operate as planned for the 2024 season.

This fall, Tryst Hospitality will invest in thoughtful enhancements to these properties, focusing on elevating the guest experience while maintaining the Fire Island Pines as a world-class LGBTQ+ travel destination. The most significant investment will include a major renovation to the hotel, which will open as The Tryst Fire Island in time for the 2025 season.

Tryst Hospitality and its brands are part of Tristan’s vision for a global portfolio of gay businesses that champion diversity, luxury, and adventure. Tristan founded MISTR, which provides free online PrEP across the United States to more than 300,000 patients. 

He launched Tryst Hotels, a luxury brand catering to the discerning tastes of gay travelers, that are located the most iconic LGBTQ+ travel destinations. Tryst Hotels encourage you to be your best self, even on your worst behavior.

The Tryst Puerto Vallarta will open this Summer in the heart of the Zona Romántica and begin taking reservations in the next few weeks. The Tryst San Juan is open now but will begin extensive renovations later this year. Fire Island will become the brand’s third location in 2025.

Tristan owns and operates The Abbey Food & Bar and The Chapel in West Hollywood, the iconic gay nightlife venue, twice named the best Gay Bar in the World, frequented by A-List talent and neighborhood regulars alike, and named the top nightlife drop off and pick up point in the world for both Uber and Lyft.

This fall, Tristan will re-open a newly renovated Circo, a well-known LGBTQ+ nightlife venue in San Juan, Puerto Rico walking distance to The Tryst San Juan. In the coming months, Tristan will announce more acquisitions as he expands his company and truly embraces the moniker “the CEO of everything gay.”

For more information and to sign up to be one of the first to book your stay, please visit trysthotels.com and follow @trysthotels on social media.

******************************************************************************************

Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

The preceding article was previously published at WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: Fire Island Pasta

LA Blade White House correspondent Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly column

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Colu Henry’s orecchiette with corn, jalapeño, feta, and basil. (Photo by Christopher Kane/LA Blade)

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based White House correspondent serves up another of his delicious weekly recipes

FIRE ISLAND PINES, N.Y. – This weekend, dear friends of mine were kind enough to invite me to their new home in Fire Island Pines, a beautiful Horace Gifford property steps from the beach. 

They and their friends have been doing housework and yardwork in preparation to rent the house out during the high season, but everyone knew better than to ask me to trim trees or power wash the balconies. Instead, I happily volunteered to cook. 

I know where my strengths lie. 

LA Blade White House correspondent Chris Kane (far left) & friends at Fire Island Pines off the Eastern Shore of Long Island, New York.

On Friday, I made Alison Roman’s chicken thighs braised with tomatillos, which I served with an assortment of toppings: cilantro, sliced radishes, and diced jalapeno and raw onion (quick-pickled with lime juice to lessen the bite). 

On Saturday, I managed to convince five other gay men to eat pasta. Can you imagine? Colu Henry’s orecchiette with corn, jalapeño, feta, and basil was good enough to make everyone forget about the calories and carbs.

Recipe lightly adapted from New York Times Cooking: 

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook 1 pound orecchiette until 2-minutes short of al-dente (as indicated in the cooking instructions on the box). Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water 
  2. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: In a 12-inch skillet, melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and cook 1 jalapeno, diced, along with 4-8 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced, for 2 minutes
  3. Add corn kernels from 5-6 ears, cooking until it starts to brown, 4-6 minutes. Season with salt. Add ¼ cup pasta water and simmer until reduced by half, about 1-2 minutes
  4. Add pasta to the skillet, tossing to coat with the sauce. Add 8-10 ounces crumbled feta cheese and another ¼ cup pasta water, stirring until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy and glossy
  5. Stop and admire her glow-up

Stir in ½ cup basil and top with more basil

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