Backyard Envy - Metro Weekly - September 10, 2020 by Metro Weekly - Issuu

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Contents

KEEP IT SHORT

DC Shorts 2020 brings a world of short films into the comfort of your home. By André Hereford

GAY GARDENS

The stars of Bravo’s Backyard Envy are on a mission to make exterior design more approachable, playful, and gay. By Doug Rule

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Volume 27 Issue 17

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CITY LIGHTS

Bright Light Bright Light’s new album is a shimmering tribute to the LGBTQ community. By Sean Maunier

WILL ON THE HILL p.9 JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL: NEW AMERICAN DREAM p.10 LUCKY BUNS’ CRABS AND CRUSHES p.11 WUNDER GARTEN’S 6TH OKTOBERFEST p.12 WALKINGTOWN DC p.17 BEAU TRAVAIL p.18 TELL IT SLANT POETRY FESTIVAL p.20 SUMMERSTAGE JUBILEE p.21 HILL CENTER’S VIRTUAL MOTHER SAUCE SERIES p.22 THE 51ST STATE p.23 RETROSCENE: TEAM DC UNDERWEAR FASHION SHOW p.25 THE FEED: LAMENTABLE LAWYER p.27 CONQUERING CONSERVATIVES p.28 GRAND EXIT p.33 BLOOD WORK p.34 HELP WANTED p.36 NOT ’APPY p.37 BIG DICTION p.38 RETROSCENE: PROP 8 RALLY p.37 FILM: ANTEBELLUM p.50 RETROSCENE: CRACK p.55 RETROSCENE: BLOWOFF p.57 RETROSCENE: JR.’S p.58 LAST WORD p.59

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Washington, D.C.’s Best LGBTQ Magazine for 26 Years

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Randy Shulman Art Director Todd Franson Online Editor at metroweekly.com Rhuaridh Marr Senior Editor John Riley Contributing Editors André Hereford, Doug Rule Senior Photographers Ward Morrison, Julian Vankim Contributing Illustrators David Amoroso, Scott G. Brooks Contributing Writers Sean Maunier, Kate Wingfield Webmaster David Uy Production Assistant Julian Vankim Sales & Marketing Publisher Randy Shulman National Advertising Representative Rivendell Media Co. 212-242-6863 Distribution Manager Dennis Havrilla Patron Saint J.C. Raulston Cover Photography Courtesy of Bravo During the pandemic please send all mail to: Metro Weekly PO Box 11559 - Washington, D.C. 20008 • 202-638-6830 All material appearing in Metro Weekly is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced in whole or part without the permission of the publishers. Metro Weekly assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials submitted for publication. All such submissions are subject to editing and will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Metro Weekly is supported by many fine advertisers, but we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers, nor can we accept responsibility for materials provided by advertisers or their agents. Publication of the name or photograph of any person or organization in articles or advertising in Metro Weekly is not to be construed as any indication of the sexual orientation of such person or organization.

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Spotlight

Keep It Short

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BLACKN3SS

DC Shorts 2020 brings a world of short films into the comfort of your home. By André Hereford

OR THE 17TH YEAR, THE DC SHORTS International Film Festival ushers in autumn with an impressive array of artfully-produced short films. Selected from hundreds of submissions, the festival’s bounty of over 160 quality shorts from 34 countries represents a broad range of creative voices and intents. And this year’s edition, running online September from 10 to 23, extends its range even further with a first all-virtual presentation. “We say you can travel the globe from home with DC Shorts,” says the festival’s programming director Joe Bilancio. “And that's exactly what you can do if you want.” Acknowledging the unprecedented challenges of exhibiting films during a pandemic, Bilancio sees the positive in taking the show online. “We can open up our programming to people beyond our region, because now we're what's

called geo-blocked, where people can watch us from anywhere in North America. So we open up our community.” That community of audience, filmmakers, festival staff, and volunteers won’t gather physically, but DC Shorts still offers a wealth of opportunities for festival “attendees” and participants to enjoy a communal filmgoing experience. “Being all online, the disadvantage is we don't get to hug people. We don't get to see our regulars. You don't get to interact with our volunteers, which is sad,” Bilancio says. “[But] you still get to interact with filmmakers — not directly, but we have recorded Q&As for virtually all of our programming. We do have two live Q&As. At 6 on Saturday, we have a gay and lesbian shorts block, that's a live Q&A with directors. And then we have our Homegrown [shorts], which are films SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Peach

by or about the DMV region. That's Saturday at 8, and we'll be doing Q&A with those directors. So you do have the ability to interact, and hear live Q&As with those particular groups. But even the recorded Q&As, if you have an interest in hearing what filmmakers do, and why they made the films that they made, are a really good opportunity.” The festival also offers panels and workshops for aspiring filmmakers on subjects from distribution to diversity in storytelling. “Those are all free, regardless of whether you have the all-access pass or not,” says Bilancio. “Those are all things that suggest that we're taking the typical film festival-going experience and making it virtual. Again, you don't get the physical interaction, but you still get some of those things that we think really do create the festival, being more than just seeing a series of films.” The films — organized into digestible Showcase packages like LGBTQ, Homegrown, Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy, and Documentaries — remain the focus. Bilancio, who previously worked with L.A.’s Outfest and D.C.’s Reel Affirmations Film Festival, says he and his fellow DC Shorts programmers “look for good films...that reach our audience.” To that end, the programmers have also assembled several programs of shorts that

defy any easy categorization. “We call them 'cinematic dim sum.' You sort of see a documentary, you see an international narrative, you see an animated, you see a U.S. narrative. So it really does give you a little bite into the breadth of the work that's being done in short films.” In one such Showcase, viewers can find the defiantly uncategorizable I Love Your Guts, a lesbian-themed thriller-comedy about fast-food workers Kristina and Jacqui flirting a slow night away, until danger pulls up to the drive-thru. The LGBTQ shorts package also contains a few gems of its own, including the brilliant stop-motion animation drama The Fabric of You, and the documentary Translucent, the very personal story of a Black queer youth’s unapologetic coming out process. Assuredly, somewhere among these films, viewers will find stories that touch them personally — to be enjoyed in the privacy of their own viewing space. “We'll miss some things, we'll gain some things,” Bilancio says of this unique iteration of DC Shorts. “And I think the industry, in general, is forever changed. So I'm not so sure that this virtual [presentation] will not continue to be some component of what we do moving forward. I just hope that it doesn't have to be all of what we do.”

DC Shorts 2020 streams online September 10-23. An all-access pass is $75, or use promo code MW20 to receive a $20-off discount. Please visit www.dcshorts.com. 8

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PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY

Spotlight

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Will on the Hill

EMBERS OF CONGRESS FROM both sides of the aisle perform alongside some of the city’s finest professional actors in a send-up of both contemporary politics and Romeo and Juliet. Presented by the Shakespeare Theatre Company as a benefit for its arts education and community engagement programming, this year’s annual Will on the Hill becomes a virtual, pay-what-you-will event open to any and all. Michael Urie, Holly Twyford, E. Faye Butler, Felicia Curry, Christopher Michael Richardson, and Gregory Wooddell are the actors enlisted to help bring to life Nat Cassidy’s Will on the Hill... or Won’t They? Described as a comedy openly questioning whether celebrating the Bard during these turbulent times makes sense, the play focuses on two congressional aides of opposing parties who prove to be well-versed in both the language of Shakespeare and the language of love. Ultimately, the star-crossed lovers and their clandestine bipartisan bond are put to the test when tasked with trying to unite the bickering cast preparing for the show within the show.

Comprised of elected officials volunteering their time and talent, the cast includes Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Angus King (I-Maine), Democratic Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C., Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly of Virginia, Donna Shalala, Ted Deutch, and Lois Frankel of Florida, Carolyn Maloney of New York, Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Brandon Boyle of Pennsylvania, Susan Davis of California, André Carson of Indiana, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, Chellie Pingree of Maine, Dina Titus of Nevada, Filemon Vela of Texas, and Peter Welch of Vermont, and Republican Representatives Kay Granger and Pete Olson of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Carol Miller of West Virginia. Also scheduled to appear are Dame Karen Pierce, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States and Ian Lidell-Grainger, member of Parliament in the UK, plus surprise appearances by “additional special guests.” Monday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., with a VIP Virtual Pre-Show Reception starting at 6 p.m. Visit www.ShakespeareTheatre.org/WillontheHill. —DR SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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SUTTON HANNIGAN

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John Cameron Mitchell: New American Dream

AST WEEK, THE TONY-WINNING CREator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch issued New American Dream (Part One), an album of nine new songs written in collaboration with friends and fellow progressive-minded artists. According to the official press release, the goal was “to use the raw resources of a challenged America and a threatened world to create empathy and justice through art and beauty.” Among those featured alongside Mitchell on the album are Alynda Segarra of the band Hooray for the Riff Raff, Leland, Peppermint, Melania Brown, Ezra Furman, Our Lady J, Jamie Stewart of the band Xiu Xiu, Amber Martin, and Cassie Watson. Proceeds from sales benefit three specific charities: Burritos Not Bombs, a hunger relief organization in Mexico City, the San Francisco-based Transgender Gender-Variant and Intersex Justice Project, and the Connecticut-based Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Trust Fund.

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Mitchell

Also getting an indirect boost is the organization Spread The Vote, courtesy of a PSA spot written by Mitchell that encourages young people to register as poll workers on election day. The song “New American Dream” has been released as the first single, complete with an “outrageous homemade iPhone-shot video” that is as punk rock (and anti-Republican) as they come. In the days immediately following the election, Mitchell plans to issue New American Dream (Part Two), featuring a new batch of songs and additional collaborators, including Hedwig co-creator and composer Stephen Trask, Julian Koster of Neutral Milk Hotel, recent American Idol finalist Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Bitch of Bitch and Animal, Theo Hilton of Nana Grizol, Peter Yanowitz, Billy Hough, and more. New American Dream (Part One) is available on Bandcamp at a suggested price of $15, while (Part Two) can be pre-ordered for $10. Visit www.newamericandreammusic.com. —DR


PHOTO COURTESY OF LUCKY BUNS

Spotlight

Lucky Buns’ Crabs and Crushes at Union Market

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FEW YEARS BEFORE ALEX MCCOY significantly upped the burger game in D.C. as the original chef of Duke’s Grocery on 17th Street — and well before he made a bit of a national splash with stints on the Food Network — McCoy worked at a classic Maryland crab house off the Chesapeake Bay. In the decade since, the D.C. native has launched other food concepts, most notably a second burger haven, the more internationally inspired Lucky Buns in the former L’Enfant Café space on 18th Street. But McCoy has continued serving up Maryland’s signature shellfish at regular pop-ups in the city. Earlier this summer, he debuted his biggest crab-centric pop-up yet when he took over the patio space outside Union Market’s food hall,

now home to another Lucky Buns outpost. The summertime shucking special proved so successful, it has inspired an even bigger reprise for fall feasting with a move to the larger Dock 5 space behind Union Market. There, socially distanced guests with face masks can partake in an all-you-can-eat bonanza of steamed Maryland crabs plus fried chicken, corn, and fixings for $50 per person. Signature orange and grapefruit crushes will also be available for purchase a la carte along with draft beers and cocktails. Available Wednesdays through Sundays in two-hour sessions at 6, 8:30, and 10:30 p.m. Through Oct. 4. Union Market is at 1309 5th St. NE. Reservations required. Call 202-506-1713 or visit www.unionmarketdc.com. —DR SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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BRANDON BAYTON

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Wunder Garten’s 6th Oktoberfest Party

OW THAT WE’VE MADE IT PAST LAbor Day, we’re fast approaching that time of year when there’s an Oktoberfest celebration happening in seemingly every other neighborhood, if not every other block. Many of these German-inspired festivals run all weekend long, over multiple weekends — and that is certainly the case with the 6th annual event launching next Friday, Sept. 18, at NoMa’s popular climate-controlled outdoor beer garden. Over the course of five weekends, the focus will be on select German and German-style beers, from the classic Märzen-style brews from Bavarian breweries including Spaten, Franziskaner, and Hofbräuhaus, to special Oktoberfest concoctions from several of America’s leading craft breweries, including Devil’s Backbone, Port City Brewing, and Great Lakes Brewing. Options including beer tasting flights and one-liter pours in souvenir steins.

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Food will be available from Caliburger, a Bavarian-style delicatessen, and La Buena Empanadas, plus a pig roast courtesy of local BBQ-favorite The Federalist Pig every Friday between 3 and 9 p.m. Meanwhile, Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. are dedicated to patrons’ canine companions via Dogtoberfest, where costumes are encouraged. Saturdays bring more costumes plus scheduled activities ranging from raffles to Steinholding contests to “other games suited for our socially distant environment.” There are guidelines, however: mandated face masks, proper social distancing, groupings of six seated customers maximum, and cashless transactions. Oktoberfest runs weekends to Oct. 18. Tables for up to six are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, while cabanas for up to six can be rented in advance. Wunder Garten is at 1101 First St. NE. Visit www.wundergartendc.com. —DR


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Spotlight

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Walkingtown DC

VERY SEPTEMBER, CULTURAL Tourism DC offers a series of free, guided walking tours in neighborhoods throughout the city and offered in “bite-size” lunchtime and after-work “happy hour” formats as well as longer weekend outings. That remains the case this year, although the 2020 slate of tours will step off virtually through Zoom. The series launches on Saturday, Sept. 12, with tours including “Black Lives Matter Plaza: Its Short Colorful History,” an outing led by tour guide Brenda Turner featuring a sample of signs left behind by protestors and a look at how Lafayette Park has changed, and “Rainbow Washington: DC’s Queer History-The People, Places, Events,” a review of pivotal moments and scenes in the struggle for equal rights dating back to the Revolutionary War as led by guide Ella Schiralli.

Highlights to come on Sunday, Sept. 13, include “The Smithsonian: Tracing the Arc of American Architecture,” a look, led by Carolyn Muraskin, into the unique architecture of the buildings that collectively comprise the “Nation’s Attic,” and “Hidden History on the Hill,” a tour, led by Tony Spadafora, of the Barracks Row and Navy Yard neighborhoods where John Philip Sousa was born and became a musical legend. Among the 20-plus tours in this year’s series, many of which are offered multiple times, other notable titles include “Walt Whitman in DC,” “Brookland: Rural, Suburban, and Urban,” “Unexpected Places to Find Awesome Art in DC,” and “The Mansions of Meridian Hill.” Through Sept. 20. Free, but space limited and advance registration required. Visit www.culturaltourismdc.org. —Doug Rule SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Beau Travail

ARRY JENKINS HAS CALLED BEAU Travail “my favorite film by my favorite filmmaker.” The Oscar-winning director of Moonlight is hardly the only fan of Claire Denis and what many consider to be the French filmmaker’s masterwork — although truth be told Beau Travail is almost as narratively perplexing as it is visually spellbinding. Loosely based on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor, and incorporating music from Benjamin Britten’s operatic adaptation, the 1999 film is framed as a story about a French Foreign Legion sergeant who becomes obsessed with a striking young recruit new to his unit of men stationed in Djibouti, East Africa. It’s the way Denis goes about telling the story that is most remarkable,

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particularly all the nonverbal things relayed and implied through Agnès Godard’s evocative cinematography concerning masculinity, intimacy, and desire. Beau Travail is probably best remembered for its many lingering shots of the half-naked legionnaires in synchronized motion carrying out their rigorous drills and training rituals. It’s likely to be even more ravishing now, viewed in a new 4K restoration from Janus Films. The AFI Silver Theatre is among select theaters nationwide offering and benefiting from virtual screenings of what New York Times critic Stephen Holden characterized as “a film that has the sweep and esthetic power of a full-length ballet.” Tickets are $12 for a 72-hour stream. Visit www.afi.com/Silver. —DR

CRITERION COLLECTION

Spotlight


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WIKICOMMONS MEDIA

Spotlight

Dickinson

Tell It Slant Poetry Festival

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MILY DICKINSON IS THE CHIEF FOcus of this annual festival, formerly known as the Amherst Poetry Festival but renamed last year in homage to the 19th century writer and Amherst native and her famous poem “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” In recent years, chiefly through the feature film Wild Nights With Emily from 2018 and Apple TV+’s Peabody Award-winning historical dramedy Dickinson, more people have come to learn what an increasing number of scholars consider to be Dickinson’s truth: That Susan Huntington Gilbert was not just her best friend who later became her sister-in-law, but also her passionate, lifelong romantic lover. Now, thanks to the pandemic, more people have a chance to participate in this year’s free, virtual festival, which honors Dickinson’s poetic legacy by striving to represent the diversity of the contemporary American poetry landscape. Produced by the Emily Dickinson Museum, the 8th Annual Tell It Slant Festival features headliners Franny Choi, a queer Korean-American poet, playwright, and teacher, Jericho Brown, a professor at Emory University and writer/author 18

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who won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for poetry (for his collection The Tradition), Shayla Lawson, an Amherst College teacher, poet, and author/essayist (This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope), genre-defying folk/jazz/ soul musician Kimaya Diggs, and Ada Limón, an award-winning poet and writer/author (The Carrying) based in Kentucky. The festival kicks off on Monday, Sept. 14, with the first of seven sessions offering a digital rendering of the Emily Dickinson Marathon, the epic reading of all 1,789 of Dickinson’s poems featuring a handful of collaborators, including D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Library. The festival also offers behind-the-scenes tours of two libraries’ Dickinson archives, intimate guided creative sessions immersing participants in the Dickinson Homestead, a poetry open mike, and a Dickinson poetry discussion group, among others. The festival closes with the seventh and final session in the Emily Dickinson Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 3 p.m. Free, but with limited space per event. Donations are encouraged to support the festival’s future. Visit www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org. —DR


DIANE RUSSO

Spotlight

Jones and Wainwright

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Summerstage Jubilee

NSTEAD OF AN EXCLUSIVE IN-PERson gala and outdoor concert in Central Park, this year New York’s City Parks Foundation will present a livestream open to anyone anywhere, and featuring an impressive roster of musical artists and celebrities. Tennis legend Billie Jean King will be joined by Paul Shaffer, David Letterman’s former bandleader, to share stories at the Summerstage Jubilee in between performances from Rufus Wainwright, Sting, Trey Anastasio, Rosanne Cash, Norah Jones, Emily King, PJ Morton, Leslie Odom Jr., and additional “special guests.” The event is free, but organizers of #Sum-

merStageAnywhere “Songs & Stories” event welcome donations to help support all of the free programming the foundation offers every year in parks across all five boroughs of the Big Apple — not only the signature concerts in Central Park that have become a summertime staple, but also free tennis and golf classes and experiential, environmental science-based lessons, among many others. Thursday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. Follow @NYCSummerstage on YouTube or @SummerStageNYC on Facebook and Twitch, or visit www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage. —DR SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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RIMMA BONDARENKO

Spotlight

Chef Wendi James

Hill Center’s Virtual Mother Sauce Series

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CENTURY AGO, INFLUENTIAL French chef Auguste Escoffier refined and narrowed the list of fundamental sauces said to be the sources or jumping-off points for the many variations in both sweet and savory form and used in cuisines the world over. Learning how to make Escoffier’s five “mother sauces” is paramount to fine cooking, and the Hill Center is featuring a tutorial in creating them as Chef Wendi James leads participants in making one mother sauce every Monday over the next five weeks. The series kicks off on Monday, Sept. 14 with Sauce Espagnole, a strong, rich, brown reduction responsible for derivatives ranging from demi-glace to mushroom sauce. The series continues on Sept. 21 with Velouté, a velvety, light stock-based blend that is the source for most variations on gravy, standard wine sauces and reductions, and the paprika-en-

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riched sauces used in national dishes from Hungary (goulash) and Portugal (chanfana). Béchamel, a milk-based sauce commonly used in lasagna and especially known from the cheese-enriched variations that put the comfort in staples ranging from mac and cheese to many traditional American-style casseroles, follows on Sept. 28. Hollandaise, the lemony, buttery egg emulsion sauce used in eggs Benedict and adapted to make everything from Béarnaise sauce to that basic of condiments, mayonnaise is scheduled for Oct. 5. The series concludes on Oct. 12 with the queen of them all, Sauce Tomate, a tomato-based sauce that virtually every culture has modified and made its own. All classes start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for each class or $80 for the full series, including access to class video recordings. Visit www.hillcenterdc.org. —DR


PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARENA STAGE

Spotlight

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The 51st State

LEVEN D.C. RESIDENTS WHO WERE inspired to become activists as a result of this summer’s protests for racial justice and criminal reform are at the core of a new 60-minute docudrama from Arena Stage. As its title suggests, The 51st State weaves in the long-simmering quest for D.C. statehood and sovereignty. The film marks the third produced by the prominent local theater organization in the pandemic, a time when stage artists aren’t able to work and pursue their craft as usual. Rather that direct a live stage production, Arena’s Molly Smith has created a film starring veteran local actors, shot in various locales around D.C., each portraying a different contemporary local activist, from an artist who helped create Black Lives

Matter Plaza to an older couple moved to take up the cause. The cast includes Sherri L. Edelen, Michael Glenn, James J. Johnson, Joy Jones, Jason B. McIntosh, Gary L. Perkins III, Todd Scofield, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Dani Stoller, Justin Weaks, and Jacob Yeh. Their portrayals derive from the narrative monologues developed by an esteemed group of playwrights, a lineup including Lady Dane Figueroa, Farah Lawal Harris, Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Teshonne Powell, Otis Ramsey-Zoe, Gregory Keng Strasser, Deb Sivigny, Mary Hall Surface, Aria Velz, and Karen Zacarías. The 51st State also features original music composed by DJ and sound designer Nick “tha 1 da” Hernandez. Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 16. Visit www.arenastage.org. —DR SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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RetroScene

Team DC Fashion Show at Cobalt • March 31, 2007 Photography by Ward Morrison

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TWITTWER

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Lamentable Lawyer

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Moutos

Texas assistant attorney general fired after calling LGBTQ people an ‘abomination.’ By Rhuaridh Marr

EXAS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENeral Nick Moutos has been fired over a series of racist, anti-LGBTQ tweets, including encouraging violence against Black people and calling transgender people an “abomination.” Moutos has also called trans people “abhorrent,” accused gay people of “destroying” families and “normalizing perversion,” and suggested that lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union should be used as “target practice.” The Texas Attorney General’s office confirmed last week that Moutos, who also supports the QAnon conspiracy theory, had been fired after Media Matters reported on his tweets.

QAnon is a conspiracy theory that has found favor in right-wing and far-right circles, and even among some Republican congressional candidates. It claims that Donald Trump is working to uncover a “deep state” network of satanic officials who are operating pedophile rings at the highest levels of government. Moutos has worked in the Texas Attorney General’s office since 2017. Earlier this year he mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in Texas’ 35th District. His tweets frequently reference QAnon, claim that the United States is in the midst of another Civil War, and urge his supporters to use violence SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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theFeed against Black Lives Matter protesters and others. Moutos has said that parts of America are “overrun” with Muslims, described the religion as a “virus,” called Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) a “whore of Babylon,” and said that she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), both Muslim women, should be sent to Guantanamo. He has also described Black Lives Matter protesters as “terrorists,” and said if they “came to my neighborhood” it would be “open season,” adding that their actions “warrant the ‘display of lethal force.'” Moutos also seemed to suggest he wanted to battle former President Barack Obama in a tweet referencing an apparent second Civil War, tweeting, “@BarackObama I pray to meet you on the #CivilWar2 @Battlefield.” In another tweet, he misgendered former First Lady Michelle Obama, tweeting at President Obama, “Shut your mouth you disgusting #TraitorousLiar and keep your husband @MichelleObama where he cannot be seen!” A number of Moutos’ tweets also espouse anti-LGBTQ sentiments, including frequent use of transphobic comments and slurs. Moutos has said that trans people are “an abomination and have a mental disorder,” accused the ACLU of “spreading the lie that ‘trans girls are girls,'” and wrote that “the abomination of women

being men and men being women is abhorrent.” He also tweeted at lesbian Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, accusing Black Lives Matter of “destroying the #AmericanFamily and spreading #Marxist #LGBTQ ideas & #NormalizingPerversion.” Speaking to Media Matters, the Attorney General’s Office said, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We’re looking into the matter and will address it as appropriate.” The article was published in the morning of Sept. 4, and Moutos was fired later that day. He took to Twitter that evening to write more anti-LGBTQ sentiment, including calling being LGBTQ a “sin” and an “abomination.” “How is it ‘Bigoted’ to say that #LGBTQ is an #Abomination?” he wrote. “#God in the #Torah and #Jesus in the New Testament call it a #Sin & abomination. I don’t hate them, but cannot condone the behavior.” While Moutos’ tweets are particularly extreme, anti-trans sentiment isn’t out of the ordinary in the Texas AG’s office. Current Attorney General Ken Paxton has a history of anti-LGBTQ actions, including supporting North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” and challenging provisions in the Affordable Care Act that protect transgender people from health care discrimination, among other efforts.

Conquering Conservatives LGBTQ candidates and allies fuel progressive reform movement in Rhode Island. By John Riley

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HODE ISLAND HAS HISTORICALLY been known as a very blue state,” says Rhode Island State Rep. Moira Walsh (D-Providence). “But because of that, politicians have figured out that the only way to get elected is to call themselves Democrats in name — so you have [Democrats] who have an A+ rating from the NRA and are endorsed by anti-choice organizations like Right to Life.” Walsh’s comments come just days after U.S. 26

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Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a mainstream liberal with a voting record well to the left of the nation’s upper chamber, endorsed several Rhode Island candidates with a slew of conservative stances, including opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage, as well as economic and environmental issues contained in the national party’s platform. For Walsh, it’s nothing new. The two-term state representative is used to being ignored by


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Rhode Island State Rep. Moira Walsh (right)

her own party for advocating for things that would place her in the mainstream of the Democratic Party in any other state. But in small, insular, go-along-to-get-along Rhode Island, it makes Walsh — an out bisexual single mother who worked as a waitress and a labor organizer when she was first elected to office — a marked woman. In 2018, her race made national news after the Rhode Island Democratic Party endorsed her opponent, a former registered Republican who calls himself a “moderate” but had an Internet history of social media comments supporting President Trump or retweeting alt-right figures like Roseanne Barr, James Woods, and QAnon supporter Laura Loomer, who recently won a the Republican nomination for a seat in Congress in South Florida. “In my first two cycles, I ran against the Democratic Party, because even though, last cycle, I was the Democratic Party, I received no support from my party, because they decided that my adherence to the national party platform was, in our state, somehow radical,” Walsh says, noting that she has particularly been targeted by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston) for her

outspokenness. (In past cycles, some progressive legislators have found themselves on the receiving end of primary challenges for not voting in lock-step with Democratic leaders, regardless of whether the legislation would help their district.) After the party endorsed her opponent last cycle, Walsh got some backup when she scored an endorsement from Congressman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the former mayor of Providence and a former state representative. But she and a handful of other Democrats who occasionally buck the Speaker of the House or the Senate President have essentially had to fight their battles with very little support. That is, until the emergence of the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, also known as the Co-op, a not-for-profit corporation that provides support to candidates running on a set of progressive issues. Among the issues supported by politicians backed by the Co-op are: reforming the state’s tax system — which in its current form places a larger burden on lower-income earners — abortion rights, marriage equality, affordable housing government transparency and reform, an SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Rhode Island State Senate candidate Lenny Cioe

end to reliance on corporate money in politics, single-payer health care, and a Green New Deal. In total, the Co-op is backing 24 candidates for various offices around the state. While some argue that 24 candidates running for various offices is not enough to effect change, members of the Co-op note that there are other candidates, including some reform-minded incumbent lawmakers not backed by the Co-op, with whom progressives could partner to push progressive legislation or block what they consider “bad” bills from passing. “What I said when the Co-op first formed is that I imagine this it what it feels like with [a] real Democratic Party that cares about its members and wants to help women and people of color and queer people get elected and puts their money and resources into electing candidates with those values,” says Walsh. “It used to be there would be an outlier of ‘This guy believes in almost all of the Democratic Party’s principles except for this or that issue.’ But now it feels like trying to find the way in which these Democrats are Democrats is harder than ever,” she adds. “The progressive wing 28

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of the party is constantly being scolded for being ‘purists’ and not being inclusive. But at the same time, you know, we can disagree on plenty of things, but we can’t disagree on my humanity. And it’s 2020 and there are still representatives, self-proclaimed Democratic representatives, in the House who would vote against same-sex marriage bills.” As an out bisexual, Walsh says that she receives little pushback because of her identity, although she notes that a number of out LGBTQ candidates are more likely to feel a sense of acceptance within the ranks of the Co-op than within the state Democratic Party. “There is a large section of the population in general that doesn’t understand or appreciate identity politics,” Walsh notes. “And I will say that I definitely do not lean on my queerness in order to earn anything vote-wise. Because first of all, in this neighborhood, nobody would care. And second of all, I mean, that feels like a really weird way to live my life. I by no means hide it. [But] it’s a non-issue now.” Jennifer Rourke, one of the co-founders of the RI Political Cooperative, who is currently seek-


FACEBOOK

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Rhode Island State Senate candidate Tiara Mack

ing the 29th State Senate District Democratic nomination this cycle, says she was first motivated to run during the 2018 cycle after her son came out as LGBTQ. “I have a 22-year-old that came up to myself and my husband right before the last cycle, and he said, ‘Hey mom, you know if I don’t have a family that happens naturally, certain states will block me. So what are you going to do to fix it?’ And that’s when I took a look at who was around us and who was representing us. And I said, ‘OK.’ And I put in my hat. I was two weeks postpartum from surrogacy and started knocking doors.” Although she lost her bid for the seat last term, Rourke says she’s learned political lessons since then, including that she is effectively on her own when it comes to organizing her neighbors to vote for her. The Co-op, in a way, serves as a sounding board and support system for other progressive candidates who aren’t going to get backing from the state Democratic Party. Like most of the Co-op-backed candidates, Rourke advocates for expanded health care coverage, decrying premium increases that were recently approved by the state’s insurance com-

missioner, advocating for the legalization of cannabis — which has been legalized in nearby Massachusetts — environmental justice issues, and government reform in how legislative grants are doled out to lawmakers. “There’s legislative grants that are not used properly, or are not awarded to legislators the right way, unless, you know, you ‘kiss the ring,’” she says, referring to how legislative leaders often deny grants to punish independent-minded lawmakers. “But I would like to make it equal all the way around so that every legislator receives the same amount.” Unfortunately, Rourke’s political involvement has placed a target on her back as well: in May, during a virtual Zoom “town hall” meeting with other candidates, Rourke, who is black, was attacked by online trolls who hurled racial epithets and racist comments at her and told her to “get lynched.” “The chat was open and [we could see] the Q&A portion. And whoever it was, they were ready. And it was just paragraphs of the N-word. And then they told me to get lynched,” she says. “I’ve been called a lot of nasty names in my life. I have never been told to get lynched. The police SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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theFeed got involved and took a report. They’re still investigating now.” After news of the troll attack went viral, Rourke says Missouri congressional candidate Cori Bush, a progressive who’s all but certain to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November after defeating an incumbent in the Democratic primary, called her to offer support. “We spoke that night and she told me, ‘You can’t give up. You just have to keep pushing for it,’” says Rourke. Other Co-op-backed candidates say the uphill battle that any insurgent faces when challenging an incumbent is exacerbated by local media outlets, which often have a right-wing slant that creeps from their editorial arm into their coverage. Lenny Cioe, a Co-op-member and nurse who is challenging Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-North Providence), says he’s tried to reach out to local talk radio hosts to talk about his candidacy, but has never heard back. As an openly gay man, Cioe says even less partisan media outlets have erased or refused to report on his LGBTQ identity. “I was interviewed for an article in the paper about campaigning during coronavirus, and I kept talking about my husband, and how he’s helping me through this,” Cioe notes. “Not once was that mentioned in the article.” Cioe, 61, says that as one of the older candidates who are part of the Co-op, he finds that getting a progressive message to resonate in a state with an aging population and a large number of traditionally Catholic, white working-class voters often requires reframing the issue in simpler, more tangible terms, rather than using the “buzzwords” and consultant-speak that get retweets and likes among left-leaning users on social media. “When we talk about raising the income limit of the top one percent, I say, ‘You work hard for your money, don’t you?’ And they tell me, ‘Yes.’ And I say, ‘You like keeping money in your pocket, don’t you?’ And they say, ‘Yes.’ And I say, ‘So why should the top one percent be allowed to keep more money in their pockets than you 30

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are? What is the difference between their day of work and your day of work?’” Cioe says. “I say, ‘And don’t you want your property taxes to come down so you can have more money in your pocket?’ And I relate it directly to them. I don’t talk about how the state can use it.” Cioe also says adopting a less militant tone when engaging with voters is much more successful than sloganeering. “Take the time and teach. It’s about teaching them what power they have,” he says. “That’s why I always say health care is an investment [in] every Rhode Islander. So they realize that they need to invest in themselves and take pride, and not be held hostage by insurance companies. That’s how I word it so they understand. Everybody bitches about paying money for education, but education is a down payment on the future. I say, ‘Don’t you want well-trained people to be able to take care of you once you’re older and you need help?’” Cioe says that unlike the gatekeepers of local media outlets, most voters don’t seem to take issue with his sexual orientation, and many of his would-be constituents are already familiar with him because of his involvement in the local community. Sometimes, he says, his orientation even plays out as an asset with some voters. “There was this guy, Augustino, you’ve got to picture this, typical Italian, he had the stogie in his mouth, shirt off, shorts on, black socks and dress shoes watering the lawn. And it was really hot. So I walk up and say, ‘Augustino, I haven’t heard that name in so long. I had an uncle with that name.’ We were talking back and forth, and he says to me, ‘So what are you here for?’ And I say, ‘I’m Lenny Cioe and I’m running against Dominick Ruggerio.’ “And he says to me, ‘You’re the cocksucker that’s running against him. I like you. You got balls. You’re not afraid of anything. Let me introduce you to my wife!’ So I talk to his wife, they’re both going to vote for me, and as I’m leaving, I go up to to Augustino — he’s like ‘Call me Gus” — and I say, ‘Gus, let me tell you something, My name’s Lenny. You call me a cock sucker again and you’re going to be spitting teeth.’ And he


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theFeed says, ‘That’s why I like you! You’re not afraid!’ “I think because I’m not afraid, it overpowers the gay part, if that makes sense,” Cioe says. “I hear that over and over again: ‘Aren’t you afraid of running against [Ruggerio]?’ And I tell them, ‘Look, I’m gay. You know how much shit has been thrown at me over the years. What’s he gonna do?” Tiara Mack, who moved to Rhode Island to attend Brown University and has since gotten involved in various political campaigns, including advocating for reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights, is running for Rhode Island’s 6th Senate District against a similarly-entrenched incumbent who has served in public office for 29 of the past 35 years. “I started working on local campaigns for the first time in 2014, and that’s when I got the hint that Rhode Island politics wasn’t what I thought it was, coming from the South to the ‘liberal blue North,’” she says. Mack hits her opponent, Sen. Harold Metts (D-Providence), over his work on a commission tasked with reforming the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights — a 1976 law that critics say protects officers accused of misconduct from facing disciplinary measures — arguing that the reforms being suggested don’t go far enough. She also criticizes him for failing to work on affordable housing in a district where many longtime black and brown residents are being displaced by gentrification, and on environmental issues, noting that some of the district’s neighborhoods have some of the highest childhood asthma rates in the country, and warning of the detrimental health effects that could result from the the construction of a proposed waste transfer site along the Port of Providence, located within the district’s boundaries. Mack also notes that Metts has amassed a record of opposing most pro-LGBTQ pieces of legislation throughout his years in office, something that also motivates her in this campaign. “I connect my blackness to political identity and my queerness to political identity. Both of those identities are inherently political,” she says. Mack has also received some pushback for 32

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challenging Metts, who is currently the only sitting black senator in Rhode Island. But she argues that he has failed to keep pace with the demographic and ideological shifts in the district. “This district has changed so much over the last few years. And to have someone who is just not ready to have those conversations about what it means to represent the Afro-Latino community, the Latino community is not black, the immigrant community, the queer community, in a lot of issues that we are facing, especially during COVID-19 — homelessness, job loss, health care — that is an issue,” she says. “We cannot omit those identities and we also, quite frankly, in 2020, can’t have someone that is not willing to remove your personal ideologies from a conversation and narrative about what is best for people.” Mack says she has been warned by some residents to downplay her LGBTQ identity, on the assumption that older black voters in the district would sour on her candidacy. “A lot of people have said, ‘Well, you know, the queer queer stuff doesn’t really resonate with the older black community,’” she says. “But I’m not here to resonate with anyone. I’m here to be my true, authentic self.” She hopes that on Election Day, she will prove all her naysayers wrong. “I’ve been told everything from ‘you’re too young’ to ‘you don’t have what it takes here.’ I’ve had my integrity questioned, my intelligence questioned. But I know that people, when I’m at their doors, have said we need change,” Mack says. “Yes, we can have hope and we can be audacious in the things that we want to put out into the world. But we also have to put that in action. We have to put it into policy. “We have to have those difficult conversations. We have to push back against the system,” she continues. “Because if we are unwilling to push back against the system that is literally killing our community through policies, then we’re not doing the work that we are tasked with doing for our community as elected officials.” For more information on the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, visit www.ripoliticalcoop.com.


JD UY / METRO WEEKLY

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Grand Exit

Grand Central

Baltimore’s Grand Central nightclub closes permanently following alleged COVID-19 violation. By John Riley

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ALTIMORE’S GAY NIGHTCLUB GRAND Central has permanently closed after nearly 30 years in business after allegedly violating prohibitions on indoor dining that were imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The club’s owners appeared at a hearing of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners last Thursday, after liquor board inspectors claimed that 15 patrons were inside the nightclub on July 30, when indoor dining was prohibited in the city. On the night in question, one bartender was manning the bar, and said he was “having a hard time controlling patrons,” Stephan Fogleman, the club’s lawyer, told the board, adding that it’s possible not enough employees were working that night. The employee was fired after the incident, he added. In response to the information uncovered at

the hearing, the liquor board decided to close Grand Central immediately, while also fining the bar $200, reports the Capital Gazette. Fogleman noted that the club was operating on “borrowed time,” as the club’s owners were planning to redevelop the property into an eight-story office building, complete with retail space and a full-service restaurant. It was slated to close at the end of the month. “It will cost them lost revenue over the next three and a half weeks, but they think it’s the best that they can do in order to ensure 100% compliance with liquor laws,” Fogleman said. Landmark Partners, a Baltimore-based developer, bought the club for $1.4 million last year after longtime owner Don Davis decided to sell it due to his battle with throat cancer. Grand Central’s closure is just the latest LGBTQ-oriented nightclub in the city to close SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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theFeed The management team at Grand Central posted a message to patrons on its website announcing the closure. “After over 30 years of serving the community, Grand Central sadly has shut its doors,” the message reads. “Given the overwhelming challenges created by the pandemic, and our beverage-only driven business, the operations were not sustainable as we prepare for the next chapter. “We appreciate all of our customers and supporters and thank them for their long-time loyalty; we look forward to celebrating the institution’s legacy in the future development.”

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL PORTRAITS

down in recent years. Club Hippo, located across the street from Grand Central, closed in 2015, and has since been replaced by a CVS. G.A.Y. Lounge closed in 2017. Club Bunns, an LGBTQ club catering to black clientele, closed last year after 30 years in business, according to the Baltimore Sun. LGBTQ-specific nightclubs that are currently operational include Leon’s, in the Mount Vernon neighborhood; and the Baltimore Eagle, in the Charles North neighborhood; Mixers, in Northeast Baltimore; and The Drinkery, also in Mount Vernon.

Blood Work

Demings and Quigley

Congressional Democrats introduce bill to revise FDA blood donation rules for LGBTQ people. By John Riley

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PAIR OF CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS have introduced legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration to revise its blood donation restrictions on LGBTQ people, especially gay and bisexual men. 34

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The bill, named the Science in Blood Donation Act of 2020, would require the FDA to revise its guidance on reducing the risk of HIV transmission by blood and blood products by basing it on the “window period” — referring to the time it


theFeed takes for HIV antibodies to show up in the blood available. Modernization of the policy through — of the most-up-to-date testing and an “individ- the Science in Blood Donation Act of 2020 will ual risk-based analysis,” reports The Hill. ensure that the blood supply remains as safe as The act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Val Demings possible while maximizing the donor pool.” (D-Fla.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), is a response “Every day, across the United States, donatto the FDA’s recent reduction of the deferral pe- ed blood marks the difference between life and riod — the period between the time when a gay death. There is no substitute,” Demings said in or bisexual man last has sex a statement. “Yet our counand when they are eligible turns away thousands "Our country turns try to donate — from one year to of healthy and willing blood three months. away thousands of donors based solely on their That change was made in gender identity and sexual healthy and willing orientation. This policy is response to the COVID-19 pandemic, due to concerns blood donors based based on fear, stigma, and that categorically eliminatprejudice, not science. Exsolely on their ing gay and bisexual men panding the donor pool by who had survived the virus of thousands of gender identity and hundreds from the pool of eligible dohealthy Americans would nors would lead to reducsexual orientation. save lives every day in emertions in antibody-rich plasma gency rooms and hospitals This policy is based needed to fight the disease. around the country. The previous one-year de“Blood is never at higher on fear, stigma, and ferral period was introduced demand than in an emerprejudice, by the Obama administragency. Orlando knows the tion, marking a change from pain of mass shootings, and not science." a lifetime ban implemented discriminatory sexual ori— Rep. Val Demings in the 1980s preventing any entation guidelines denied sexually active gay or bivictims’ friends and famisexual man from donating blood due to fears of lies the opportunity to donate blood afterward,” spreading HIV/AIDS. Demings, who represents Orlando in Congress, Even the reduced three-month deferral period added. “It’s time to move away from these archahas been criticized by some prominent gay men, ic rules and ideologies. When we know better, including Yuval David and Andy Cohen, who we should do better. By basing our medicine on have argued the deferral period discriminates science, we can maximize our donor pool while against gay men in committed relationships, keeping our blood supply safe.” treating them differently from their heterosexu“Over the course of many years, we have al peers. made significant progress in rolling back an in“As an executive director of one of the oldest definite ban on blood donations from MSM, to LGBT community centers in the nation and the a 12-month deferral to the current three-month largest HIV testing site in central Florida, I have deferral. This is still not enough,” Quigley said in witnessed firsthand the current discriminatory a statement. laws in action,” George Wallace, the executive di“Our work will not be complete until [the] FDA rector of The LGBT+ Center, said in a statement. approves a non-discriminatory, science-based “Through the continuation of enforcement of policy that properly addresses individual risk prohibiting blood donations by sexually active assessment, as we’ve seen countries across the gay and bisexual men, stigmatization is still front world adopt. An arbitrary blanket ban, especially and center and does not reflect the best science during a crisis, is simply unacceptable.” SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Help Wanted

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Florida police offering $10,000 reward for assistance in finding trans woman’s killer. By John Riley

OLICE IN HENDRY COUNTY, FLORIDA, are offering up to $10,000 to anyone with information about the gruesome murder of transgender woman Bee Love Slater last year. Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden said that investigators have interviewed more than 100 people and carried out more than 40 search warrants in their search for Slater’s killer since her death last September. The sheriff’s office has now partnered with the FBI, which has allowed them to offer the reward. Lemetris Jackson, one of Slater’s close friends, said he is glad the FBI has gotten involved, but believes the investigation has stalled. He told The 36

Slater

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Palm Beach Post that he’s been told his friend’s murder is “the worst crime that’s happened here in Hendry County, but I feel like it’s being taken lightly.” “Until we see some light being shed, as of now, the circumstances are still the same,” he said. Jackson and Slater’s family, including her mother, Wunda Williams, held a press conference at the sheriff’s office asking the public to come forward with any information that could help close the case. Slater, 23, of Pahokee, was found dead inside her car outside an abandoned home near Clewiston, Fla., on Sept. 4, 2019. She had been shot and


theFeed tied up, and the car she was in was set on fire, burning both Slater and her car “beyond recognition,” according to responding officers. Sheriff’s authorities later named a “person of interest,” Jameson Richemond, in the case, but no charges have been filed against him, or anyone else, in relation to Slater’s death. Richemond does face charges in an unrelated case. Davis Christy, a senior supervisory resident agent at the FBI field office in Fort Myers, said the agency is looking into the case as a possible hate crime. “The family of Bee Love Slater deserves justice,” Christy said. “While there are promising leads we’ve received in this case, we still need

the public’s assistance.” Those with any information about the case are asked to contact the FBI or the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office major crimes unit at (863) 674-5600. Slater was one of 27 transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the United States who were reported killed last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Many of those people were also people of color. Jackson said during the news conference that LGBTQ people of color have to “watch our back wherever we go.” “Especially when I come on this side of town. I can’t come over here without thinking about what happened,” Jackson said. “It could be me.”

Not ’Appy

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Pakistan bans Grindr and Tinder due to ‘immoral content.’ By Rhuaridh Marr

AKISTAN HAS BANNED DATING apps Grindr and Tinder as part of a crackdown on “immoral” content in the Muslim-majority nation. The country’s Telecommunications Authority blocked the apps in order to

curb the “negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming,” the Hindustan Times reports. Grindr is one of the largest dating apps for gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, while Tinder has issued regular updates to make the SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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theFeed app more LGBTQ-friendly. According to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower, Tinder had been downloaded more than 440,000 times in Pakistan in the past 12 months, with Grinder downloaded an estimated 300,000 times in the same period. LGBTQ people currently lack any legal recognition in Pakistan, often face social pressures that would not apply to their cisgender or heterosexual counterparts, and Pakistani media frequently censors LGBTQ content and news stories. Same-sex sexual relations are illegal in the country, and punishable with up to life imprisonment. However, since 2018 transgender people have been allowed to self-identify as their preferred gender identity, and may update government-issued IDs to reflect their gender identity. The country also outlawed discrimination based on gender identity in employment and public accommodations in 2018, though no such protections exist for other LGBTQ people. Pakistan’s crackdown on content also extended to social media platform TikTok, which was given a “final warning,” and ordered to “put in place a comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality through its so-

cial media application.” Video sharing site YouTube was similarly ordered to “immediately block vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude and hate speech content for viewing in Pakistan.” Pakistan published a new set of rules governing media censorship earlier this year, dubbed the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules, 2020. Per Yale Law School, the new rules “aim at curbing harmful online content, such as hate speech, harassment, and misinformation.” “However, the breadth of the Rules’s restrictions, and the intrusive requirements that they place on social media platforms, would severely threaten online freedom of expression in Pakistan,” Wikimedia Fellow Michael Karanicolas wrote. In 2018, transgender news anchor Marvia Malik made history by becoming the first out trans person to deliver a news broadcast. Malik said at the time that she wanted to help her fellow trans Pakistanis feel accepted. “Everywhere we go, a transgender person is looked down upon,” Malik said. “But there’s nothing we can’t do; we’re educated, have degrees, but no opportunities, no encouragement. This is what I want to change.”

Big Diction

A

Dictionary.com adds new LGBTQ words, replaces ‘homosexual’ with ‘gay.’ By Rhuaridh Marr

S PART OF ITS “BIGGEST UPDATE ever,” Dictionary.com has added a number of LGBTQ words and phrases, as well as pledged to use “homosexuality” less due to its negative connotations. The online dictionary recently published a blog post explaining that it had updated 15,000 entries, including adding 650 new ones, covering topics “ranging from race and sexual orientation to climate and internet culture.” Alongside capitalizing Black when referencing people, to confer “the due dignity to the shared

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identity, culture, and history of Black people,” Dictionary.com has also updated its usage of “gay” as part of “efforts to put people, not practices, first, and ensure our definitions reflect — and respect — how people use language.” As such, references to “homosexuality” will be replaced with “gay, gay man, or gay woman,” as well as “references to homosexuality with gay sexual orientation.” As an example, searching for “gayness” will now produce the definition “gay or lesbian sexual orientation or behavior,” rather than referenc-


PISIT HENG

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ing “homosexuality” — a change that Dictionary. com says affects more than 50 entries. “The previously used terms, homosexual and homosexuality, originated as clinical language, and dictionaries have historically perceived such language as scientific and unbiased,” Dictionary.com said in justifying the change. “But homosexual and homosexuality are now associated with pathology, mental illness, and criminality, and so imply that being gay — a normal way of being — is sick, diseased, or wrong.” The website has also updated words that end in “-sexual,” including bisexual and pansexual, to bring them up to parity with heterosexual, noting that the phrasing “romantically or sexually attracted to” has been updated to include emotional attraction as well. Dictionary.com has also created a separate entry for Pride, with a capitalized P, to recognize its use as a descriptor for LGBTQ identity and visibility (which was formerly known as “Gay Pride”), and to denote actual Pride events for the LGBTQ community.

In addition, a number of LGBTQ-related terms have gained new or updated entries, including ambisextrous, biromantic, deadname, gender-inclusive, gender diversity, and trans+. Last year, Merriam-Webster announced that its word of the year was the personal pronoun “they,” after a 313% increase in searches due to its use as a singular, gender neutral pronoun. “English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence, ‘they’ has been used for this purpose for over 600 years,” Merriam-Webster said at the time. “More recently, though, they has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers. “There’s no doubt that its use is established in the English language, which is why it was added to the Merriam-Webster.com dictionary this past September.” SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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RetroScene

March for Equal Rights on the National Mall November 15, 2008 • Photography by Ward Morrison For more #RetroScene follow us on Instagram at @MetroWeekly

SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Gay Gardens The stars of Bravo’s Backyard Envy are on a mission to make exterior design more approachable, playful, and gay. By Doug Rule

COURTESY OF BRAVO

“This didn’t exist before!

Like I can’t believe it. I’m literally trying to put words together as to what I’m feeling. I’m actually getting a little glassy-eyed.” Those are the words of Paul, a client of the exterior design and landscaping firm Manscapers. Paul was a hard sell for the three best friends who lead the New York company, and are the stars of Bravo’s Backyard Envy. He and his very pregnant wife are featured in the first episode of the reality series’ second season, after inviting designers James DeSantis, Garrett Magee, and Mel Brasier to develop a plan for how they would transform the haphazard outdoor space surrounding their Greek Revival-style house and the three-car garage around back. Paul questions the designers at nearly every turn as they pitch ideas for a new paved driveway and three distinct spaces, and then scoffs at their hefty budget of $60,000. He then sends them on their way with little to suggest he’ll come around after taking time to review their proposal. But oh, how he does. He sums up the finished results at the project’s reveal as one signifying “a collaboration of historic, in a way, fading into modern, and not too crazy chic.” He also makes a point of giv-


season at the start of 2019. Both its appeal and its relevance and resonance have grown exponentially this year with the show’s second season, which Bravo began airing in August. The move to television has led to a significant increase in business as well as an additional expansion in operations, plus the promise of a lot more in the offing. The show has also made its stars famous — or at least “B-list stars,” as DeSantis puts it — and recognizable in ways they’re still getting used to. With each passing episode, Backyard Envy has increasingly revealed more about the stars’ personal lives, as well as their group dynamic, going well beyond their work and the contours of a more traditional home renovation show. As Magee puts it, the producers are “now very interested in hearing about the intricate part of our business and the fights and the drama and me proposing to Andrew.” (Magee proposed to his boyfriend Andrew Walko a year ago now, but the pandemic put a damper on everything from the details surrounding the proposal to plans for the couple’s wedding, currently pushed to 2021.) Though put to the test by the pressures of the work and the attention of the cameras, the three remain best friends as well as committed business partners, encouraged by their current realities and prospective futures. That includes the company’s expansion to California, which began shortly after filming wrapped on season two roughly a year ago. At the time, Brasier says, “it really became apparent that there was a bit of tension in the group. It wasn't negative. I would describe it more like growing pains, where COURTESY OF BRAVO

ing DeSantis a hug as a further show of support. That kind of praise has become all in a day’s work for the three partners in Manscapers, designers by training and practice who have been best friends for well over a decade. They decided to go into business as a team nearly eight years ago, initially doing work outside of their fulltime jobs. They saw a need for a design company with a specialty in helping to reimagine the small and limited outdoor spaces found among urban dwellers of a certain orientation. “It started with this LGBT-focus towards rich gay men in Chelsea to have hot gardeners come and landscape their property,” DeSantis says. “That's why we called it Manscapers. I've always said that people who get the name, get us.” The sassy, suggestive play on words helped the business stand out from its competitors. Moreover, the name takes into account “the Mannies,” the hunky contractors who work for the company on a project-by-project basis, as well as the three partners — even Mel Brasier, the odd man out in the group in more ways than just the most obvious. “People always ask, ‘Manscapers? You're a woman. What does that even mean?'” Brasier says. Her response? “It's not so literal. It's just kind of fun and cheeky.” It’s cheekier still in the way that DeSantis and Magee have adapted it to custom-fit Brasier. “The guys like to say that I put the 'man' in Manscapers,” she says, “because I'm the construction person doing most of the hard work.” Manscapers has long since expanded to serve clients both LGBTQ and straight, and in both urban and suburban neighborhoods in and around New York City. Two years ago, the Manscapers decided to expand their reach and recognition by agreeing to be featured in a reality show about their work. Backyard Envy was a hit in its first

“Our clients really want to get to know how to garden, how to plant.

I'VE BEEN SHOWING PEOPLE HOW TO REALLY CARE FOR PLANTS. IT'S ALMOST BECOME A SORT OF THERAPY.” —Garrett Magee

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Magee

we go, 'Okay James, you're unhappy here. A lot of things are bothering you about New York. What can we do to make you happy? And how can we wrap that into helping our business?' And we all landed on, ‘Let's open an office in L.A.'” DeSantis happily made the move to focus on westward expansion of the business, work that had suffered a setback with the pandemic but has started to pick up again with the run of season two. During the pandemic, the trio has devoted much of their time to work on an exterior design book set for publication next year. “The book takes you through the Manscapers design process,” Brasier says, and serves as “a primer on how to approach a space and lay it out and design it, [while also showing] off a lot of work that’s not on the show.” Brasier also notes that the pandemic has

helped heighten appreciation of their work — and not just amongst viewers of the show. “We've had a ton of previous clients reach out to us,” she says. “‘Thank you for the work you've done in my yard. This really saved my family during these last few months.’” Calling it “very humbling and rewarding,” Brasier adds, “We get so heady about design work and horticulture and planting, and we don't realize that it's not just design, these are people's lives that we're helping to improve.” These days, when people are doing nearly everything from home, clients are asking for a lot more from their outdoor spaces. “Client requests now are really crazy,” DeSantis says, ticking off a typical list of wants: “A home gym. A kids play area. A dining area. A place to grow vegetables. An outdoor office. A place to do Zoom calls.” SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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COURTESY OF BRAVO

and friends, and showing people how to really care for plants. It's almost become a sort of therapy.” It’s that kind of nurturing sensibility that has helped Manscapers grow — particularly so, when considering the path taken by each of the company’s creators. As it turns out, all three Manscapers were nurtured by supportive parents who encouraged their interests in the arts in ways that shaped who they are today. “We've had a ton “I always said I wanted to be a lawyer, and my parents were of previous clients like, ‘No, you should go to art reach out to us. school.’ Which is just so funny to ‘Thank you for the me,” says DeSantis. Growing up outside of Syracuse, New York, work you've done DeSantis describes his father as in my yard. “a craftsman [who] makes custom furniture, really beautifully handmade.” It was his father who helped steer the erstwhile painter, one originally focused on fine art, to move in the right direction. “He said, ‘You should be an interior designer. It's a mix of what you like to do, but also it's practical and you can apply problem-solving in with creativity.’” It was also his father who saved from having to come out —Mel Brasier DeSantis officially. One day, he just asked Asked what makes an attractive Zoom spot in his son point blank: “You're gay, right?” When particular, DeSantis says, “It's finding a nook or a DeSantis said yes, he responded “Okay, cool.” corner that can be outside that's shaded in a quiet “And then he just talked to my mom about it,” area of the yard,” ideally one with “a nice ivy wall DeSantis recalls. “I don't know, it just became this thing. And now I'm a gay person on televithat looks really beautiful in the background.” Magee, who playfully refers to himself as “the sion. But I’ve been out to them for a very long plant whisperer,” has been heartened by anoth- time. I think everybody’s always known. I’ve er change he’s seen in the wake of the pandemic. been creative and a little different than the rest “They're looking for more than just an installa- of my three brothers my whole life, so it was kind tion of a garden, they really want to get to know of obvious.” Magee came out in a very similar way — except how to garden, how to plant,” he says. “It's become more of an educational thing, which has it was his mother who posed the question. While been really fun. I've been working with clients on a phone call from Chicago, where Magee went 46

THIS REALLY SAVED MY FAMILY DURING THESE LAST FEW MONTHS.’”

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COURTESY OF BRAVO

to college and had just broken up with his first boyfriend, his mother sensed something was wrong, and opted to get right to the heart of the matter by channeling Joy Behar. “She was watching The View, and apparently they were walking up to men asking if they were gay or straight,” Magee says. “And then they would follow up asking if they were offended by that question, and all of the men, gay or straight, said ‘No.’ So she asked, ‘Garrett, are you gay or straight?’ And I figured this was probably the best opportunity to just go ahead and say it. “She was very supportive, and called me back an hour later, crying that she wouldn't have grandkids. I was like, ‘Mom, you can totally still have grandkids!’ Then it took her about a week to get over it and then my entire family was super-supportive of me, and they always have been. So I'm very thankful for that.” Soon after his family moved to Virginia Beach, the Houston-born Magee started high school at the Governor’s School of the Arts. He followed that up by studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and then working in motion graphic design for companies in the Windy City and eventually New York. All while also dabbling in gardening and landscaping, laying the groundwork for his true calling. “I always had a passion for landscaping. My brother has a landscaping company [in Tennessee] so I would work with him in the summertime. And then eventually just as a hobby, I started taking classes at the New York Botanical Gardens.” Magee started putting into practice what he was learning by helping DeSantis and Brasier decorate the backyard the two shared back then as roommates. And it’s that very backyard where the idea for Manscapers took root, as the three worked together throwing elaborate, themed

garden parties that drew interest from friends working in fashion and fashion-related fields. “They would ask us if we could come help them with their spaces, everything from a really small terrace to even a fire escape,” Magee says. “Where are you guys getting all these plants from? And how did you all do this?” Brasier recalls friends asking at their parties. “It was kind of instinctual to us. We all come from a design background, [and] you design your interior space the same as your exterior. You might use different materials or different fabrics or whatnot, but the design principles are the same from inside to outside, so it came really natural for us to design outdoor spaces.” Brasier, who is straight, has had a lifelong interest in the arts and the creative economy. In fact, it was her childhood passion that inspired the Las Vegas native to move to New York in the first place, right out of high school. “I went to dance school at Marymount in Manhattan,” she says, “and once I got through that, I lived the dance life for many years.” Dance to construction is a big leap, Brasier concedes when asked about her unusual career pirouette. “I wasn’t so much really wanting to have a dance career as it was, I just wanted a creative career,” she says. After deciding to study design at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology — which is where she first befriended DeSantis, a fellow classmate SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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future. “I'm filming with two of my best friends, and my younger daughter, she's also on the show every so often. And so I'm looking at it more as this time capsule memory that I get to have that is very unique and special.” Likewise, Magee has struggled a bit with the challenges of being a TV personality, something that “was never really anything that I was seeking.” Although he says it took time to adjust to the cameras, Magee has shown himself to be a natural, as ready to show off his horticulture know-how as his ripped physique. He clearly relishes the attention he generates, as viewers frequently inquire about the form-flattering tight shorts he wears. “That is probably my number one most asked question on Instagram,” Magee says. “You know what? They're just J Crew. I think I bought 12 pairs of them, because they're great. They're really stretchy and are perfect for gardening.” All told, all three Manscapers hope that Backyard Envy gets picked up for a third season. Any such decision isn’t expected from Bravo until after the second season finale airs, according to DeSantis. Even if the show doesn’t go on, the company will. In addition to the expansion to California and the forthcoming book, Manscapers is focused on growing in other unexpected directions. “We're in the development stage right now of our first retail store [with a focus] on plants,” Brasier says. “We've been wanting to do this for a really long time. [It] just became more and more apparent that this is something that we can help people do and we can enter that market.” “If there was a business that could be success-

“Client requests now are really crazy: A home gym. A kids play area. A dining area.

COURTESY OF BRAVO

— “I worked in commercial design where I was thrown into the construction world. And I kind of got my education there in my first few jobs.” DeSantis and Brasier also gained valuable experience shortly after college, working at different times as set designers on various renovation shows on HDTV. For DeSantis, the work is what seeded the idea that TV could help boost his future career. “We would do all the shopping and designing for these big projects under other designers,” he says. “I saw how much they actually did design, which is great [and] we would work collaboratively. But they were able to get so much more easy notoriety from it. Design in New York is extremely competitive, [and] I knew that pushing towards our own series would help because it just gets your name out there times a million. And I watched our old bosses have that same thing happen to them. I thought, ‘This is totally doable. They're just like me. Similar backgrounds. We act the same. We're all funny and interesting people and creative. And if this person can have a TV show, I don't know why I can't.’” For her part, Brasier never expected or wanted to move into the spotlight. “It was really odd for me to go from working in an art department behind the camera to actually being in front of the camera,” she says. “Anyone who knows me would say I'm the least likely person to have their own show, just based on I'm a naturally shy person. So it was a little bit of a stretch for me.” In the end, it was a stretch very much worth taking. “Having a TV show and having this platform and exposure has just done wonders for where we're at with our business. So there's definitely a huge upside to having this show and kind of getting over myself in that shy way.” Beyond the boon to business, she also appreciates the personal sense of nostalgia that the show should generate in her

A PLACE TO GROW VEGETABLES. AN OUTDOOR OFFICE. A PLACE TO DO ZOOM CALLS.” —James DeSantis 48

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DeSantis

ful at the moment, it would be plants,” Magee says. “People are at home more and I feel like everyone has room for an extra plant in their home.” Adding greenery to even the smallest of spaces, “makes everyone feel happier and it cleans the air. It makes your space feel fresh.” Provided, of course, that you resist the urge to overwater. “That’s the number one way you kill indoor plants,” says Magee. Also up their sleeve: The development of a Manscapers product line. “That’s something that we're going to try to work with a big box retailer on and sort of license it out,” DeSantis says, calling the move one that would help further position them as “the approachable face to landscaping.

There are really famous landscapers like Miranda Brooks and Piet Oudolf, but they're very, very, very high-end art landscapers, where their clients are Anna Wintour and these big estates in Connecticut and the Hamptons. While we love their work and we try to emulate it and we really work for that, it's not our brand. Our brand is much more approachable. And I hope that’s the future that we continue to develop.” Backyard Envy airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo. Visit www.bravotv.com/backyard-envy. To learn more about Manscapers, visit www.manscapersnyc.com. SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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MATT KENNEDY

Movies

Past Imperfect

The Janelle Monáe thriller Antebellum struggles to find a lasting message in its red-herring-filled motive. By André Hereford

W

HAT A HORRIFYING THOUGHT for any modern Black woman to wake up as a slave in the Antebellum South, picking cotton in the devilish heat of the Louisiana sun, being whipped and branded, and brutally reminded of her lack of status in society. Antebellum (HHHHH), the lushly photographed debut feature by filmmaking team Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz spends its opening act driving home the torturous treatment inflicted on the Black women and men working a cotton plantation under cruel overseer Captain Jasper (Jack Huston). One fieldworker is punished with particular viciousness until she submits to the name her enslaver, known only as Him (Eric Lange), has given her. And so we meet Eden, played with bright-eyed but quiet fire by queer pop music phe50

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nom-turned-actress Janelle Monáe. A warmly stoic supporting heroine in the award-winning biopic Hidden Figures, and a model of cunning and resourcefulness as a fictional abolitionist in Harriet, Monáe is powerfully convincing as Eden, a potential leader of her people. Eden searches within herself for the strength to endure and maybe even escape, and all signs point to it being only a matter of time before she makes a move. But the film makes the first move, shifting the story, and lead character’s reality, to the modern world, introducing Monáe as celebrated author, speaker, mom, wife, and woman having and doing it all Veronica Henley. Oddly, Monáe and the movie are more persuasive enacting the indignities of slavery than depicting the lightly comic, continues on page 46


WARREN PIECE

Music

City Lights

I

Bright Light Bright Light’s new album is a shimmering tribute to the LGBTQ community. By Sean Maunier

F YOU’VE BEEN NEEDING SOMETHING to look forward to this Fall, here’s some good news. In just a week, Rod Thomas, better known as Bright Light Bright Light, releases his long-awaited album Fun City (HHHHH), a tribute to queerness, queer spaces, and most of all, queer people everywhere. All but one of the tracks is a collaboration, and the roster reads as a who’s who of prominent (and should-be-prominent) LGBTQ artists, including, among others, Andy Bell of Erasure and Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters. Leveraging the strengths of his various col-

laborators goes a long way towards making Fun City a remarkably memorable album. The opener, “Touchy,” is a fun and sensual duet with the Australian singer Brendan Maclean. Closer to home, NYC-based duo The Illustrious Blacks bring an edge to the triumphant yet heartbreaky “These Dreams.” An unexpected but welcome moment comes near the end of the album when Big Dipper makes an arrival, rapping between verses on “Love Song.” “It’s Alright, It’s Okay,” an energizing anthem celebrating gender expression on one’s own terms, features stellar voSEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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cals from Canadian indie pop outfit Caveboy, although the real highlight of the track is the video that accompanies it. It follows drag performer and activist Glow Job as she putters around her apartment getting ready for a solo show on an apartment rooftop. While Fun City is a notable for bringing a whole lot of current LGBTQ talent together under its umbrella, Bright Light Bright Light takes care to pay tribute to the queer past as well. The vocals for Fun City were recorded on the empty dancefloor of East Village dance club Bedlam, channeling the energy of its legendary past performers like Sylvester, Hercules, Scissor Sisters and Erasure. And although he has assembled a real powerhouse here, Thomas never disappears behind his guests. Fun City stays true to his brand of heavily disco-inflected dance pop. “I Used To Be Cool,” the album’s lone solo track, is testament to his continued ability to turn out a brilliant piece of dance pop.

Earlier this year Bright Light Bright Light dropped “This Was My House,” featuring Madonna’s backup singers Niki Haris and Donna De Lory. Besides arguably being the album’s best example of pure disco goodness, it is a bittersweet and on on-thenose tribute to queer spaces. With a bit of urgency in his voice, Thomas reflects on them, singing, “this was my house and I was not supposed to worry ’bout it,” lyrics that carry a haunting gravity in the latter half of 2020. Bright Light Bright Light has given us something truly special with Fun City. With track after track of incredibly buoyant, deeply infectious, and sometimes powerfully touching tracks, it’s not only a thoroughly queer album, it is one that centers queer joy — a sometimes complicated, sometimes messy joy, but joy nonetheless. As a tribute to — and celebration of — queer life, Fun City is a massive success on all counts.

Fun City will be out September 18th and is available for pre-order now. Tickets are currently available for Bright Light Bright Light’s album release livestream show, “Greetings From Fun City,” featuring a myriad of special guests, to be held in Manhattan’s Club Cumming from 8 to 9:30 p.m. EST the same day. Visit www.brightlightx2.com. continued from page 44

Real Housewives adventures of Veronica and her BFFs Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe) and Sarah (Lily Cowles). Sidibe gets off several chuckle-worthy quips and putdowns, although Dawn and Sarah serve no apparent purpose other than to help lull the audience into a false sense of ease, before some dastardly twist spins Veronica back, forward, or sideways into the terrible reality of enslavement. That twist clearly will have something to do with Jena Malone’s snidely smirking Elizabeth, a mystery woman who announces herself as Eeee-vil every time she appears on screen. It is a performance so lacking in subtlety that Monáe’s Veronica appears seriously lacking in situational

awareness to allow this ill-intentioned soul anywhere near her. Several other glaring red flags of danger ahead also fall flat, from the archetypal creepy moppet lingering silently at the end of a long hallway, to a “scary” bouquet of cotton balls delivered to Veronica’s hotel room. For the most part, the fake-outs and red herrings produce striking images, but don’t stand up to scrutiny if given a first thought, let alone a second. And least frightening of all is the film’s big twist, which certain M. Night Shyamalan fans might spot galloping over the horizon long before Antebellum rounds the turn to its strained, vengeance-laced conclusion.

Antebellum is available on Friday, Sept. 18 for VOD on all major platforms. 52

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RetroScene

Crack Christmas at DC9

December 12, 2006 • Photography by Ward Morrison

For more #RetroScene follow us on Instagram at @MetroWeekly

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RetroScene

Blowoff at the 9:30 Club

Sept. 20, 2008 • Photography by Ward Morrison

For more #RetroScene follow us on Instagram at @MetroWeekly

SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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RetroScene

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JR.’s • March 17, 2007

Photography by Ward Morrison

For more #RetroScene follow us on Instagram at @MetroWeekly


LastWord. People say the queerest things

“He must think we’re all suckers,

and the amazing thing to me is how little respect he has for the intelligence of his own supporters.

—Former Mayor PETE BUTTIGIEG, a military veteran, speaking on Fox News’ The Story about a report in The Atlantic that Donald Trump referred to fallen soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.” Some of the allegations of Trump’s disparaging remarks were later confirmed by other news outlets, including Fox News.

“ For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis.” —JENNA K ARVUNIDIS, widely credited as the creator of “gender-reveal parties,” in a Facebook post urging parents to “stop having these stupid parties” after a pyrotechnic device at an event last week led to a wildfire that has burned more than 10,000 acres in El Dorado, Calif. “This tool thought it would be smart to light a fire about his kid’s dick,” she wrote. “Toxic masculinity is men thinking they need to explode something because simply enjoying a baby party is for sissies.”

“ I’m a goddamn man, but I think these Democratic leaders who allowed this to happen need to be shot dead in the streets.” —A speaker at a Donald Trump rally in Salem, Ore., urging violence against pro-LGBTQ Democrats, which prompted cheers fron the crowd. The speaker had previously branded LGBTQ people pedophiles, saying, “We have said all this LGBT agenda has set us back. They told us we were crazy. They told us we were homophobic. But the God’s honest truth is, their pedophile agenda has been normalized.”

“It’s a devastating and horrific thing to have happen to you, and of course also to have happen to the LGBTQ2 community.” —TAYLOR CARLSON, executive director of Moose Jaw Pride in Moose Jaw, Canada, writing on Facebook after a transgender teenager was filmed being attacked by a group of youths. In a video circulated on social media, the girl is seen crying and begging to be left alone as youths corner her. Police are now investigating.

“ I remember going home sometimes thinking I just hated my life.” —A former housekeeper for Ellen DeGeneres, who made a series of allegations about the daytime TV star’s mistreatment of household staff in an interview with the Daily Mail. “She treated you like you were nothing,” the former housekeeper said. “Ellen was the worst person that I’ve ever met in my life. She takes pleasure in firing people.”

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Profile for Metro Weekly

Backyard Envy - Metro Weekly - September 10, 2020  

Gay Gardens: The stars of Bravo’s Backyard Envy are on a mission to make exterior design more approachable, playful, and gay. By Doug Rule

Backyard Envy - Metro Weekly - September 10, 2020  

Gay Gardens: The stars of Bravo’s Backyard Envy are on a mission to make exterior design more approachable, playful, and gay. By Doug Rule

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