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MAY 28 - JUNE 10, 2009






New Yorkers Respond With Their Feet


R esponding to a decision by Cali- fornia’s Supreme Court that upheld a state constitutional

amendment that banned gay marriage there, thousands took to the streets in Manhattan to object to that ruling and demand that New York’s State Senate pass a same-sex marriage bill this year. “I have a message for our friends in the State Senate,” said Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, to

loud applause and cheering at a May 26 rally held at Union Square. “The time has come to pass marriage equality in the Senate.” The rally and march was one of more than 100 held across the country on the day that California’s highest court held in a 6-1 ruling that Proposition 8, an initiative approved by voters in that state last year, was constitutional. That same court ruled in May of last year that a 2000 law passed by California voters


Slim on LGBT Cases, Sotomayor Wins Gay Praise


T hough she has a slim record on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans- gender issues, federal Judge

Sonia Sotomayor is winning support from some gay groups to be the next associate justice on the US Supreme Court. “We applaud President Obama for choosing Judge Sonia Sotomayor to become our nation’s next US Supreme Court Justice,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Cam- paign, in a May 26 press statement. “The US Supreme Court decides cases that intimately affect the lives of all


cases that intimately affect the lives of all COURT P. 4 NEWFEST 18 California Supreme Court



California Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8


T he California Supreme Court, on

May 26, ruled that Proposition

8, the measure approved by vot-

ers there on November 4 to amend that state’s constitution to provide that only marriages between a man and woman would be “valid or recognized in Califor- nia,” was not subject to challenge as an improper constitutional “revision,” and so was properly enacted through an ini- tiative amendment. Only one member of the court, Justice Carlos Moreno, dis- sented from this conclusion. However, the court unanimously ruled

PROP 8 P. 14

In this issue:


The trouble with California




Abdellah Taïa explores

Moroccan erotics




Five choreographic

giants at 651 Arts


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28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 2 / Human Rights

2/Human Rights

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 2 / Human Rights
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 2 / Human Rights
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 2 / Human Rights

Moscow Pride Claims PR Win

Violent suppression of gathering fails to dampen activist triumph


F or the fourth year in a row, an attempt to have a Moscow

Gay Pride March was vio- lently broken up by police on Saturday, May 16, and 40 LGBT activists were arrested. Still, Pride orga- nizers claimed a propagan- da victory.”Our goal was to have the maximum vis- ibility with the minimum damage to activists,” Nico- lai Alexeyv, the 33-year- old lawyer who has been the lead organizer of these Moscow Pride events since their inception, told Gay City News by telephone from Moscow. “By careful planning, we cheated the police, obtained a huge amount of publicity for LGBT rights in Russia, avoided the homophobic

thugs who were staging a counter-demonstration, and did so with no serious injury to anyone.” The Pride March had been banned by Moscow’s homophobic authoritarian Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has called such marches “Satanic” and recently dubbed gays “weapons of mass destruction.” Luzh- kov’s press spokesman, Serge Tsoi, told Russia’s Novosti press agency just prior to the Pride March, “The Moscow govern- ment is declaring that there never has been and never will be a gay parade in Moscow,” adding that such events are “aimed at destroying not only the moral foundations of our country but deliberately provoking disorder threat- ening the lives and security

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of Moscovites and guests to the capital.” Novosti also reported that “the Russian Ortho- dox Church and various far-right groups vowed to halt any attempts to hold a march in support of gay rights in Russia.” A police plan to sabo- tage the Pride March by staging a preventive arrest of lead organizer Alexeyev was foiled when the coura- geous young lawyer slept in different locations every night for the week preced- ing the event and con- tinually changed the cell phones he was using. Similarly, Alexeyev and the other Pride organizers had originally announced the location of the dem- onstration as Moscow’s Novopushkinsky Skver (New Pushkin Square), but changed the actual loca- tion at the last minute to Vorobyovy Gory, a scenic garden near Moscow State University that is a popu- lar site for wedding photo- graphs. To further mislead the police, Alexeyev told Gay City News, “I stayed sepa- rate from the main group and arrived in a limou- sine with others disguised as a wedding party, and showed up with a comrade trans activist from Belar- us who was in a wedding dress. When the many journalists and TV crews we’d alerted spotted me and crowded around me, this diverted the attention of the police, and allowed our buses carrying the main body of demonstra- tors to disembark and unfurl their banners.” Alexeyev was thrown to the ground by five burly police officers, then he and his “bride” were carried into a police van. There were a total of some 80 demonstrators, Alexeyev said, “including some from cities all over Russia, like Yekaterinburg, Rostov, Krasnodarsk, Vol-

over Russia, like Yekaterinburg, Rostov, Krasnodarsk, Vol- Protesters arrested as Moscow’s OMON riot police sweep

Protesters arrested as Moscow’s OMON riot police sweep through the garden demonstration site.

godarsk, Minsk, Ryazan, and Sochi.” Among them

were a handful of older vet- erans of the underground Russian gay rights move- ment of the 1980s, includ- ing a member of Russia’s Academy of Sciences and

a nuclear physicist. Billed

this year as “Slavic Pride,” the demonstrators includ- ed a contingent of 15 LGBT activists from the neigh- boring ex-Soviet republic

of Belarus.

The demonstration was conducted in waves. First, the Belarus con- tingent arrived chanting “Homophobia is a dis- grace! “ After half of them were arrested and dragged away by the police, anoth- er contingent unfurled a 25-foot banner reading “Gay Equality, No Com- promise!” Dozens of the dreaded, thuggish OMON riot police who had appeared on the scene chased the LGBT contingents through the gardens, dragging some of the demonstrators unnec- essarily through prickly hedges, and violently

arrested half of them, including two Westerners who’d come to Moscow in solidarity with the Russian activists. Britain’s best-known gay activist, Peter Tatch- ell, head of the militant gay rights agit-prop group OutRage!, was thrown to

the ground, and later said he’d been handled with “unnecessary violence, my arm was twisted behind my back and my wrist was twisted until it hurt.” At the 2006 Moscow Pride, Tatchell was violent-

ly attacked and beaten on his head by homophobic thugs acting in collusion with the police; he still is suffering the after-effects of that beating, including bouts of vision problems and short-term memory loss — which made Tatch- ell’s willingness to risk another beating in Moscow all the more courageous. Tatchell was arrested and detained, but released after a British Embassy official showed up at the police station. Also arrested was an American gay activist, Andy Thayer of Chicago’s Gay Liberation Network. Alexeyev told this reporter that “police beat the demonstrators unnec- essarily and used dispro- portionate violence. Fortu- nately, this time there were no serious injuries.” At the police station, Alexeyv said, he and the activists from Belarus were detained seperately from the other demonstra- tors, most of whom were released the same day after paying a fine, while Alex- eyev and the half-dozen Belarus activists were kept

in jail overnight in what the

Pride organizer described as “simply dreadful condi- tions. We were very cold, as the jail cell’s window was broken, and we were not given blankets. Nor could we sleep, because there were only hard benches to

sit on. Then, the police put

a number of very drunk

homeless people into our already-cramped cells, who urinated in our water bottle and made the deten- tion even more unbear- able.” Alexeyev related that he was interrogated for nine straight hours without a letup. “There was no vio- lence used, but instead an enormous amount of psychological pressure,” he said. “The police used every homophobic insult imaginable, saying that we were pedophiles, zoophiles, child molesters, and using every single vicious slang epithet for gay in the Rus- sian language.” In addition, Alexeyev told Gay City News, “My lawyer was not allowed to see me when he came

to the police station, and they illegally confiscated my cell phone. They tried to get me to name the names of my collaborators, and they downloaded and copied every name and address in my cell phone’s

MOSCOW, continued on p.34



28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009



Rodger McFarlane Dies

AIDS, gay community builder was 54


R odger McFarlane — whose orga-


ing roles at groups from Gay Men’s Health Crisis

(GMHC) in the early 1980s

to the Gill Foundation in

the new century put him

at the center of AIDS and

gay philanthropic and political activity for more

than 25 years — has died

at age 54. Dr. Howard Grossman,

a leading AIDS physi-

cian in New York during

the epidemic’s first two decades, recalled McFar- lane’s gifts as a caregiver — indeed, in 1998, he wrote “The Complete Bed- side Companion: No Non- sense Advice on Caring for the Seriously Ill” — and said, “As a practitioner, my work would have been almost impossible without what he set up at GMHC.” Grossman said what dis- tinguished McFarlane from the many other com- mitted AIDS activists from the period was that “he was a truth-teller.” Despite McFarlane’s work in making sure that tens of thousands of New Yorkers living with or dying from AIDS had access to services, care, and social support, he died alone, on May 15, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in a park outside the spa town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where he had been living for the past several months after his departure as executive director of Gill late last year. According to a state- ment released by fam- ily members and friends, McFarlane, whose body was found by a biker, left

a note explaining he was

unwilling to allow what one friend termed “excru- ciating” back pain and a

worsening heart condition

to lead to “total debilita-

tion.” The statement from

to lead to “total debilita- tion.” The statement from Rodger McFarlane, in 2007, with GMHC’s chief

Rodger McFarlane, in 2007, with GMHC’s chief executive officer, Dr. Marjorie Hill.

family and friends read, “Already disabled in his own mind, he could no longer work out or do all the outdoor activities he so loved. He was also now faced with the realization that he could literally not travel, making employ- ment increasingly diffi- cult.” The New Mexico State Police concluded that the cause of death “was a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.” A call to the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator (placed after the police conclusion was released on May 22) to determine if its investigation had been completed was not imme- diately returned. McFarlane, born on February 25, 1955, trav-

eled far from his youth on a farm in Theodore, Alabama. He never gradu- ated from college, joined the Navy in 1974, where he saw service on a nucle- ar submarine, and moved

to New York by the late 1970s, working as a respi- ratory therapist. Randy Shilts, in his history of the early AIDS epidemic, “And the Band Played On,” described McFarlane, prior to 1981, as a young man enjoying New York’s vibrant gay scene who did not feel discrimination due to his homosexuality and could not understand the radicalism of political activists around him. “It wasn’t just me,” he told Gay City News in a 2007 interview. “There was a whole generation of us who were politicized by AIDS. People laying in the emergency room and dying untreated was the reason. I kept say- ing to Larry Kramer early on, ‘Some of these people have been working in civil rights for hundreds of


involved in that. We were at the party.” Kramer, the playwright and screenwriter who was

None of us were

also among the co-found- ers of GMHC and went on to sound the call that resulted in ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, in an email mes- sage, said of McFarlane, “He was the best fucking

friend anyone could ever have.” He also wrote, “He became the most bril-

liant of strategists

made GMHC, he made B’way Cares, he made the Gill Foundation. These are magnificent achieve- ments.” McFarlane in 1982 became the volunteer head of GMHC and served as its first paid execu- tive director from 1983- 85. From 1989 through 1994, he was the found- ing executive director of Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, the theater industry group that has raised millions to sup- port HIV/AIDS service organizations. McFarlane served as executive direc- tor of the Gill Foundation, the philanthropic orga- nization founded by gay Denver software entrepre- neur Tim Gill, from 2004 through late 2008. He was also instrumental in launching Gill Action, the political lobbying affili- ate of the Foundation. At his death, McFarlane was president emeritus of Bai- ley House, an organiza- tion dating to the 1980s that provides supportive housing to homeless New Yorkers living with HIV. M c F a r l a n e ’ s j o b description as GMHC’s executive director reads a lot more formal than the chaos of the time entailed. “One-hundred twen- ty-five scared people. And fucked-up people,” he recalled of the first night that he opened the GMHC hotline out of his own apartment. “I mean they were sitting in shit in Mount Sinai and NYU. We had a patient set on fire.


MCFARLANE, continued on p.32


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28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 4 / Legal


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28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 4 / Legal
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 4 / Legal


COURT, from p.1

10 JUN 2009 4 / Legal WHITEHOUSE.GOV COURT , from p.1 Judge Sonia Sotomayor has seen

Judge Sonia Sotomayor has seen few LGBT rights cases, but has won warm praise from gay advocacy groups.

The fourth case dealt with

a straight Roman Catholic

priest who sued archdiocesan officials in Newark, New York City, and Albany, as well as a

religious order, charging that the alleged sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of some

of the defendants was, in part,

discrimination based on sexual orientation. The case was dis-

missed by a lower federal judge,

who also sanctioned the priest’s attorney. The appeal challenged both the dismissal and the penalty levied against the attorney. The panel Sotomayor sat on upheld the lower court and noted that the federal statute cited by the priest and his lawyer does not bar discrimination based on

sexual orientation. What the priest’s case might predict is that Sotomayor would not interpret current federal statutes as banning discrimination based on sex- ual orientation. Such a posi- tion would be in line with mul- tiple decisions from the federal courts, including a 2000 deci- sion from a three-judge panel of the second circuit that did not include Sotomayor. Despite the scant gay record, the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Bar Association, an affiliate of the American Bar Association, approved of the nomination. “We are pleased and encour- aged by this excellent choice,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, the asso- ciation’s executive director, in a statement. “As LGBT Ameri- cans, we are excited to have more diversity on the bench, and as attorneys we are grati- fied to have one of the bright- est legal minds of our time on the Court.” Lambda Legal, the nation’s leading gay rights law firm, was more cautious. In a state- ment, the group welcomed the nomination of “a woman of color, the first Latina, and the third woman,” but also urged senators weighing her nomi-

nation to “ask pertinent and comprehensive questions to best assess Judge Sotomayor’s ability to be a fair and impar- tial justice on the US Supreme Court.” The 54-year-old Sotomayor was first appointed to the fed- eral bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Previously, she worked as a corporate liti- gator and an assistant district attorney under Robert Morgen- thau, the Manhattan district attorney. An analysis by CNN showed that some major opinions sup- ported or authored by Soto- mayor were reversed by the US Supreme Court, though some on the left might support at least one of those reversals — in a case where she ruled against freelance writers who sued the New York Times for copyright infringement. The reversals could mean that Sotomayor is willing to be bold and is unconcerned with having the nation’s high- est court overrule her, that she is intellectually not up to the job as some right-wingers are already charging, or that the current high court has become so conservative that any opin- ion arriving from anywhere left of center will be shot down.

Americans. We are confident that Judge Sotomayor has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans.” A search in a legal data- base on Sotomayor’s name and terms such as gay, sexual orientation, or homosexual turned up four cases since she was appointed in 1998 to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In each case, Sotomayor was one of three judges hearing an appeal. Three were immigration cases in which gay men sought to enter the US saying they feared persecution if they were returned to their native coun- tries. In two cases, the panels upheld earlier rulings by immi- gration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals that denied the men entry into the US. The third case was sent back to the board to be reconsidered. Those three rulings dealt as much with the technicalities of how the earlier decisions were made as with any facts weighed in those cases, and they shed little light on how Sotomayor might rule in other gay cases.



California Looks to 2010

In the wake of the loss on the constitutional challenge to Propo- sition 8 at the State Supreme Court on May 26, Equality Cali- fornia, the LGBT rights lobby there, is urging marriage equal- ity advocates to press for a new ballot question overturning last November’s vote in the 2010 fall election. In a written release from Geoff Kors and Marc Solo- mon, top officials at EQCA, the group said, “We listened very carefully to the thousands of you who responded to our member- ship survey. You provided pas- sionate arguments for both 2010 and 2012, as well as detailed comments about why you prefer one election to another.” Evaluating the 2010 option, the group listed momentum, likely Democratic gubernatorial candidates in that election who all support marriage equality, the likely lack of other LGBT bal-

lot questions nationwide at that time, and the fact that the 2012 election will offer competing demands of fundraising from the first post-redistricting state leg- islative contest and the expected reelection campaign of President Barack Obama. Factors in favor of waiting, however, are that 2012 gives advocates two more years to organize, the likelihood of an improved economy making fundraising easier, and the shift in demographics toward younger voters who are far more favor- able to marriage equality than their parents and grandparents. “In the end, a 2010 election will likely be very close,” the release stated. “From our van- tage point, the deciding factors to return to the ballot in 2010 rather than 2012 include the energy and momentum and the political land- scape in California.” A release from the Courage Campaign, a grassroots group that emerged in the wake of Prop 8’s passage and claims 700,000

members, also endorsed the 2010 timeframe.

LGBT Americans Pour Into Streets after Prop 8 Ruling

As thousands of gay New York- ers marched from the West Village to Union Square Park to protest the California Supreme Court’s affirmation of Proposition 8, over- turning marriage equality in that state, and to demand State Senate action in Albany on a gay marriage bill here, they were joined by LGBT folks in 116 other cities. So reports, a website set up by California marriage equality plaintiff Robin Tyler to coordinate a nationwide response. In San Francisco, hundreds blocked Market Street as dem- onstrators converged on City Hall the evening of May 26. Earlier in the day, more than 100 protest- ers blocking Van Ness Avenue adjacent to the San Francisco State Supreme Court building

were arrested. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mayor Gavin Newsom, a leader in the marriage equality fight since 2004 when he briefly allowed marriage

licenses to be issued in that city, prior to court intervention, issued

a statement urging everyone in the

state to “please talk to a lesbian or gay family member, neighbor or co- worker and ask them why equality

in the eyes of the law is important

to every Californian.” Governor Arnold Schwarzeneg- ger, a Republican who has twice vetoed marriage equality legisla- tion approved by the Democratic- controlled Legislature, said he was certain that “one day either the people or courts will recognize gay marriage.” The Los Angeles Times reported that a crowd of up to 2,000 marched up Island Avenue in Hollywood, descending on the intersection of Hollywood Bou- levard and Highland Avenue. As the crowd used chalk to inscribe their sentiments on the sidewalk,

one protester scrawled, “H8 is not love.” The San Diego Union- Tribune pegged the crowd in that city at 3,500, including a woman in a wheelchair and many couples pushing baby strollers. The pro- testers, chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho,

homophobia’s got to go,” marched from Balboa Park to the Hall of Justice downtown. The Chicago Tribune reported

that more than 1,000 demonstra- tors marched in the rain along Halsted Street in Boystown, wav- ing rainbow flags and signs read- ing, “We Demand Equality.” LGBT advocates are racing against time to win approval from the Legisla- ture in Springfield for a civil union law that this week won com- mittee approval in the House of Representatives. The Legislature adjourns its spring session on Sun- day. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that more than 100 turned out. “We have to make sure that whatever happened in California, as horrible as it is, stays in Califor- nia,” Lisa Stone of Legal Voice told

a cheering crowd. Opponents of Washington State’s domestic part- nership law, which is essentially a civil union measure, are working to gather enough petition signatures by June 25 to put a question on the ballot overturning the statute.

Bush v. Gore Foes Unite on Marriage

Ted Olson, President George W. Bush’s first solicitor general, and David Boies, his opponent on the famous Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case that handed the presi- dency to Olson’s boss, have joined forces to take the Prop 8 ruling by the California Supreme Court to the US Supreme Court. In a suit filed on May 22, on behalf of Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarril- lo of Burbank, the two attorneys stated “the separate-but-unequal institution of domestic partner- ship” violates the equal protection

BRIEFS, continued on p.7


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28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Legal / 7

Legal /7




BOOKS Honoring the Greats

The Lambda Literary Foundation and CLAGS, CUNY’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, present the 21st annual Lambda Literary Awards, recognizing excellence in LGBT writing. One highlight of the evening will be special recogni- tion to Leslie Feinberg, Andrew Hol- laran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White. CLAGS/ CUNY, Fifth Ave. at 34th St., cocktails at 6 p.m.; awards at 7; afterparty at 9:30. Tickets are $75; $95 after May 15 at


FILM This Was Your Father’s Arizona

“Lonesome Cowboys”(1967–68), directed by Andy Warhol with cinema- tography by Paul Morrissey, is a Western comedy/drama shot on location in Arizona, about a small town with a transvestite sheriff, a rich lady rancher named Ramona Alvarez, her male nurse who expertly danc- es the twist, and five lonesome cowboys who fixate on their hair, practice ballet on a hitching post, engage in amorous activi- ties, and discuss the loneliness that makes them “love themselves more than any- one else.” Joe Dallesandro and Viva star. Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53rd St., through May 29, 1:30 p.m. Admission is $10; $8 for seniors; $6 for students.



PEFORMANCE All the People You Love

Comedian/ monologist Greg Walloch, who has a thing for skaters, surfers, cow- boys, and celebrity chefs, hosts an eve- ning of stories, music, and fun from Sirius XM Satellite Radio host Frank DeCaro, actor Ann Carr, and the musical duo Jim Andralis & Larry Krone. Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St., btwn. Delancey & Rivington Sts., 10 p.m. Admission is



Boogie Down Dance

In a festival running through Jun. 3, the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance pres-

MAY 29, continued on p.12

24-Year Injustice Overturned

Gay man did not have fair trial in child abuse case appeals court finds


F ifteen months after oral

arguments, the Appeals

Court of Massachusetts

has finally affirmed a lower court ruling that a gay man did not receive a fair trial in 1985 on charges he raped and abused pre-schoolers in his care. The decision upheld a ruling by now- retired Superior Court Judge Francis R. Fecteau in the case of Bernard Baran, a 19-year-old employee of a day care center at the time of his conviction. Baran was apparently the vic- tim of a homophobic plot, incom- petent legal representation, pros- ecutorial misconduct, and judi- cial malpractice all at once. Fec- teau premised his ruling solely on incompetent representation, but the appellate panel suggest- ed that prosecutorial miscon- duct was implicit in the Superior Court’s finding on that point. It also noted that Baran had not received a public trial, when the trial court unilaterally decided to close the courtroom to the public and press during the objection- able testimony by the child wit- nesses. The unanimous three-judge panel upheld Fecteau’s deci- sion to reverse the original ver- dict and set Baran free on bail, though with onerous monitoring conditions. The Berkshire Coun- ty prosecutor will have to decide whether to seek an appeal to the

Supreme Judicial Court, retry the case — now nearly 25 years

old — or drop the matter. Justice Barbara Lenk’s opin- ion for the appellate panel points up an unfortunate miscarriage

of justice Baran apparently suf-

fered. One family, unhappy that

a gay man was involved in their

child’s care, seems to have fab- ricated charges against him and then enlisted other families in their crusade. Suggestive ques- tioning of the pre-schoolers, ages three and four, documented on interview tapes carefully edited to omit exculpatory material, were presented to both the grand jury and the trial jury. The unedited versions were never provided to Baran’s counsel. The appeals panel also found the trial was tainted by improper testimony as well as improper argument by the prosecutor — now a judge, probably compli- cating Baran’s efforts at vindica- tion. The result was an hysteri- cal stampede to convict Baran on several counts of child rape and sexual abuse and punish him with multiple life sentences. He spent more than 20 years in prison, enduring mistreatment by his fellow inmates, before

Fecteau’s ruling finally led to his release in 2006. Baran’s original counsel, now dead, had little criminal expe- rience and was hired out of the phone book by Baran’s mother,

a woman of limited means. He

failed to object to all kinds of objectionable testimony and argument, failed to demand pre- trial access to the unedited wit- ness tapes, and prejudicially introduced the subject of Baran’s homosexuality into the trial. (He was accused of assaulting both

boys and girls, so his orientation was irrelevant to the charges.) He also failed to engage experts to counter the testimony of pros- ecution witnesses regarding the reliability of three- and four- year-olds in offering testimony. Fecteau concluded that the defense lawyer’s failings went beyond poor strategic moves to utter incompetence. The Appeals Court agreed. “Defense counsel’s apparent failure to engage in any meaningful prep- aration for what was indisput- ably a complex, high-stakes trial represented a more or less complete abandonment of his professional obligations to the defendant,” Judge Lenk wrote. The Appeals Court pointed out numerous ways in which the prosecutor had overstepped the bounds of appropriate evidence and argument, but did not come to a definitive conclusion on this, since that would require further hearings. Baran’s incompetent representation provided ample cause to overturn his convic- tion. The court also noted that the unexplained decision by the trial court to exclude the public

during the testimony of the chil-

dren deprived Baran of a public trial as constitutionally guaran- teed, reason alone for invalidat- ing the verdict. This case is an example of the hysterical prosecutions of day care and nursery employees that swept the country during the 1980s, when gay people were being demonized as child molest- ers and worse by public officials. During this time, for example, that the New Hampshire Legis- lature sought to enact a ban on gay people working in day care centers — a prohibition that the State Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional in an advisory opinion, while at the same time pre-clearing a bill that barred gays from adopting children, a measure since repealed. Juries were prompted by fake experts to believe extraordinary tales of satanic rites described by heavily coached pre-schoolers, resulting draconian prison sen- tences for seemingly innocent individuals. The amazing thing is that current-day prosecutors remain invested in defending those convictions, despite all evidence they were wrongfully obtained. This is the case in Berkshire County, where the prosecutor insisted on appealing Fecteau’s extraordinarily detailed opinion, needlessly subjecting Baran to years of unnecessary uncertainty about freedom already too-long denied.

BRIEFS, from p.4

and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, making gay and lesbian couples “sec- ond-class citizens.” “We believe this is the kind of matter where Americans must come together and recognize the rights of all cit- izens,” Olson told the Associated Press.” This is about the rights of individuals to be treated equally and not be stigmatized.” Leading LGBT rights groups are not amused. In a joint statement issued on May 27, nine organizations — includ- ing Lambda Legal, Freedom to Marry, the Gay & Lesbian Advo- cates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and

the American Civil Liberties Union — warned that ill-timed lawsuits could set the fight for marriage back. In a new publi- cation, “Why the United States Supreme Court is not the next step on marriage in California,” the groups aim to “discourage people from bringing lawsuits based on the federal Constitu- tion because it is unlikely the U.S. Supreme Court would rule that same-sex couples can not be barred from marriage.” Last May, when the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, the groups issued “Make Change, Not Lawsuits,” which also argued that the time was not yet right for a challenge on the federal

question about marriage equal- ity. The new publication is avail- able at

Update On Gotham Marriage Bonus

Updating a report first issued in 2007, city Comptroller Wil- liam C. Thompson, Jr., this week released an analysis showing that the state economy can expect a $210 million boost in the first three years after marriage equality is enacted here. The comptroller, a Demo- crat who is running for mayor, looks not only at spending on weddings by same-sex New York couples, but also the city’s status as a “prime destination”

for out-of-state couples getting married. Just under $150 mil- lion of the $210 million would accrue to the city’s economy. If the current recession were to persist over the three-year time horizon of the study, the ben- efits to New York would decline to $178 million for the state, and $120 million for the city, the report found. Thompson conceded that employers would bear higher spousal benefits costs of $69 million for the state and $37 million for the city, but even accounting for that expense, the net economic benefits would be $141 million for the state and $112 million for the city. Some married gay or lesbian spouses

would lose their Medicaid eligibility, saving the state an additional $110 million over three years, Thompson’s report estimated.

In New Hampshire, Try, Try Again

John Lynch, the Democratic governor of New Hampshire, was not quite ready to sign off on the marriage equality bill passed by the Legislature, but on May 14 stated that he would do so if certain changes — aimed at broadening the rights of religious groups or individuals employed by religious groups to refuse to

BRIEFS, continued on p.15

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 8 / Health


28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 8 / Health
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 8 / Health
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 8 / Health

Dissents on Frieden

Some AIDS advocates fault Obama’s CDC pick


M ore than three months before the Obama administration announced that New York

City’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, would head the federal Cen- ters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Housing Works announced that it opposed Frieden for that job. “Frieden has simultaneously employed an authoritarian, my-way-or-the-high- way approach and an unabashed secre- tiveness undignified of a public servant,” the AIDS group wrote in a statement. “He has excluded AIDS groups wherever possible from having input into life-and- death AIDS funding, testing, and care policymaking decisions.” Public health is often paternal and can be “authori- tarian.” Frieden’s seven-year tenure has certainly looked like both at times. His results have won him praise from other AIDS groups and health professionals. Frieden’s efforts to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and other workplac- es, and the distribution of free nico-

tine patch kits have cut smoking in the city to record lows. To target obesity, he banned trans fats from city restau- rants and required those businesses to post the calorie counts of their products where customers could see them. That aggressive style was evident when Frieden ran the city health depart- ment’s tuberculosis program from 1992 to 1996, where he championed, among a number of measures, quarantine for patients who would not take their medi- cation. Between 1993 and 2001, the city locked up and treated 395 individuals who had drug-resistant tuberculosis, with one man being detained for nearly two years. As recently as 2007, the city quarantined two men and one woman with the bug. Frieden is an advocate of condom dis- tribution — the city gives away millions each year — and distributing unused syringes to drug users, a practice that has dramatically cut new HIV infections among drug injectors. Using an HIV test that identifies new HIV infections, the city tested 3,464

that identifies new HIV infections, the city tested 3,464 HIV-positive blood samples collected at city clinics

HIV-positive blood samples collected at city clinics between June 1, 2000 and December 31, 2004. The study results were released in 2007. Among all men, the new infection rate went from 0.72 percent in the second half of 2000 to 0.44 percent in second half of 2004. During that time, the rate among het- erosexuals went from 0.29 to 0.08, the rate among women went from 0.32 per- cent to 0.06, and the rate among drug injectors went from 2.54 percent to 1.04 percent. Those declines were statistically significant. While those declines cannot be attrib- uted entirely to Frieden policies, they certainly made a contribution. But, he has consistently failed in reducing new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men. That same study found that the new infection rate among gay and bisexual men went from 3.79 percent in the sec- ond half of 2000 to 2.84 percent in sec- ond half of 2004. That decline was not

FRIEDEN, continued on p.30

of 2004. That decline was not FRIEDEN , continued on p.30 Dr. Thomas Frieden, the new

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the new CDC chief, battled with some leading AIDS advocates while health commissioner in New York City.

Thomas Frieden, the new CDC chief, battled with some leading AIDS advocates while health commissioner in



28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


Health Chief:

Close Bathhouses

Dr. Thomas Farley, new Bloomberg pick, sees public sex as transmission bomb


W riting in a 2002 issue of Wash- ington Monthly magazine, New York City’s incoming health

commissioner argued that bathhouses where gay men meet for sex should be

closed to prevent the further spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Speaking at a May 18 press conference held to introduce him to the city’s media, Dr. Thomas A. Farley gave no indication that he had changed his position on bath- house closure when asked if that would be health department policy when he takes over on June 8. “We have a real problem with HIV and AIDS in New York and in the US as a whole,” Farley said when asked if closure would be his policy. “We have high rates of transmission in men who have sex with men and rising rates in young men who have sex with men. There’s a lot we need to do to address this problem. I look forward

and the

entire community that cares about HIV in this city.” Starting in 2007, Farley spent a year acting as an advisor to the city’s health department. In that role, he authored a memo that described four options for deal- ing with city sex clubs and bathhouses, including trying to close “all commercial sex venues.” The other options were to continue the current scheme of enforcing a 1985 state health code that bans oral, anal, and vaginal sex, with or without a condom, in businesses, a scheme inconsistently enforced, aggressively increase the code enforcement, or regulate sex businesses by changing the code and allowing them to operate “under strict safe-sex rules” and other requirements. Gay and AIDS groups have generally favored regulation, though some commu- nity voices support closing these business- es. The memo caused a brief outcry and, in early 2008, the health department said it had no plans to close any sex businesses. In 2008, Gay City News spoke with some leading experts who said that bath- house regulation, by itself, will not imme- diately reduce new HIV infections, but that such regulation makes men available for HIV testing and prevention messages. Farley also expressed the view that “health officials” should “either close the baths or regulate them tightly to enforce condom use” in a 2005 letter to the editor

to working with the department

in the New York Times. Perhaps reflecting the degree to which

the New York Times. Perhaps reflecting the degree to which Dr. Thomas Farley at City Hall

Dr. Thomas Farley at City Hall on May 18 after his appoint- ment was announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

a public discussion of gay men’s sex lives and the regulation of sex businesses is no longer of interest to many gay men, even as many of them continue to patronize such businesses, no AIDS or gay groups responded to emails seeking comment on Farley’s appointment and his views on bathhouse closure. The exception was William K. Dobbs, a gay civil libertarian, who has been a con- sistent defender of gay men’s sexual free- dom. “Farley’s 2002 article is frightening for its anti-sex and anti-gay sentiment and policies it voices,” Dobbs said. “The last thing we need in New York City is another official whose public health policies will be colored by an aversion to gay culture and sexual civil liberties.” It may also be that AIDS groups are more focused on forestalling cuts in the city budget for services for people with AIDS — and feel that battling over sex clubs and the city’s three remaining bathhouses is not a fight they want. They may yet get a fight from Farley. Like Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the outgo- ing commissioner, Farley backs assess- ing the cost effectiveness of HIV interven- tions. In 2004, he published a study that described a method for estimating how many HIV infections a particular inter- vention prevented and at what cost. Far- ley’s formula allows government agencies to steer funds to interventions that are deemed the most cost effective. “I share with Commissioner Frieden a focus on what are the leading causes of death in New York City, a focus on data and scientific evidence behind

FARLEY, continued on p.30

Over A Decade of Experience Litigating Employment and Civil Rights Cases for our Community 2007

Over A Decade of Experience Litigating Employment and Civil Rights Cases for our Community 2007
Over A Decade of Experience Litigating Employment and Civil Rights Cases for our Community 2007
Over A Decade of Experience Litigating Employment and Civil Rights Cases for our Community 2007

Over A Decade of Experience Litigating Employment and Civil Rights Cases for our Community

2007 - 2009 Deputy Commissioner, New York State Devision of Human Rights

2006 Honoree: New York City Council - “Contributions and Service to New York City”

2003 Honoree: Common Cause “Holding Power Accountable” Ethical New Yorker of the Year Award

Former Aide to Mayor David N Dinkins and Public Advocate Mark Green


Thomas D. Shanahan, P.C. 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2010 New York, NY 10176

tel (212) 867-1100 fax (212) 972-1787



28 JAN - 10 JUN 2009

28 JAN - 10 JUN 2009 10 / Editorial ■ LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The Trouble
28 JAN - 10 JUN 2009 10 / Editorial ■ LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The Trouble


28 JAN - 10 JUN 2009 10 / Editorial ■ LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The Trouble
28 JAN - 10 JUN 2009 10 / Editorial ■ LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The Trouble


The Trouble With California


N obody was particularly surprised by the rul- ing out of the Califor-

nia Supreme Court this week, upholding the constitutional validity of Proposition 8 while at the same time finding that the 18,000 or so marriages by same- sex couples there between June and Election Day remain in force. At the oral arguments earlier this year, the court seemed unim- pressed by either the argument that Prop 8 was a “revision” and not merely an “amendment” to the State Constitution, and so could not be enacted in the man- ner it was, or Attorney General Jerry Brown’s assertion that the amendment impermissibly took away “inalienable rights” guaran- teed in the Constitution. But Chief Justice Ronald George, who wrote the majority opinions in both last year’s equal- ity victory and this week’s defeat, protested too much. In evaluating the revision versus amendment question, he posed a quantita- tive test — how many constitu- tional provisions were changed?; only 14 words in the definition of marriage — and a qualitative

measure — was the basic plan of California government changed? Here, George stumbled badly. As court rulings in Connecti- cut and Iowa, legislative debate in Vermont, and a public com- mission in New Jersey have all demonstrated, there is a sub- stantive difference between civil unions, or similar schemes such as California’s domestic partner- ships, and marriage equality. In fact, last May, George reached precisely the same conclusion, writing that denying the status of marriage to same-sex couples poses “a serious risk of denying the official family relationship of same-sex couples the equal dig- nity and respect that is a core ele- ment of the constitutional right to marry.” But this week, deny- ing same-sex couples the right to marry merely “carve[d] a narrow exception” out of the privacy, due process, and equal protection principles the court relied on last year. That wasn’t a change in the basic plan of government, in the chief justice’s view. The lone, brave dissenter, Jus- tice Carlos Moreno, cut through this nonsense, writing, “Even a

narrow and limited exception to the promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus funda- mentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment… Granting a disfavored minority only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional imperative, that they must be granted all of those rights.” Chief Justice George and the two colleagues who had joined him and Moreno in last year’s marriage equality ruling clearly lost the courage of their convictions, and it’s hard to know precisely why. Perhaps the line of attack Attorney General Brown had made — ques- tioning the right of voters to define a group of citizens who are singled out as ineligible for core consti- tutional protections — ought to have been given greater scrutiny by all of the advocates on our side. Maybe the fact that Brown and the rest of those on the side of marriage equality pursued sepa- rate lines of challenge to Prop 8’s validity fatally weakened the force of our arguments. Or, it might be that the Supreme Court simply did not have the stomach to over-

turn an emotionally charged bal- lot contest. In any event, the only recourse now seems to be a return to the ballot box; the quixotic notion of an appeal to the US Supreme Court seems useless, perhaps even dangerous given its current composition. Advocates in Cali- fornia will argue about whether 2010 or 2012 makes the most sense — and they will, in the process, undoubtedly revisit the post-mortems about what went wrong last year — but they will need a lot of financial support from LGBT Americans every- where to get the job done. That should remind us just how much the implacable oppo- sition of the right is costing our community. Prop 8 stands as testimony to the fact that those who would deny our rights and our humanity are not playing. The battle in Albany this coming month is not some vanity contest about Iowa getting there ahead of the great Empire State. It’s about our lives, our families, our happi- ness, and our security. Call your state senator; find out how at


Early Treatment and the Definition of HIV Illness


A New England Journal of Medicine article pub- lished April 30 provides

the best evidence yet that start- ing treatment for people with HIV early improves health outcomes. While many have suspected this was the case, this is the first study that looks at the difference in outcomes for people who initi- ate treatment when their T-cell count is above 500. This study highlights the troubling fact that New York City and State continue to cling to an antiquated defini- tion of HIV-related illness and an approach to HIV that has tragic consequences. The study found that people who begin antiretroviral AIDS treatments before their CD4 cells go below 500 have significantly better health outcomes. In fact, the critical finding is that people who wait until their T-cell count falls below 500 have a 94 percent

increased rate of mortality over folks who initiate treatment earli- er, and those who wait until their T-cells fall below 350 face even greater risk. Yet here in New York State, the general standard of care, as promulgated by the New York State AIDS Institute, does not recommend universal offering of treatment until T-cells have fallen below 350. Not only that, but the AIDS Institute definition of “HIV-related illness,” which defines access to HIV housing assistance statewide and almost all HIV/AIDS services in New York City, remains at a T-cell count below 200. The AIDS Insti- tute announced in recent weeks that it is reviewing the treatment guidelines in light of this study, but said nothing about the defini- tion of HIV-related illness. Research also shows a strong and consistent relationship

between housing status and HIV treatment access, health, and risk behaviors, regardless of personal characteristics and service use, and that housing assistance is among the strongest predictors of health outcomes. Housing Works has strongly advocated making HIV/AIDS services, including housing assistance, available to all low-income people living with HIV, something both New York City’s mayor and City Council speaker oppose. But it would be criminal for the AIDS Institute to change its treatment guidelines without changing the definition of HIV-related illness. Already, low income New Yorkers are put in the position of having to make the horrible choice between ini- tiating treatment that can dra- matically prolong their lives but preclude them from receiving equally life-saving housing and services, or wait until their HIV

illness advances to the point that they qualify for help and hope that their immune system can recover, something it never fully accomplishes. Recommendations regarding early treatment would make this choice even more per- nicious. The evidence is very clear. Housing and services are as criti- cal to care for people with HIV as medication. Not only that, but housing and services are a cost- effective way to prevent transmis- sion. The AIDS Institute must act now to change both the treatment guidelines to mandate that people who are infected be universally offered treatment on a voluntary basis and to change the definition of “HIV illness” to HIV infection.

Charles King is the chief execu- tive officer of Housing Works, an AIDS services group in New York City.


28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009


Perspective /11


An Albany Engagement


T wice in the last two

weeks, I visited Albany

to advocate that the New

York State Senate pass Gov- ernor David Paterson’s bill to

legalize same-sex civil marriage. In a series of private meetings,

I told each senator how impor-

tant this vote is to me and my family, and to countless other couples across New York State.

I asked each of them to do the

right thing and vote in favor of

this legislation. These conversations are

among the most personal that

I have ever had with legisla-

tors. I speak to them as a fel- low legislator, as a lesbian, and as a person in a serious, com- mitted relationship who wants and deserves the same rights they have with their spouses. Each senator that I’ve met with has asked me honest and open questions, and the dialogue can be revealing. I am touched by how seriously each legisla-

tor has taken this issue, both Democrat and Republican alike. The reality is that we are far more alike than we may have thought. Regardless of our sexual orientation, we want

the best for our families. My partner and I wake up every day and worry about the same things they worry about. We

spend some of our weekends visiting our families, including last week when we had a bar- becue and more than 20 of our relatives attended. Every fami-

ly deserves the legal rights and protections that only marriage can bestow. My partner and I are no exception. I do not walk into any of my meetings alone. With me, I bring the work of LGBT leg- islators Tom Duane, Danny O’Donnell, Deborah Glick, Mat- thew Titone, and Micah Kell- ner, as well as Governor Pat- erson and his staff, who are all

as well as Governor Pat- erson and his staff, who are all Speaker Christine Quinn addressing

Speaker Christine Quinn addressing the Prop 8 protest rally in Union Square Park on May 26.

working tirelessly every day on this issue. I carry with me the efforts of thousands of advo- cates and fighters for equality. Countless people have shown up to rallies, voiced their sup- port, and answered calls to action. I am both heartened and

humbled by the work everyone has done and the hope we all have. California’s recent Supreme Court decision should not deter us in any way from our ongo- ing efforts to ensure civil rights for all people. We must con-

tinue to advocate, to write our legislators, to make our phone calls, and to do all that we can to demand equal rights. This is not a time to give up, but a time to redouble our efforts. Millions are ready for a change, and are ready for it now. Our state has long been a moving force in fights for equal rights, and this crucial bill keeps us at the forefront of this movement. It is on all of our shoulders now, to show the rest of the country that this movement is a right and just movement. I continue to believe that after continued discussions and the work we will do in the weeks to come, we will make marriage equality a reality in this legislative session.

Christine C. Quinn is the speaker of the New York City Council, where she represents the Third District, which includes Chelsea, Hells Kitchen, the Flat- iron, and Murray Hill.


Memorial Day, 2009


A nother Memorial Day,

another moment of

national pageantry

broadcast on PBS. There were tear-jerking songs by fully- fleshed Hollywood and Broad- way types, and a flag-waving crowd intercut with lengthy dis- plays of abbreviated limbs that apparently caused less pain than a haircut. In the hospital videos, the damaged soldiers all wore brave smiles. Their girl- friends and wives absolutely beamed. What joy, what honor holding some gimp’s hand as he learns to make do with plas- tic legs! Then there was the guy on the front row of the Lincoln Memorial show. He was flanked by a mother and wife. They got him where they wanted him, propped up in his chair, his mouth hanging open. Every now and then they took a hanky and dabbed proudly at the gaping maw — which we saw because the camera zoomed in at the apex of each patriotic song, hoping there would be one proud tear to go with the

drool, like the Native American in the pollution commercial. Thank God they got nothing. If the guy has any gray mat- ter left, I imagine him dream- ing only of getting back to bed. Even nightmares are better. There weren’t any girls with shiny stumps, at least while I watched. I suspect it wasn’t so much because it’s unseemly to suggest the vulnerability of women to anything except rape, but the fact if the editors followed the same script, you’d have to show their menfolk in some kind of supporting, ten- der role. And who wants to see the travesty of guys holding the hands of their wounded wives, when they should be getting blown up themselves? I won’t talk at all about miss- ing queers and how heterosex- ual the whole thing was. Let me move on to the other ghosts at Macbeth’s feast, the missing shots of the roadside bombs and flying shrapnel that make an obscenely direct con- nection between the fatherland and flesh. While Memorial Day

is supposed to honor Ameri- cans who have served in war, in the visual language of national pageantry, there seemed to be some less menacing reason a leg suddenly ended at a knee, an arm at an elbow. Eschewing violence and hate and the idiocy of human war, the combination of patriotic sym- bols and new pink scars began to implicate flag-waving itself as the sudden cause of miss- ing limbs. Perhaps we should all stay away from car dealer- ships. Forget bankruptcies at Chrysler. It’s the faded banners and spontaneous amputations that should worry us. No, Memorial Day isn’t really the moment to remember sol- diers enduring the ugliness of war, but to purge sacrifice of pain and grief, and separate patriotism from dissent. Let’s rally around the flag, celebrate unity, even in the grave, or be censored for disrespect. Obama, at least, plays that game less brazenly than Bush. He implies, rather than shouts, that in a time of war, in a time of

economic crisis, we should just sit down, shut up, and support the commander-in-chief as he is forced to break campaign promises. Only reluctantly does he preserve military trials for those poor schmucks stuck in Guantanamo. Only with great regret does he bolster spying programs targeting civilians, and delay civil rights for queers. Perhaps it’s only ironic to me that he sends out soldiers to die in the name of a democracy he willingly erodes. Or that most of us would rather honor our kids who are maimed and killed than lift a finger at home to save the soul of our country. If we refuse to be up in arms, shouldn’t we at least demand our media lift the curtain on this freak show and pass around the whiskey instead of the schmalz? Shouldn’t we expose the real consequences of war, the bitter losers recalcitrant in their anti-heroic stances, who turn to drink and drugs, and refuse their physical therapy, who replace missing body parts with rage? Shouldn’t we recog-

nize those physically complete soldiers who can only display their interior damage with guns placed in their mouths or to their girlfriends’ heads? Yeah, I’d like to see them. And maybe the messy dead before they’re lined up under white stones at Arlington. My only request is that we do it without getting out the bleach. It’s time we honor loss and sacrifice in its raw and native state. When I first came to New York I’d hand over my voluntary quarter or two and wander the Met. I’d skip the famous paint- ings for the medieval art wing featuring wooden and ivory Christs. They weren’t gilded like lilies, just wracked with stylized pain. After all those centuries, they’d be missing a limb some- times, too, on top of everything. Poignant, I thought. I felt like it added something true. First, you get the brutal pain of sacrifice, then the careless wounding of time.

Check out Kelly Sans Culotte at





28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


PROTESTS, from p.1

that banned gay marriage was unconstitutional. Between that ruling and the November 4 vote that reversed it, roughly 18,000 gay and lesbian couples mar- ried in California. In a perplexing portion of the recent ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that those marriages were still valid. While the crushing Proposition 8 vote led to recriminations and charges that national gay groups and initiative opponents in that state had blown what should have been a win for the gay and lesbian community, the May 26 ruling was expected though still disappointing. “The decision by the Cali- fornia Supreme Court today is heartbreaking,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, board presi- dent of Marriage Equality New York, one of the groups that organized the march and rally. “What happened to equal pro- tection under the law?” Since the Proposition 8 vote, three states — Iowa, Vermont, and Maine — have approved same-sex marriages, either through legislation or by court ruling, and New Hampshire is on the verge of adopting a mar- riage equality law as well. In New York, the State Assem- bly passed a gay marriage bill on May 12 by a vote of 89-52, and activists have been pressing the Democratic-controlled Senate to approve the law. As of May 26, no vote was scheduled in the Senate, and that body adjourns in 24 days. The bill was intro-

duced by Governor David Pater- son on April 17, so his approval is a lock. Speaking at the rally, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who rep- resents Chelsea, called on the crowd to aggressively lobby their state senators. “Make it so the State Senate can do nothing else for the next 24 days,” she told the crowd. The rally followed a march from Christopher Park in the West Village, a small park on Christopher Street near the Stonewall Inn, where riots that came in the wake of a June 1969 police raid have come to be seen as the launch of the mod- ern gay rights movement. The crowd, which grew steadily larger along the route, went down Washington Street, headed up Sixth Avenue, and then went east on 14th Street to Union Square. Gilbert Baker, the artist who popularized the use of the Rain- bow Flag in the lesbian and gay community, made nine ban- ners with varying messages for the march, and he continually altered which banner led the march. While the chants and signs clearly tied the ruling and the Proposition 8 vote to anti-gay bigotry, there were also indica- tions that some in the commu- nity are growing impatient with President Barack Obama. One of Baker’s banners fea- tured two images of Obama fac- ing in opposite directions and the signature slogan from his

ing in opposite directions and the signature slogan from his One banner suggests that the 14th
ing in opposite directions and the signature slogan from his One banner suggests that the 14th

One banner suggests that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution could trump Proposition 8; another suggests impatience with the Obama administration.

presidential campaign “Yes we can” connected with “No you can’t.” Two men in the crowd held signs that read, “Yes we can.*” Below that, a footnote read, “But not if you’re gay.” Corey Johnson, another march organizer, broadened that complaint to include the

Democratic-controlled US House and Senate. He urged the crowd to join an October 10 march on Washington to seek a “fully inclusive civil rights bill” by the end of the year. “We want that from this Demo- cratic Congress, this Democratic president, and we want it before this year is out,” Johnson said.

Diaz Organizes Versus Gay Marriage

State senator, Pentecostal minister leads thousands in opposition


I n an event that generously mixed politics and religion, thousands of opponents of

marriage equality for same-sex couples rallied outside of the New York City offices of Gover- nor David Paterson on May 17 and called on the State Senate and God to stop the advance of same-sex marriage in New York. “The day will come when the hand of God shall use these people to take him out, out, out,” said the Revered Miguel Rivera, president of the National Coalition of Latino Ministers, referring to Paterson’s political future. On April 17, Paterson, a

Democrat, introduced a same- sex marriage bill in the Legis- lature, and then gave the bill a full-throated endorsement in an April 28 speech at an event held in Albany by the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), the state- wide gay lobbying group. On May 12, the State Assem- bly passed Paterson’s bill by an 89-52 vote, and the bill’s future now lies in the Senate, where the vote count remains uncer- tain, though both sides express confidence that they will prevail. The gathering of marriage equality opponents began just four hours prior to a pro-gay rally near Times Square that

OPPOSITION, continued on p.34

near Times Square that OPPOSITION , continued on p.34 Posters in Spanish and English held aloft

Posters in Spanish and English held aloft at Sunday’s rally against gay marriage in Midtown Manhattan.



MAY 29, from p.7

ents “The Boogie Down Dance Series at BAAD!” Professional dance companies from the Bronx, led by resident company Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre, are joined by Brooklyn and Queens choreographers, Dance Theater Workshop’s choreogra- pher in residence Maria Colaco, John Jasperse holding an open rehearsal, Desmond Richardson, 1994 founder of Complexions, leading a master class, Archie Burnett, and Future Ninja. BAAD, 841 Barretto St., btwn. Garrison & Lafayette Aves., Hunts Point in the South Bronx (Hunts Point Ave. on the #6 train). Admission is $20 at bronx- For a com- plete schedule through Jun. 3, visit the BAAD website.



Egan’s Exit

DJ Josh Sparber is back at Splash with this week’s installment of Trash, a sexy night out for the alternafags. This week’s theme is Holy Trash, with four go-go altar boy studs, a visit by Cardinal Egan himself, and “jesus juice” $2 drinks from 10-11. The dancers wash off their sin in the showers at 2 a.m. 50 W. 17th St. Admission is $15; $10 with an invite.



COMMUNITY When Love Is Gone

Identity House holds an afternoon workshop for the lesbian widow on how to deal with the loss of intimacy. With the help of visualizations to create safety, the group will try to come to terms with the loss of physical and emotional intimacy, exploring ways to deal with the feel- ings of loneliness, emptiness, and the lack of affection and sexual fulfillment. LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., 2-5 p.m. For complete information, contact the workshop facilitator Lori at


THEATER The Magic of UPS

The TOSOS Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwright Project hosts a staged reading of a new play by Kathleen Warnock, recipient of the 2006 Robert Chesley Award for Emerging Gay Play- wrights. Mark Finley directs “Outlook,” about Susan, a corporate trainer, trying to figure out her new Outlook (the software, of course). She has to teach a course on

MAY 30, continued on p.20

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Politics / 13
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Politics / 13
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Politics / 13
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Politics / 13

Politics /13


Thousands Press State Senate

Guv, mayor headline marriage equality rally same day as opponents turn out


F our hours after a largely Latino crowd led by anti- gay Bronx Democratic

State Senator Ruben Diaz gath- ered outside the governor’s office on Third Avenue in Midtown, a crowd of marriage equality sup- porters rallied on Sixth Avenue a block east of Times Square. The 5 p.m. rally on May 17 followed by four days the State Assembly’s passage, by an 89-52 margin, of Democratic Governor David Paterson’s marriage equal- ity bill. Advocates are pressing to garner the 32 votes needed to move the measure through the 62-member State Senate before it adjourns at the end of June. With the Democrats holding only 32 votes and Diaz an implacable foe, Senate Majority Leader Mal- colm Smith will need to attract at least some Republican votes as well as walk back a couple

at least some Republican votes as well as walk back a couple Hours after anti-gay protesters

Hours after anti-gay protesters rallied, mar- riage equality supporters turned out near Times Square.

of Democrats who have voiced opposition. The marriage equality rally, organized by Broadway Impact, a theater industry group devot- ed to advancing the issue, drew leading lights from the stage —

including Cynthia Nixon, David Hyde Pierce, and Cheyenne Jack- son, all out gay performers— and top New York political figures, including Paterson, Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, seek- ing reelection in November on the Republican line, out lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Chelsea Democrat, and Chelsea State Senator Thomas Duane and Upper West Side Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, two out gay Democrats who are the marriage bill’s lead sponsors. Other speakers included Rory O’Malley of Broadway Impact, Cathy Marino-Thomas and Ron Zacchi of Marriage Equality New York, and Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s LGBT lobby group. As was the case with the Diaz rally, pro-marriage equality dem- onstrators filled several blocks of penned-in areas adjacent to the

speaker’s podium. According to Anthony Hayes, the Northeast regional field orga- nizer for the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign (HRC), “the event was 100-percent focused on giving New Yorkers one simple, easy way to contact their senator. We wanted to make it easier than voting for ‘Ameri- can Idol.’” Those in attendance were directed to visit broadway-, which provides straightforward access to identi- fying a voter’s state senator and contacting them. Hayes explained that in put- ting together the event, the pri- mary political outreach was made to the governor, the mayor, Quinn, Duane, and O’Donnell. Specific calls were not made to other state senators. Duane was joined by his colleagues Liz Krueger and Eric Schneiderman, two Manhattan Democrats, but Smith, the Senate’s majority

leader, was not there. Smith also skipped an April 17 Manhat- tan press conference at which the governor, flanked by several dozen top Democratic leaders in the state, introduced his gay marriage measure. At that time and on several other recent occasions, Paterson urged the Senate to schedule a vote on marriage equality prior to its June adjournment, whether or not it was clear that the votes for passage were there. Smith, in contrast, has repeatedly said he would allow floor consideration only when the votes are there, which he has said they are not. However, on May 12, when the Assembly moved the bill, the majority leader issued his most upbeat statement to date on the issue, saying, “The momentum is shifting — marriage equality will be a reality in New York.”

SENATE, continued on p.30

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PROP 8, from p.1

that those couples — roughly 18,000, by most estimates — who married in reli-

ance on its May 15, 2008, marriage deci- sion, between mid-June and November 4, had “vested rights” in their marital status that could not be retroactively invalidated without raising serious due process concerns. Therefore, those mar- riages remain valid in every respect. Chief Justice Ronald George wrote for the majority of the court, producing

a decision signed by five judges of the

seven-member bench. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote a separate opin- ion, agreeing with the court’s conclu- sion that Prop 8 was validly enacted, but differing from the majority on what the appropriate test is for determining whether a proposed amendment is a revision. Under the California Constitution’s amendment process, a proposal to “amend” the Constitution by initiative can be placed on the ballot through peti- tions if they are signed by at least eight percent of the total number of voters in the most recent gubernatorial con- test. However, a proposal to “revise” the Constitution may only get to the ballot through one of two procedures — either by a supermajority vote of the Legisla- ture or in a state constitutional conven-

tion. Anything placed on the ballot, either an initiative amendment or a revision, requires only a majority of those voting

to be enacted.

Proposition 8 was certified for the ballot shortly after the State Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision last May 15. In that ruling, the court found that same-sex couples are entitled to marry. Because the right to marry is fundamental and sexual orientation is

a “suspect classification,” for which the

state must provide a compelling rationale for any disparate treatment, the burden

on the state was to provide a compel- ling reason for excluding same-sex cou- ples from civil marriage. The state did not meet its burden, in the eyes of the court’s majority. The court rejected the state’s argument that providing domestic partnership for same-sex couples, car- rying almost all the rights of marriage, was sufficient to meet the constitutional standard. The proponents of Proposition 8 peti- tioned the court to delay implementing its marriage ruling until the election, but the court turned them down. On the other hand, Prop 8 opponents sought to throw the measure off the ballot as

a revision rather than an amendment,

but the court dismissed their petition as well. After Prop 8 passed with about 52 percent of the vote, several lawsuits were filed challenging it. Although the court

refused to block Prop 8’s implementation pending a decision, it did agree to expe- dite its consideration of the challenge, and heard arguments in March. Chief Justice George’s opinion,

although spanning 135 pages and exten- sively discussing the initiative amend- ment process, essentially boils down to the conclusion that to be a revision, a proposition must either significantly affect a large number of constitutional provisions or cause a substantial change in the basic plan of California govern- ment. George found that Prop 8 affected only a handful of constitutional provi- sions, adding a 14-word definition of marriage to the Constitution, so the measure would not be deemed a “revi- sion” under the “quantitative test.” As to the “qualitative” standard, he found that Prop 8 did not substantially affect the basic plan of California government. George reached this conclusion after asserting, as he had suggested in ques- tioning during the oral argument, that Prop 8 had little effect on the provision of substantive legal rights to same-sex couples in California, where the Legisla- ture had previously provided for domes- tic partnerships that carry almost all of the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage under state law. While the marriage equality ruling last May made much of the significance of withholding the term “marriage,” the new ruling min- imized its significance. George essentially interpreted Prop 8 as doing no more than eliminating some terminology. He asserted that the initia- tive left intact the balance of last year’s decision, including the court’s holding that same-sex couples are entitled to all the rights and benefits of marriage. The earlier-enacted Domestic Partnership Law, which survives Prop 8, is not a mat- ter of “legislative grace” but, in the wake of last May’s ruling, a matter “of state constitutional right.” However, in Prop 8’s aftermath, the substantive right to marry that the court identified last year should be re-characterized as the right to have legal recognition for a couple’s relationship, carrying all the rights and benefits associated with marriage, but without using that term. All that Prop 8 did, George concluded, was “carve a nar- row exception” out of the privacy, due process, and equal protection principles the court relied on last year. That excep- tion did not have a substantial enough impact to constitute a change to the basic plan of government, in his view. Citing past rulings upholding amend- ments on the death penalty and local government taxing authority, George asserted, “Quantitatively, Proposition 8 unquestionably has much less of an effect on the preexisting state constitu- tional scheme than virtually any of the previous constitutional changes that our past decisions have found to constitute amendments rather than revisions.” George found Attorney General Jerry Brown’s separate challenge to Prop 8 as an improper attempt to modify an “inalienable right” as “flawed” and based on long-discredited 19th-century natu-

PROP 8, continued on p.15


28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


PROP 8, from p.14

nature and operation of our governmen-

ral law theories. The chief justice found no support for the contention that rights identified in the State Constitution as “inalienable” were somehow insulated from the initiative amendment process, pointing out several past occasions on which the court upheld amendments modifying rights derived from the same portion of the Constitution. Justice Werdegar disagreed with George’s conclusion that the court’s prior cases on the amendment/ revision issue had clearly established that the only qualitative measure was a proposition’s impact on the structure of government. She pointed to past decisions suggesting that a significant impact on a fundamental right could also be deemed a revision. She agreed, however, with George’s contention that Prop 8 did not have that sort of fun- damental impact on the rights of same-sex couples to gain legal recognition. Justice Moreno, seizing on the same prior cases Werdegar cited, found that the court’s ruling had significantly undermined the guarantee of equal treatment by the government, and thus was actually a revision of the state’s equal protection clause. “I conclude that requiring discrimination against a minor- ity group on the basis of a suspect classi- fication strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution and thus ‘represents such a drastic and far-reaching change in the

tal structure that it must be considered

a “revision” of the state Constitutional

rather than a mere “amendment” there- of,’” Moreno wrote. He went on to argue that the ruling was not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for all minority groups who rely on the court to protect their right to equal treatment under the law. Moreno also challenged head-on the argument that Prop 8 was a “narrow” or “limited” exception to the Constitu- tion’s equal protection argument. “The passionate public debate over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to

marry, even in a state that offers largely equivalent substantive rights through the alternative of domestic partnership, belies such a description,” he wrote. Tellingly Moreno added, “But even

a narrow and limited exception to the

promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus fundamentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment… Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment to all. Promising treat- ment that is almost equal is fundamen- tally different from ensuring truly equal treatment. Granting a disfavored minor- ity only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional impera- tive, that they must be granted all of those rights.” Surprisingly, in light of the 5-4 vote

BRIEFS, from p.7

participate in any marriages or marriage celebrations they wish — were made. Legislative lead- ers, the bill’s sponsors, and the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition all signaled immedi- ately that they could live with the changes, and action by the Senate and House were expected the fol- lowing week. Not so fast. In a heartbreak- ingly close vote on May 20, the House rejected the amended bill by a 188-186 margin. That, how- ever, did not settle the matter. A motion to postpone indefinitely consideration of the measure was defeated by a 202-173 vote — a margin greater than what the mar- riage bill originally won by — and a signal, in the eyes of the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, that the House was serious about working out a solution. A legislative conference com- mittee, including members of the House and Senate, are now at work at reviewing the amended language in an effort to satisfy both their colleagues and the gov- ernor. HRC voiced optimism that the bill could yet be enacted in the next several weeks.

Congressmen Aims to Fuss With DC Recognition

Two members of the US House of Representatives, Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio and Democrat Dan Boren of Oklahoma, have

introduced a so-called DC Defense

of Marriage Act to overturn action

by the Washington City Council on May 5 extending the city’s recogni- tion to legal marriages by same- sex couples in other jurisdictions. According to the Washington Blade, Jordan said, “The family is truly the foundational institution of our nation, and marriage is its cor- nerstone. This is a fight we cannot shy away from, and it is a fight we have to win.” The measure reads,

“In the District of Columbia, for all legal purposes, ‘marriage’ means the union of one man and one woman.” In line with Washington’s Home Rule Charter, Congress has 30 days to intervene in any actions by the City Council. At the time the rec- ognition law was enacted, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released

a statement saying, “Congress

should not interfere with the inter- nal decisions made by the District

of Columbia’s elected representa- tives — just as the Congress did not intervene in the State of New York’s recognition of valid marriage contracts in other jurisdictions.” David Catania, an out gay Inde- pendent on the Council, vowed when the recognition bill passed to press for a marriage equality stat- ute next.

Fed Employees’ Partnership Bill Introduced

In a bipartisan gesture on LGBT rights, out lesbian Representa- tive Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, has been joined by Florida Republican Representa- tive Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent Democrat from Connecticut, and Maine Republican Susan Collins in introducing the Domestic Part- nership Benefits and Obligations Act. In a May 20 release from the Human Rights Campaign, its president, Joe Solmonese, stat- ed, “This legislation would allow the federal government to keep pace with other top employers. It is not only a matter of equal pay

for equal work, but also the best

BRIEFS, continued on p.29

last year, the court was unanimous in concluding that Prop 8 could not be read to retroactively invalidate the 18,000 marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the passage of Prop 8. Amendments under consideration are presumed to be prospective, George argued, and the Prop 8 proponents’ argu- ment that they had made clear in their election campaign that the measure was intended to deny recognition to same-sex marriages “wherever and whenever” they were performed did not adequately com- municate to voters that they were being asked to invalidate existing marriages. More significantly, the court was trou- bled by the idea that couples who relied

on its past decision and the state of the law when they married could be retroac- tively stripped of that status. According to George, once a marriage takes place the participants acquire “vested rights,” and such rights cannot be taken away without due process of law, which would not be satisfied by an election campaign and an initiative vote. The court took no position about whether the state would have to con- tinue to recognize marriages performed elsewhere during that window period of June 16-November 5, 2008, stating in a footnote that none of the petitions pre- sented to the court had raised the ques- tion.

16-November 5, 2008, stating in a footnote that none of the petitions pre- sented to the


28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


16 28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009 WWW . GAYCITYNEWS . COM

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Crime / 17
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Crime / 17
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Crime / 17
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Crime / 17

Crime /17

When a Client’s Not Perfect

Columbia law students take up the case of a gay man’s killer denied parole


A t first blush, Bruce Wilborn is not

the ideal client for a lawyer. The

46-year-old gay man has been

incarcerated in Massachusetts since 1985, after being given a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Wilborn and his partner in 1983, Rob- ert Gonzalez, conspired to kill Stanley Weinstock, a 54-year-old gay man, to collect the proceeds from his will that named Wilborn as the beneficiary. This was not an impulsive murder. Wilborn and Gonzalez, who were 20 and 24 in 1985, made a pact to kill Weinstock on October 11, 1983. They put a great deal of thought into a plan that they hoped would hide their involvement, and they executed that plan 11 days later. “It was a predetermined act of both of these people that [Weinstock] should die for their love and for money,” said Mat- thew J. Ryan, Jr., the district attorney who handled the 1985 trial, in a pub- lished report from that year. “Either or both of them expected to benefit from

Stanley Weinstock when he died, either by way of a will or by an insurance pol- icy.” What drew the attention of a leading gay rights lawyer and a group of law stu- dents at Columbia University was how Wilborn was treated when he applied for parole in 2006. Three parole board mem- bers made comments and asked ques- tions that suggested that Wilborn was denied parole because he was gay, he charged in a later lawsuit. “The judge did suggest that the kind of behavior the parole board engaged in would constitute discrimination had it gone to trial,” said Keren Zwick, one of six law students who worked on the case with a private attorney, and Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the university’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. At a second look, Wilborn might be the perfect client. He had one disciplin- ary infraction during his prison time, and that was in 1991. He published two books while incarcerated and is working

MURDERER, continued on p.30

incarcerated and is working MURDERER , continued on p.30 Columbia Law students Mollie Kornreich, Abram Seaman,

Columbia Law students Mollie Kornreich, Abram Seaman, and Keren Zwick have taken up Bruce Wilborn’s case out of their belief he was denied parole in the killing of a gay man because he, too, is gay.

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Celluloid Kicks Off Pride

In Chelsea this year, NewFest offers features, shorts, docs & erotics


T his year’s NewFest,

the New York LGBT

Film Festival, which

runs June 4-11 in Chel- sea, offers a diverse pro- gram of shorts, features, and documentaries. Gay City News spoke to two of the filmmakers, and pre- viewed another four of the notable titles unspooling.

T odd Verow’s “The Boy with the Sun in His Eyes,”

which has its world pre- miere at NewFest (Jun. 9, 10:00 p.m., SVA 2), marks in some ways a radical new direction for the filmmaker, who burst on the scene two decades

ago as an enfant terrible. This compelling and erot-

ic film is an entertaining

globe-hopping thriller, yet shares the impassioned self-discovery that marks the best of his previous work. John (Tim Swain, from

Verow’s “Between Some- thing and Nothing”) meets Solange (Mahogany Reyn- olds) at the funeral of their mutual friend Kevin (Josh Ubaldi), who com- mitted suicide. Their con- versation about knowing someone well carries the subtext of John’s know- ing very little about him- self. Solange hires him

as a personal assistant for a European TV pro- gram she’s hoping to host. Wanting direction in his life, John follows this possibly untrustworthy woman to Paris, Milan, and Berlin. There, he has

a series of affairs with

handsome but possibly

untrustworthy guys. The situation is not as it seems, but it would spoil the story to say just how. Verow shoots the low-budget film on DV, which gives it intimacy. There are many close-ups

of the characters — espe-

cially during the numer- ous sex scenes.

— espe- cially during the numer- ous sex scenes. Valentin Plessy with Tim Swain (John) in

Valentin Plessy with Tim Swain (John) in Todd Verow’s “The Boy with the Sun in His Eyes.”


SVA Theater 333 W. 23rd St. Jun. 4-11 Schedule, tickets at

Verow imbues the film with a distinctive atmo- sphere by deliberately not making it a Euro- pean travelogue. There are a few street scenes, but most of the action takes place in the night- clubs, restaurants, and bedrooms where John and Solange spend most of their time. This spare style suits the film. Unlike his prior “mood” pieces, this plot-driven drama nicely builds its narrative tension. Verow establishes a dif- ferent tone here, but con- tinues to explore issues of identity, love, and betray- al, and these themes resonate. “The Boy with

the Sun in His Eyes” may not be as provocative as Verow’s previous work, but perhaps that’s what makes it so exciting. He challenges viewers to change — just like his characters. Verow sat down with Gay City News to discuss what was new about work- ing on a film that didn’t have the autobiographi-

cal qualities of “Anony- mous,” “Vacationland,” and “Between Something and Nothing,” all intensely personal works. “I wanted to take a break from my own stuff,” he explained. “This film is based on a novel by James Derek Dwyer and real things that happened to him. It’s not autobiographical, but I was very familiar” with the story. Verow’s perspective as a detached observ- er helped inform his approach to the film, his first literary adapta- tion since “Frisk,” back in 1995. He described John as “a spectator in his own life. He is not really involved in all this crazy stuff that is hap- pening around him.” This quality appealed to Verow because, he said, “So many times in life these days, people don’t get involved. We watch things, but we don’t get absorbed in them.” The passion that char- acterizes the numer- ous sex scenes is also a departure for the film- maker. “It was a con- scious decision,” Verow said. “I had done so much explicit sex in other mov- ies, for this one the chal-

lenge was to make the sex as erotic and sensual and sexy as possible without showing anything. What I wanted to capture in the sex scenes was the inten- sity of a one-night stand and how it’s physical, but at the same time fleeting.” “The Boy with the Sun in His Eyes” suc- ceeds in this respect, and in other ways as well. Verow eschews the tra- ditional genre film, mix- ing elements of comedy, romance, action-thriller, and drama in one satisfy- ing package. Despite the ways “The Boy with the Sun in His Eyes” differs from his other work, the filmmak- er sees it as another of his coming of age films. “A lot of people don’t come of age until much later in life,” Verow said. “John’s doing everything he’s supposed to do,” yet he is drawn to the way his friend who committed sui- cide approached things. “I would hope that people at some point would say, ‘Why am I here? What’s going on? What’s the purpose of my life, and if there is no purpose, what am I going to do?’” Verow concluded.

NEWFEST, continued on p.19

WWW.GAYCITYNEWS.COM 28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009 19 NEWFEST, from p.18 “A Place to Live”
28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009
NEWFEST, from p.18
“A Place to Live”
(Jun. 8, 4:00
p.m., SVA 2)
a warm, inspiring, and
at times heartbreaking
portrait of seven LGBT
seniors in Los Ange-
les. The subjects of this
affecting documentary
are hoping to live at the
newly constructed Tri-
angle Square — the first
affordable housing com-
munity for queer elders
in America. Director
Carolyn Coal deftly
introduces the prospec-
tive tenants by illumi-
nating their fascinating
Reaching adulthood
in the 1950s, these men
and women confronted
conformity — several
discuss getting married,
and quickly divorcing —
New York
before establishing lives
of independence. Each
senior talks about strug-
gling with shame, loneli-
ness, and being closet-
ed; what unites them is
their search for a place
to belong in a society
that never embraced
them. While every story
is poignant and funny,
some, such as that of
Margo, an activist who
describes living pay-
check to paycheck, are
especially touching. The
despair conveyed here
makes clear why Tri-
angle Square represents
Guillermo Villegas (Ryo) with Jorge Becerra (Kieri), and Villegas alone in the mythological second half of Julián Hernán-
dez’s “Raging Sun, Raging Sky.”
are also powerful coun-
terpoints, such as the
In a recent phone
LGBT community] is
candidate who lost out on
interview, Coal praised
the seven men and
slot and instead pur-
women who opened
chased a trailer home.
C e l e b r i t y s e n i o r
advocate Robert Gant
(“Queer as Folk”) offers
their lives up to her over
the 18-month period of
shooting the documenta-
ry. She recalled in partic-
beacon of hope for a
congratulatory testi-
ular the enthusiasm she
felt as they approached
fabulously wealthy,”
she said. “But we are a
whole variety of ethnici-
ties and backgrounds.
Those seniors who have
fought for our rights are
retiring on $700 a month
and can’t stay with their
partners” in retirement
“To deposit her in a tacky,
ramshackle trailer park on
LA’s outskirts was difficult.”
the application process.
“There was a glee and a
hope when they shared
their dreams of what
The film underscores
that point by showing
how anyone can end up
would be like to live
there,” Coal recalled.
scrambling for afford-
able housing. “A Place
“We got many of them
in on a tour as it was
being constructed, and
seeing the awe on their
faces, and having them
decide how they would
to Live” offers success
stories, but also more
dire ones that don’t end
well. When Coal shot the
woman who moved into
a trailer park, she cried.
“To deposit her in a
tacky, ramshackle trail-
er park community on
the outskirts of LA was
difficult,” she said. “You
are there to observe and
collect information, and
to watch that was diffi-
cult. I couldn’t imagine
her there.”
But this story eventu-
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decorate, it was so sweet
and charming.” With a
laugh, she added, “When
we showed them the cor-
ner apartment, they all
wanted that one.”
One of the purposes
making the film, Coal
explained, was to tell a

good life in her golden years. “A Place to Live” chron- icles the emotional roll- ercoaster the seniors go through as they make their tenancy applica- tions, sweat out a lottery to get in, and eventu- ally to move to Triangle Square. Coal provides wonderful, emotional moments, such as a speech Margo gives to a crowd at the building’s grand opening. But there

mony to the success of Triangle Square, but what truly resonates in this film is the light Coal shines on how we treat and care for our LGBT elders. For all the pain- ful stories shared and success achieved in “A Place to Live,” there are hundreds of thousands more. It quickly becomes clear that a safe place for LGBT elders needs to be established in every city across the country.

story that gets too little attention in the queer community. “There is

a consensus that [the

NEWFEST, continued on p.25

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28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 20 / Books Articulating the I Abdellah Taïa, in his


28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 20 / Books Articulating the I Abdellah Taïa, in his
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 20 / Books Articulating the I Abdellah Taïa, in his
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 20 / Books Articulating the I Abdellah Taïa, in his

Articulating the I

Abdellah Taïa, in his first novel, explores the erotic in his Moroccan tradition

BY MICHAEL T. LUONGO “S alvation Army” is the first novel by Abdel- lah Taïa,
“S alvation Army” is the
first novel by Abdel-
lah Taïa, acknowl-
edged as modern Morocco’s
first openly gay autobiograph-
ical writer. Now a resident of
Paris, he is also the author of
the non-fiction books “Mon
Maroc” and “Le Rouge du
Tarbouche,” as well as other
works. Born in 1973, he is
relatively unknown to Ameri-
cans, but had a part in Parvez
Sharma’s 2007 film “Jihad for
Love,” about gays and Islam.
“Salvation Army” feels like
a memoir, focusing on a gay
Moroccan struggling with
sexuality, family, and find-
ing himself as a writer. The
novel was recently translated
from French into English by
Frank Stock and published
by Semiotexte, with an intro-
duction by Edmund White. It
is strongly erotic, particularly
in its discussion of Moroccan
family life, likely challenging
preconceptions of an Ameri-
can audience. Taïa discusses
his book and life with Gay City

MICHAEL T. LUONGO: Is “Salvation Army” a novel or a memoir? What is true, what is not? ABDELLAH TAÏA: “Sal- vation Army” is definitely a novel, not a memoir. Yes, all

my books are autobiographi- cal, but they are also trans- formed fragments of my life in Morocco and France where I have been living since 1998. It

is very important for me that

readers know that the “I” in my books is me. I come from a society where I didn’t exist as an individual, where I couldn’t speak out, not only about my homosexuality but about

everything related to my iden- tity and my intimate self.

MTL: When I read this book, in the beginning, when you are young and writing on Morocco and the life you want- ed to escape, there is a strong sense of longing. This part of the book also seems to read the best, as if it were worked

Abdellah Taïa, acknowledged as modern Morocco’s first openly gay autobiographical writer, has published his first novel.


By Abdellah Taïa Semiotexte (

$14.95; 160 pages

on over a long period of time and polished more than other parts. AT: “Salvation Army” is only 160 pages long, but it took me more than three years to write. Actually I wrote the second part, where I speak about the vacation in Tangiers and my love for my older brother, Abdelkébir, in New York in 2004 when I was teaching at Bard College. This section is only about 30 pages long, but I worked on it for more than eight months…

I think all creation has its basis in childhood. Some call it the ‘maladie de l’enfance.” And indeed it is a malady from which we cannot really recover. This notion is pres- ent in all my books and influ- ences my style and the way I see the world.

MTL: There is a constant sense of the erotic in the first part of the book — from the way you talk about your par- ents making love within ear- shot of the children, the way you dream of sex with your brother and feel as if you betrayed him by having sex with another man. They are exceptionally honest, if not shocking, passages. What

does your family think of this? AT: I definitely love my par- ents, but I cannot allow them to interfere in my writing because they would censor everything. To write means to be totally free. Although my books are based on my personal experiences, the stories I write are mine, nar- rated from my own point of view. I know there is a certain sexual atmosphere in “Sal- vation Army” which might shock some readers, particu- larly references to incest. For my family, my books don’t mean anything. They already think I am crazy. And I don’t expect them to appreciate what I write. In Morocco, we don’t speak about things that matter for the individual. I am aware of the fact that the silence I lived in made me a writer. I was in love with my big brother; he influenced my artistic choices and even now my sexual fantasies.

MTL: What did the Michel Foucault character represent for you? Hope? An example? A dream? AT: The man who worked for the “Salvation Army” in Gene- va in the third part of the book looked exactly like French philosopher Michel Foucault. I have always been fascinated by Foucault. Not only intel- lectually but also physically. When I was 19 years old, I had this fantasy of being his stu-

SALVATION ARMY, continued on p.21



MAY 30, from p.12

it the following day, and salvation arrives in the form of Brown (the UPS delivery person), who brings Susan the training materials and a mysterious gift. There’s

no such thing as a magic wand

there? The cast includes Meghan Cary, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Irene Long- shore, and Danielle Quisenberry. ART/ NY, the 3rd fl. Mitchell Room, 520 Eighth Ave., btwn. 37th & 36th Sts., 7:30 p.m. Free.

or is



FAMILY A Generation of Service

Center Kids, the LGBT Community Center’s program to help create, nurture, and advocate for LGBT families, is cel- ebrating its 20th anniversary with a ben- efit brunch. 208 W. 13th St., room 301, noon-3 p.m. A mimosa cocktail recep- tion begins at noon, with food served at 1 p.m. Children of all ages welcome, and child care for those under 8 is available on a limited basis. Family tickets begin at $100, with opportunities for support at higher levels. For more information, call Center Kids at 212-620-7310, email or centerkids@, or visit families.



Jocks &


The Truck Stop party is back with music by Gustavo and lots of hotties. Penthouse at the Park, Tenth Ave. at 17th St., 6 p.m. Admission is $5 before 8, $7 after that. For more information, visit




Raw Talent

Billy Eichner, the creator and star of the critically acclaimed comedy hit “Cre- ation Nation,” steps up to fill the gay slot as a comic with the raw realness of Richard Pryor or Chris Rock with “Billy Eichner: Gay, White And Terrified!,” his first solo show. Eichner unleashes his comic fury on closeted stars, hypocritical

JUN 1, continued on p.22


28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009



dent and perhaps more, his slave. My first name, Abdellah, means the “slave of God” in Arabic. Michel Foucault is

a kind of god to me.

MTL: This book is your break- through for the U.S. market. You are already well known in France and Morocco. What do want Americans to know about you? AT: In the ’60s and the ’70s, many

Moroccan political leaders and intel- lectual figures were killed or impris- oned by Hassan II, king of Morocco from 1961 to 1999. These people had

a dream for Morocco, a big dream.

This dream was killed and replaced by

fear. I was born in 1973 in Rabat into

a poor family inhabited by this fear. I

feel today as if I have to destroy this fear, the political one, the religious one, and the familial one. We cannot continue like this in Morocco. More than 50 percent of the Moroc- can population is under the age of 25. I feel it is my responsibility to be an example of freedom. That is why,

although I am totally aware of the reli- gious and familial condemnation of it,

it is very important to me to speak out

about my homosexuality, my individ- uality. It is a signal that something is happening today in Morocco. The gov- ernment won’t admit it, but it exists.

I am not the only one who wants to light the torch to revive the Moroccan dream. The Islamist parties’ ideas are gaining ground daily in Morocco and in the Arab world. We have to destroy this new fear that they are trying to instill in us. I think my books, aside from their literary aspects, are also very political. Something big can come from Morocco.

MTL: You live in Paris, which has

a large population from the Maghreb,

or French North Africa. What hold does Paris have for gays from the


AT: I don’t know much about gays from the Maghreb living in Paris. But I can talk about what Paris gives me. The possibility to be myself and achieve something without being

“I was in love with my big brother; he influenced my artistic choices and even now my sexual fantasies.”

MTL: What is it like to be known as the first openly gay Moroccan? AT: It was never my intention to be the first openly gay Moroccan. For years I thought I was the only real gay person in my country. I talked openly in the media about my homosexuality because it was already a given in my books. And I can- not bear the kind of hypocrisy I had to endure in Morocco. As the great French writer André Gide said, it was “une necessité intérieure” to reveal myself to the world as I am, without a mask.

hindered by the fact that I am poor or coming from a modest background. In Paris, I forget that I am poor and

I have all kinds of liberating experi-

ences. To become a writer is one of them. To become a happy gay man is something I want to achieve in Paris.

MTL: You talk a lot in the book of

feeling objectified, at times as almost

a prostitute or a toy for Western men.

What stereotypes do Westerners have of gays from the Maghreb you want to

break down?

AT: I felt this danger immediately upon arrival in Europe. For some people I was a sexual object. Not an object of desire, a sexual object. For me there is a difference. I can understand that a French or Ger- man man is attracted by a Moroccan or a Tunisian boy. There is no harm in this. I, for instance, am attract- ed by Turkish or British men. The problem is when we, the people from the Maghreb or Arab world, are seen only as sexual objects by Western- ers. When this becomes a system, a continuation of colonization denying any psychological depth to people like me.

MTL: What do you see as the future of gay rights in Morocco? AT: One of the people I like the most in Morocco is Samir Bergachi, a 22-year-old man who recently creat- ed a gay rights group called Kif-kif. He does a great deal in trying to change the Moroccan mentality. I support him, and I defend him and his cour- age in the Moroccan media. It’s the least I can do. At the same time I know that homosexuality is still illegal and can incur a three-year prison sen- tence. It means that we must continue the struggle, not only as gay men but as Moroccan individuals. And again I think that literature can be a strong weapon in that fight.

think that literature can be a strong weapon in that fight. Sponsors: The Phoenix, Provincetown Banner,
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28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

JOAN MARCUS 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 22 / Theater Girls Gone Wild Strong women


JOAN MARCUS 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 22 / Theater Girls Gone Wild Strong women
JOAN MARCUS 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 22 / Theater Girls Gone Wild Strong women
JOAN MARCUS 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 22 / Theater Girls Gone Wild Strong women

Girls Gone Wild

Strong women face game-changers in “9 to 5,” “Mary Stuart”

BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE M ary, Queen of Scots, a n d E l i z
M ary, Queen of Scots,
a n d E l i z a b e t h I
engaged in a power

struggle that lasted years, end- ing only when Elizabeth ordered Mary’s beheading. That was the way things were handled back then –– only one of them could survive. Schiller’s 1800 play, a fic- tionalized account of the battle royal between the two queens, is a timeless tale of government intrigue, skullduggery, and gamesmanship. In Peter Oswald’s gripping new translation from the German, tensions run high. This is no small feat given that a large portion of the first act is devoted to exposition about the politi- cal factions on both sides of the battle. We see the warm and pas- sionate Mary juxtaposed against the colder and more strategic Elizabeth. Mary has been impris- oned on suspicion of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth, regain the throne of England, and restore Catholicism. Elizabeth proves the masterful tactician, achieving her ends while escaping direct culpa- bility. The scenes shift from one woman to the other, as their sup- porters, honest and otherwise, scramble around them. The structure accentuates the differ- ences between the two, building inexorably to the scene when the two meet –– a fiction concocted by Schiller, but no less galvaniz- ing for its inaccuracy. The scene, which opens with Mary reveling in a torrential rain that is pure theatrical magic, is titanic in the truest sense, as both are struggling for their very lives. The drive and excitement director Phyllida Lloyd brings to the piece come fully to a head in this scene. Watching Janet McT- eer as Mary and Harriet Walter as Elizabeth is easily one of the high points of the season –– two accomplished actresses in total control of their craft going at their parts hammer and tongs, dominating the stage and at the same time evoking sympathy. It’s not just a classical catfight; one truly feels for these women and what is at stake for each. Still, the production is not

Harriet Walter as Elizabeth and Janet McTeer as Mary, Queen of Scots, in “Mary Stuart.”


Broadhurst Theatre 235 W. 44th St. Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $64.00-$116.50; telecharge Or 212-239-6200

9 TO 5

Marquis Theatre 1535 Broadway at W. 45th St. Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $66.50-$126.50; Or 212-307-4100

perfect. Imported from London’s Donmar Warehouse, the show looks as though many design choices were dictated by bud- gets and expediency rather than a coherent vision. The women, including the wonderful Maria Tucci as Mary’s waiting woman, are all dressed in period clothes, while the men are in contempo- rary suits. One supposes this is to make a comment on the gray sameness of bureaucracy and politics through the ages, but it

feels labored. Anthony Ward did the set as well as the costumes, and it’s mostly a bland, dark wall that might as well have been a bare stage. Hugh Vanstone’s lighting makes dramatic — and often highly theatrical — impact, pro- viding the only real visual inter- est outside the rainstorm. Beyond the two queens, the rest of the cast is workmanlike, though admittedly not overly blessed in the script. John Ben- jamin Hickey is best of the men as Leicester, who has been a lover to both queens. Yet all is forgiven with the performances of McTeer and Walter, and, after all, what queen can resist two queens having at one another?

P ower games are also at the center of the new musical “9 to 5,” a stag-

ing of the 1980 film that pitted a trio of career gals against their sexist boss. With a book by Patri- cia Resnick, adapted from her screenplay, the story of Violet, a

hard-nosed single mom trying to rise into management, Judy,

a woman whose husband aban-

doned her, forcing her to try to make a living on her own for the

first time, and Doralee, a sexy blond with a steel trap brain and

a golden heart, is as fresh and

funny as it was three decades ago. This is classic screwball come- dy about the insanity that ensues when the three women kidnap boss Franklin Hart after they think they’ve poisoned him. Sure, it’s ridiculous; it’s also endearing fun from beginning to end. The fast-moving piece, direct- ed with flair and precision by Joe Montello, goes at lighting speed. Andy Blankenbuehler’s inspired choreography is witty, effective, and appropriate for the period, as are William Ivey Long’s cos- tumes. Dolly Parton’s music and lyr- ics are outstanding. Aided by orchestrators Bruce Cough-

GIRLS GONE WILD, continued on p.23



JUN 1, from p.20

black presidents, and the state of Face- book in a post-racial America. Directed by Benjamin Salka, with production design by Richard Dibella. Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., below Cooper Sq. Jun. 1, 8 & 12, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at For table reservations, with a two-drink or $12 food minimum, call 212-539-8778.


BOOKS On Stage, Off Stage

Frank Anthony Polito reads from his brand new novel, “Drama Queers,” at Barnes & Noble, 2289 Broadway at 82nd St., 7 p.m. On Jun. 5, he holds a book launch party at 1984 @ The Pyra- mid Club, 101 Avenue A, btwn. Sixth & Seventh Sts., 10 p.m.-4 a.m.



BOOKS They Were the Originals

On two successive nights, pioneering gay and lesbian authors will get together for not-to-miss panels to discuss the bold new literary world that emerged in Stonewall’s wake. On Jun. 2, Martin Duberman (“Stonewall”), David Bergman (editor of “Gay American Autobiography”),

Jaime Manrique (“Eminent Maricones”), and author and pioneer gay publisher Felice Picano (“Art and Sex in Greenwich Village”) look back on the 40th anniversary of the riots that in many ways started or at

least jet-propelled it all. On Jun. 3, Kate Millett (“Sexual Politics”), Honor Moore (“The Bishop’s Daughter,” “Poems From the Women’s Movement”), and post-punk poet performer and author Eileen Myles (“Cool For You”) discuss what effect Stone- wall had on lesbians and all women fight- ing for their rights. Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 2289 Broadway at 82nd St., 7 p.m., both evenings.



MUSIC Please Heed the Call

Uptown Express, under the direction of James Followell for 16 years, ever since this dynamic pop group was born

JUN 3, continued on p.26

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Dance / 23
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Dance / 23
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Dance / 23
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 Dance / 23

Dance /23




First Ladies

Honoring living legacies; dream lovers’ dilemma


Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus Flatbush Ave. at Dekalb Ave. May 30 at 8 p.m.; May 31 at 3 p.m. $30; $25 for students & seniors or





150 First Ave. at E. Ninth St. Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 7 p.m. Through Jun. 14 Jun. 12-13 at 10 p.m. $20; $15 for students & seniors; $10 for PS122 members;

hairdresser, comes alive in the dream of an American general.


barber, Mitchell, falls madly


love with Jimmy, and as they

are about to kiss for the first

time, the general dies, leav-

ing the two in limbo, in a state


suspended for 50 years, Jimmy

starts to come alive again, but

to his despair, he is now trapped

in the dreams of a Montréal actress. Playwright, director, and per- former Brassard has created innovative imagistic theater and film for Canadian and interna- tional audiences, using mime, dance, music, and lighting as ways of dislocating linear nar-

pure pleasure. After staying

ways of dislocating linear nar- pure pleasure. After staying Germaine Acogny is one of five dancer/

Germaine Acogny is one of five dancer/ cho- reographers to appear this weekend at LIU’s Kumble Theater.

rative. She studied at the Con- servatoire d’Art Dramatique de Quebec, then joined Theatre Repere, an experimental collec- tive. For more than a decade, she collaborated with the multi- media theater playwright/direc-

tor Robert Lepage, touring the world. “Jimmy,” Brassard’s first solo play, premiered in June 2001 at the Festival de Theatre des Ameriques. It toured all over Europe, presented in the origi- nal French, as well as English and German. Vallejo Gantner, artistic direc-

well as English and German. Vallejo Gantner, artistic direc- Marie Brassard’s performs her solo piece, “Jimmy,”

Marie Brassard’s performs her solo piece, “Jimmy,” about love, desire, and the creative process, at PS122 through June 14.

tor of PS122, said that present- ing “Jimmy” was a recurring dream of his. “The fact that Marie has only appeared in New York City in LePage’s work will finally be remedied. It is a dark and dangerous virtuosic work of theater. It has toured the world a dozen times and is perhaps the greatest of the solo works made by this extraordinary, sin- gular artist.” “I never thought I would be an

actress,” Brassard confessed in an interview. “I wanted to study dance in Asia.” But her work is not limited to any one particular discipline, and her employment of other devices is as interest- ing as the content. The solo tour de force experiments with voice, imagery, and movement creat- ing a hypnotic, surreal world. “Theater has always been multi- media,” asserted Brassard. “We have to make theater evolve.”


A s part of 651 Arts’ 20th anniversary season, they have gathered together

five of the greatest choreogra- phers — who just happen to be black women — for a program that seems destined to mark the beginning of a new American century, and the golden age of Obama. “FLY: Five First Ladies of Dance” features performances by some of the most influential contemporary dancer/choreog- raphers — Germaine Acogny, Carmen de Lavallade, Dianne McIntyre, Bebe Miller, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. As danc- ers, company–founders, and inspiration to countless others, these groundbreaking artists are first ladies in every sense of the word. They have helped shape the language and trajec- tory of contemporary dance, in the US and abroad, as they have continued to raise the artistic bar and inspire the contempo- rary dance world with vital work and fresh ideas. Michelle ought to be there, with her Mom and the girls; I got hope.

I n Marie Brassard’s solo

performance about love,

desire, and the creative

process, Jimmy, a homosexual

GIRLS GONE WILD, from p.22

lin, Stephen Oremus, and Alex Lacamoire, Parton turned her pop/country style into a great- sounding Broadway score, with- out losing any of her signature harmonies and chord progres- sions. Of course the title song is familiar to everyone, and her newer hit, “Backwoods Barbie,” sounds great, but songs like “Let Love Grow” and “Get Out and Stay Out” are likely to become Broadway classics. The real reason, though, to run out and see this show are the exceptional performances of the four lead characters. Allison Janney commands the stage as Violet, giving one of the stron- gest performances in a musical this year. If she’s not a traditional

singer, she certainly puts over

a song. Megan Hilty, in spec-

tacular voice, channels Parton as Doralee, yet stamps the part with an individuality that cap- tures the character’s full range convincingly. Stephanie J. Block, as Judy, finally has the role that will make her a star for years to come. She has the kind of voice one dreams of hearing on Broad- way, and a magnificent range, vocally and as an actress. These three women, though very differ- ent, make a great team in facing boss Franklin Hart, the reliably excellent Mark Kudisch, whose fantastic baritone and comic flair make him a worthy adversary. I admit I didn’t have high hopes for this show when it was first announced. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.

it was first announced. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong. Megan Hilty as Doralee, Allison Janney

Megan Hilty as Doralee, Allison Janney as Violet, and Stephanie J. Block as Judy in “9 to 5.”

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 24 / Gallery


28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 24 / Gallery
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 24 / Gallery
28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 24 / Gallery


Manifest Destiny

When America headed west, where did it arrive?


“I nto the Sunset: Pho-

tography’s Image of

the American West,” an

exhibit at the Museum of Mod- ern Art running through June 8, reveals much about the American psyche and incor- porates an astonishing range of photographs. The trajectory portrayed is sweeping, despite a relative brief 140-year span, and swings from idealization to disillusion. The juxtaposition of these wide-ranging images provides clues about the role of photography in Americans’ fascination with the West. Timothy O’Sullivan’s “Des- ert Sand Hills near Sink of Carson, Nevada” (1867), which shows a lonely wagon pulled by four horses traversing the desert, conveys the courage of early pioneers in braving such vast, challenging terrain. One


Museum of Modern Art 11 W. 53rd St. Wed., Thu., Sat.-Mon., 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Jun. 8 until 8 p.m. Through Jun. 8 $20; $16 for seniors; $12 for students

lure of resources and riches. Pristine images of a plentiful Eden give way to Daruis Kin- sey’s ” Felling a Fir Tree, 51 Feet in Circumference” (1906). As organized transport made it possible to extract resources and move people, the West’s transformation inevitably advanced. Many of the photos show the hardscrabble nature of the West, pitting man against overwhelming nature. Stacy Studio’s image of “Buffalo Bill,

People who inhabit Western photos embody a common theme that this is a land of survivors.

hundred years later, Irving Penn, in “Hell’s Angels, San Francisco,” (1967) portrays another sort of pioneer who has conquered the roads. Andrew J. Russell’s pho- tograph “Construction Train Bear River” (1868) points to the entrepreneurial spirit of the intrepid pioneers and the

Pawnee Bill and the entire Wild West Show and Far East troupe, in front of tents” (1909) spread the West’s allure by bringing its myth on the road to those who couldn’t be there. People who inhabit Western photos — including outlaws, miners, native peoples, reli-

photos — including outlaws, miners, native peoples, reli- Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Still #43” (1979)

Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Still #43” (1979) gelatin silver print, 7 9/16 x 9 7/16 in., offers a contemporary and self-conscious interpretation of the myth of the West.

gious sects, and adventurers — embody a common theme that this is a land of survivors. Graciela Iturbide’s “Cholas I, White Fence, East Los Ange- les” (1986) portrays a group of four Hispanic women with one child and no lack of tough attitude. Other sections of the exhi- bition focus on unbridled development — cars, endless highways, housing develop-

ments, and parking lots by masters Edward Weston, Edward Ruscha, and William Garnett. One wonders if para- dise is lost. But there are also contemporary dreamers, mis- fits, and Hollywood starlets and wannabes. Cindy Sher- man’s “Untitled Film Still #43” (1979) and Richard Prince’s “Untitled (Cowboy)” (2003) explore the myth of the West with self conscious intent.

When we turn our view westward, all is not majestic. The lure of the West remains constant, yet it is hard to imagine how quickly it has developed with seemingly little thought of planning for the larger good. The triumph of white civilization coupled with photography’s role in the quick and astonishing trans- formation of the West created more questions than answers.

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28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


WWW . GAYCITYNEWS . COM 28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009 25 Tom Bott (Jonno), Alice

Tom Bott (Jonno), Alice Payne (Nessa), Wayne Virgo (Cal),and Marc Laurent (Olivier) in Simon Pearce’s “Shank.”

NEWFEST, from p.19

ally had a happy ending. “She did end up at Triangle Square eight months later,” Coal said.

M exican writer/director Julián Hernández’s gripping roman- tic drama, “Raging Sun, Rag-

ing Sky” (Jun. 11, 3:00 p.m., SVA 2), contains a minimum of dialogue and a maximum of nudity. Running a stagger-

ing 191 minutes and filmed predominant-

ly in luminous black and white, the film

artfully depicts a love triangle centered on Ryo (Guillermo Villegas), who adores Kieri (Jorge Becerra) but is desired by Tari (Javier Oliván). This ambitious, experi-

mental film has many hypnotic and erotic moments; an interrupted bathroom tryst may leave viewers breathless, and several

scenes of furtive couplings in and around

a movie theater (where the filmmaker’s

erotic short “Bramadero” unspools) are extremely passionate. “Raging Sun, Raging Sky,” however, eschews character development and identification, especially in its last hour, where the story shifts to color and a mythological narrative unfolds. This section of the film is no less beautiful —images of Kieri unburying himself and

Ryo lying naked in a cave are indelible — but viewers may grow tired of trying to make sense of it all. The actors are strik- ingly beautiful, and Hernández insists on challenging viewers, but he alternately turns them on and bore them. Neverthe- less, his status as the foremost experi- mental erotic filmmaker is undeniable.

“T raining Rules” (Jun. 7, 3:00

p.m., SVA 2) is an inspiration-

al documentary that address-

es the issue of homophobia in women’s sports, in particular, the regimen of Penn State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland: “No drinking, no drugs, no les- bians.” For player Jennifer Harris, it was time to call coach Portland on her dis- crimination. Out filmmaker Dee Mos- bacher interviews players from the past 30 years whose passion for the game ended with Portland dismissing them on the basis of their sexual orientation. They discuss the fear, pain, psychological abuse, and shame they experienced as members of Portland’s team –– and how complaining would have likely ended any chances of playing for the WNBA. Port- land declined to be interviewed for the film, but the testimonies of the women

NEWFEST, continued on p.27

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28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009

MATT ZUGALE 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 26 / Theater Daddy Dearest A prodigal father


MATT ZUGALE 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 26 / Theater Daddy Dearest A prodigal father
MATT ZUGALE 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 26 / Theater Daddy Dearest A prodigal father
MATT ZUGALE 28 MAY - 10 JUN 2009 26 / Theater Daddy Dearest A prodigal father

Daddy Dearest

A prodigal father returns from Korea to mend familial fences


W hen it comes to mile- stone birthdays, Americans love to

celebrate rites of passages for the young — Sweet 16, High School Grad 18, Alcohol Legal 21. The Jews have their bar/ bat mitzvah. Latinas have their quinciñera. But in Korea, the most revered birthday is hwan- gap, the 60th birthday, which marks the completion of the Asian zodiac cycle and rebirth after a long life well-lived. And it is around this auspicious event that playwright Lloyd Suh has chosen to construct “American Hwangap,” a sav- agely savvy comedy about the clash between generations, and American and Korean cultures. That this hwangap is set in a grubby suburb of West Texas and not Korea is just the beginning. Patriarch Min Suk Chun has returned to the US after abandoning his family 15 years earlier, to find them fractured and flounder- ing. His eldest son, David, now a high-flying, hands-free phoning investment banker (the play takes place in 2008, just before the market tum- ble) has become a hardened shell with the soul of a robot. Chun’s twice-divorced daugh- ter, Esther (Michi Barall), is a serial graduate student who seems one prescription away from a nervous breakdown. And Ralph (a boyish Peter Kim), his jobless 29-year-old son, lives in his mother’s base- ment playing video games, writ- ing poetry, and sipping boxes of grape Juicy Juice. Lacking a father figure, it appears his social development arrested about the time Chun skipped out on them. Only his wife, Mary (Mia Katigbak), is able to keep it together, having carved out a career in real estate. Until her cad of a husband arrives, that is.

Rather than showering the honoree with presents, fam- ily members offer up wine and personal tributes. “I hope you stick around this time,” Ralph says. Esther, on the other

stick around this time,” Ralph says. Esther, on the other James Saito as Min Suk Chun

James Saito as Min Suk Chun and Peter Kim as his son, Ralph Chun, in Lloyd Suh’s “American Hwangap.”


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hand, confesses she’d always longed for a second chance with her father, but now that he’s back, she’s not so sure. When Chun tries to make amends, he is squarely met with resistance and suspicion. His excuse for leaving was that his company replaced him with a younger worker with newer skills. “Planned obso- lescence,” he calls it. When he returned to Korea, however, he was viewed as too American- ized and shunned. Can this family be recon- ciled? It would seem easier to reunite North and South Korea. Under the snappy direction of Trip Cullman, Suh’s char- acterizations are intimately vivid, and the dialogue crack-

les. The excellent James Saito, who won an Obie Award for his role in “Durango” a couple of years ago, renders the hap- less, deadbeat dad worthy of his children’s buried love. Another standout is Hoon Lee as the snide, stony David, who refuses to travel from New York. When he intones, “I’d most pre- fer not to drop everything and just rush down for some sup- plication congratulation situa- tion,” it is at once chilling and amusing. He calls his younger brother “champ” and “buddy” with all the affection normally reserved for a shoeshine boy. His bottled-up rage verges on bursting at any moment. What’s especially astound- ing is how Cullman manages to balance the comic and dark- er elements, never permitting one to stumble over the other. The tone shifts naturally and seamlessly — no easy feat. In less confident hands, the goofy yet touching scene where Ralph and his father go fishing together in a tiny boat, awk- wardly sharing confidences,

would surely sink. One of the most in-demand directors Off-Broadway, Cull- man first made a splash with Jonathan Tolins’ “Last Sunday in June” back in 2003. Since then, the openly gay director has garnered raves for Adam Bock’s “Drunken City,” Ter- rence McNally’s “Some Men,” Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s “Dark Matters,” and Burt V. Royal’s “Dog Sees God.” The music, by Fitz Patton, is an irresistibly uncanny mix of Asian and American Southern guitar twang. Besides being about divides, traditions, and second chanc- es, at its very heart, “Ameri- can Hwangap” is about home. When you consider the com- mon adages about the subject — home is where the heart is; you can never go home again; there’s no place like home — an inherent disparity is clear. This poignantly bold work effortlessly finds the space to accommodate these conflicting notions, with plenty of room to spare.



JUN 3, from p.22

out of the New York City Gay Men’s Cho- rus, ushers in an era of hope with “Brand New Day,” a soup to nuts tour of great pop music — from the 2008 Jason Mraz hit “I’m Yours” to the 1938 “Sing For Your Supper.” In between, they will lift you up with music from the Temptations, Erasure, Dusty Springfield, the Crew Cuts, Madonna, the Beatles, and much more. Karen Mason is the special guest star. Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St., 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15, with a two-drink minimum. For reservations, call 212-206-0440.


¡Bienvenido, New York!

Across town, Uptown Express’ sister organization, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus goes Latin, with a celebration of the rich classical, folk, pop, and dance traditions of Spain and South America — including salsa from Cuba, samba and bossa nova from Brazil, tango from Argentina, merengue from the Dominican Repub- lic, a folk mass featuring Venezu- elan musicians, and a Latino-flavored global pop-dance set including songs by Gloria Estefan and Shakira. FIT’s Haft Auditorium, Seventh Ave. at 27th St. Jun. 3-4, 8 p.m. For ticket information, visit or call



COMEDY Queerly Funny

It’s June and hilarious gay and gay- ish comics are bustin’ out all over at Homo Comicus. Bob Montgomery (from the OutLaugh and NYC Underground Comedy Festivals) hosts an evening that features including Judy Gold (from HBO, Comedy Central, and “Mommy Queerest”), Jackie Hoffman (from Broadway’s “Hairspray” and “Xanadu” and the films “Kissing Jessica Stein” and John Waters’ “A Dirty Shame”), Frank DeCaro (from “The Frank DeCaro Show” on SiriusXM Radio, TV Land’s “I’ve Got a Secret,” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) and Jim David (from “Comedy Central Presents Jim David” and Logo’s “Wisecrack”). Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St., 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15, with a two-drink minimum. Reservations at



14 DAYS, continued on p.28



28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009



At Horton’s Foote

Mrs. Wilkinson and the boys of “Billy,” mystery mucus, Egyptian gay director


T he New Dramatists’ lunch (May

19) at the Marriott Marquis paid

touching tribute to the late Horton

Foote (1916-2009). Present at the event were his children, Hallie, Daisy and Walter, who, when their father died last March, were the first to call New Drama- tists to tell them they wanted the show to go on, regardless. Foote led a long, exem- plary life, both in and out of the theater, and I will always treasure the memory of meeting this courtly Southern gent dur- ing the Off-Broadway run of “Dividing the Estate.” He sat at the back of the the- ater for every performance, admitting it was out of “sheer egomania.” This event, as always, was packed with past and present Tony nominees. As much as I adored Karen Olivo in “West Side Story,” Haydn Gwynne deserves to win Featured Musical Actress for “Billy Elliot.” She created the role from the ground up and is in the Marian Seldes –– whom she was talking to –– tradition of great character actresses, bringing real heart and truth to this sometimes over-

produced show. When I mentioned this, she said, “I’m going to go and cry now… I started the show in London in the very early stages, so I know where the bodies are buried. I hadn’t done a musical since ‘City of Angels’ in 1993. We got the most fabu- lous reviews and ran for eight months, but it never attracted the right audience. If we’d first played at the National The- atre and then transferred into the West End it would have been better. Audiences needed to know that it was very much a sophisticated, thinking piece. That audi- ence does exist in London, but you have to tell them that that’s what the show is, because you don’t want to attract the wrong audience who’ll think, ‘This is too heavy.’ “In London, we look to Broadway as the birthplace of musicals. ‘Billy Elliot’’s success is something we don’t take for granted, because for us to bring this show here is like an American company bringing Shakespeare to Stratford-on- Avon. Broadway is where this particu- lar art form was born and thrives, and we hold that in reverence. For instance,

when “The Producers” came over, people could not wait to see it… and loved it!” Gwynne’s character, Mrs. Wilkinson, is an update of those terrific old ballet mistresses with the pounding canes that Maria Ouspenskaya and Judith Ander- son once played in film, but she said, “Maybe because I’m not a dancer and I haven’t gone through all that, I start- ed more with my imagined view of that woman and how she fits into the story, and the way everybody is leading a sort of disappointed life.” The three “Billy Elliot” boys up for a single Tony were properly be-suited and awestruck, their responses filled with “Amazing!,” which Marian Seldes had just informed me was the new “awe- some.” Latin-looking David Alvarez was especially cagey when I asked him what was his background was. “Ballet.” “No, I meant ethnically – Hispanic?” “I’m Cana- dian.” O-kay. It kind of reminded me of when Brad Wong became B.D. Wong in “M. Butterfly,” some producer’s idea of throwing off the scent in that prehistoric

IN THE NOH, continued on p.28

scent in that prehistoric IN THE NOH , continued on p.28 David Bologna, who steals the

David Bologna, who steals the show and brings down the house at “Billy Elliot” every night, as Michael.

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who played for her are telling and often heartbreaking. “Training Rules” is a fine and very moving documentary.

“T he Art of Being Straight”

(Jun. 10, 10:30 p.m., SVA 1;

also opens at the Quad, Jun.

5) is a well-meaning comedy of manners written, directed by, and starring Jesse Rosen, which plays with the fluidity of sexuality. A pair of LA 20-something friends, Jon (Rosen) and Maddy (Rachel Castillo, channeling Zooey Deschanel), both find themselves questioning their same-sex attractions. Jon is seduced by Paul (Johnny Ray), an executive in the ad agency where he works. Maddy is a lesbian who finds herself smitten with her male neighbor. Although each handles awkward situations in trying to come to terms with their true emotions, “The Art of Being Straight” treats these issues too superficially to be effective. Jon’s sexual confusion is never palpa- ble, even at his moments of greatest con- flict. Maddy never seems engaged enough with her girlfriend to generate empathy. The use of double entendres throughout the film and the repeated queer epithets that Jon’s friends –– intended to under- score the sexual identity tensions at issue — are obvious, and not funny. The cast of performers are appealing, but like the film, they are skin deep.

W hen teenage gang member Cal (Wayne Virgo) hooks up with Scott (Garry Summers)

online, and asks his new fuck-buddy to film their drug-fueled tryst in the woods, director Simon Pearce’s “Shank” (Jun. 6, 10 p.m., SVA 1) shows itself to be pretty daring. Cal next head-butts Scott post-coitus, and later masturbates to the film they made, making it pretty clear this naughty and compelling Brit- ish drama has a complex view of sexu- ality. Alas, “Shank” fails to deliver on its initial promise. This story about Cal, afraid to acknowledge his homosexuality, is amateurishly acted and poorly direct- ed, and full of contrived plotting. The main plot has Cal rescuing Olivier (Marc Laurent) from being gay-bashed by his friends Jonno (magnetic Tom Bott) and Nessa (Alice Payne). Ostra- cized by his pals, Cal visits Olivier and begins an intense relationship with him, complete with tender, erot- ic lovemaking. (To the film’s credit, the actors are not shy when it comes to nudity). It is only a matter of time before Jonno and Nessa discover Cal is queer and confront him. Unfortu- nately, this “big dramatic moment,” which involves male rape and teary confessions, is clumsily presented. Pearce wants “Shank” to be a socially important film, but it ends up instead sadly irrelevant.




28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


IN THE NOH, from p.27

time when gender-fucking was theatrically groundbreaking and not a given. Far more expressive was the delightful, non-nominated David Bologna, who plays Bil- ly’s engaging cross-dressing friend, Michael. When we were

gay little boys, who didn’t love to sneak into Mommy’s closet –– I remember being so proud when I created a bustle out of her bathrobe, and wish I’d seen someone like Michael onstage back then. Bologna said, “It’s

a really fun role to play. I see

Michael as a crazy, eccentric guy who isn’t into your typical sports, but he’s okay, express-

es himself, and loves it. I never dressed up myself. I wasn’t

a jock either, but when I was

younger I did like to sing and dance. “A lot of kids were at the

‘Billy’ auditions, but for my

callback, there were only twelve of us. It was neat because they tried to make it feel as light- weight as possible and not like an audition –– to not put that stress on us –– which was really good, as we weren’t ner- vous or stressed out. Being in the show is an incredible feel- ing, especially at the end when

I tell the audience to give me

more applause. You have them in the palm of your hand and you can do anything. I think that was the part of the origi-

nal choreography from Lon- don. I’m from Austin, Texas, but born in New Orleans. I think when I moved up here I just lost my drawl, but we got

think when I moved up here I just lost my drawl, but we got Haydn Gwynne

Haydn Gwynne with David Alvarez in “Billy Elliot.”

that Southern hospitality. I had never studied any formal ballet or tap, was actually an Irish dancer, and that really helped with my tap.”

John Glover from “Waiting for Godot” cleared up a press- ing mystery for me, especially in these Swine Flu-scared days. What was that mucus- y substance that kept drool- ing out of his nose and mouth whenever he was onstage? “Mucus! I just push it out every night. Some nights I get

more than others. It’s all from the text. Estragon talks about how Pozzo slathers. Someone equated me with that horse in ‘Gone with the Wind’ Scarlett beats to death. Drool is drool.” The divinity Chita Rivera, the sexiest woman in the room, is still lovin’ the gay cruises she gets booked on, was fascinated to hear about my spotting Carol Lawrence and Grover Dale tak- ing the subway to the “West Side Story’ opening night party, and gave me her honest but

Story’ opening night party, and gave me her honest but A scene from by Youssef Chahine’s

A scene from by Youssef Chahine’s “Alexandria, Again and Forever” (1989), at the BAM Rose Cinema on June 7 at 2, 4:30, 6:50, and 9:15 p.m.

strictly off-the-record opinion about this current production. Lynn Cohen, familiar to many as Magda, Cynthia Nix- on’s nanny on “Sex and the

City,” is the always fun, unoffi- cial hostess of the press room, and told me, “I just finished ‘Chasing Manet’ with Jane Alexander and am going to do

a film next week with Chris

O’Donnell –– he better be cute! As for me being in the next ‘Sex and the City’ movie, from your mouth to God’s ears… I loved doing the role. It’s the best

because they’re all like a reper- tory company and Cynthia is

a great actress. I based Magda

on my grandmother from the Ukraine. You pull up every- thing from the past.”

I ran into Martin Pakledinaz, Tony-nominated for cos- tume design for “Blithe Spir-

it,” and he told me, “Dressing Angela Lansbury –– how intimi-

dating was that at first? She’s such a style icon from ‘Mame,’ ‘Manchurian Candidate,’ and ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ in those simple suits which are really not that simple to execute. She couldn’t have been easier. She asked me, ‘What did you think

of how Anthony Powell dressed

me in ‘Death on the Nile’? And I said, ‘Wow, you want to go that high, huh?’ So we went for it and, regarding her Mrs. Lovett/ ‘Sweeney Todd” braid buns over the ears, that was her idea. I, too, mentioned the similarity to ‘Sweeney,’ but she said, ‘No one will remember that!’ She brought in a picture of her nanny who wore her hair that way, and that always stayed with her.” Rupert Everett was very par- ticular about his costumes and fit, and remarked that he had never had so many costume meetings on any project. He specified no smoking jacket, as that would look “too gay.” Pakledinaz dressed Jayne Atkinson’s ghostly Ruth in a similar tailored suit to what she wore in life: “They usually bring her back in an evening gown, which doesn’t make much sense,” while Christine Ebersole discovered the after- life effect of her ethereal chif- fon sleeves in tech rehearsal. “She just started playing with her sleeves over her hands and said, ‘Look at this!’ Those are the moments when a designer goes, ‘Thank you, God!’”

IN THE NOH, continued on p.29



14 DAYS, from p.26


YOUTH 30 Years of Outreach

Author Eric Marcus, author of “Making Gay History,” leads a panel discussion on the founding 30 years

ago of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the country’s oldest and largest organiza- tion focusing on at risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and ques- tioning youth. Originally named, “The Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth,” the organization was the first in the nation to introduce the concept of services and programs to acknowledge and address the needs of LGBTQ young people. The conversation includes founding and current members of the staff — Thomas Krever, Hetrick- Martin’s executive director, Joyce Hunter, from the HIV Center for Clinical & Behavioral Studies at Columbia Uni- versity, a founding staff member, and the co-founder of Harvey Milk School, and Ann Northrop, formerly with the education department of Hetrick-Mar- tin and a co-host (with Gay City News’ Andy Humm) of “Gay USA.” Harvey Milk School, 2 Astor Pl., in Cooper Sq., 10 a.m.-noon. Make sure to RSVP to


PERFORMANCE She Went Through Herbert & J. Edgar Hoover

“J. Edgar Klezmer: Songs from My Grandmother’s FBI Files” — a musical documentary theater piece based on declassified documents, set on Manhat- tan’s Upper West Side, that examines the life and Cold War time capsule of Dr. Adele Sicular, grandmother of Metropoli- tan Klezmer & Isle of Klezbos drummer/ bandleader Eve Sicular — premiered to a sold-out house at Dixon Place last year. Combining myriad archival finds, oral history, and family gossip, this piece uses theater, multi-media projections, and original music and lyrics to investi- gate the dealings of government agents and Eve’s pianist/psychiatrist/activist grandma. From klezmer to Kodaly to jazz, baroque to boogie woogie to gospel, from Hazel Scott’s canceled TV show to derelict theories of homosexuality, the exploration of the surveillance files leads in even more directions than the Depart- ment of Justice could have foreseen.

JUN 4, continued on p.29


28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009




JUN 4, from p.29

Jewish Community Center in Man- hattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave. at 76th St., 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for JCC members at 646-505-5708 or http://met-



LA NOCHE Mateando Con…

Mateando va a tirar la casa por la ven- tana en esta nueva fiesta de “Mateando Con…” Esta vez será Mateando con La Comunidad LGBT, para comenzar a lo grande el mes del Orgullo LGBT, haremos la fiesta mas grande de los viernes con un show especial, artistas invitados y la conducción de la estrella de Telemundo, Fabiola “Golden Blonde.” Todos los que lleven nuestros tickets tendrán estos beneficios toda la noche: Entrada gratu- ita (llegar antes de la 1 a.m.); oferta de tragos toda la noche (cerveza Bud Light lime a $4 y Absolute Vodka flavored — Pera, Durazno y Vainilla — a $5); show especial y go-go dancers (show erotico para varones, presentacion de Miss Riis Park, Fabiola y elenco, entre muchos otros), toda la calidez de Mateando. Club Atlantis, 76-19 Roosevelt Ave. at 77th St., Jackson Heights. Mateando.Con@


FILM Radical Pioneer

Anthology Film Archives and the Goethe-Institut New York present a ret- rospective weekend of the irrepressible, unstoppable, and invaluable Rosa von Praunheim. The series is a generous, though necessarily selective, line-up of some of the numerous films he has made over the past four decades. A pioneer of gay cinema, and a peerlessly prolific and fearless filmmaker, von Praunheim’s work is sexually and politically provoca- tive, cinematically innovative, and all- around unforgettable. Focusing on the films von Praunheim made in New York while immersed in the city’s 1970s and ’80s counter-cultural milieu as well as on some of his under-screened recent work, the series will culminate in a not-to-be- missed live presentation in which Rosa will take us on a personal tour of his life and work. The schedule ranges from his 1970 “It’s Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But The Situation In Which He Lives” (“Nicht Der Homosexuelle Ist Pervers, Sondern Die Situation, In Der

JUN 5, continued on p.30

BRIEFS, from p.15

way to ensure that the govern- ment has access to the top tal- ent on the same basis as the nation’s leading corporations.” The HRC release noted that 57 percent of Fortune 500 compa- nies offer the same benefits. The measure is strongly supported by GLOBE, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Employees of the Federal Gov- ernment. On May 22, the Advocate reported that it had received a leaked draft of a letter from Secretary of State Hillary Clin- ton detailing her intention to allow the domestic partners of Foreign Service personnel to be considered as family mem- bers for purposes of benefits, including overseas living allow- ances. Her jurisdiction over the full range of domestic partner benefits, however, is unclear.

More Mishegoss at the White House

In the last issue, we reported on the growing impatience at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for LGBT soldiers, in the wake of White House national security advisor General James Jones, Jr.,

telling ABC’s George Stephano- poulos, “I don’t know” if the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is going to be overturned. Jones’ statement forced press secretary Robert Gibbs to reiterate the President Barack Obama’s campaign prom- ise on that score, while noting that it would require “more than the snapping of one’s fingers.” The discharge of National Guard Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Iraq War veteran who majored in Arabic language at West Point, might have some in the administration wishing that Obama could just snap his fingers. Air America’s Ana Marie Cox pressed Gibbs on that point at a May 21 press briefing, asking why Obama could not move to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell through exec- utive order, as President Harry Tru- man did in ending racial segrega- tion in the military. Perhaps recall- ing the trouble former President Bill Clinton encountered when he moved aggressively upon taking office on the issue of military ser- vice by out gay personnel, Gibbs responded, “The reason Congress is involved is the only durable and lasting way with which to over- turn the policy is to do it by law.” He also noted that the Pentagon had corrected an earlier statement that no discussions about chang- ing the policy were taking place. But then, asked about the status

on moving forward on Capitol Hill, Gibbs said, “I don’t know what’s been introduced in Congress. On May 27, when asked for the president’s reaction to the California court ruling on Prop 8, Gibbs said, “I have not talked to the President about it. I think the issues involved are ones that you know where the President stands.” So all this means…?

And, What About Needle Exchange

Studies have long demonstrat- ed in definitive fashion the success of needle exchange programs in curbing HIV transmission among injection drug users. A study of new infection rates in New York City during the early years of this century showed dramatic gains in slowing transmission in that population — in marked contrast to among gay and bisexual men. President George W. Bush opposed federal funding of such programs, and President Bill Clinton wimped out when his drug czar, General Barry McCaffrey, threatened to resign over the issue. What about President Barack Obama, who pledged that he would moving on funding this health measure. Time magazine is reporting that “buried on page 795” of the presi- dent’s budget is the same old lan-

guage barring the use of federal dollars for this purpose. A flip-flop? Not so, said Jeff Crowley, direc- tor of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. “The presi- dent is looking forward to working with Congress and the American people to build support for this change, and his administration is committed to moving forward to address the federal ban on syringe exchange programs as a part of

a national HIV/AIDS strategy,”

Crowley said in an email to the magazine. So all this means…?

Kramer Takes On the Colonists

Screenwriter, playwright, and longtime AIDS and gay activist Larry Kramer has been a staunch defender — against the fire of many mainline historians — of

C.A. Tripp’s “The Intimate World

of Abraham Lincoln,” a biography

that explores homosexual rela- tionships in the life of the 16th president. Two years ago, when the nation marked the 400th anni- versary of the founding of Jame- stown, Kramer also tried to ele- vate the issue of same-sex desire and practice in the early Virginia colony. At that time, in letters to US News and World Report and The New Yorker, Kramer quoted favorably from historian Richard

Godbeer’s “Sexual Revolution in Early America,” published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Godbeer had written, “Settlers in the seventeenth-century Chesa- peake often paired off to form all-male households, living and

working together

truly remarkable if all the male- only partnerships lacked a sex-

ual ingredient

sonable to assume that much

of the sex that took place

sodomitical.” Now, however, Godbeer’s new book, “The Overflowing of Friendship: Love Between Men and the Creation of the American Republic,” presents, in Kramer’s view, “a heartbreaking refutation of the possibility he’d put forward in his earlier work.” In a piece published on the Huffington Post, Kramer wrote, “Godbeer is hell- bent on convincing us that two men in colonial America could

have exceedingly obsessive and passionate relationships (he calls them, variously, “sentimental,” “loving,” “romantic”) replete with non-stop effusive corre- spondence that rivals anything in Barbara Cartland, and spend many a night in bed together talk- ing their hearts out, without the issue of sex arising in any way.” Or as Kramer slyly added, “You know, a sort of ‘I Love You, Man’ for colonial America.”

It seems rea-

it would be


IN THE NOH, from p.28

J ulie Halston, with her

devastating, desert-dry

delivery, had everyone

–– as they say on Long Island –– hysterical laughing, at her show at Birdland (May 19), with her accounts of growing up in Comack, where she mistook her father’s testicle during an Eas- ter Egg hunt. (“I don’t remem- ber dye-ing a pink one?”) Being Italian, she was once reduced to childhood tears when class teas- ing forced her to ask her mother if they were Mafia: “Would we live in a shithole like this if we were?” (Take that you broads from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” –– and how much of a guilty pleasure is that hor- ror show?) Halston had the gayest night in the history of the world when she went as Liza Minnelli’s guest to the “first Barbra Stre- isand Farewell Tour” at Madi- son Square. Imagine massed hordes of people davening at the sight of Liza, and then hav- ing to stand guard in the pub- lic ladies room for her (she was

refused the usage of Streisand’s private loo), while some woman screams, “It’s Liza! I can’t pee!” and, later, Richard Simmons, writhing in agony on the floor in a red sequined jumpsuit, shrieking “Barbra won’t see me! Why?!”

B AM Rose Cinemas is

presenting a retrospec-

tive of Egyptian film-

maker Youssef Chahine (1926- 2008). Series curator Elliott Stein, who will be speaking on June 3, told me, “He was a leading director in Arab cinema, making movies about Israelis who fuck Palestinians, Mus- lims who fall in love with Eng- lish colonials they’re supposed to kill. In his autobiographical trilogy, ‘Alexandria… Why?’ he depicts himself as being bisex- ual, and there’s also his cri- tique of Muslim fundamental- ism in several films. These are very ballsy things to do in mov- ies financed by the Egyptian government –– just to go out in the world and survive assassi- nation after doing all that. “As a filmmaker, his films are

often really rough but it’s the ballsy quality about them which compels. That’s the one adjec- tive that really describes him to me. His films are not hard-core, but it’s obvious what’s going on. There’s not much real nudity, but there are gay romances and affairs which are physical. How far could he go? But he went as far as he could. He played a depraved sex maniac in his breakthrough film, ‘Cairo Sta- tion,’ a candy vendor who goes around killing girls out of sexual frustration, and he’s very good. “Twenty years ago, I got an invitation from Georgetown University to talk about his films with him during a week- end retrospective. I spent a lot of time with him, had drinks, went to the Egyptian cultural attaché where he was stay- ing. He generally traveled with handsome young men. Walter Reade had a retrospective on him ten years ago, and already he was a little shaky but he was okay, and we had coffee and caught up. He died last year. The New York Times obits for film are usually terrible, but his

was very good, the only one I’ve ever seen by A.O. Scott, their first string critic. “He was a magnificent, for- midable figure of Arab cinema for more than half a century, bursting with energy and force, and very political towards the end, very anti-Israel in terms of their foreign policy toward Palestinians. But he had a lot of Israeli friends, and his films were shown in Israel, as well as gay film festivals everywhere, extraordinary for someone from Arab cinema. He was an out- spoken critic of Egyptian Presi- dent Mubarak, as well as Amer- ican foreign policy. When asked in an online interview wheth- er he thought Egypt would become more free and liberal in the near future, his reply was, ‘No, neither in the near nor in the faraway future.’” (30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Pl., May 29-Jun. 7, www.bam. org.)

Contact David Noh at Inthe- and check out his new blog at http://nohway.


28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


FRIEDEN, from p.8

statistically significant. Using the same test identifying recent infections, the city estimated that in 2006, 4,800 New York- ers were newly infected with HIV, and 2,372, or 50 percent, were gay and bisexual men. In a 2007 interview with Gay City News, Frieden said there were limits to what he could achieve when addressing gay men and HIV. “I think there are real problems that I can’t be very effective addressing,” he said, and named the “number of part- ners,” “the amount of unsafe sex,” and “the importance of somebody to behave responsi-

bly” as issues that only the com- munity could address. “But, you know, I haven’t been hearing that from the gay community,” he said. “I haven’t been hear- ing it. And if I say it, it will be at best counter-productive. It really needs to come from within the community.” Frieden also fought some AIDS groups, Housing Works in par- ticular, over the efforts he chose to fund with city dollars. The commissioner asserted that his choices were driven by data that demonstrated the effectiveness of the programs and institutions he favored. While Frieden will have a lim- ited ability to influence state and

local policies at CDC, the agency directly funds HIV prevention

programs and got $745 million for that effort in the president’s proposed 2010 federal budget.

A number of New York City AIDS

groups rely on that cash. As Housing Works noted, Frie-

den is not shy about making policy by directing tax dollars to institutions that support and will implement his preferred policies. Frieden’s biggest fight came in 2006, when he proposed chang- ing state law to end the require- ment for written consent for HIV testing. He also advanced

a proposal that would allow the

health department to contact people with AIDS if commonly-

used tests showed a patient had

an increasing viral load or a fall- ing T cell count, two indicators of

ill health in a person with AIDS.

While Frieden had support from

some in the public health and gay community, he also faced fierce opposition and the propos- als failed. In his 2007 interview with Gay City News, Frieden said his relationships with some AIDS groups were strained. “They are

not always terrible,” he said. “I think some of the groups engage

in what has been called the poli-

tics of opposition, so whatever

we propose they are going to be

opposed to because we proposed it. That really is unhelpful.”

FARLEY, from p.9

decision-making, and evaluat- ing programs that work,” Far- ley said at the press confer- ence. When Gay City News briefly interviewed Farley about this method in 2008, when he was

a Frieden advisor, he had not

yet made an analysis of the interventions being used in New York City, but documents obtained last year under New York’s open records law sug- gest that interventions such as widespread condom distri- bution and mass media cam- paigns would be preferred over

others such as group counsel-

ing and partner notification. AIDS groups may be forced to defend their city-funded pro- grams under this analysis. Farley headed the Depart- ment of Community Health Sciences and the Prevention Research Center at Tulane University for the past nine years. He has also been a

consultant to the city health department since he spent a year, starting in 2007, as a Frieden senior advisor. Prior to joining Tulane, Far- ley was the medical officer at the Louisiana Office of Public Health, and he also worked at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SENATE, from p.13

At least some political leaders who wished to speak, including city Comptroller William Thomp- son, who is seeking the Demo- cratic mayoral nomination to run against Bloomberg, were turned

down. Hayes explained that given

a two-hour police permit, the

organizers were concerned about fitting in all the performers and speakers, and declined requests from a number of elected officials,

“who all wanted to speak.” Asked whether Smith’s pres- ence at the rally would have been helpful, ESPA’s Van Capelle said,

“Anyone who was there felt the sense of solidarity that existed.

I wish that crowd had had the

opportunity to hear Senator Smith’s support for and commit- ment to marriage equality, which he has stated on many occa- sions.” Van Capelle suggested that

the gap between the governor’s call for a vote and Smith’s posi- tion that passage should be assured prior to bringing it to the floor might evaporate in prac- tice. “I think there is an ability to have 32 named votes still,” he told Gay City News. “There will be some people who will not be

able to make up their minds until they have to vote. The landscape

is still significantly larger than we thought it would be at this stage. There are more gettables out there than are being talked about.” A number of Democratic col- leagues of Diaz’s have said that they also oppose Paterson’s bill, but, aside from the Bronx sena- tor, who is a Pentecostal minis- ter and has been at odds with the LGBT community dating all the way back to the time the Gay Games were held in New York in 1994, Van Capelle said, “I don’t think we should stop talking

to any Democrat, regardless of whether they’ve stated their posi- tion. Anyone who identifies five or six people holding this up is misreading the political terrain.” Quinn has made two trips to Albany in recent weeks to person- ally lobby senators. The Pride Agenda — like Duane and Paterson — has always made clear that it is lobbying Republi- can senators as well. According to Daily News political reporter Liz Benjamin, Duane, on May 14, stated that a Republican col- league of his is ready to publicly announce his support for mar- riage equality.

MURDERER, from p.17

on a third. His family in Illinois will aid him if he is released. And then he was wronged by the parole board, his student lawyers assert. “At the baseline level, there was no rational basis for their negative consideration of his sexual orientation,” said Mollie Kornreich, one of the students. The students did what good lawyers do when they represent clients who have committed hei- nous and violent crimes — they fought back. “Even if you believe your client

is guilty, you represent him zeal-

ously,” said Abram Seaman, who

is gay and one of the students. When Wilborn was denied

parole in 2006, he appealed.

That appeal was denied in 2007. He sued in federal court that year, initially representing him- self, and then was aided by the Columbia students. While sexual orientation is not

a protected class in federal anti-

discrimination laws, that does not mean that government enti- ties are free to discriminate on that basis at will. Wilborn’s advo- cates asserted that his equal pro- tection and due process rights under the US Constitution were violated when the board denied

him parole because he was gay. “It’s not unprotected, it just

gets less protection,” Kornreich said. Wilborn and the Columbia students won. In 2008, the state settled without admitting to any wrongdoing and agreed to give Wilborn another parole hearing on May 28. Normally, an inmate such as Wilborn gets a hear-

ing every five years, so this lat- est hearing will come more than two years early. The students are helping Wilborn prepare for the hearing and they fully believe that he deserves to be paroled. “The function of a parole sys- tem is to recognize that people can rehabilitate themselves,” Seaman said. Zwick added, “Our personal feeling is that he isn’t

likely to re-offend.” While the settlement is not a legal precedent for other courts,

it can be cited by attorneys or

inmates who find themselves in

a similar situation. “It’s not bind-

ing, of course, but it is persua- sive,” Zwick said. Judges can sometimes be reluctant to be the first to rule favorably for a gay or lesbian per- son, Wilborn’s advocates argue. His case, in their view, solves that problem and it is one more step forward for the queer com- munity. “Cases like this are exciting because they establish incre- mentally this is not okay, this is not okay,” Kornreich said.



JUN 5, from p.29

Er Lebt”) on Jun. 4 at 7:30 p.m. to the controversial 2005 documentary “Men, Heroes & Gay Nazis” (“Männer, Helden, Schwule Nazis”) on Jun. 7 at 9:30 p.m. On Jun. 6 at 7:30 p.m., von Praunheim appears live in “I’m a Tomato,” present- ing a selection of film clips from his rep- ertoire of 70 films, and talking dirty to the audience. Anthology, 32 Second Ave. at Second St., Jun. 4-7. For complete details on the retrospective, visit anthol-


AT THE BEACH Smiling through the Apocalypse

The Dow is a disgrace, homes are in foreclosure, and you may soon be out of job — what better way to spend a sum- mer evening laughing your blues away. Pines resident Jim David, Cory Kahaney (“Last Comic Standing,” “The J.A.P. Show”), and Jackie Hoffman (Broad- way’s “Xanadu”) bring an evening of comic relief to our troubled times. Bran- don Fradd Theatre, Whyte Hall, Fire Island Pines, 9 p.m. Tickets available at or in the Pines Harbor.



JAZZ Puddin’ Heads

Rome Neal, a jazz vocalist who’s per- formed at Town Hall, the Metropolitan Room, and Joe’s Pub, presents another “All in the Puddin’ Concert,” with special guest Onaje Allan Gumbs, a composer, arranger, and NAACP Image Award nominee, on piano, Paul Beaudry on bass, and Greg Buford on drums. Nuy- orican Poets Café, 236 E. Third St., btwn. Aves. B & C, 9 p.m. Admission is $15. For reservations, call 212-465-3167 or email At 10

p.m., an open mic — for jammin’ musi- cians only — follows. $10. Complimen-

tary banana puddin’ is served.


DATING Make Me a Match

Marilyn Galfin, creator of NYC Lav- ender Lounge Events, has come up with a winning, pumped up social event for gay men. “Make Me a Match” is a dat- ing game filled with non-intimidating fun and laughter. Galfin offers a unique, crazy combo of speed-dating, ice-breaker conversations, and humor, along with a

JUN 6, continued on p.32

Don’t miss the TD Bank Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival JULY 30 - AUGUST
Don’t miss the TD Bank Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival


28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


Remembering Rodger

A fellow soldier in the war on AIDS looks at McFarlane’s life


L ast week, I got the unex- pected news that my friend, the legendary

AIDS activist Rodger McFarlane, had taken his own life. I was in

shock and deeply saddened. Roger was a terrific friend, not only to me as an individual

and countless others around the world, but a terrific friend to the LGBT and HIV communities as well. Rodger was a co-found- er of ACT UP New York. He was

a mentor to countless activists

and employees at numerous AIDS organizations and a criti-

cal supporter, both intellectu- ally and financially, of advocacy for gay and lesbian and HIV causes. Rodger was a hero! Rodger was critical to the development of many of the largest and most effective organizations that would lead the fight against AIDS. He started the first AIDS hot line on his own home phone; he was the first executive direc- tor of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Rodger was also the president of Bailey House and later the executive director of the Gill Foundation. An accomplished athlete, Rodger had no physical fear and his quick mind made him

a brilliant strategic activist; he

could construct a plan to recti- fy any problem and was able to

find the clever media hook to draw public attention to it. He never reacted with anger and haste. He preferred a planned response, crafted with a cool hand. He was insightful, never flustered, and always had a “we can lick this” approach to

er David Binder (now a Tony nominee for “33 Variations”) to produce a rally and press con- ference at Rockefeller Center, near a key US immigration and passport office. We managed to get Dennis deLeon, then the New York City commissioner

Jessie and Rodger insisted that we stay overnight in jail to keep the TV cameras on the issue.

overcoming any challenge. “Tell

me what’s going on,” would be followed by, “That outrageous!” and then, “Here’s how we fix this thing.” He would then ask, “What do you think?” He was always ready to hear sugges- tions to refine his ideas. When ACT UP and others were fighting to close the HIV detention camp housing Hai- tian refugees at Guantanamo Bay, I went to Rodger and asked for help planning a high profile press event and civil disobedience action. Again it was: “Tell me what’s going on

— that’s outrageous!” followed by “Let’s kick their mother- fucking asses!” and “Here’s what we do ”

And here is what he did:

Rodger hired young ACT UP member and fledging produc-

of Human Rights, Jessie Jack- son, Susan Sarandon, direc- tor Jonathan Demme, and other high-profile AIDS com- munity members involved in a coalition-planning effort, and before we knew it, 40 boldfaced names had been arrested on Fifth Avenue for blocking traf- fic while demanding medical parole for the sickest and the closing of the camp. Jessie and Rodger insisted that we all go through the NYPD system and stay overnight in jail to keep the TV cameras on the issue. Within a few hours, Mayor David Dinkins was dispatched to the jail, at President Bill Clinton’s request, to talk Jessie and the rest of us into a quick, quiet release. Clinton did not want negative attention about what was becoming a growing

public black eye to his fledg- ling presidency. Jessie was told that the Clinton adminis- tration would look favorably on our demands if we took desk appearance tickets and left jail quickly to turn the press heat off. We were warned that to stay in jail overnight would lead to a less favorable admin- istration response. Jessie said that the mayor had asked him personally as well, as a good Democrat, to leave with him right away. We caucused and decided that we were likely to get some of our demands met if we left, ultimately helping the HIV- positive detainees in Guantan- amo. We felt that while this war was not over, the battle had been won; we had Bill Clinton dispatching David Dinkins to respond to our actions. We took the desk appearance tick- ets and left the holding cells. Shortly thereafter, all the preg- nant women and people with a full-blown AIDS diagnosis were released from the Guantana- mo HIV detention camp — the same camp where US detainees captured since 9/11 are being held today. Thank you Rodger, for all you did. Rest peacefully our fearless warrior!

Eric Sawyer is a veteran AIDS activist and cofounder of Hous- ing Works.

MCFARLANE, from p.3

This stuff was surreal. We had people literally beaten up with bats and thrown out of their apartments. You can’t make this shit up.” Despite his lifelong friend- ship with Kramer, the two most decidedly had their ups and downs, particularly after Kram- er broke with GMHC (eventually moving toward the direct action approach of ACT UP), dismissing the group as a bunch of “Flor- ence Nightingales.” McFarlane remembered thinking, perhaps even saying, “Don’t call me Flor- ence Nightingale, bitch. And you call me in the night when you’re sick. You know who you’re going to call and you call me whenever one of your friends is sick.” According to the press state-

ment issued by McFarlane’s family and friends — includ- ing Kramer, Grossman, Tim

Sweeney, who succeeded him as head of Gill, Patrick Guerriero, who runs Gill Action, Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares, and longtime lesbian activist Urvashi Vaid, executive director of the Arcus Foundation

— “Rodger had a reputation as a

hard-ass. That reputation didn’t do him justice.” The statement went on to review McFarlane’s legacy as a caregiver. But Sweeney also noted that McFarlane could come on very strong. “He was very smart and very fast, and did not tolerate fools,” he said, emphasizing his predecessor’s irreverence and fondness for colorful language sprinkled with four-letter words. Asked how McFarlane played

among the button-down big money crowd, gay and straight, that he courted at Gill, Sweeney said, “I think people really enjoy having characters in their life. Rodger had a ribald sense of humor. People often think you gotta watch that, but many, it turns out, welcome that. Rodger forced essential arguments that were engaging and worth hav- ing.” In 2007, McFarlane was with- ering in his assessment of how the administration of Mayor Ed Koch failed the city’s gay men in those years. “It was not that they dropped the ball,” he said. “It was more aggressive than that. It’s not that they didn’t get it. They didn’t want to get it. We were in the middle of an economic recovery of New York. The ‘70s had been

horrible here. And they had just

It was all

about commerce and tourism

and corporate headquarters

They dug their

heels in.” Grossman acknowledged that, in the early days of the epidemic, “There were others that yelled as much,” but said McFarlane “managed to domi- nate a room” — through his combination of intelligence, Southern charm, and a com- manding six-foot-six, lean phy- sique. Grossman believes McFar- lane’s direct, even domineering style and his talents for offer- ing support and care for others “were of a piece.” Overwhelmed at times by the enormity of the

coming back

turned that corner

MCFARLANE, continued on p.33



JUN 6, from p.30

secret, connection-proof ingredient, mak- ing for a light, fun-filled evening. Interactive games, inclusive conversations, and barrier free connections are in the spotlight as the evening moves at a fast and stimulating pace. LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., 8-10 p.m. Tickets are $21 nycla- or $25 at the door. For more information, call 212-989-8549 or email


Gallery Arts in Bushwick

Artist Andrew Cornell Robinson holds an open house for his new works, offer- ing friendly conversation, libation, and good cheer as well. 117 Grattan St. at Porter Ave., #309, Bushwick (L train to Morgan St.). Jun. 6, noon – 7 p.m.; Jun. 7, noon – 5 p.m. Other artists at 117 Grat- tan will also have open studios during the weekend. For more information, visit art- For specific information on Robinson, visit



MUSIC Global Sounds

The Peace of Heart Choir, a secular choir that performs free-of-charge for shelters, hospitals, treatment centers, and nursing homes throughout New York, pres- ents an a cappella repertoire from the fol- lowing traditions — Arabic, Mandarin Chi- nese, Spanish, Irish Gaelic, and American and British folk and pop. This afternoon, they present a concert, “Music to Life the World’s Spirit,” with a bake sale and raffle. Hunter College, North Building, Ida K. Lang Recital Hall, Room 424, entrance on E. 69th St., ¼ block east of Park Ave., 2:30-4:30 p.m. Tickets are $19 at or $20 at the door.



CABARET Tunes in the Buff

Scott Nevins’ “Curtain Call” goes nude with the clothing-less cast of the long- running Off Broadway hit “Naked Boys Singing.” Guest host Emily McNamara welcomes the sexy singers, who will be performing live and in the buff — plus giv- ing away tickets to the show. Splash, 50 W. 17th St., 11:30 p.m. Admission is free until 10 p.m., $5 after that. You must be 21.

JUMP, continued on p.32

14 DAYS, continued on p.34


28 MAY – 10 JUN 2009


MCFARLANE, from p.32

crisis he faced as a physician, Grossman said he would turn for support to McFar- lane, who always offered him “a safe place” to discuss his anxieties. Still, “he never let me bullshit him,” he recalled. In his most recent career endeavor, Sweeney said, McFarlane “really helped Gill sharpen its focus,” moving the orga- nization largely toward an emphasis on changing policies and laws at the state level, and directing efforts to allow the organization, through its Gill Action affili- ate, to have a direct role in lobbying for change. “The aligning of politics and philan- thropy was very important to LGBT donors,” Sweeney said. McFarlane’s passion, though, was in “laying out strategy,” Sweeney explained. “He was a very tough guy to work for and he didn’t particularly like managing peo- ple.” By late last year, he was ready for a hand-off to a successor. “He felt that he had made his contribution,” Sweeney said. Sweeney identified another character- istic of McFarlane related to his hobbies as an avid outdoor enthusiast and com- petitor in extreme sports, and his fre- quent off-road jeep jaunts — his love of periodic isolation. “He was just a really complicated man,” Sweeney said. “Brilliant and difficult and accomplished. As you know, he would suck the air out of the room in a meeting and then he would disappear on his own in the desert for several weeks.” By the time he left Gill, McFarlane had for roughly a year been living with intense back pain that followed major surgery. Sweeney said that McFarlane’s height, in particular, made his frequent air travel nearly unbearable. According to Grossman, mitigating that pain would have involved additional major surgery. Meanwhile, McFarlane learned he had significant heart problems that demand- ed bypass surgery. Kramer said McFar- lane “did not tell anyone about the heart stuff.” Grossman, who was scheduled to take an off-road jeep vacation with him near Las Vegas in the next several weeks, only learned about the heart problems when McFarlane was in New York at the beginning of the month to speak at a Tribeca Film Festival panel held in con- junction with the premiere of “Outrage,” a film about closeted politicians. McFarlane spent the past several months in Truth or Consequences, happy, according to Grossman, to have found an artsy small town with a number of ex-New Yorkers and accommodations that cost him only $100 a week. If he was, throughout this period, contemplating suicide as a response to his health chal- lenges, it did not surprise Grossman that he decided to go it alone. Recalling that McFarlane’s brother David, who was also gay, died of AIDS in 2002 refusing to take medications that might have kept him alive, Grossman said, “For them, being a patient wasn’t something they wanted

to do.” He recalled that McFarlane had “always talked about taking himself out if he got sick.” Sweeney said, “I know that he was petrified that he would have a major heart episode and be paralyzed.” Kramer and his lover David Webster had dinner alone with McFarlane, at his request, in New York the evening after the Tribeca “Outrage” event. “Nowhere did he indicate anything,” Kramer said of their conversation on that occasion, though he added that McFarlane had prepaid his cremation prior to traveling to New York. Still, Kramer seemed dubious about a Denver Post report that McFarlane had been steadily giving away possessions from the time he left Gill, saying he did not own much beyond paintings, cloth- ing, “his beloved jeep,” and a gun and a rifle. In fact, four years before, McFarlane had gone through a bankruptcy occa- sioned by roughly $300,000 owed to the IRS and New York State in back taxes. Sweeney, Kramer, and Grossman all dismissed speculation that McFar- lane was wrestling with depression or any other mental health issue that con- tributed to his decision to take his life. Acknowledging that they were first and foremost work colleagues, Sweeney said he did what he could to keep tabs on McFarlane’s health as his pain increased, and never had the sense that he was depressed. Still, Sweeney seems at a loss to fully understand McFarlane’s action. “I have no small amount of anger about the trag- edy of someone who in his life gave such tender care-taking to those whose bod- ies were deteriorating not allowing him- self that same journey. I am frustrated that he did not want a circle of people to be around him. It makes me feel that in some ways I never really knew this man.” Grossman and Kramer, intimates of McFarlane going back longer, were more direct in rejecting depression as an explanation of events. Kramer wrote that McFarlane’s health p