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Philadelphia Gay News


Family Portrait: Local trans PAGE 6 CHOP rises to top, Jeffer- No single gene PAGE 8
Noel Ramirez people talk access son falls short in HRC’s determines same-sex
to healthcare Healthcare Equality Index attraction

Trans woman to be transferred to Trans woman speaks out

women’s prison following lawsuit after boyfriend’s death
A New Jersey DOC spokesperson
declined to comment for this story.
Doe began serving a prison sentence
Faith Palmer, girlfriend of recently deceased
back in March 2018 for offenses stem- Maurice “Reese” Willoughby, tells PGN about
A New Jersey transgender woman ming from addiction. Since then, she’s
who’s been incarcerated in men’s prisons been housed in four different men’s pris- misgendering by police, harassment
for the past 17 months will be transferred ons and experienced mistreatment in each name and gender, she said. While “Faith
to New Jersey women’s prison later this one, according to court records. BY LAURA SMYTHE Palmer” and “female” were denoted by
month, it was announced last week. Doe has been verbally abused and the officer when taking down her gen-
The decision comes in response to a beaten by prison staff, called a “f--- eral information on the report, the writ-
lawsuit recently filed against the state’s --g fa---t” by a cellmate, denied female In the days leading up to her boy- ten description of the incident misgenders
Department of Corrections by the undergarments, denied access to hormone friend’s alleged death by suicide, North Palmer, according to documents obtained
American therapy in Philadelphia trans woman Faith Palmer by PGN.
C i v i l a timely was denied a restraining order against him In June, the Philadelphia Police
Liberties manner, by the District Attorney’s Office and mis- Department unveiled a new policy,
U n i o n and placed gendered by police Directive 4.15, that
of New in solitary officers in a domestic overhauled the guide-
Jersey. confine- violence report she lines for officers’ inter-
On Aug. ment for filed. actions with the trans
28, rep- lengthy The Aug. 16 report, and nonbinary com-
resenta- periods taken by Police munities — a mandate
tives of the of time, Officer Tigue, details that is hailed as one of
DOC sent according that around 7:30 the most progressive in
an email to court that morning, “he the country. “Personnel
to Mercer records. was in an argument will address members
County Borden with his boyfriend, of the public using pro-
S u p e r i o r EDNA MAHAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY FOR WOMEN s t r e s s e d his boyfriend picked nouns, titles of respect,
C o u r t the need the [complainant] and name as expressed
Judge Douglas H. Hurd informing him for DOC to respect the gender identity of up and slammed FAITH PALMER AND MAURICE b y t h e i n d iv i d u a l ,
that plaintiff “Sonia Doe” will be trans- its inmates. them to the ground. “REESE” WILLOUGHBY regardless of what is
ferred to the Edna Mahan Correctional “Sonia Doe is a woman,” Borden said. [Complainant] made Photo: Facebook listed on their govern-
Facility for Women in Clinton, N.J. by the “For the past 17 months, she’s been sub- previous Domestic ment issued identifica-
week of Sept. 15. ject to daily discrimination. The harm Violence Reports and tion,” it reads.
“I think we can safely say that within she’s experienced has been extraordinary. was denied a [Protection From Abuse Maurice “Reese” Willoughby, 20, of
the next several weeks our client will be It’s included being physically assaulted Order] by the DA’s Office.” North Philadelphia, was found dead Aug.
at the women’s prison,” said Tess Borden, by correctional staff in retaliation for Palmer showed Tigue both state and 18 in the residence he shared with his girl-
an attorney for Doe, on Aug. 29. asserting her rights as a PAGE 23 federal identification that uses her correct friend Palmer and her PAGE 5

Philly-based app connecting LGBTQ folks with informed, affordable health care nears launch
regarding doctors’ competency around founder and CEO Catherine Hofmann, but Hofmann said she wants to allow
BY LAURA SMYTHE LGBTQ health concerns, like hormone who identifies as queer. “[We’re] mak- users to sort through providers who accept therapy, proper pronoun ing sure you’re dealing with Medicaid, offer mental and physical health
usage and fertility treat- someone who’s competent care services on a sliding scale or give dis-
A new app aimed at connecting LGBTQ ments. around LGBTQ issues, counts to certain qualifying parties.
Philadelphians with queer-competent, “It’s been difficult, even around gender and sexu- The upcoming app is round two for
affordable health care providers is launch- today, for the LGBTQ com- ality, as well as whatever QSPACES, which was founded in 2016.
ing early next month, just in time for munity to trust health and specialty they’re operating A $10,000 innovation prize from Thomas
OutFest, the nation’s largest National wellness providers … where in, and then at the very least Jefferson University primarily funded the
Coming Out Day event on Oct. 13. you’re talking about your that they’re not homophobic initial go, which included the launch of a
QSPACES, which will be available for body or sensitive subjects or transphobic.” now-defunct website. But the project was
iOS and Android, will allow users to sift about your health and those Ongoing are the tasks of put on hold due to a lack of viable tech
through providers by category or medical already really vulnerable collecting provider listings partnerships and other operational insecuri-
specialty, and leave ratings and reviews situations,” said QSPACES and developing the app, ties, Hofmann said. PAGE 23
2 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 LOCAL

Resource listings Out candidate files appeal for

Legal resources reinstatement to Nov. ballot
• ACLU of Pennsylvania: • Philadelphia Commission candidate to be eligible to run in the general
215-592-1513; on Human Relations — Rue BY TIMOTHY CWIEK election as an Independent. Cohen maintains
• AIDS Law Project of PA: Landau: 215-686-4670 her withdrawal was voluntary.
“The bottom line is Ms. Cohen made
215-587-9377; • Philadelphia Police Liai- Sherrie Cohen has filed a lengthy appeal, timely voluntary withdrawal by court order,”
• AIDS Law Project of South son Committee: 215-760- challenging the ruling of a Philadelphia the appeal states. “Judge Fletman erred and
Jersey: 856-784-8532; aid- 3686; judge who disqualified her from running for failed to credit Ms. Cohen’s withdrawal as a
a seat on City Council as an Independent voluntary withdrawal.” • SPARC — Statewide Penn- candidate in the general election after having Cohen’s appeal specifically blasts
• Equality PA: equalitypa. sylvania Rights Coalition: relinquished her primary run as a Democrat. Fletman’s ruling for not citing the case of
org; 215-731-1447 717-920-9537 In an 11-page ruling issued Aug. 16, Oliviero v. Diven, which the appeal says
Common Pleas Judge Abbe F. Fletman “clearly” shows that voluntary withdraw-
• Office of LGBT Affairs — opined that Cohen was too late in withdraw- als can occur in two ways — either as an
Amber Hikes: 215-686-0330; ing from the primary election to run in the administrative withdrawal by March 27 or
general election as an Independent. as a later withdrawal approved by a judge.
Cohen, a lesbian, filed a 58-page appeal of Cohen’s appeal emphasizes that she rea-
that ruling in Commonwealth sonably expected to be able
Community centers Court on Aug. 28. She ini- to run as an Independent.
tially sought to run as a “Sherrie Cohen relied on the
• The Attic Youth Center; 255 S. 16th St.; 215-545-4331, atticyouth- Democrat in the May 21 pri- existing case law discussed For LGBT and questioning youth and their friends and allies. mary but dropped out of the above,” the appeal states.
race in April after her former “Based on this reasonable
• LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania; 3907 Spruce campaign manager made neg- reliance, she spent a lot of
St.; 215-898-5044, ative comments about Deja time and effort, including get-
• Rainbow Room: Bucks County’s LGBTQ and Allies Youth Alvarez’s ancestry during a ting 8,000-plus signatures. If
Center Trans Day of Visibility cele- the law is to be changed, it
Salem UCC Education Building, 181 E. Court St., Doylestown; 215-957-7981 bration. would be unfair to apply those
ext. 9065, Alvarez ran as a Democrat changes to her due to her reli-
for an at-large Council seat. ance on the above discussed
• William Way LGBT Community Center Had she won, she would existing law.”
1315 Spruce St.; 215-732-2220, have been the first openly trans member The appeal also stresses the right of voters
of the municipal governing body. Alvarez to elect the candidates of their choice.
is challenging Cohen’s candidacy as an “Judge Fletman erred in not recognizing
Health and HIV testing Independent in the general election. the need for a liberal interpretation of the
Of Council’s 17 seats, seven are at-large, election code in order to protect the candi-
• Action Wellness: Spring Garden St.; 215- including two reserved for non-Democrats date’s right to run for office and the voters’
• Mazzoni Center:
1216 Arch St.; 215- 769-3561; — which Republicans have historically right to elect the candidates of their choice.”
1348 Bainbridge St.;
981-0088, actionwell- held. Cohen hopes to fill one of those posts Additionally, the appeal points out that
• COLOURS: colour- 215-563-0652, mazzon- as an Independent in the Nov. 5 general none of Cohen’s nominating signatures has, 215-
election. been challenged. “She had strong support
• AIDS Healthcare 832-0100 • Philadelphia Her appeal faults Fletman for allegedly for her candidacy and had obtained over
Foundation: 1211 • Congreso de Lati- FIGHT: 1233 Locust interpreting the relevant case law on election 8,000 signatures. None of her signatures
Chestnut St. #405 215- nos Unidos; 216 W. St.; 215-985-4448, matters too narrowly. were challenged.” the appeal states.
971-2804; Somerset St.; 215-763- “All the case law in election cases cites a Samuel C. Stretton, an attorney for Cohen,
• AIDS Library: 8870 • Washington West need for liberal interpretation to keep ¬— if expressed optimism that the appeal will be
1233 Locust St.; aidsli- • GALAEI: 149 W. Project of Mazzoni at all possible — a candidate on the ballot. successful. “I absolutely believe we’re right Susquehanna Ave.; Center: Judge Fletman failed in not using this liberal on this one. The judge misinterpreted or
• AIDS Treatment 267-457-3912, galaei. 1201 Locust St.; 215- interpretation, which is so obvious in this misread the cases,” Stretton told PGN. “The
Fact line: 800-662- org. Spanish/English 985-9206 case — particularly since Sherrie Cohen, in case law is clear that if you voluntarily with-
6080 • Health Center No. 2: • Transgender her nomination papers, had over 8,000 sig- draw from a primary you have a right to be
• Bebashi-Transi- 1720 S. Broad St.; Health Action Coali- natures, which is a very significant number on the general-election ballot if you file your
tion to Hope: 1235 215-685-1821 tion: 215-732-1207 of signatures,” Cohen’s appeal states. nomination papers, which Sherrrie did.”
According to Fletman’s ruling, March 27 Cohen also expressed optimism that she’ll
was the deadline for a candidate to volun- be reinstated. “I turned in 8,300 signatures,’
tarily withdrawal from the primary and still Cohen told PGN. “These are people who
Other be eligible to run in the general election. want to see me on the ballot as a candidate.
• Independence Branch Library Barbara Gittings Gay and Cohen didn’t withdraw from the primary Their rights as voters should be respected.
Lesbian Collection: 215-685-1633 until April 18. My right as a candidate to choose which
But Cohen argues that she should be race I want to run in should be respected.
• Independence Business Alliance; 215-557-0190, Independence- able to withdraw after March 27 and still I’m optimistic that Commonwealth Court run as an Independent because of a 1980 will agree.”
law that allows candidates to do so if their Alvarez said she’s confident her challenge
• LGBT Peer Counseling Services: 215-732-TALK withdrawal is approved by a judge. Cohen will be successful. “I’m confident with our
• PFLAG: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and notes that her withdrawal was approved by position that Sherrie Cohen dropped out of
Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox. the primary too late to run in the general
Gays (Philadelphia): 215-572-1833
Cohen’s appeal acknowledges that with- election,” Alvarez told PGN. “I have faith in
• Philly Pride Presents: 215-875-9288 drawal from a primary must be voluntary — Judge Fletman’s legal expertise and that her
rather than due to some type of error — for a ruling will stand.” n
PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 3
4 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 LOCAL

Social group creates ‘a sense of home’ for Philly’s LGBTQ Asian residents
The Pew Charitable Trusts, 8 percent of holding Lotus Lounge Night, an API drag years ago, Ramirez became only more
BY LAURA SMYTHE Philadelphia’s residents are Asian. A June and dance night, on Sept. 27 at the Center bewildered. While filling out a standard 2018 publication by the same organization City gay bar Boxers PHL. Proceeds will form for the public service, Ramirez
indicates that, as of 2016, the largest pop- benefit the Asian Mosaic Fund Giving looked at the options he could select to
A couple years ago, Matthew Wong ulations of foreign-born residents in the Circle, which is committed to advanc- indicate his ethnicity. He noticed they
attended a town hall at William Way LGBT city hail from China and Vietnam. ing the wellbeing of Philadelphia’s Asian didn’t include his own identity, Ramirez
Community Center for people of color. Of “A lot of API individuals come in [to community. said.
about 80 folks attending, Wong counted PAQ] with N o e l “There’s a large Asian population in
two other Asian people in the audience. that some- Ramirez, Philly. Why are we not represented in a
Having moved to Philadelphia post-grad- what shared who identi- jury duty form?” he added. “That was
uation from the University of Notre Dame in story of fies as queer, the symbolic thing that made me think a
Indiana, Wong wanted to create a space for traditional is a PAQ lot about, ‘Wow, we have been erased in
other queer Asian folks leading cross-cul- culture, tra- board mem- many spaces.’”
tural lives similar to his own. East Asian by ditional par- ber who The experience invigorated him to
ethnicity, Wong grew up in Ohio with his ents and not has been dive into PAQ. Ramirez now hosts group
mom, who hails from the Philippines, and necessarily involved events like barbeques to share with other
his father, of Malaysia. knowing with the queer Philadelphians what he describes as
“The [Asian Pacific Islander] queer com- who to talk organiza- a tenant of his Southeast Asian upbring-
munity, and just API in general, feels to or hav- tion for two ing: creating “a sense of home.” He added
somewhat erased, especially when you talk ing a com- years. He the importance of PAQ stems from the
about POC as a collective,” said Wong, a munity that came into sense of community it fosters for some
26-year-old gay man. “POC tends to be they believe the role with LGBTQ Asian people who may struggle
incredibly focused on the Black and Latinx they can fall a decade- to come out to their families.
community, whereas Asians tend to be back to,” long track “My experience with Filipino identity is
fighting this line of being POC or just gen- Wong said. record of family is super important. You make deci-
erally accepted within white culture. We “That’s being active sions based on your family; you’re part of
don’t necessarily know where we fall.” what our in the east a unit,” Ramirez said. “When we enter this
Wong founded Philadelphia Asian & organiza- coast’s gay concept of queerness and coming out, it’s
Queer, a volunteer-run social organization tion hopes API organiz- kind of disruptive because even the word
that aims to create a sense of commu- to provide.” ing scene. ‘family’ assumes a heteronormative iden-
nity among LGBTQIA-plus Asian Pacific P A Q Ramirez, tity. So to introduce that for some folks is
Islander people in the City of Brotherly members who is a bit of a challenge.”
Love. On Sept. 22, the group will over- participate Filipino, Further difficulty comes from living in
haul Wong’s initial town hall experience in monthly moved to the United States, Ramirez added, where
by hosting its own such event at William b r u n c h Philadelphia all API people are considered “just Asian.”
Way to engage with local queer Asian socials at from New “There are centuries of war between
folks. Attendees will discuss current issues API-owned York City countries, so it’s hard to say, ‘Oh yeah,
in Philadelphia and participants’ concerns businesses 12 years ago this is a collective experience,’” he told
will inform PAQ’s future programming. across the and grew PGN. “We’re doing this programming to
Since the organization’s inception, Wong city as an up in Jersey really develop not a universal voice, but
said it has become more inclusive by focus- ode to “the City — both a collective voice that includes all expe-
ing on welcoming API trans and gender importance ASIAN & QUEER GROUP OUTINGS. Photo: Courtesy m u n i c i - riences.”
nonconforming people.The town hall will that food Matthew Wong palities he For Wong, the goal for the group mov-
serve as “a call to action,” he added, pro- has on our described as ing forward is “truly creating this Asian
viding the group with “a chance to really traditional upbringing, but also in our cur- having a vibrant LGBTQ Asian scene. diaspora within our community” for all of
bring all the diverse voices that we want rent development as LGBTQ API folks,” But when he arrived in his new home, Philadelphia’s API folks.
represented within the API community.” Wong said. The next event takes place the behavioral health therapist was disap- “We want to truly be encompassing of
PAQ has a general membership of Sept. 29 at Filipino restaurant Sarvida in pointed. South Asians, we want to be inclusive of
about 80 people, with about 20 routinely Fishtown. PAQ participants also unpack “The racial politics of Philly is largely East Asians, people located in the Middle
active members. Many participants are of the LGBTQ Asian experience at a monthly Black and white,” he told PGN. “So to be East,” he said. “My ultimate goal is for
Filipino, Indonesian, Vietnamese or East support group hosted at William Way. in the middle of that, it can be troubling everyone to be able to come to this one
Asian backgrounds. On Sept. 27, the social organization is and challenging.” organization and be there and be them-
According to an April 2019 report by trying out a new kind of programming by When he was called for jury duty two selves.” n

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Office Manager/Distribution Larry Nichols (ext. 213) Art Director Sean Dorn (ext. 211)
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Philadelphia Gay News Graphic Artist Rivendell Media:
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The Associated Press Jess Bryant (ext. 206)
Pennsylvania Newspaper
Suburban Newspapers The views of PGN are expressed only in the unsigned “Editorial” col­umn. Opinions expressed in bylined columns, stories and letters to the editor are those of the writer, and do not
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PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 5

FAITH PALMER from page 1

cousin in the Frankford section of the city.
Media response quickly linked his alleged
suicide to a video in which Willoughby is
seen being bullied by a group for his rela-
tionship with Palmer.
Many have since blamed Palmer and
their relationship for Willoughby’s death,
including Willoughby’s family, Palmer
said. She has received several threats,
prompting her to file additional police
reports about the harassment, Palmer
Palmer said she wants people to know
there is more to Willoughby’s story: years
of systematic oppression and struggles
with mental health and addiction — both
for which he tried seeking care, with her
Willoughby had a doctor’s appoint-
ment to get help for experiencing addic-
tion scheduled at North Philadelphia’s
The Wedge Medical Center, P.C. for Aug.
19 — the day after he was found dead,
according to documents Palmer shared
with PGN. Palmer detailed Willoughby’s
life as one fraught with sexual violence he
experienced while in and out of the foster
care system throughout his adolescence.
The two were unable to obtain jobs despite
actively applying and not having adult
criminal records, Palmer said, leading her
to engage in survival sex work.
Palmer said she hoped filing for a restrain-
ing order would pressure Willoughby to
get help for his addiction. But instead,
Palmer described a broken system where
she was sent back and forth between police

“We’re here for

and victims services organizations, each
requesting documentation from the other
office to proceed with her case. In the end,
she said, she was left to return without help
to her home — an abusive environment she
attempted to report.
“I want to tell people to go get help, I

each other, no
do, but I went to get help and I still got
the same result that I would’ve gotten if I
wouldn’t have [gone] to get help,” she said.
“So I understand firsthand why people are
scared to go get help, because you go to the
places you’re supposed to go to and you
get turned around.”

matter what.”
Moving forward, Palmer told PGN she
hopes to see stronger policies and proce-
dures that will allow LGBTQ folks to be
respected by victims’ services and law
enforcement officials, and require them to
follow guidelines like Directive 4.15.
“Imagine how many other stories can
come to light. We’re losing transgender
people damn near every day,” Palmer said.
“I was supposed to be one of them … but I
made it out. But I’m being shaded because
HIV does not define our friendships.
I made it out.” n When we support those living with Let’s stop HIV stigma together.
HIV, we make it easier for them to Learn how at

Philadelphia Gay News

live healthy lives.

/ActAgainstAIDS /ActAgainstAIDS @TalkHIV


6 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 LOCAL

Local trans people talk access, competence in health care

cations but the symptoms continued until his percent increase in overall patient visits Thus, bringing new providers takes a little
BY LEO CALDWELL June appointment. from 2012 to 2015. In the 2016 report, 35 longer. However, we are actively recruiting
PGN Contributor At the June appointment, a rapid test percent of the patients were transgender or and have hired two new providers who will
result indicated he had a severe UTI. The genderqueer. However, patient visits have start this month. Our goal is to hire a full
Philadelphia is home to the largest trans doctor said they would call in two prescrip- remained at around 22,000 from 2015 to complement of providers by the end of the
wellness conference in the world, Mazzoni’s tions to Rodriquez’s pharmacy — one anti- 2018. It appears the trans patient population winter season,” said Mazzoni’s Director of
Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, biotic and testosterone. Rodriquez went to has also remained around 3,000 from 2015 Communication Larry Benjamin.
a transgender fellowship training program pick up the prescriptions at his pharmacy 24 to 2019. But trans-specific reporting and Outside of Mazzoni, trans patients often
and, soon, two LGBTQ-focused health care hours later and they had not been called in. research are limited. experience different issues.
centers — the Mazzoni Center and a new He called Mazzoni and was told this issue “Last time I called for an appointment at Gibson went to Cooper Hospital in New
Jefferson-sponsored center to open in 2020. would be marked urgent. After more than a Mazzoni, they offered other places for me Jersey due to asthma-related issues, and she
But many trans folks in the greater week of back and forth with the pharmacy to go,” said Shayne Malcolm, a 35-year- said she had no issues navigating their care.
Philadelphia area are waiting weeks for and Mazzoni, Rodriquez received his testos- old trans man who lives in Philadelphia. The staff used the correct pronouns and
appointments for basic medical care. terone prescription but never the antibiotic. Malcolm has been receiving care at Mazzoni made sure to ask her name since her identi-
“My access to health care has been up in He gave up on getting the prescription and since 2009 and said, “They seemed less fication had not been updated.
the air and unstable for the last two years,” continued to treat the UTI with over-the- booked up then.” In contrast, she went to a doctor at
said Nathan Rodriguez, a 29-year-old trans counter remedies. A 2015 study in the American Journal of Jefferson and felt he was asking unneces-
man who lives in South Jersey. Gabrielle Gibson, a 35-year-old trans Public Health that assessed U.S. academic sary and inappropriate questions. She asked
When Rodriguez moved from North woman, has also struggled to receive con- facilities to determine if they had procedures to see a different doctor. She said the
Jersey to South Jersey, he transferred his sistent care at Mazzoni. to identify LGBT-competent doctors found second doctor was very excited to treat
medical care to the Mazzoni Center. He said Gibson has been receiving care at Mazzoni that only 9 percent had such procedures and her because she was his first transgender
at first the care was “OK” but over the last since 2014. She indicated that in the last only 16 percent reported having comprehen- patient. Jefferson Health was unable to be
year he has struggled to get an appointment. couple of years, “Mazzoni has got kind of sive LGBT-competency training. This year, reached for comment for this article.
Rodriguez occasionally experiences UTIs, confusing.” four providers left Mazzoni. “I didn’t feel uncomfortable about being
which he contributes to his phalloplasty, sur- “I called for an appointment in June, “Recently, several providers have left the first. We are in this period of time where
gery to construct a penis. Familiar with and they had to make my appointment for Mazzoni Center to pursue other opportuni- people are starting to understand,” said
UTI symptoms, Rodriguez called Mazzoni September. It boggled my mind because ties or for personal reasons. As a result, wait- Gibson.
and booked an appointment in May. As the when I started going there I could write an ing times for nonemergency care, including Rodriguez, however, said he doesn’t
appointment neared, however, he received a email and get in. It gets really intense when care for new trans patients is currently 90 like to see doctors that aren’t well versed
call from Mazzoni to reschedule his appoint- I’m running low on my hormones. I wonder days. Because of the population we serve, in trans-related care. He has traveled to
ment for the end of June because his doctor — will they refill them in time?” we hire with care to ensure new clinicians Philadelphia for emergency room visits
was unavailable. Rodriquez said he treated Mazzoni’s 2015 annual report indicated are fully LGBTQ competent and a good instead of going to closer ERs near his home
the symptoms with over-the-counter medi- the health care services saw a dramatic 77 fit with our patients and the community. in New Jersey. PAGE 6
PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 7



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Vic DiBitetto | Saturday, September 21
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Stories and Q&A with Chevy Chase after
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Friday, September 27 Friday, November 22
Loverboy | Saturday, September 28
JB Smoove | Saturday, November 23
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Lewis Black | Friday & Saturday, October 11 & 12
Rick Springfield & Richard Marx | Friday, December 13
Roy Wood Jr. | Saturday, October 19
Bert Kreischer | Saturday, December 28
Steve Martin / Martin Short: Now You See Them,
Soon You Won’t | Saturday, October 19 Shin Lim | Saturday, January 11
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8 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 NATIONAL

No “gay gene” can predict sexual

orientation says new study
Shriver National Institute of Child Health and
BY VICTORIA A. BROWNWORTH Human Development, which made funding
PGN Contributor available specifically to investigate the genet-
ics of sexual orientation.
A massive new study indicates sexual ori- Researchers analyzed data for 477,522 par-
entation cannot be predicted by a single “gay ticipants in surveys from the U.K. and U.S. and
gene” as previously pondered but genetics do did comparison testing of 15,142 people in the
play a role in sexual orientation. U.S. and Sweden. One intriguing component
The controversial new research, published was how the surveys were skewed: Some sur-
on August 29 in “Science” and was based on veys recorded whether the individuals ever had
an ambitious study of the genomes of nearly a same-sex partner while others recorded how
500,000 people. The results indicate that sex- people identified their orientation.
ual orientation has a genetic component but The genetic data came from several sources.
there is no single gene that can be isolated One source was the U.K. Biobank where
to define what “causes” homosexuality as people ages 40-69 answered extensive health
opposed to heterosexuality. The “Science” and behavioral questions between 2006-10.
study explains that a plethora of genetic and The researchers also used data from nearly
environmental factors play a role. 70,000 customers of the genetic testing service
The researchers wrote, “Analyses of inher- 23andMe. These people had a median age of
itance of sexual orientation in humans has 51, were mostly American and had answered
indicated that same-sex sexual behavior has survey questions about sexual orientation. All
a genetic component.... A genome- were of white European descent,
wide association study on 493,001 which is significant as gayness runs
participants from the United States, across all racial and ethnic groups.
the United Kingdom and Sweden to This was one of the factors that the
study genes associated with sexual study authors explained limited a
orientation....Like other behavioral broader application of the study’s
traits, nonheterosexual behavior is findings. Also, trans people were
polygenic.” not included in the study.
According to the study, by an The study revealed several hun-
international team of researchers, dred genes have an influence on
a third or more of the genenomic sexuality. The researchers found
spread plays a role in determining five genomic spots with significant
whether an individual has same- effects on sexual orientation. When
sex sexuality. But that comes from tested, the researchers discovered
a combination of genes, making it that these genetic factors combined
impossible to determine someone’s accounted for 8-25 percent of same-
sexuality based on genes alone. sex behavior the study’s partici-
While the study appears to sunder the “gay pants reported.
gene” theory, the details also provide new Additionally, researchers found that differ-
insights into the genetic complexities of sexu- ent genetics resulted in same-sex behavior for
ality and how it develops differently in a signif- women than for men. This difference could be
icant minority — as much as 10 percent — of hormonal or socially constructed, according
the human population that has sex with same- to the researchers. Women are more “gender
sex partners, either exclusively or in addition fluid” than men and there are more bisexual
to opposite sex partners. women than men, the study found. “Just the
The international team of researchers who fact that they look at women is a hooray,” said
analyzed genetic data were succinct that gay- Melinda Mills, a professor of sociology at the
ness is not a vague phenomenon but a fully University of Oxford, who wrote a commen-
realized sexual orientation with several genetic tary that “Science” published with the study.
components. The study authors also explained and
“Across human societies and in both sexes, explored how same-sex behavior and attitudes
some 2 percent to 10 percent of individuals changed over the lifetimes of the participants,
report engaging in sex with same-sex part- which, they concluded, means there is a sig-
ners, either exclusively or in addition to sex nificant impact from socialization and social
with opposite-sex partners,” wrote the study environments.
authors. The study concluded that genetics cannot
The study found, for example, that same-sex completely determine who will be gay, bisex-
attraction can have a biological component. ual or heterosexual. But Benjamin Neale, a
Researchers explained that identical twins are geneticist at the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and
more likely to share the same sexual orienta- Harvard and one of the lead researchers on the
tion than either fraternal twins or other sib- international team who is also openly gay, said,
lings. Researchers asserted that these factors “I hope that the science can be used to educate
suggest genetic influences. people a little bit more about how natural and
The data was vast, funded by the National normal same-sex behavior is. It’s written into
Institutes of Health and other national and our genes, and it’s part of our environment.
international agencies, including the National This is part of our species, and it’s part of who
Science Foundation and the Eunice Kennedy we are.” n
PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 9

CHOP rises to top, Jefferson falls short in

2019 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Index Sales Representative at PGN

Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) currently has immediate opening for adver-
tising sales position available for an energetic, self-motivated individual
with outstanding communication skills.
Our ideal candidate must have polished sales skills with experience in lead
generation and cold calling, combined with a track record of closing the sale.
Qualifications: * Two years minimum of successful sales experience, for-
Pennsylvania facilities ranked by HRC to mer print and/or advertising sales are a plus * Strong verbal and writing
BY VICTORIA A. BROWNWORTH have a score below 80. Jefferson Health’s
PGN Contributor other Philadelphia hospital, Methodist skills * Excellent at relationship building * Ability to work independently
Hospital in South Philadelphia, was not and part of a team * Knowledge of local media market and LGBT communi-
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) ranked in the study.
Foundation recognized Children’s Hospital While Jefferson could not provide a ty a plus * Computer literacy a must
of Philadelphia (CHOP), Temple University statement to PGN by press time, Larry
Hospital, Penn Medicine, Mazzoni Center, Benjamin, Director of Communications Salary/Benefits: Competitive Salary based on your past experience, plus
Einstein Medical Center-Philadelphia and at Mazzoni Center, addressed concerns
other Philadelphia-area health care facil- over Jefferson’s low ranking. Mazzoni commission. Our benefits package includes medical and dental insurance,
ities as “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Center received a near-perfect score of 95. paid holidays, vacation and a casual work environment.
Leaders” and “Top Performers.” “We have a long-term relationship with
Philadelphia was among the highest Jefferson Health,” Benjamin said. “From
ranked cities in the country for LGBTQ- our conversations, it is clear to us they are Qualified individuals interested in applying are encouraged to send their
friendly medical care in HRC’s 2019 committed to not just raising their HRC résumé. to
Healthcare Equality Index released August score, but also to strengthening their rela-
16. Now in its 12th year, HRC calls its tionship with the community and deliver-
Healthcare Equality Index “the national ing services that are LGBTQ competent
LGBTQ benchmarking tool that evaluates and affirming.”
healthcare facilities’ policies and practices Benjamin said, “As part of their com-
related to the equity and inclusion of their mitment, Jefferson came on board as
LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees.” the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s
The HEI 2019 evaluated more than Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference.
1,600 healthcare facilities nationwide. In addition, our education department
Pennsylvania had the fourth highest num- recently delivered LGBTQ competency
ber of ranked healthcare facilities in the training for their staff at Methodist Hospital
country, with all but one — Thomas as part of a larger plan which would offer
Jefferson University Hospital in Center this training across their entire hospital
City and their affiliate, Abington Hospital, system.”
both part of the Jefferson Health system The purpose of HRC’s evaluation is
— ranking between 95 and 100 percent. to provide LGBTQ patients, who may
Jefferson’s and Abington’s scores were face discrimination and other challenges
the outliers in the state, ranking below obtaining quality care, with the best data
hospitals in less LGBTQ-friendly areas, on where to find supportive and LGBTQ-
like Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in friendly physicians and other medical per-
Allentown, and Geisinger-Shamokin Area sonnel. The Healthcare Equality Index sur-
Community Hospital in Coal Township. vey participants were assessed on four cri-
Lehigh Valley had a 95 percent score and teria: nondiscrimination and staff training,
Geisinger-Shamokin, nestled in coal coun- patient services and support, employee ben-
try 100 miles outside Philadelphia, had a efits and policies, and patient and commu-
perfect score. nity engagement. Participants that received
In comparison, both Jefferson and the maximum score in each category and a
Abington had a score of 75, the only total score of 100 points PAGE 16
*PGN is an equal opportunity employer
10 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 EDITORIAL

Creep of the Week D’Anne Witkowski

Steve King
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but King by taking
Steve King is in trouble. It seems, and away his House
I take no delight in saying this, that the committee seats
Republican Party has forsaken him. after remarks
Oh, who am I kidding? I take great made praising
delight in pointing out that Steve King, one white suprem-
of the most outspokenly racist and anti- acy. Still, many
LGBTQ House members, no longer has any Republicans
friends. Or any friends with deep pockets, are acting
anyway. SHOCKED that
As many news outlets have reported, King is such a vile human.
King is up for reelection to the U.S. House In addition to racism, King also has
of Representatives, where he currently rep- a long and storied history of being anti-
resents white people in Iowa, and his cam- LGBTQ. Since taking office in 2003 King
paign is hurting for cash. has not been shy on this issue and has been
As The Daily Beast reported, “As he faces Creep of the Week many times over the
the toughest campaign since he was first years.
elected in 2002, he is doing so with a poten- A few of his greatest hits: last year he
tially catastrophic lack of resources. The tried to make flying rainbow flags over
$18,365 that King’s campaign had in the U.S. embassies illegal. He “joked” that
Editorial bank at the end of June was the least cash
on hand he’s ever reported after the first six
Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor
and Elena Kagan should “elope to Cuba”
months of a cycle.” together (get it? Because they’re liberal

Responsible media coverage of In other words, dude is broke. For con-

text, The Daily Beast also reported that
another Republican is challenging King in
justices so they must be lesbo for each
other). He’s likened transgender people to
castrated slaves. He doesn’t want transgen-
the LGBTQIA-plus community the primary, and that guy has over $300,000.
Not to mention the fact that Democrat J.D.
Scholten is running against King again, hav-
der people to use the bathrooms in the U.S.
Capitol building. In 2015 he claimed the
Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling
ing lost last time by only a few points. meant that people could marry a lawn-
When the story of Maurice important that news outlets do their For those who are familiar with King, mower.
“Reese” Willoughby’s apparent due diligence in providing the most you know how awful he is. But during this According to Salon, in 2014 King sup-
death by suicide broke, all outlets accurate, in-depth coverage possible. dumpster fire we call the Trump Presidency, ported an Arizona bill that would essen-
it’s easy for even the most terrible tially give blanket protections for people
pushed forward the same narrative: Palmer has received death threats Republican to kind of get lost in the back- who want to discriminate against LGBTQ
his death came as the result of bully- over the last week as people blame ground. But no matter how terrible Trump people. He claimed that if LGBTQ people
ing received for his relationship with her for Willoughby’s death. While is, King has made a valiant effort to say, were protected by discrimination that they
a trans woman. those threats are only to blame on the “No! I’m worse!” would then just go looking for lawsuits.
Take his most recent comments in favor “How do you know who to discriminate
Details were updated, noting his people deploying them, this situation of rape and incest, for example. King is against. They have to tell you,” King said
experiences with addiction and could have been handled with more strongly anti-choice and would like all according to Salon. “And are they then
domestic abuse reported by his part- care from national outlets. abortion outlawed even in cases of rape and setting up a case? Is this about bringing a
incest. During a speech to a group of con- grievance, or is it actually about a service
ner, Faith Palmer, but not before While breaking news is important,
servatives in Des Moines King said, “What that they’d like to have?”
Palmer’s identity was misused. complex narratives are far more inte- if we went back through all the family trees I can just see it now: two guys trying to
Her identity as a trans woman was gral to reporting, and giving voice and just pulled out anyone who was a prod- decide what to do on their next date. “Want
used to propel a story that didn’t ade- to those affected by our coverage is uct of rape or incest? Would there be any to watch something on Netflix?” asks the
population of the world left if we did that? first guy. “Nah,” the other guy replies.
quately dive into nuance. essential. As news outlets, we need ... Considering all the wars and all the rapes “Let’s goad the florist down the street into
PGN waited to cover the news, the freedom to speak freely, but also and pillages that happened throughout all discriminating against us so we can sue
as we grappled with how to accu- the sense to comprehend that our these different nations, I know that I can’t him.”
rately write a story that centered a words carry weight and our coverage say that I was not a part of a product of There are a lot of terrible people who
that.” hold office in the U.S. Often, it can feel
trans woman’s identity as part of affects lives. In other words, thank God for rape and like everyone is corrupt and all of it is
the explanation for another person’s As a community news outlet, we incest, otherwise we wouldn’t have so many pointless so why bother voting because
death. Though we tried to tell a fuller understand it’s sometimes difficult people on this planet. And, gosh, if King we’re all doomed. But it really is possible
can’t definitively trace his ancestry back far to vote for good people. People like J.D.
story on press day, we knew we to reach sources, especially in times
enough to rule out any possibility of rape Scholten, for example.
didn’t have the opportunity to tell it of crisis. But we urge journalists to or incest, well, can’t no woman nowhere King is proof that there are consequences
as well as we would have liked. continue to follow up and want to decide what to do with her body ever again. for being horrible. However, he’s also proof
This week, we continued our reassure readers of our commitment Case closed. that in order for there to be consequences
King is also well known for being hella in the Republican Party, you have to work
efforts to secure a time to speak with to do so. Together we can encourage racist. There’s a reason why neo-Nazi web- really, really hard at being the worst. n
Palmer, and her story is complex and each other to report deeply, contact site Daily Stormer calls King “our guy.”
thoughtful. While the truth, in this unfamiliar sources or give those Despite years of well documented racism, D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian
the GOP largely let King go unchecked. At living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been
instance, is difficult to ascertain, it is affected by coverage a voice. n writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow
the beginning of 2019 the finally punished her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.
PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 11

Time for renewal and unification

Welcome back from summer. What of years, there’s been some unrest at sev- competitive. From fundraising to build-
did you miss? eral of our community nonprofit orga- ing a professional staff to building a
Let’s see Marvel announced another nizations. Many LGBTQ institutions solid group of volunteers and working
we wanna know:
LGBT character, scientists have had their issues — in the with governments to secure funding and
say there’s no one single gay realms of healthcare, youth grants for new programs. There is a What is your
gene, rather a combination services and politics. When learning curve, and it’s a tall order since experience
of genetic factors, and it was this happens, there are various these nonprofits continue to provide accessing LGBTQ -
announced that the TV show ways to look at it. community services and do the commu- informed healthcare?
you should be watching, For me, I’ve learned over the nity’s bidding, while trying to stay on
“Pose” was renewed for a third last 50 years that this can be that curve.
season. a time for renewal. Discover My message is: Let’s make this fall
Then, there is the s--t show what the issues are and work a time for renewal. Work together to
that is Trump, but hey, we all to improve the organization. ensure professionalization. Don’t just
agree that no matter who the We don’t have to take the time speak out negatively, speak out and find “I had to become
Democratic nominee eventu- to reinvent the wheel, and that common ground. a health care
ally is, we all are committed to
voting for him or her.
Mark My does take time. We’re a young
community, and many of these
There is an important battle coming,
and we need to be a united community
provider to learn
how to advocate
If not, you are part of the
problem as any Democrat is
Words organizations were the first
of their kind and most likely
to help save our brothers and sisters from
harm to our rights, primarily trans rights
and access LGBTQ
care for myself.”
light years ahead of what we Mark Segal their original group of leaders that are being destroyed by the current
currently have, and sitting this learned their jobs…on the job. administration. You think it’s bad now,
out is not acceptable. The changes and the political climate what if all of the program support and
But for my home base of Philadelphia, for our community have been great and funding these organizations currently
there’s another issue. In the last couple nonprofits have had to change to stay receive disappears? Time to unite! n

“I’m a patient at
Mazzoni, which
Letters and Feedback is great, but they
are understaffed.
Appointments take
Dear PGN, gotten lives? We’re quietly becoming a Put the gay back in PGN. Make
dying breed! America GAY again!
I am a gay man, and I fully support I haven’t seen a single gay man on Maybe, make it a yearly thing — the
every member of our community, but the cover of, let alone a poz gay man. gay men’s issue.
for the last year I’ve been reading I’m sitting here looking at a Positively
trans issues cover stories! How about Aware detailing the Native American Kindly,
one article in regard to gay men’s for- women’s HIV epidemic. Michael Sean Foster

“100 percent
OUTPour Antar T. Bush self-educated”

49th place goes to Philadelphia County

As a Black gay man who came out in among African-American gay and bisex- decisions.
1994, I remember how the AIDS epidemic ual men aged 25-34 increased by 30 per- This means we can no longer wait for
cut short so many lives. These days, cent. If you are a young gay Black man federal, state and local systems to tell us
Philadelphians worried they have been in America, you have a 1-in-2 chance of what we need. Out of 3000 counties in the
“I didn’t get
exposed to HIV have access to post-ex- contracting the virus — compared with a U.S., Philadelphia County has the 49th LGBT-informed
posure prophylaxis (PEP). People who do 1-in-11 chance if you are a white gay man. highest rate of HIV infection. The stan- health care
contract HIV can access effective treatment This is not good for gay men and trans dards and programs here are not work- until I went to an
plans. And for anyone who thinks they women of color in the wealthiest country ing for our communities. Philadelphia’s LGBT-focused
are high risk (me!), pre-exposure prophy- in the world. It is time for Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community is hyper-segregated provider.”
laxis (PrEP) is increasingly available in Black LGBTQ community to do what and has a lot of health inequality, which
Philadelphia. In the 1990s, these treatments lawyer and advocate Randall Robinson is why activists are searching for ways to
were unfathomable to so many friends I says: develop a “crowd-source under- address this disparity in our city.
lost. standing of what a community needs.” As We need to create an equity-assess-
So, why doesn’t this encouraging picture a collective, we need to come up with 10 ment program for the city of Philadelphia,
of HIV apply everywhere? Or to every- demands for our nonprofit organizations, ensuring every city agency assesses their
one? According to the Centers for Disease public health officials and medical pro- programs, policies, procurement, lead-
Control, African-Americans accounted for viders, who continue to make millions of ership and hiring practices. Moving for-
follow us on instag ram to be a
44 percent of HIV diagnoses in 2016, dollars off the backs of Black and Brown ward, we need to demand ALL health part of our social polls and
despite comprising only 12 percent of the gay men and trans women. It is time we programming is executed through a lens q uestions: @phillygaynews
population — and the disproportion seems start judging these institutions by how of equity.
to be growing. That year, HIV diagnoses our community is impacted due to their Our lives depend on it! n
12 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN

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PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 13

Income Investing? Think Dividends

Q: I’m looking to retire soon and am — produced average annualized returns DIVIDENDS CAN BOOST TOTAL RETURN you determine if div-
trying to decide how to produce income of 16.3 percent vs. 14.7 percent for the idend-paying stocks
from my investments. Interest rates on S&P 500 overall, with less volatility are a good fit for your
bonds haven’t been so great lately and (11.7 percent vs. 12.7 percent, respec- portfolio. n
a friend suggested investing in dividend tively).1
paying stocks, but I’m worried about the • Dividends benefit from potentially Jeremy R. Gussick is a
favorable tax treatment. Most CERTIFIED FINANCIAL
risks. Please help. PLANNER™ profes-
taxpayers are subject to a top sional affiliated with LPL
A: With your retirement federal tax rate of only 15 per- Financial, the nation’s
coming soon, it’s certainly cent on qualified dividends, largest independent bro-
important to understand although certain high-income ker-dealer.* Jeremy spe-
your level of risk, consider- taxpayers may pay up to 23.8 cializes in the financial
ing recent market volatility. percent. However, that is still planning and retirement
income needs of the
And while many people turn lower than the current 37 LGBT community and
to bonds for perceived safety percent top rate on ordinary was recently named a
and income, dividend paying income. 2018 FIVE STAR Wealth
stocks may serve as a good • Dividend-paying stocks Manager as mentioned in
compliment to bonds for may help diversify an Philadelphia Magazine.**
income. income-generating portfo- He is active with several
Out Money lio. Income-oriented investors ChartSource®, DST Systems, Inc. For the period from January 1, 1989-December
LGBT organizations in
the Philadelphia region,
It used to be that investors
seeking steady income turned
Jeremy may want to diversify poten-
tial sources of income within
31, 2018. Stocks are represented by the S&P 500 index. Stock prices are repre-
sented by the change in price of the S&P 500 index.
including DVLF (Delaware
Valley Legacy Fund)
exclusively to bonds, whose Gussick their portfolios. and the Independence
regular interest payments pro- Stocks with above-average Business Alliance (IBA),
vided a dependable income source, espe- dividend yields may compare favorably cipal. Also, dividends can be increased, the Philadelphia Region’s
cially for retirees. But times have changed. with bonds and may act as a buffer should decreased and/or eliminated at any time LGBT Chamber of Commerce. OutMoney appears
without prior notice. That’s why it’s monthly. If you have a question for Jeremy, you can
With many retirements today lasting 30 conditions turn negative within the bond contact him via email at
years or more, income investors need to market. important to choose your dividend-paying
make sure their savings keep pace with If you are considering adding divi- stocks carefully, since some companies Jeremy R. Gussick is a Registered Representative
inflation and last a long time. This means dend-paying stocks to your investment may increase dividends to attract investors with, and securities and advisory services are offered
investing in assets that provide current mix, keep in mind that they generally if their finances aren’t watertight or their through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment
income, yet have the potential to grow in carry higher risk than bonds. Stock invest- outlook is cloudy. Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.
value and yield over time. ing involves the potential for loss of prin- Your financial professional can help PAGE 17
One widely used strategy is to include
dividend-paying stocks in your portfolio.
History provides compelling evidence of
the long-term benefits of dividends and
their reinvestment:
• Dividends are a sign of corporate
financial health. Dividend payouts are
often seen as a sign of a company’s
financial health and management’s con-
fidence in future cash flow. Dividends
also communicate a positive message
to investors who perceive a long-term
dividend as a sign of corporate maturity
and strength.
• Dividends are a key driver of total
return. There are several factors that
may contribute to the superior total
return of dividend-paying stocks over
the long term. One of them is dividend
reinvestment. The longer the period
during which dividends are reinvested,
the greater the spread between price
return and dividend reinvested total
• Dividend payers offer potentially
stronger returns, lower volatility.
Dividends may help to mitigate port-
folio losses when stock prices decline,
and over long time horizons, stocks
with a history of increasing their
dividend each year have also pro-
duced higher returns with less risk
than non-dividend-paying stocks.
For instance, for the 10 years ended
June 30, 2019, the S&P 500 Dividend
Aristocrats — those stocks within the
S&P 500 that have increased their div-
idends each year for the past 25 years
14 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 COLUMN


Three Cheers of Victory for Ol’ U=U!
Proven track record of recovering millions of dollars for wrongfully treated employees!* Sure most HIV advocates have heard of U=U, but
Experience litigating:
• Partnership & business disputes
how do we get the rest of the world to listen?
• Non-competes
For about the past decade, activists from 65 countries have signed the U=U
• Executive compensation
and advocates have been working hard Consensus Statement, which has been
• Employment discrimination to educate the world on a very import- translated into 15 different languages and
• Real Estate Litigation ant scientific fact about living with HIV: is endorsed by the principal investiga-
that undetectable equals untransmittable tors of the leading studies that proved the
Jeffrey E. Goldman, Esq. Also handle: (U=U). U=U is a now globally accepted statement true.
100 S. Broad St. • Wills, Living Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney scientific consensus that simply means The biggest breakthroughs for U=U
Suite 1330 when a person living with HIV reaches an came when the U.S. Centers for Disease
Philadelphia, PA 19110 Put 18 years of experience to work for you! undetectable viral load (also sometimes Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed called virally suppressed) for six months that the consensus was “backed by sci-
*Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
or longer, they are virtually unable to ence.”
transmit the virus to a sexual Dr. Carrie Foote agrees and
partner — even without the adds that U=U is also a human
use of condoms. rights issue, as she recently
Not only is this vital, stated at the Conference on
life-changing information for Retroviruses and Opportunistic
those living with HIV, but also Infections (CROI 2019) in
Repairs, Renovations and Remodeling certainly could be the key to Seattle earlier this year: “All peo-
ending HIV once and for all. ple living with HIV have a right
(215) 467-3335 Just think about it. If everyone to accurate information about
on the planet currently living their social, sexual and reproduc-
Pa. HIC #026545 with HIV had access to today’s tive health.”
Phila. Lic. #17895 highly effective antiretroviral Foote has been living with

drugs that can quickly get you
to undetectable — and were
Positive HIV since 1988, is a founding
member of the U=U campaign

Family Plumber
aware that being undetectable
means they cannot pass along
Thoughts and is an Associate Professor
of Sociology in the School
Desiree of Liberal Arts at Indiana
for over 30 years the virus — would HIV con-
tinue to spread as it does? University-Purdue.
Bruce Richman, executive Guerrero “Stigma is killing us,” she
director of the Prevention added. “HIV stigma is a public
Access Campaign, says of course not. health emergency and U=U is an immediate
Richman has fought relentlessly for and effective response to begin to dismantle
nearly a decade now to share this ground- stigma.”
breaking, stigma-shattering evidence. He Dr. Foote said that U=U is an incredi-
founded the U=U consensus campaign bly significant finding, but this “amazing
after discovering the little-known science science” is not as well-known as it should
after fearing he’d exposed a partner to be. Millions of people living with HIV are
HIV around 2010. “I learned from my still unaware of the facts and implications
doctor that because I was undetectable, I of U=U and what it means for their lives.
couldn’t transmit HIV,” he told Plus maga- She says much of the responsibility lies on
zine last year. “I couldn’t pass it on. I was the medical community, which needs to
elated!” keep patients informed about U=U as well
His excitement soon turned to outrage as update their HIV-related brochures, fact
when he realized “every HIV treatment sheets and treatment guides to reflect this.
site, media outlet, HIV/AIDS service At CROI, Foote also shared some quotes
organization, federal and state health from HIV-positive people from around the
department — just about everywhere — world, illustrating the impact of U=U. In
was saying that I was still a risk. And mil- the words of Mark from Baltimore: “When
lions of people with HIV were still a risk.” I finally internalized this message… some-
“To clear up the confusion,” Richman thing suddenly lifted off of me that is hard
added, “a group of us living with HIV to describe. It was almost as if someone
collaborated with researchers on a [U=U] wiped me clean.” n
consensus statement and advocacy cam-
paign.” Desirée Guerrero is the associate editor of Plus mag-
The simple, catchy and game-changing azine. This column is a project of Plus, Positively
Aware, POZ, and Q Syndicate, the
U=U campaign launched in July 2016. LGBT wire service. Visit their websites – http://
Within record time, the campaign has,, http://
become a global movement led by people and – for the latest
living with HIV. Today, 500 organizations updates on HIV/AIDS.

Philadelphia Gay News

PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 15

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16 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN

CHOP from page 9 announcement. “We are committed to pro-

earned the title of “Healthcare Equality viding an inclusive, safe and supportive
Leader,” and facilities that score 80-95 care environment for our LGBTQ patients,
points were named “Top Performers.” staff, visitors, faculty and students.”
HRC President Alphonso David said in Penn Medicine includes the Hospital
a statement, “As the Trump-Pence admin- of the University of Pennsylvania
istration continues to attack the most fun- (HUP), Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn
damental rights of LGBTQ people, includ- Presbyterian Medical Center and Chester
ing rolling back non-discrimination pro- County Hospital. In their press release,
tections in the Affordable Care Act and Penn Medicine noted, “The HRC
promoting a license to discriminate in Foundation has consistently recognized
health care, it is more important than ever Penn Medicine hospitals as leaders in
that health care institutions stand with the LGBTQ patient-centered care, but this
LGBTQ community.” year marks two ‘firsts’ for the health sys-
CHOP, long touted as a national leader in tem. Princeton Health participated in the
healthcare for children and adolescents and foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index
ranked best among all children’s hospitals survey for the first time and scored a total
in the country, is featured on the cover of of 100/100 points, earning the HRC’s
the Healthcare Equality Index 2019. coveted ‘LGBTQ Healthcare Equality
HRC said, “Since it began, the HEI Leader’ designation. Penn Medicine’s
has successfully encouraged hospitals and Lancaster General Health also earned the
other healthcare facilities across the nation ‘Equality Leader’ designation.”
to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive patient, visita- “Maintaining an inclusive, welcoming,
tion and employment policies.” and compassionate environment for all of
“Over time and due to a decade of our patients, visitors, and staff is critical
advancement in LGBTQ inclusion in daily to any health system, and Penn Medicine
life, healthcare facilities have worked is committed to prioritizing this in our
harder than ever to increase their work workplaces, classrooms, and clinical set-
to provide equitable care for the LGBTQ tings,” said Patrick J. Brennan, MD, Penn
community — and now the HEI survey Medicine’s chief medical officer. “Having
reflects and promotes these efforts through all of our hospitals on this list is a tremen-
its scoring criteria,” HRC added. dous accolade for the health system.”
Both Penn Medicine, which includes HRC noted that 81 percent of participat-
six area hospitals, and Temple University ing health care facilities scored 80 points
Hospital, touted their placement with press or more, suggesting that many U.S. hospi-
releases about their HEI rankings. Penn tals and medical centers are fully engaged
Medicine and Temple both received per- in providing LGBTQ-centered care.
fect scores. Also among the top-ranked facilities in
“This honor is due to the efforts of the the Philadelphia area were Willowcrest
more than 180 members of the Temple Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
Health LGBTQ Alliance Task Force, of Einstein Healthcare Network and Penn
whose mission is to provide and advo- Student Health Service at the University
cate for LGBTQ-centered care, education of Pennsylvania. Both scored 100.
and research across Temple University HRC’s David said, “The health care
Health System, the Lewis Katz School facilities that participate in HRC’s
of Medicine at Temple University and Healthcare Equality Index are making
the community we serve,” said Michael clear that they stand on the side of fairness
Young, president and CEO of Temple and are committed to providing inclusive
University Hospital in the hospital’s care to their LGBTQ patients.” n

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Nuelle said Schmitt believes that regardless of

“race, creed, zip code or gender,” everyone should
be treated with dignity under the law.
Media Trail Lawsuit: School official harassed When It
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The American Civil Liberties Union announced Serving our LGBT Community
The Fresno Bee reported Los Angeles police are the lawsuit against the Harrison County Board of for over a decade.
investigating the aggressive removal of a group of Education Aug. 28. Spaces this size are
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Missouri attorney general: Law reported California Gov. Gavin
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doesn’t protect LGBTQ people to update their records to reflect the chosen names
and genders of graduates.
The Missourian reported Missouri’s attorney Newsom announced Aug. 30 that he approved the
general believes that federal law doesn’t protect bill by Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu of
LGBTQ people from discrimination. San Francisco.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt was among GOP Chiu said his bill will give greater protections to MINSTER & FACCIOLO, LLC
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argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8. California law protects current transgender stu- • CIVIL ACTIONS •
Schmitt’s spokesman Chris Nuelle said when the dents from discrimination, but Chiu said some • AUTO ACCIDENTS •
landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, sex schools have been reluctant to issue new diplomas, • POWER OF ATTORNEY •
discrimination did not include transgender people. GEDs or transcripts to graduates upon request. n • PRE-NUP AGREEMENTS•
Nuelle said it’s up to Congress and not the Supreme 215-627-8200 PA
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Organizations across Pennsylvania, country take action for

National Suicide Prevention Month
we’re focused on the unfortunate tragedy that’s occurring ture segments on mental health and suicide prevention.
BY LAURA SMYTHE in our community and … how suicide affects so many They will also include personal narratives from celebrities lives, especially those of our kids and most especially as well as mental health professionals.
those of our LGBTQ youth.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 20
While suicide is the second-leading cause of death To help combat the high rates of youth suicide, Graham percent of adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each
among young people ages 10-24, LGB young people seri- said it’s important for people to be able to recognize warn- year. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in
ously consider suicide at almost three times the rate of their ing signs: self-isolation, hopelessness, mood swings with the country.
heterosexual peers. aggressive tendencies, dramatic mood improvement that “It’s time that we put as much attention on mental
Among the adult trans population, 40 percent of people could signal accepting a “way out“ and changes to eating health as we do physical health,” Christine Moutier, chief
report having attempted suicide. More than 90 percent of and sleeping patterns. medical officer at The American Foundation for Suicide
these folks indicate the attempts took place before age 25. “We have to take advantage of the fact that our kids Prevention, said in a statement. “It’s my hope that by shar-
September marks National Suicide Prevention Month, spend a majority of their time in school, so using the ing real stories of hope, healing and recovery through ‘I’m
and both local organizations and those across the country school setting as a medium to provide this type of educa- Listening,’ we can help others feel empowered to share
have kicked off efforts to raise awareness about the issue tion and preventive work is important,” she added to PGN. more authentically and support one another in opening up,
and spread the word of available resources. “Making sure that we put federal funding into counseling reaching out for help and getting to treatment, if needed.”
Entercom, one of the two largest radio broadcasters in services within schools, because often teachers and admin- In addition to local LGBTQ organizations, including
the United States, announced Tuesday a two-hour live, istrators are aware when kids are struggling.” Devereux, William Way LGBT Health Center and Mazzoni
commercial-free broadcast special, “I’m Listening,” that At Entercom, the station’s LGBTQ talk radio network Center, national resources available to those experiencing
aims to raise awareness around mental health. The stream CHANNEL Q will further extend programming related to suicidal thoughts include the National Suicide Prevention
will air nationwide Sept. 8 at the start of National Suicide suicide awareness throughout National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline and Crisis Text
Prevention Week, which runs through Sept. 14. Namesakes Week. From Sept. 9-13, all the channel’s shows will fea- Line. n
on the broadcast include popular music artists Lizzo,
Shawn Mendes and Tegan and Sara, out lesbian indie pop
Sara Quin, of the iconic LGBTQ music group, said
in a release that “identity and mental health are intrinsi-
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“Some of the staggering statistics surrounding queer peo-
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of our experiences as young people, that it will encourage
others to do the same,” she added in the release.
Dr. Yolanda Graham is the senior vice president and chief
clinical and medical officer at national health care nonprofit
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, which has a center
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ACT UP moves one-day conference for HIV-positive QTPOC to February

Black and Brown.” appear to have an implicit bias in terms of dote about a Black HIV-positive man who
BY LEO CALDWELL ACT UP is an international diverse and positive attitudes toward Whites and nega- had 14 vials of blood drawn during a visit
PGN Contributor nonpartisan group committed to ending tive attitudes toward people of color.” to the doctor, and when he asked why so
the AIDS crisis through direct action with An Act Up committee that shares the many vials were needed, he was told if he
The Community Control of Health con- a chapter locally and in Boston, Chicago, same name as the conference aims to didn’t get the blood drawn, he wouldn’t
ference hosted by ACT UP Philadelphia New York and several other cities. create a “patient-first and patient-vote receive his medication. The committee and
was moved from August 31 to February 8. The conference includes several other model of care.” De Marco explained that conference seek to empower patients in
ACT UP Philadelphia Organizer Jose de organizations such as the Black and a “patient-center and patient-vote care these types of situations.
Marco said the date change was to ensure Brown Workers Co-op and Gran Varones. model” means that a patient gets a say in De Marco noted that people of color are
the conference drew larger numbers. “This Workshops will be offered that “provide and control over their health care. When a the demographic most affected by HIV and
is a discussion about community-controlled information and present concepts that inter- patient seeks treatment, they should know AIDS. In 2017, the CDC reported that Black
health care and you need the majority of the rogate how white supremacy shows up in all available options and have the free- and Hispanic men had the biggest influx of
community there to have that discussion.” the healthcare/medical systems and how dom to decide from a variety of treatments new HIV diagnoses — 9,807 Black men
He said that the projected turn out was not the monetization of illness stifles radical including ancestor remedies and comple- and 7,436 Hispanic men received the diag-
as big as he had hoped, likely due to Labor approaches to ending the epidemic.” mentary therapies. Instead of coming in nosis in 2017.
Day. A 2015 study by the American Public and receiving medication, the doctor or De Marco said the staff at HIV/AIDS
The free one-day conference for HIV- Health Association indicated that “implicit care provider should be transparent, giving organizations should be reflective of the
positive QTPOC will provide “space to bias was significantly related to patient– the patient a choice in care. communities they are serving. n
discuss issues and concerns that center provider interactions, treatment decisions, De Marco said this model would also ACT UP meets every Monday night (except major hol-
the individual and collective experiences treatment adherence, and patient health give patients access to personal health idays) from 6-9 p.m. in the basement of Saint Luke’s
of people living with HIV/AIDS who are outcomes. Most health care providers information. De Marco provided an anec- Church in Center City, 330 S. 13th St.

owner Qatar Sports Investments. already officially changed her gender on Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled previ-
The LFP is attempting to cut out her family register. But her boss reportedly ously that it is unconstitutional to ban
homophobic chanting at games. Earlier ignored her wishes and told colleagues same-sex marriage; however, in states
this month, a referee stopped a second-di- without her consent. where it wasn’t expressly authorized, it
International vision match between Nancy and Le Mans She claimed she was later harassed by has been up to individual couples to sue
for about a minute after an initial appeal colleagues, with one person telling her “it in court for the right to wed.
made over the speakers to stop homophobic feels gross” to get changed in the same There were confrontations between
chanting failed to have an effect. room with her. evangelical protesters opposed to the mea-
The backlash caused significant emo- sure and LGBTQ activists in favor.
tional distress and the plaintiff reportedly
Second French game in Japanese woman sues after attempted suicide in February 2019, result-
three days halted after boss outs her as transgen- ing in a serious injury. Indian state bans unneces-
homophobic banners der to colleagues
The lawsuit alleges that the hospital sary surgeries on intersex
operator failed to educate employees on
transgender issues and violated a law oblig- babies
A second French league game in three A Japanese woman has filed a lawsuit ing companies to maintain a safe working
days was interrupted due to banners deemed against the Osaka hospital where she works environment. The South Indian state of Tamil Nadu
homophobic as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after her boss revealed to colleagues that has issued an executive order banning
beat Metz 2-0 Aug. 30. she is transgender. medically unnecessary surgeries on babies
Referee Frank Schneider stopped the She is now demanding the hospital oper- Lawmakers OK same- whose sex is not clear at birth.
game briefly after the banners were
unfurled in the first half. He then allowed
ator pay 12 million yen ($113,000) for the
“undue emotional distress” she suffered as
sex marriage in Mexico’s The landmark move will protect the
estimated 1.7 percent of people born with
play to resume some minutes later when a result. Oaxaca state sex characteristics that differ from social
they were removed. According to the lawsuit submitted to expectations of female or male.
The latest incident came after an Aug. 28 the Osaka District Court on August 30, the Lawmakers in the southern Mexico Most of these variations are medically
game between Nice and Marseille, also in woman, who is not named, was assigned state of Oaxaca have approved changing benign, but surgeries are regularly per-
the top tier, was halted for several minutes male at birth but identified as a woman the civil code to authorize same-sex mar- formed to make intersex babies conform to
after Nice fans unfurled two banners with from a young age. riage. gendered social norms.
homophobic messages. She underwent gender affirming sur- A statement from the state congress The United Nations has condemned these
Metz fans appeared to be responding to gery when she was in her 20s and legally says marriage will now be defined as a “genital mutilations” 40 times since 2011.
that incident by targeting the French league changed her gender to female in 2004. “civil contract celebrated between two The landmark move to ban them was
(LFP), showing a banner saying, “I won’t Now in her 40s, she began working at persons, who unite to realize a life in made in response to an order by Tamil
be on TV because my words are not very the hospital in 2013 and was urged by her common and provide each other respect, Nadu’s High Court, which states that inter-
gay.” boss to disclose her birth-assigned gender equality and mutual help.” sex children “must be given their time and
More banners referenced the 2022 World to colleagues. With the Aug. 28 vote, about 20 of space to find their true gender identity.” n
Cup in Qatar. Homosexuality is illegal in She told her superior that it was unnec- Mexico’s 31 states plus Mexico City have
Qatar, which has links to PSG through essary to reveal this information as she had codified same-sex marriage into law. Reporting via Associated Press

TRANS HEALTHCARE from page 6 for a new general practitioner with greater and a half years and just recently switched treatment, which she greatly appreciated.
“I navigate a little better than the average availability. Living in South Jersey, he is to Rittenhouse Women’s Wellness Center But she said she doesn’t need as much
trans person because I work in the insur- willing to travel for care but only recently because of the inability to get an appoint- trans-centered health care now, and it’s not
ance industry. I’ve helped people navigate found one practice, PROUD Family Health ment,” said Anastasi-Scott. as critical to continue at Mazzoni.
what will be covered and how to get things in Somerville, NJ, under three hours away. She began going to Mazzoni when she Trans folks often have to make the choice
covered. If I’m having this trouble, I can Liz Anastasi-Scott, a 42-year-old trans started her transition and needed more spe- between trans-competent care and local
imagine what others are going through,” woman living in Philadelphia, has also cific trans-related care such as hormones. and immediate care. According to Mazzoni,
Rodriquez said. recently moved her care from Mazzoni to a She felt like the doctors there were collabo- some patients they serve travel up to eight
Rodriquez said he is actively looking new practice. “I’ve been with Mazzoni three rative and open to the patient guiding their hours for an appointment. n
PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 23

NJ TRANS PRISON from page 1 “The transfer is an important first step. each of the more than 500 days I have to draft and implement policies that mean-
woman, being subjected to daily discrim- But the litigation is continuing, to vindicate now spent in men’s prisons, today I feel ingfully protect Ms. Doe’s rights and
ination and being verbally and sexually Ms. Doe’s rights. And we hope to change vulnerable to attack, uncomfortable, and the rights of other transgender people in
harassed by prison staff as well as male the policies and practices of the New Jersey unsafe. The daily reminders that the NJ prison.”
prisoners who have made lewd and sex- Department of Corrections for all trans DOC considers and treats me like a man Christian Fuscarino, executive direc-
ually explicit comments to her and have prisoners. Our understanding is that most exacerbate my gender dysphoria and cause tor of Garden State Equality, said he was
even masturbated while staring at her.” trans people are not housed in accordance me fear, anxiety, depression, humiliation, pleased with the decision to transfer Doe.
Borden said prison staff assaulted Doe in with their gender identity. We know people self-loathing and, at times, even feelings of “We are glad she will be housed in the
May and blamed Doe for the assault. “On are improperly housed in other DOC facil- self-harm.” proper facility,” Fuscarino said. “The New
May 24, she was assaulted by three cor- ities and, potentially, in county jails. Our ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Jersey Department of Corrections’ deci-
rectional staff and she was blamed for that understanding is that only two trans women Sinha expressed agreement with the deci- sion to finally move Sonia Doe to the
assault and sanctioned for it. As a result, are at Edna Mahan and both of them have sion to transfer Doe. “Our state takes proper facility is welcomed. But the harm
she spent 67 days in solitary confinement. undergone [gender affirming surgery]. It great pride, as it should, in being a leader against her has already been done. New
She corrected the officers’ misgendering has been DOC’s practice not to transfer in protecting civil rights and promoting Jersey’s criminal justice system needs
of her, and she complained of being groped trans women to the women’s facility if they inclusion and non-discrimination in our significant reforms to protect transgen-
under the guise of a pat-down search and have not had [gender affirming surgery]. communities and institutions,” Sinha said. der people, including a clear policy that
said she would be filing a grievance about Of course, that practice is discriminatory, “Now is the time to uphold that leadership guarantees individuals will be housed in
it. In retaliation for that, she was beaten it’s dangerous and it fails to respect peo- role — and the law’s promise of equal pro- accordance with their gender identity. So
and subjected to disciplinary charges. She ple’s gender identity. And so we’re glad tection — by ensuring respect for prison- we fully support our partners at the ACLU
was actually assaulted but she was charged that the DOC has taken this important step ers’ gender identity. The DOC’s decision of New Jersey — to secure justice for this
with the assault. The assault is horrific and in Ms. Doe’s case.” to transfer Sonia Doe is an important step woman and for all transgender individuals
evidence of why it’s so dangerous to house Doe, 40, has worked as an EMT, a suicide in getting there.” in the criminal justice system.”
trans women in men’s prison. But since prevention counselor and a bail agent. In an ACLU-NJ Legal Director Jeanne At least 21 percent of transgen-
March 2018, she has been daily discrim- affidavit, Doe gave a firsthand account of LoCicero echoed those sentiments. der women confined in men’s facilities
inated against and daily at-risk for physi- her alleged mistreatment. “Sonia Doe has been subjected to reported suffering physical abuse while in
cal and sexual violence. She has been daily “In each of the four men’s prisons I have unconscionable conditions in men’s pris- prison, while 20 percent reported sexual
told ‘you are not a woman, you’re a man.’” been confined at, I have consistently been ons,” LoCicero said. “By committing to violence, according to a national survey
Borden said Doe’s impending transfer misgendered, otherwise harassed, and transfer her, the DOC has begun to address by the National Center for Transgender
to a women’s prison doesn’t end the liti- made to feel at risk of physical and sexual these harms. While the case continues, we Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian
gation. assault,” Doe stated, in the filing. “Like are hopeful that the DOC will act quickly Task Force. n

QSPACES from page 1 as likely to be unemployed and uninsured

“It didn’t work out, which was very than their straight peers. Additionally, a
frustrating, but I wasn’t able to quit on it,” 2015 study found 80 percent of first-year
she told PGN, adding, “I still probably get medical students expressed a degree of bias
about 10 emails per week from people all against lesbians and gay people.
over the nation asking for help or sharing Nonprofit Lambda Legal has found half
their stories, and it’s sad and frustrating and of LGB people and 70 percent of the trans
compelling.” community have experienced some sort of
This time around, Hofmann’s determined health care discrimination, while 8 percent
to make her passion project survive. She of LGB patients and 27 percent of trans
teamed up with MilkCrate, a Philadelphia and gender nonconforming patients report
tech startup that launched in 2013 but being outright denied care.
revamped its mission last year to build apps Hofmann originally came up with the
that help nonprofits and mission-driven idea for QSPACES when she moved to
organizations better engage their audiences. Philadelphia from North Carolina in 2015.
The teams linked up in early 2018 to New to the city, she struggled to switch
begin chatter on the QSPACES app and her health insurance and find a doctor she
fully dove into the project this spring. The trusted.
partnership is a great fit that will expand “I didn’t know anybody, so I couldn’t call
QSPACES’ reach beyond its initial attempt, my friends and be like, ‘Hey do you have a
MilkCrate founder Morgan Berman said. doctor you like?’” Hofmann said. “All the
Hofmann’s technological needs aligned internet searches could go on forever and it
with features the MilkCrate crew had ready was being discussed on Facebook groups
to go, including a directory, customizable and it’s like, ‘Wow, why isn’t this easier?’”
maps and a review system. Once QSPACES is operating success-
“In the case of QSPACES, needing to fully in Philadelphia, Hofmann said she
have information at people’s fingertips will work to bring the technology to
was crucial,” Berman said. “The ability LGBTQ people across the country. The
to source information reviews is really MilkCrate team sees similar opportunities
important because of the kind of trust that for growing the platform’s features and
goes into the doctor-patient relationship. mation on the app for free or purchase a health instead of getting ahead of it.” reach, following the launch for OutFest.
We wanted people to feel comfortable $12 Premium profile that allows for further “Health insurance is expensive, health “Not only is it important for people
sharing their experiences, and being able promotion. Hofmann said she ultimately care is expensive, and within the LGBTQ living in one city, but it can become an
to do that on your own platform is really hopes to work with the larger health sys- community, you have a wide range of important part of traveling, too,” said
important.” tems across the city, like Jefferson and socioeconomic statuses,” she explained, Jim Blanchet, MilkCrate COO. “[In]
Hofmann is covering much of the ini- the hospitals at Drexel University and the adding queer people can be “locked out of some places, it’s not always as apparent
tial cost of the MilkCrate-QSPACES col- University of Pennsylvania, to elevate the some job opportunities” due to discrimina- as others where [you] might be able to
laboration out of pocket and is exploring services they provide to LGBTQ folks. tory responses to their gender identity and access a certain service, whereas if we’ve
options for sponsorship or subscription But the most important thing? QSPACES expression. developed a reputation and experience
fees for providers on her platform, which must remain free for users, Hofmann said, A 2018 study by a team of medical for QSPACES that can be repeatable, it’s
Hofmann likens to a queer health care because when it comes to queer health care, researchers in Boston found LGBTQ peo- something that can be spread and scaled
“Yelp.” Providers can list their basic infor- “You’re kind of playing catch up with your ple in the United States are about twice very effectively.”n
24 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN
FEATURE Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 25


Docu study on
impaired artists



The Philadelphia Fringe Festival built its

name on raucous, outside-the-box produc-
tions unlike what audiences could expect at
traditional theatrical venues. Although the
event has become polished with age, a seg-
ment of Fringe performers and production
companies have endeavored to keep that
edgy, do-it-yourself aesthetic alive.
Director Elaina Di Monaco and play-
wright Haygen-Brice Walker are among
that cadre. The out pair of University of
the Arts graduates, who operate under the
collective name On the Rocks, have put on
a Fringe show every year since 2016. Their
performances quickly gained notoriety for
the freewheeling environment they created,
fueled by alcohol, unapologetic sexuality
and, until recently, a lack of air condition-
ing. Audiences have been required to sign a
waiver before taking their seats.
Out duo offers queer horror, conjuring the dead
This Fringe will be no different. When CAMERON KELSALL | PGN CONTRIBUTOR
I met up with Walker and Di Monaco for
drinks at a Gayborhood watering hole in
early August, they were deep into rehearsals CAST OF “OUR OUIJA BOARD, THE GAMES WE PLAYED, THE S—T WE CONJURED & THE DEAD DUDE WE HATE-F—D.”
for their latest venture. The title? “our Ouija P h o t o : Se p h M cA n d r ew a n d W i l l i a m Ve n ce J r.
board, the games we played, the s—t we
conjured & the dead dude we hate-f—d.” Child band member Kelly Rowland. returning performers, including Barrymore long playwriting fellowship in St. Paul,
In other words, don’t expect “The Sound In early drafts of the script, the inciting Award winner Campbell O’Hare and local Minn. — they feel an understandable loyalty
of Music.” incident was a school shooting. That detail favorite Jenna Kuerzi, and six newcomers, to the crowds that built their company to
The pair see themselves operating within a was definitively scrapped in the wake of the some of whom are still in drama school. what it is today.
tradition of queer outsider art, which is cen- mass tragedies in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, “It’s nice to have some new energy and “At various points, we’ve discussed pre-
tral to their vision. Tex. new blood, and to have these different kinds senting work outside of Fringe,” Di Monaco
“We need our audiences to know that our of brains in the room,” Di Monaco said. “We said. “But we don’t know if it would have
work is really gay,” Di Monaco said. “That’s do have people who have been with us so the same effect. And we love our Fringe
at the forefront of everything we do. Some long that they understand all the phases of audiences. So we don’t want that to change.”
gay s—t will go down.” how we work. But everyone, old and new, Still, both Walker and Di Monaco quipped
Walker highlighted another element of
their overarching style: “We are deeply
“WE NEED OUR feels raw in a way that I’m excited about.”
Working with new collaborators also
that after each Fringe, they contemplate
throwing in the towel. Yet it seems unlikely
influenced by horror,” he said. “And in terms AUDIENCES TO allows the duo to stretch their creative the partnership will dissolve any time soon.
of vibe, we try to create a house party. All of KNOW THAT OUR capabilities. “We’re inviting people in so In fact, during the course of our interview,
that mixed together is what you can expect.” WORK IS REALLY that we can write for them,” Walker said. it often felt like we were inside a draft for a
That description certainly tracks with
prior On the Rocks experiences. Their 2018
GAY. “Because a lot of these people are new to
us, I’m finding out who they are, and we’re
future production.
At the bar where we posted up, the bar-
Fringe show, “WOLFCRUSH: a queer THAT’S AT THE creating roles that suit them. It’s really easy tender and the only other customer got into
werewolf story,” reimagined the traditional FOREFRONT OF for me to do that for people we’ve worked an escalating yet affectionate argument, their
teen thriller through the lens of forbidden
same-sex desire. It also spoofed the tropes
EVERYTHING with many times, because I know them, but
there’s excitement in getting to do it for the
Philly accents growing more pronounced
as their volume increased. Later, a different
of small-town Southern religiosity, football WE DO. first time.” patron, whom the same bartender described
fetishism and barely hidden secrets. (Walker SOME GAY S—T On the Rocks also find itself welcoming as “flagged from every other place on this
hails from Virginia, Di Monaco from WILL GO DOWN.” new audience members with each passing
Fringe Festival. “Last year, we were looking
street,” misheard a snatch of our conversa-
Florida.) tion and started screaming at us about the
“Our Ouija board” operates on similar ter- at ticket presale lists and saying, who are economy.
rain. Although the pair were mum on details these people?” Di Monaco said. “We were Walker chuckled and took a sip of his
during our interview — “I’m rewriting as talking to people, and a lot of them were tequila and grapefruit juice. “This needs to
we speak,” Walker said, only half-joking — “We’re not about shielding our audiences, saying it was their second or third show with go into a play,” he concluded. Maybe next
the basic plot centers around a 10-year high but there are some things we can get across us. To hear that from a stranger feels abso- year? n
school reunion, which revives memories of without reminding and traumatizing people,” lutely amazing.”
a tragedy experienced by a group of friends Walker said. Cultivating an audience has been an “our Ouija board, the games we played, the
during their senior year. You’ll have to see Walker and Di Monaco view this produc- important element for Walker and Di s—t we conjured & the dead dude we hate-
the show to learn how the Ouija board fits in tion as a stepping stone for them. It will be Monaco. Although both have worked exten- f—d” runs from Sept. 13-22 at Asian Arts
— along with other topics name checked in presented at the Asian Arts Initiative, their sively outside of the Fringe Festival — Di Initiative, 1219 Vine Street, as part of the
the promotional materials, including necro- largest venue to date, and will feature a cast Monaco is a sought-after freelance director, Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Tickets can be
philia, celebrity ghost hunters and Destiny’s of 10 actors. The company includes a mix of and Walker recently returned from a year- purchased on
26 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN

The Wilma Theatre goes ‘THERE’

ways. Then, when I saw work at Wilma, I
BY A.D. AMOROSI was struck by the experimentation, edginess
PGN Contributor and physicality of their shows. I dreamed:
“My gosh, that’s a place I would love to
Wilma Theatre’s entrée into the 2019 work someday.” Lo and behold, I was
Philadelphia Fringe Festival takes the words brought into the Wilma HotHouse company
of Lebanese poet Etel Adnan and crafts a at its 2015 beginnings, cast in Theodoros
world where ancient history and long forgot- Terzopoulos’ “Antigone” after a grueling,
ten memories merge with a contemporary rigorous and exhilarating workshop-audi-
sense of identity and currency. tion. In the middle of that workshop, some-
Co-founder and artistic director for Wilma, thing really clicked. I finally felt that I had
Blanka Zizka, along with visual artist Rosa found my wheelhouse. The work invigorated
Barba, angular composer Alex Dowling and me in a way that I had never felt before. I
the Wilma HotHouse company, find ways had found my tribe — a group of actors,
that the body and voice amplify the deep- some of whom I had admired for years as
seated meaning, sound and physicality found an audience member, all deeply invested in
within Adnan’s poems for the Fringe produc- this rigorous physical work, playing with
tion, “THERE.” the expanse of the human voice and seeking
Justin Jain, longtime member of HotHouse human connection through it all. I mean,
and an out Philadelphia performer featured who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
in the production said the team has created
“a fluid and symbiotic way of working.” Jain PGN: How do Rosa Barba’s oblique sets
gave PGN his insight into “THERE,” before complement Adnan’s theatrical universe?
the show’s September 11 premier. JJ: In the poem, Adnan evokes different
chapters of her life. This is sometimes men-
PGN: One might say “THERE” is Zizka’s tioned outright or it comes in the form of
return to the avant-garde. What do you tone and mood. We’ve banked on the fact
think? that many of the chapters of the piece have
JJ: The Wilma HotHouse is such a radi- their own energy behind them. We also
cal and exciting experiment, the likes of took cues from her work in how she moves
which I’ve never seen in my 20 years in from abstract imagery to the pedestrian.
Philadelphia. To have a regional institution The staging mirrors this dichotomy. One
hire a company of professional actors from moment we are clearly watching someone
Q Puzzle others
42 Rough stuff un-
8 Village People pro-
ducer Henri (1936-
41 Lorca’s guy
44 Tin roof animal of all walks of life, pay them, cast them and lost in thought, pondering existential ques-
derground 2019) Tennessee? fold them into the culture of the company tions, and the next moment, it is bodies in
Remembering 43 Fosse field 9 Closet-emptying 45 Ghostbusters
Henri is a luxury some theaters only dream of. space living the words in expressionistic
46 See 32-Across cry? role This allows Zizka, and us, the company, the ways. The physical world the audience will
Across 49 With mouth wide 10 Tough cleaner 47 Set boundaries privilege of working in a long term way on encounter when they come to the piece
1 Embarrass with open 11 Really queer 48 Like some pricey
many things: projects, workshops, shows, is one of imbalance. The stage is done in
porn, perhaps 52 Bites the head off 12 Burn on the rear items at Barneys
6 “Dancing Queen” of, perhaps of a steer 50 Britten’s “Billy techniques, training, personal relation- three-quarter thrust with the main playing
band 53 Hit the skids 13 Lubricates Budd” and more ships, etc. We’re able to take risks with one space being two slopes, kind of like a skate-
10 WNBA star Re- 56 Places for Dr. 21 Rifles 51 Village People another knowing the investigations will reap boarding half-pipe. It creates a sense of
becca Kerry Weaver 22 Plumbing problem song with a Horace rewards for everyone in the room down the movement, motion, agitation. Rosa’s contri-
14 Nephew of Donald 57 D.C. lobby group 26 Greek consonant Greely quote line. With this, Blanka has been liberated to butions all help to serve this vision.
Duck 58 Village People 27 Reproduced with- 53 “Queen Chris- really go far in her capacity and capabilities
15 Jacques of song song about the Big out sex, for short tina” star of both exploring with us and in making PGN: How were HoutHosue performers
16 Doctor Zhivago Apple 28 Teacher in “The 54 Rehoboth Beach bold choices in collaboration with our artis- assigned roles in this production?
17 Young girl of old 63 Steamed up King and I” setting tic sensibilities. I think the term avant-garde JJ: We’ve discovered the different voices of
comics 65 Muscle Mary stat 29 Soon, long ago 55 Aggressive sort
in American culture — at least in theater — the eight performers, plus four musicians,
18 Cotton pod at 66 Wet spot on a 30 Orton’s bathroom 57 Like a Piper in a
Tara blanket of sand 33 Butter portion fairy tale has grossly become synonymous with the through workshops. The line assignments
19 And others, for 67 Auction web site 35 Love yourself, 59 Anthem starter inaccessible, the bourgeois, the all-form-no- keep changing daily. However, sometimes
Caesar 68 Sailing the Pacific, with “off” 60 Voyeur’s confes- content. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that we serendipitously find threads between
20 Village People e.g. 36 “Aida” solo sion Blanka’s work has moved to that realm. On pieces depending on the actor speaking.
song with the line 69 Flaming queen’s 37 Religious splinter 61 Kind of jack the contrary, one of the core values of this There are some recurring images that hap-
“Everybody is a star” quality group 62 North Sea feeder deep investigation we are all doing together pen in the piece, and these have all been
23 They work under 70 Ready to be eaten 40 Acidity nos. 64 Head job? is about connecting more to our audiences, generated by Blanka, with additional input
5-Down 71 Choose not to to each other, to perhaps something greater from us. Again, this is a fluid process. We
24 Keanu’s role in come than the sum of it all. She (and we) are con- are still discovering our “roles.” Ultimately,
“The Matrix” 72 Not as many
stantly interrogating and challenging the it is just us, as the actors, living these mas-
25 Went down on
loudly Down vessels in which to unpack all of that. sive questions.
27 Big name in hair 1 Weight loss prod-
care uct PGN: How, when and why did you know PGN: What is “THERE” to you?
31 Elevator pioneer 2 Big asset that you were right for HotHouse? JJ: A contemplation on humanity, identity,
Elisha 3 Rita Mae Brown, JJ: Before moving to Philly, I came from history, ecology, war and love. Questions
32 With 46-Across, e.g. (abbr.) an adolescence steeped in dance — ballet, on who we are in relation to the other.
Village People song 4 Advice to a bottom jazz, contemporary — the works. I found Speculations on where we are headed. A
about invincible who wants to be on acting in high school, so I have always been search for truth and a hope for change. n
songs top? a very “physical actor.” My intersections of
34 Pockets stuffed 5 Dr. Kim, and oth-
these mediums was in musical theatre, so it “THERE” runs Sept.11-22 at The Wilma
with meat ers
38 Alt-rock genre 6 Name on a column wasn’t until college that I discovered tech- Theatre, 265 S Broad St. For tickets and more
39 “The L Word” and 7 Nags beat them niques and methods that took these inter- information, visit
ests and brought them to the stage in new there.
COMICS Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 27

A sapphic romance between two revolutionary writers

In addition, as the women exchange Her character is so transparent in her emo- Alas, “Vita & Virginia” is ambitious but
BY GARY M. KRAMER letters — they separate when Vita heads tions and desires, she rarely fascinates. imperfect. It takes an interesting tale of
PGN Contributor abroad; Harold is a diplomat and he insists Elizabeth Debicki is stronger, and suitably queer literary history and teases out the
she perform her “wifely duties” — Woolf mannered as Woolf. The actress makes the spirit of the women’s relationship, but not
The handsome romantic drama “Vita writes about “a dark pool of sticky water most of her character’s internal moments. its heart. n
& Virginia” artfully, if emptily, depicts closing over me,” (This text comes from
the true-life relationship between writers the author’s first novel, “The Voyage Out,”
Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and published in 1915). It feels too on-the-nose,
Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki). especially given Woolf’s famous death by
Director Chanya Button co-wrote the drowning — alluded to late in the film
screenplay opening September 6 at the when Virginia stands by the edge of the
Landmark Ritz at the Bourse with actress Thames.
Eileen Atkins (who wrote the original play) The film has many scenes that feel over-
using the authors’ letters. The film is not stated. A couple of magical realist scenes
starchy like a “Masterpiece Theater” or where Virginia envisions ivy creeping
one of the stuffier Merchant-Ivory produc- indoors or an attack of birds (signifying her
tions. In fact, although set in the 1920s, madness) are overdone and unnecessary.
and featuring period costumes and cars, In one of the film’s more dramatic
it aims to be quite modern. The musical moments, Duncan effusively advises
score is decidedly contemporary. And the Virginia to let the “eye lick it up,” and the
attitudes about love, sex and marriage, are brain should be “watching things happen
deliberately ahead of the post-Edwardian without troubling to think.” This may be
era mores. Case and point: Vita and her a good approach when viewing “Vita &
husband Harold (Rupert Penry-Jones) are Virginia,” as it provides some gorgeous Gemma Arterton as Vita Sackville-West and Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia Woolf
first seen talking on a radio program about people in pretty clothing and decorously in “Vita & Virginia.” Courtesy of IFC Films.
their marriage and her masculine qualities. well-appointed rooms
It is positively scandalous, and very much doing things that do
in keeping with how the couple’s same-sex not require much
affairs were indulgences that usually drew concentration or con-
them closer. Until Vita met Virginia. sideration. All of the
When Vita first spies Virginia dancing talk between Vita and
at a party, the moment is rendered in slow Virginia about power
motion. Vita is driven by her attraction as and attraction does
much as she desires to be accepted by the not amount to any-
bohemian members of the Bloomsbury thing profound. The
Group, which includes Woolf’s sister, film observes rather
Vanessa Bell (Emerald Fennell), and the than feels.
gay painter Duncan Grant (Adam Gillen). When Virginia
Virginia muses about bodies, and observa- experiences an epi-
tions about relationships are made. It is all sode of madness, Vita
very properly improper, and some viewers is lured back from
may get caught up in the naughtiness. abroad to take care
Yet Harold is wary as Vita is becoming of her. It is around
obsessed with Virginia. He warns her to this time that Virginia
be discreet and feels overwhelmed by her develops her idea for
sapphic phase. Vita promises she won’t be her book, “Orlando”
tempted, but, of course, the opposite is true. with Vita as the fic-
“Vita & Virginia” spends much of its tional gender-bending
first half establishing the boundaries of the biography’s image
characters so it can break them. Virginia is and muse. This may
inscrutable and vulnerable, which is why be the point of “Vita
Vita wants her admiration. Vita is bewitched & Virginia” — how
by Virginia’s writing, which is thoughtful; this “collaboration”
her own work is more successful. Vita lead to Woolf’s great-
eventually offers a book to Virginia’s hus- est literary success.
band Leonard (Peter Ferdinando), a pub- But Button fails to
lisher, as a means of getting closer to her capture the essence
obsession. Meanwhile, Virginia, who is of it in the same way
grappling with her same-sex desires, and Virginia captures the
has bouts of madness, eventually finds a essence of Vita.
muse in Vita. The performers do
Button features many scenes that discuss their best with the
the husbands’ jealousies, arrangements in lackluster material.
marriages, as well as Virginia telling Vita, Gemma Arterton cer-
“You have as much of me as I have to tainly looks enticing in
give,” but these impassioned moments lack all of Vita’s splendid
emotion at times. By the time Vita and outfits, and she strives
Virginia settle down by a fire, in Knole, a at playing larger
country house, to kiss and caress, it is hard than life. But a little
to muster up much enthusiasm for them restraint or nuance
being together. might have helped.
28 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN LISTINGS

EXPERIENCED: Luenell, the outspoken comedi-

ing Pippin’s pursuit of a range
entertainment listings
THEATER & ARTS of themes, from racial violence
an seen making a splash in the feature film
“Borat” and the Showtime comedy special
and the alienation of war to the “Women of a Certain Age” comes to town
AGAMA, Festival of Indian Classical serene beauty of his home in
Arts performing through Sept. 7 at Helium
Chester County, Pennsylvania,
A festival showcasing the rich through Oct., 2, 26th Street and
Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom St. For
classical art traditions of India, the Parkway; 215-763-8100.
more information or tickets,
Sept. 6-8 at Merriam Theater, call 215-496-9001.
250 S. Broad St.; 215-893-1999. Mimi Imfurst Presents Drag Diva
The Art of Collage and Assemblage
Brunch MUSIC
Mimi Imfurst and special guests Zac Brown Band
Philadelphia Museum of perform 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept.
Art presents an exhibition of The country band performs
7 at Punch Line Philly, 33 E. Sept. 6-7 at BB&T Pavilion, 1
mixed-material works from con- Laurel St.; 215-606-6555.
temporary artists through Sept. Harbour Blvd.; 856-365-1300.
2, 26th Street and the Parkway; Nico Santos
215-763-8100. Brandi Carlile
The out comedian and actor The out singer-songwriter per-
seen in “Crazy Rich Asians” forms, 8 p.m. Sept. 6 at Mann
Chico Bean performs through Sept. 7 at
The comedian and actor seen Center for the Performing Arts,
Punch Line Philly, 33 E. Laurel 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215-546-
on MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out” per- St.; 215-606-6555.
forms Sept. 13-14 at Punch Line 7900.
Philly, 33 E. Laurel St.; 215- #QueerLifePHL
606-6555. Maren Morris Gay Mis: A Parody Musical
William Way LGBT Community The country-pop singer per- Mann Center for the Performing Philly Fringe presents a musi-
Center hosts an exhibition forms, 8 p.m. Sept. 7 at The Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215- cal parody of “Les Miserables”
Hamilton exploring how we use our Met, 858 N. Broad St.; info@ 546-7900. Sept. 7-8 and 14-15 at Franky
The smash hit blockbuster phones as a tool to record and
musical makes its Philly debut, Bradley’s, 1320 Chancellor St.;
communicate our stories and Meek Mill 215-735-0735.
through Nov. 17 at Kimmel’s how, by sharing, we create a Iris: 20 Anniversary Celebration The Philly rapper performs
Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St. sense of identity, expression The synth-pop band performs, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at BB&T Panic Trauma Sex Distraction - A
St.; 215- 923-1515. and, ultimately, an act of resis- 9 p.m. Sept. 7 at Underground Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd.; 856- Disastrous Cabaret!
tance by refusing to be erased, Arts, 1200 Callowhill St.; 215- 365-1300. James Bradford hosts a cabaret
Harmonious Motion Sept. 13-Oct. 25, 1315 Spruce
An exhibition of fluid art by 627-1332. show featuring drag, comedy,
St; 215-732-2220 Streetlight Manifesto storytelling and variety acts by
Kelly Munchel, through Sept 8
Morrissey The ska-punk band performs performers in the Philly area
at Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 S. Significant Other The out singer performs 7:30 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at Franklin who are gathering to celebrate
22nd St.; 215-772-1911. Mauckingbird Theatre p.m. Sept. 9 at BB&T Pavilion, Music Hall, 421 N. Seventh St.; neurodiversity in all of its many
Company presents a heartfelt 1 Harbour Blvd.; 856-365-1300. 215-627-1332. forms, 8-9:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at
Herbert Ferber: Form into Space comedy about a gay, Jewish
Philadelphia Museum of Art Tabu, 254 S. 12th St.; 215-964-
man in his late 20s, searching Of Monsters and Men Babymetal 9675.
presents an exhibition featuring for a relationship and commit- The indie group performs, 7:30 The J-pop/metal band performs
sculptures and related drawings ment, through Sept. 15 at The p.m. Sept. 10 at The Met, 858 N. 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at The Fillmore
that Herbert Ferber (1906-91)
created during the 1950s — the
Drake’s Bluver Theatre, 302 S. Broad St.; info@TheMetPhilly. Philadelphia, 29 E. Allen St.; OUTTA TOWN
Hicks St.; www.mauckingbird. com. 215-309-0150.
artist’s most creative period, org.
through Jan. 5, 26th Street and Appetite for Destruction
the Parkway; 215-763-8100. UB40 and Shaggy Judah & the Lion The Guns N’ Roses tribute
Young Frankenstein: The Musical The ska band and the reggae The alternative rock band per- band performs 8 p.m. Sept. 6
Walnut Street Theatre pres- singer perform 8 p.m. Sept. 10 forms, 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at The at The Queen, 500 N. Market
Horace Pippin: From War to Peace ents the stage adaptation of at Franklin Music Hall, 421 N. Met, 858 N. Broad St.; info@ St., Wilmington, Del.; 202-730-
Philadelphia Museum of Art Mel Brook’s classic comedy, Seventh St.; 215-627-1332. 3331.
presents an exhibi- through Oct. 20, 825
tion of paint- Walnut St.; Game of Thrones Live Concert God is an Astronaut Norm Macdonald
ings high- 215-574- Experience The alternative rock band The comedian performs 9 p.m.
light- 3550. Music from the hit fantasy series performs, 9 p.m. Sept. 13 at Sept. 6 at the Borgata Hotel,
hits the stage, 8 p.m. Sept. 12 at Underground Arts, 1200 Casino & Spa Music Box, 1
Mann Center for the Performing Callowhill St.; 215-627-1332. Borgata Way, Atlantic City,
Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215- N.J.; 609-317-1000.
NIGHTLIFE Get the Led Out
Outlaw Music Festival The Led Zeppelin tribute band
Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, BEV’s Bitchfest performs 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at
Alison Krauss and Gov’t Mule Drag star BEV hosts a night of The Queen, 500 N. Market St.,
perform, 4 p.m. Sept. 13 at drag, 10 p.m. Sept. 7 at Tabu, Wilmington, Del.; 202-730-
254 S. 12th St.; 215-964-9675. 3331. n
soul singing sensation, Mary J. Blige,
and legendary rapper, Nas, join forces NOTICES: Send notices at least one week in advance to:
for The Royalty Tour which hits town Out & About Listings, PGN, 505 S. Fourth St., Philadelphia, PA
8 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Liacouras Center, 19147
fax: 215-925-6437 or e-mail:
1776 N. Broad St. For more information or Notices cannot be taken over the phone.
tickets, call 215-204-2400.
PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 29

Comedic duo repurposes the

phrase ‘queer bait’
PGN Contributor
is celebrating
Something clicked when Rose Luardo and
Shannon Fahey found themselves placed on
the same comedy team at Chinatown’s Good Mazzoni
Good Comedy Theatre. Despite a 20-year age clinic
gap and a generational divide, the pair knew
instinctively that they were bound to become
creative partners. Washington
“We were encouraged to collaborate with West
whoever was part of the collective, and a
few weeks in, I asked Rose to collaborate on
a sketch,” Fahey said in a joint interview at years of LGBTQ
Point Breeze’s American Sardine Bar. “Then LGBT Health & Well-Being Since 1979

health and Well-Being

it became an-almost weekly thing. Then peo- SHANNON FAHEY AND ROSE LUARDO
ple started asking us to do that specific bit on

other shows outside of Good Good.” gram has toured to New York and Chicago,
“That’s how we knew it was a thing,” among other locales.
Luardo continued. “A thing that worked.” Open communication and affection are
Just like that, Queer Bait was born. key to their creative approach, according to Wellness
Since 2016, Luardo, 47, and Fahey, 25, Fahey.
have created a rotating stable of sketches, “Our process has gotten a lot tighter, but
characters and shows that play to their unique it’s very heavily friendship based,” Fahey
dynamic. A conversation with them, together, said. “We used to joke that when we would
is a wild ride that careens from cultural ref- spend at least two hours talking about life,
erences to wicked inside jokes to heartfelt processing and sharing, before the mate-
professions of affection. rial came to life in the last hour. It’s still a
“This is an intergenerational match made in
Hades,” Luardo said of their partnership.
part of our process, and it does show up in
our work in the way that our characters are
1348 Bainbridge Street
“An intergenerational queer love affair that self-actualized.” 215-563-0652 LGBTQ HEALTH AND WELL BEING

isn’t actually a love affair — at least not in the You will have to buy a ticket to learn
way that some might hope,” Fahey corrected. exactly what Luardo and Fahey have up
Luardo described a “mom-daughter vibe” their sleeves this Fringe. Their work fre-
between them, and that energy is notice- quently uses autonomous sensory meridian
ably present; throughout our lunch, Luardo response, also known as ASMR, as an aspect
endearingly pushed food she didn’t want onto of performance art. They also refuse to shy
Fahey’s plate. away from topics that might make certain
The pair characterize their aesthetic as audiences uncomfortable.
“two parts performance art, one part clown, “I love having to work to win an audience
three parts dance, five parts friendship, two over,” Luardo said. “My favorite is when
parts dress-up, one part queer, zero parts bait, there’s a turn. You start out with a firm no,
maybe another part queer but unsure.” (Fahey, and by the end, the audience wants you to
who uses she and they pronouns, is queer; come over to their house for dinner.”
Luardo described herself as questioning.) “A lot of our stuff takes a second to
Whatever that arithmetic adds up to will digest,” Fahey observed. “But once the audi-
be on stage this September, when Queer Bait ence digests it, they want to keep s—ting it
presents its latest show, “Sterile,” as part of the out forever.”
Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Performances “I think it comes down to the fact that
run from Sept. 11-14 at Good Good. we’re really sincere,” Luardo continued.
The style of the show draws on Luardo “There’s no point when we’re not giving you
and Fahey’s disparate artistic backgrounds. 3000 percent, trying to get people to come
Fahey, a UArts grad, has experience in along with us.”
sketch, improv and standup. Luardo has Luardo and Fahey also recognize the his-
been performing standup for more than a torical weight of their group’s name, which
decade and has also worked extensively in they use in a sense of reclamation.
the performance art space. “When I was in middle school, ‘queer
“I think I’ve been doing funny things for bait’ was a pretty pejorative term that was
a while without realizing it was comedy,” shouted at me and my friends,” Luardo said.
Luardo observed. “I just wasn’t calling it “It was a nasty little term, and I thought we
comedy.” should turn this s—t around.”
“We both come from an art background “We’re taking it back,” Fahey asserted.
of sorts,” Fahey said. “That makes for a fun “And that’s how it came to be.” n
“Sterile” is the third show Luardo and “Sterile” runs from Sept. 11-14 at Good
Fahey have created together. Their previous Good Comedy Theatre, 215 N. 11th Street, as
two efforts, “Fizz Fountain” and “The 180 part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Tickets
BPM Tour,” brought them success in the and information can be found at goodgoodcom-
Philly queer comedy scene; the latter pro-
30 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN

explained how he convinced him to partici- a dangerous position. If I’m commuting to

pate. Philadelphia for my job, and I’m going
“I showed him a diary film I’d made in through [New York’s] Penn station and as
1998 where I talk about coming out within a a young Black man, I’m bumping into 12
not-so-LGBT-friendly Jamaican family and people, that is apt to be perceived as a hostile,
the difficulties of that. And because of my aggressive act. But If I’m using a red-and-
vulnerability in that film, and the intimate white cane, that immediately diffuses the
way that story unfolds, I think that led him situation.”
to trust me; that I was the right person, and That said, Evans indicates that his cane
I would tell the story in a respectful, tasteful should not be seen as something that prevents
way.” him from being self-sufficient. After all, he


A remarkable BEHIND THE CAMERA?”
docu study of visually impaired artists As for Kayla Hamilton, Evans was looking
for a woman, visually impaired, dancer of
did make the impressive “Vision Portraits”
from scratch over five years with very little
GARY M. KRAMER | PGN CONTRIBUTOR color, preferably African American, because money.
he wanted dance to be a part of the film. He When asked about finding a partner and
found Hamilton through a colleague and was navigating a relationship (something he men-
able to film rehearsals and performances of tions in the film), Evans demurs, “I’m quite
her first solo dance piece, “Nearly Sighted” independent, self-sufficient and able to take
for the film. care of myself. It’s about what that red-and-
“All of the artists have their own specific white cane signifies to other people, and how
Out gay writer-director Rodney Evans’ Evans’ ultimate decision to include himself ways of dealing with blindness as subject it’s looked at within the gay community,
extraordinary documentary “Vision Portraits,” in the film was not solipsistic or navel gazing, matter or controlling the viewer or audience which can be hung up on physical perfection
juxtaposes his experiences as a visually-im- but critical. And it came about organically. member’s experience of how they see their as opposed to knowing someone’s personality
paired filmmaker with three other low-vision/ He said, “I shared a lot of experiences they artwork. For Kayla, who only has vision in
blind artists: photographer John Dugdale, went through. I know what it’s like to walk one eye, that was really important.” Hamilton
dancer Kayla Hamilton, and writer Ryan around with a red-and-white cane. I know the asks the audience at her solo show to wear
Knighton. pros and cons and stigmas attached to that. I eye patches to see the dance from her per-
Opening September 6 at the Ritz at the know what it’s like to pass for fully sighted spective.
Bourse, his film investigates how and why for as long as possible — or until it becomes The filmmaker deliberately, and creatively,
blindness is not limiting for these artists. completely impossible.” uses black screens, irises and blurred or
More importantly, “Vision Portraits” never He continued, “That was important to obscured images to force viewers of “Vision
gives in to the “super-crip” trope that insists acknowledge. [I] wasn’t some fully-sighted, Portraits” to understand what low-vision
its subjects are inspirational or that Evans is able-bodied person coming in and doing a or blindness is like for the film’s subjects.
making a hagiography. story on this community. I was someone from These techniques never become gimmicky.
The filmmaker, who currently teaches within the community that they trusted.” They give the audience a perspective to see
digital production and other classes at Evans’ goal when making the film was to and experience what the subjects recount
Swarthmore College, has retinitis pigmen- “paint a multi-dimensional, nuanced portrait for themselves. For example, when John
tosa, which causes retinal deterioration. He of each person” and assess “what it takes for Dugdale describes his vision as being like the RODNEY EVANS
met with PGN during last month’s Black Star an artist to find their voice within a piece.” “aurora borealis,” Evans layers super-8 film DIRECTOR OF “VISION PORTRAITS”
Film Festival and explained that he originally He had read Ryan Knighton’s book stock rolling out along with flares and other
thought his own story would be more of a “Cockeyed: A Memoir of Blindness,” and abstract color washes to represent that image.
framing device or an entry point to the doc- found it “profoundly moving and impactful.” Evans explained, “Whenever we could and what they are passionate about. You don’t
umentary. (Knighton is also diagnosed with retinitis convey visually, in a visceral way, what the want to be saddled with a lot of those stigmas.
“I wanted to talk about my condition and pigmentosa). Evans knew John Dugdale, a character was talking about, we would do it. But it makes it challenging, to be in a really
experiences at the beginning and what led gay, HIV+ photographer, who went nearly So when I’m on the subway and the periphery dark bar, where it’s so dark you can’t see any-
me to explore the creative processes of these blind because of CMV retinitis (an AIDS- is blacked out, or made more abstracted and one. Where are the spaces that are accessible
blind or severely visually-impaired artists. related infection). The filmmaker recalled you see the center really clearly, it’s import- to people who are not able-bodied or have
What did I hope to glean from them from that Dugdale was reluctant to be in “Vision ant for the audience to see that that was my some form of disability, that they have chosen
having a dialogue and looking at their artistic Portraits” because he had bad experiences point of view and how that differs from the to disclose or not, or are visible or not?”
process?” with filmmakers in the past. But Evans fully-sighted person’s perspective, which was Evans adds, “One in four people identify as
cut to later.” having a disability in this country but 0.2 per-
R YA N K N I G H T O N K AY L A H A M I LT O N Likewise, Evans and his cinematographer cent of characters in film are represented with
— Evans had two for the film — would a disability. There’s this huge gulf between
hold magnifying glasses over Ryan’s book the lived experiences of people within this
of poetry and shift the focus so words would country and what’s reflected back at them in
come into focus or be obscured by light to film and television. What does that erasure
convey his experience on stage trying (and perpetuate? What kind of fear, what kinds
failing) to pass as a sighted poet. of stigmas and misperceptions does that lack
On the subject of passing, Evans remarked of knowledge from accurate representation
that he came out (in the film) as visually and honest portrayals perpetuate? And what
impaired because, “It started to feel disingen- does it take to stop underestimating what a
uous to not acknowledge that I had a shared disabled person can do both in front of or
experience with these specific individuals.” behind the camera?”
He added, “It was a relief, frankly, because “Vision Portraits” is a powerful testament
there was so much miscommunication and to this issue, as well as Evans and other
wrongly interpreted signals that put me in vision-impaired artists. n
PROFILE Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 31


Noel Ramirez: Generous to the nth degree

In the community, our ever-growing about school, I grew up in a working class PGN: So when your dad said, “No pres- problematic. But having said that, my
acronym LGBTQAIA-plus can be impres- environment, my Dad’s a postal worker, sure, just try to graduate college and get manager was Filipino. Having lost my
sive and so are the letters that follow the my mom did clerical work, and my dad out” you took it to another level. uncle who should have been my guiding
name of this week’s Portrait: Noel B. always said, “You don’t have to be a doc- NR: I know, but I love to learn. Every gay role model, I felt like the manager
Ramirez, MPH, MSW, LCSW, BCD. tor or an engineer, I just want you to grad- time I’ve entered a graduate program, played that role for me. There were a
uate college, to be happy and safe and to it’s become a studio for me to learn and lot of amazing Asian guys who were all
PGN: Tell me a little about yourself. do something that will get you out of this explore the type of work I do even fur- beautiful in their own way, and I really
NR: I was born and raised in Jersey City, place.” There was a lot of hardship grow- ther. I just love what I do. I think it’s the came to embrace my sexual subjectivity.
New Jersey to two Filipino immigrant ing up in that neighborhood but what a greatest honor to get to listen to people’s My image of Asian masculinity before
parents. I have an older sister and grew blessing to have them; they didn’t micro- stories — to get to bear witness and lis- that was very neutered, very asexual, but
up with a gay uncle who lived with us in manage my identity, and in the API com- ten to their lives. It’s the basics of what I there I got to experience various forms of
the house. He was like a third parent. I munity, it’s not unusual for the families do, being part of someone’s narrative and masculinity. It was a beautiful, somewhat
didn’t know why he was staying with us, to be on top of their kids 24/7, pressuring being able to help write it if allowed. problematic but also transformational
but I later learned he was living with HIV/ them to excel at academics. experience. So, fast forward, I moved to
AIDS and had been pretty much shunned PGN: So give me the short version of Philadelphia to go to Penn and expected
by the rest of the family. So without even PGN: What’s your sister like? what you do? to find a visible API community here and
knowing it, I had a very queer life grow- NR: We were allies as we both struggled NR: [Laughing] Well, I have a couple of there really wasn’t one.
ing up, issues that were important to the to find our place in the United States as side hustles because I believe in diver-
queer community were taking place right the children of immigrants. She’s two sified funding. For my full-time gig, PGN: That’s surprising.
in my house. He died when I was about years older than me and has been support- I’m a behavioral health consultant at a NR: Yeah, the racial tension in Philly is
10, back in ’93 or ’94. ive from the beginning. She’s a teacher local health center. I’m also a project real, and it felt like there was a Black and
now. director for Public Health Management a white community, which I acknowl-
PGN: AIDS was very stigmatized and Corporation, a lot of stuff in those veins. edge, honor and respect, but it seemed
misunderstood back then. PGN: So you both went into service I also teach at West Chester University there was nothing much in the middle. It
NR: Yeah, we don’t talk a lot about HIV industries. and Columbia, and I have a small pri- was a real let down until I ran into some-
and AIDS in the Asian Pacific Islander NR: Yeah, we grew up in a family that vate practice. I feel so lucky. I’m 34, one who was organizing a group called
(API) communities, even still. So the past was always providing help for people. A and I love what I do; I’ve never chased QPA. I started hanging out with them and
10 years, I have been working profession- lot of new immigrant families lived in our a coin. I’ve always been able to pursue met some beautiful people. Eventually
ally in the HIV/AIDS community, and home until they could get on their feet. my passion. I have so many friends that that waned and I got involved in doing
I’m sure it stems from that experience. Our home was a hub to welcome every- hate what they’re doing so this is really a direct service with AIDS Services In
I remember visiting the mothers of my one. I was moved, even as a young child, blessing. Asian Communities (ASIAC), which
uncle’s friends who were also dying of by that commitment to service. really opened my eyes to the various
AIDS. Just listening to the conversations PGN: How did you get involved in types of Asian communities in and around
that the grownups were having; they were PGN: That was my grandparent’s house. Philadelphia Asian and Queer (PAQ)? Philadelphia — ­ Vietnamese, Cambodian,
talking in Tagalog but still not saying People would come from all over know- NR: I moved here from New York City Chinese, Filipino, etc. — and how HIV
the words that they wanted to say. It was ing they would be fed if they found the where I worked as a dancer in a gay looks to them. It was a sad day when they
interesting exposure to how language can Nash house. Asian nightclub. I was 19 at the time and closed. So I’d been involved with different
be taboo. One of the things that I love as a NR: That’s so wonderful. I think it’s a for a young, queer, Asian boy, it was such API groups and met Matthew Wong two
social worker is helping people finally put great privilege to be in a family that has a profound experience. We live in a world years ago. He was doing an Asian town
words to things without shame. that type of service commitment. I’m hon- that is centered on white supremacy and hall event at the William Way Center, and
ored to have been raised by people who the images of what were we’re shown it was actually my partner, who is not
PGN: It sounds like your parents were cared so much for others. and told were beautiful were often white Asian, who told me about it. I
pretty progressive. bodies. So it was the first time in my life checked it out and there
NR: Well, my parents are not perfect peo- PGN: What did you think you were going where I felt that my beauty was centered. were a lot of people
ple, but they are super curious and resil- to be when you grew up? I say that with the knowledge I have now, there. I was
ient and through it all they tried to stick NR: My dad was an electrical engineering that there were multiple things that were imme-
to their beliefs that family comes first no student, but he dropped out to come to problematic at the club: body dysmor-
matter what, and that followed through America, so I thought maybe that’s what phia and image issues, a lot of substance
later to me as well. I’d do even though I had no idea what it abuse there. There were a lot of
meant. I went to a business and finance colonial reenactments of
PGN: Does religion play a big role in the magnet school, but I totally wasn’t into erotica, no shade to
Filipino community? it. My first job ever was as a municipal rice queens, but
NR: It does, but surprisingly, my par- bond coder for Merrill Lynch. I was 16, it could
ents are kind of Agnosticky. My mom’s and I had no idea what I was doing. But be
a Catholic poser. There was a lot of peer then I got involved with a group called
pressure for her to be involved, but I Sumisibol, which was a Filipino youth
remember her being pretty laid back about group. Sumisibol means to sprout, and it
it, and my dad was like, whatever about exposed me to a lot of cool older people
religion. In terms of resistance toward who taught us about the arts and other
my queerness: much of it was because of things. One of them was a social worker
the trauma they’d been through with my and it really intrigued me, so I went to
uncle. There was very little support in the college and got a women’s and gender
Filipino community, or in general at that studies degree and then a communica-
point, and they were scared for me. tions degree and then to graduate school
to become a social worker and got my
PGN: That’s understandable. master’s in public health, and now I’m
NR: But mainly they were concerned working on this other doctorate. PAGE 32
32 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN

PORTRAIT from page 31 of town hall meetings. The next one is NR: I’m trying my hand at cooking, and the use of self, and the scene when she’s
going to be about how we can serve the my partner and I love movies, so every demoralized and the grandmother comes
diately down for the cause and have been trans and nonbinary API community. Friday we go see a new film. And I like to her and says, “Remember who you
working with Matty and PAQ ever since. We want to make sure the organiza- hosting gatherings at my house; it makes are...” — it always gets me emotional!
tion is really inclusive and not just cis me think of family to have people over.
PGN: Tell me about some of the things men calling the shots. I mean I love cis PGN: When did you come out?
PAQ does. men and all, but I love community a PGN: I still can’t believe that… NR: I knew I was into boys when I was
NR: We do a monthly brunch at an lot more. We’re proud and happy that NR: Once upon a time I got paid to very young. I think my first crush was
API-owned restaurant. The next one there seems to be a pretty diverse group dance in a cage and would party until 6 Mr. Rogers! I was about 12 when I was
is September 29 at Sarvida on Girard of people already involved in our pro- in the morning when I can barely stay able to formulate the idea “I am gay,”
Ave. [Laughing] The one thing that grams, and we want to build on that. up until 10 at night these days. and then about 13 when I started coming
really unites Asians is food, so we’ll out to friends. America Online (AOL)
also be doing a potluck in October and a PGN: Nice. OK, random question time. PGN: What’s the scariest thing you’ve got me through it all, and my mom told
Friendsgiving in November. There’s also Last time you went bowling? ever done? me I was gay when I was 15. I think
a monthly support group and, on occa- NR: I love bowling! I used to be on the NR: Falling in love. You’re vulnera- she got tired of me sneaking boys into
sion, we’ll do a group outing. We’re in bowling team in high school, but the last ble and powerless in ways that are the my room to “study.” She cornered me
talks with a club to do a new version of time I went was with my colleagues at human condition. That or doing renova- in the house and said, “I know you’re
the Jaded Lounge, and we work closely the clinic. I’m not as good anymore, but tion on the house! We’re in the middle a gay!” and I was banned from bring-
with other groups like the Asian Mosaic I still have decent form. of it right now, and it’s terrifying. ing boys home. Let me not play myself,
Fund and Fortune, which is a queer API it wasn’t that many guys, but enough.
magazine, and we’re looking for more PGN: Any other sports? PGN: A scent that makes you remi- Both parents were very intuitive about
collaborations. On September 22, we’re NR: I’m kind of getting into running. I nisce? my sexuality. I mean it was pretty hard
going to be doing another town hall signed up for a half marathon as inspi- NR: Though I find the company prob- not to figure out. But it wasn’t until col-
meeting. We want to explore what types ration to get going. In high school I was lematic, Abercrombie & Fitch has a lege that I had an adult, very American
of advocacy and services people need also on the crew team. It was ridiculous, cologne called “Fierce.” In college all conversation with my father about it. In
and want in the API community. We’re I only joined because the boys were the cute boys would wear it so it brings Filipino culture, we just tend to accept
working with a national organization on really cute. But it was fun to feel like an me back to those days. In high school, but ignore it, so our Americanized con-
family acceptance to create literature athlete for a minute, and I have a good it was Liz Claiborne’s Curve for Men, versation went, “You do know I’m gay
and programs for parents and families of lower body, so I did okay. It’s a good which you could buy at Rite Aid. The don’t you?” He said, “Yeah, whatever, it
queer children. We have health and heal- sport to hide in because you work as a fragrance reminds me of corner boys doesn’t matter to me.” And that was that.
ing programs, all sorts of things, and we team and no one can tell who’s doing and teen angst!
want to get more folks involved! the most; there’s no star in crew. I liked PGN: Go pop!
the anonymity of it. PGN: What movie makes you cry?
PGN: That’s great. NR: “Moana.” Oh my gosh, I had a class For more information about PAQ, visit
NR: Yes, and we’re doing a whole series PGN: Hobbies? yesterday and showed it to talk about n
IN PHILLY Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 33


From L to R: Chris, Tom, Brian, Mikey and Tom Curtis, David and Jason

Curt, Donna and Anthony Bartenders Jason, Brandon and Evan Matt (Magnolia)

Anthony and Zachary Andrew, Seth and Joe Brian and Joe
34 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN

Out composer’s latest chamber opera looks at love’s relationship to social media
elements of virtual reality, combined with the Venables’ adaptation has proved an duction with 150,000 euros, or approximately
BY CAMERON KELSALL kind of sensationalism viewers have come to unqualified success, with acclaimed stag- $175,000. The win marked the first time an
PGN Contributor expect from media coverage of tragic, violent ings in London and New York. During the American company received this top honor.
events. run of “Denis & Katya,” he will briefly As is common in the creation of a new work,
Since its 2017 launch, Opera Philadelphia’s “The style of the piece is sort of a docu- leave Philadelphia to oversee the opening Venables is taking a hands-on approach. He
annual Festival O has become one of classical drama, with talking heads,” he said. “There of a production in Germany. The success of will be in residence in Philadelphia for more
music’s most hotly anticipated events, draw- are multiple characters even though there are “4.48 Psychosis” has brought the Cambridge- than a month — although he cautioned that he
ing aficionados near and far for two weeks of only two performers, so part of the story is educated composer to the attention of many in likely won’t be seeing much of the city.
innovative programming. how they shift from person to person.” the opera world, including Opera Philadelphia “We’re in rehearsal six days a week at the
At the center of Festival O19 is the world Venables is not afraid of setting compli- general director David B. Devan. moment,” he said. “But once we’re a little
premiere of “Denis & Katya,” the latest cated, disturbing stories to music. Prior to “We pitched David the old-fashioned more settled, and I’m over my jetlag, I’d like
chamber opera from out British composer writing “Denis & Katya,” he and Huffman way by presenting him with several ideas,” to see some of the galleries and maybe have
Philip Venables. Performances take place at adapted “4.48 Psychosis,” the final play writ- Venables said. “This is the one that clicked. something of an evening social life.”
the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, on the Avenue ten by the late Sarah Kane, which indirectly That’s how we got here.” When Venables isn’t traveling the globe for
of the Arts, from Sept. 18-29. charts the battle with mental illness that ulti- The investment appears to be paying off work, he lives in Berlin. He came to Germany
The 70-minute piece centers on the real-life mately led her to her dying by suicide. The already. In June, “Denis & Katya” won more than a decade ago, and he relishes the
story of Denis Muravyov and Katya Vlasova, play’s challenges include a text that does the FEDORA-GENERALI Prize for Opera, cultural and musical opportunities the city
whom Venables described in an interview not specify character or setting, requiring which provides a financial boost to produc- has to offer.
as “a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.” After the interpreter to make decisions on how it tions in the development stage. The FEDORA “Berlin has three opera houses, and
running away together in 2016, the Russian should be presented. Platform infused the Opera Philadelphia pro- Germany itself has more opera performances
teenagers used the streaming app going on than anywhere else in the
Periscope to broadcast a three-day world,” he said. “Even if you’re
standoff with police, which ended in not going to the opera all the time,
their suicides. there’s a sense of music all around.
Venables was attracted to the role And there’s a real sense of an artistic
of social media in the story. “I think community and collaboration there,
it reflects our current relationship even when you’re not actually col-
to reality, to what’s real and what’s laborating.” n
not,” he told PGN.
Although the production — which “Denis & Katya” will be performed
will be directed by Venables’ fre- from Sept. 18-29 at the Suzanne
quent collaborator Ted Huffman, Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street,
who also wrote the opera’s libretto Composer Philip Venables, librettist/director Ted Huffman, mezzo-soprano Siena Licht Miller, co-creator and dramaturge
as part of Opera Philadelphia’s
— is still in the development stages, Ksenia Ravvina and baritone Johnny Herford. Photo: Dominic M. Mercier for Opera Philadelphia Festival O19. For tickets and infor-
Venables said that it will draw on mation, visit
PGN Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 35

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36 Philadelphia Gay News September 6-12, 2019 PGN