Sam Jay: Taking Aim - Metro Weekly, August 6, 2020

metroweekly

Whether it’s her new Netflix special or writing for SNL, Sam Jay is building a comedy career that is as bold as it is masterful. Interview by André Hereford. (Page 26)

Also: Beyoncé’s visual album Black is King is a majestic love letter to Black communities past and present. (Page 37) And local theatre sensation Jade Jones is preparing to unleash her pandemic-born nonbinary persona, Litty Official. (Page 9)

Out on the Town p.5 Spotlight: Speed Racer p.11 The Feed: Equality Pledge p.13 Salty Senior p.14 Criminal Behavior p.15 Federal Fumble p.16 Selling Hate p.18 Executive Action p.20 Bezos Backpedals p.22 Dangerous Deportation p.24 Gallery: Art & Activism p.32 Television: Streaming Through Time p.35 RetroScene p.38 Last Word p.41

Patron Saint: Danitra Vance

Contents

August 6, 2020 Volume 27 Issue 13

9

LADYKILLER

Local theatre sensation Jade Jones is preparing to unleash

her pandemic-born nonbinary persona, Litty Official.

By Doug Rule

TAKING AIM

Whether it’s her new Netflix special or writing for SNL,

Sam Jay is building a comedy career that is as bold as it is masterful.

Interview by André Hereford

26

37

ROYAL TREATMENT

Beyoncé’s visual album Black is King is a majestic love letter

to Black communities past and present.

By Sean Maunier

OUT ON THE TOWN p.5 SPOTLIGHT: SPEED RACER p.11

THE FEED: EQUALITY PLEDGE p.13 SALTY SENIOR p.14

CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR p.15 FEDERAL FUMBLE p.16 SELLING HATE p.18

EXECUTIVE ACTION p.20 BEZOS BACKPEDALS p.22 DANGEROUS DEPORTATION p.24

GALLERY: ART & ACTIVISM p.32 TELEVISION: STREAMING THROUGH TIME p.35

RETROSCENE p.38 LAST WORD p.41

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

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Randy Shulman Art Director Todd Franson Online Editor at metroweekly.com Rhuaridh Marr Senior Editor John Riley

Contributing Editors André Hereford, Doug Rule Senior Photographers Ward Morrison, Julian Vankim Contributing Illustrators David Amoroso, Scott G. Brooks

Contributing Writers Sean Maunier, Kate Wingfield Webmaster David Uy Production Assistant Julian Vankim

Sales & Marketing Publisher Randy Shulman National Advertising Representative Rivendell Media Co. 212-242-6863 Distribution Manager Dennis Havrilla

Patron Saint Danitra Vance Cover Photography Courtesy of Netflix

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Out On The Town

Compiled by Doug Rule

PLATONIC

Gay Olive and her straight best friend Billy are busy New Yorkers

in hot pursuit of love — who share what they see and do along

the way in recorded voicemail messages to each other. Created

by budding writer-director Erin C. Buckley, PLATONIC is a

new 10-episode web series set in what is described as “a memory

of New York City just before the pandemic.” A YouTube

exclusive starring Summer Spiro as Olive and Ryan King as

Billy, the series is notable for the way “[it] juxtaposes the radical

intimacy and hazy boundaries of non-romantic relationships

with the sexual fluidity and emotional ambiguity of modern

dating.” PLATONIC launches with “Episode 1: Phone Tag” on

Wednesday, Aug. 12. Visit www.platonicseries.com.

#STILLWELAUGH

In partnership with the DC Center, the Capital Pride Alliance

has been overseeing a multi-episode web series created as

an alternative to the organization’s usual June festivities. It’s

showcasing some of the key people and places that make the

local LGBTQ community so rich and rewarding. Available for

streaming from @CapitalPrideDC on Facebook and YouTube,

Pride In The City launched in late June with #StillWeEntertain,

featuring performances by Shi-Queeta Lee, Willie J Garner,

Manuex Pop, MzzAmirraO, the Canales Brothers, Destiny B.

Childs, Billy Winn, and KC B. Yoncé. The series continues with

#StillWeLaugh, a showcase of area comedians and their standup

routines. Violet Gray, Jake Leizear, Dana Lollar aka D-Lo,

Franqi French, Valerie Paschall, Kevin McLain, and Jake Jacob

are featured in the episode, which debuts Friday, Aug. 7, at 7

p.m. Visit www.capitalpride.org.

Platonic

KLECKSOGRAPHY 2020

A total of 17 theater companies and more than 50 artists will

team up in creative collaborations led by Rorschach Theatre

Company, joined this year by representatives from 1st Stage,

Arena Stage, Mosaic Theater, Pointless Theatre, Round House

Theatre, Spooky Action Theatre, and The Welders. Named after

a childhood game that later inspired Hermann Rorschach’s

famous Inkblot Test, Klecksography embraces the metaphor

of that test by instructing all participating artists to create new

works inspired by the same artistic source: the 51st State Murals

project, those D.C.-centric murals that went up in various parts

of town in late June in honor of the vote for D.C. statehood by

the U.S. House of Representatives. #Klex2020 will result in 10

new short plays and six short films showcasing the talents of

some of D.C.’s best emerging artists, working together in assorted

teams. Premieres Sunday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. The video will

remain available on YouTube through Aug. 16. Pay-What-You-

Can donations are encouraged. Visit www.rorschachtheatre.

com or www.bit.ly/klex2020.

PANTHEON

Last spring, Happenstance Theater premiered Pantheon, a new

work of devised theater from the Helen Hayes Award-winning

ensemble that incorporates themes and characters from ancient

Greek mythology. Sharon Crissinger captured a performance of

the stage production that the company is now offering as a video

rental. Set in the 1940s, Pantheon revolves around a chorus

of factory workers brought to life by Happenstance’s married

co-founders Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell along with Gwen

Grastorf, Sarah Olmsted Thomas, and Alex Vernon. “With an

ample smattering of amusement,” reads the official description,

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Pantheon

“the performers invoke the Muses, offer Sacrifice, suffer Hubris,

consult Oracles, and meet Fate as they portray an array of mortals

and Gods whose flaws reflect their own.” Through Aug. 30.

Rentals are $10 for a 30-day streaming period. Visit www.vimeo.

com/ondemand/pantheon.

THE SIGNATURE SHOW

Last week ushered in the launch of a biweekly digital series

focused on artists touted as “the past, present, and future of

Signature Theatre.” The region’s preeminent musical theater

purveyor kicked off its newest production with a half-hour episode

starring several of its most popular showstoppers, including

Nova Y. Payton (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Hairspray), Natascia

Diaz (Passion), and Heidi Blickenstaff (Disney’s Freaky Friday),

while also featuring one of Broadway’s leading contemporary

composers, Tony winner Tom Kitt (Next to Normal). Offering

a mix of performances and interviews, the inaugural edition

of The Signature Show had talent to spare, a packed lineup also

including Emily Skinner, Inés Nassara, Christiane Noll, DeWitt

Fleming Jr., Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, and Jennie Harney-

Fleming, plus a tribute to music director and composer Darius

Smith. Episode 1, released July 30, is currently available at

www.bit.ly/sigshow1.

FACTION OF FOOLS: FOOLISH FRIDAYS

Faction of Fools, D.C.’s Helen Hayes Award-winning commedia

dell’arte theater troupe, has shifted its energies during the pandemic

to work on screen, developing a series of 12 short video

comedies, each touted as “a little amuse-bouche of commedia

dell’arte.” A three-month exercise in frivolity designed with the

usual spirit of summer in mind, Foolish Fridays is lighthearted

fun to help send off summer and ease into fall. The series officially

launches on Friday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. on Facebook with the

cocktail party “Toast to Foolish Fridays.” Greg Benson of the

Bar None podcast will lead this toast to “sweet comedy” with a

“bitter cocktail” — specifically focused on a Negroni, the classic

composed of equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari that is as

quintessentially Italian as commedia dell’arte. The videos will

be available on both Facebook and YouTube. Visit www.facebook.com/factionoffools.

Commissary

VOTE READY

A slew of indie-rock musicians have signed up with the nonprofit

organization HeadCount to motivate their fans to update their

voter registration. Confirming registration before the cutoff for

fall elections is an important way to ensure one’s vote will be

counted on election day, especially if there have been recent

changes in local voter rolls. All those who check their status

over the next week through HeadCount’s website will receive

a free ticket to a special livestream of original self-recorded

performances. Part of the “Live From Out There” series, the

concert, set for Friday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m., includes performances

by The War on Drugs, Kyp Malone and Jaleel Bunton of TV On

The Radio, Daniel Rossen and Christopher Bear of Grizzly Bear,

Robin Pecknold, Waxahatchee, Kevin Morby, Tarriona Tank

Ball, Hand Habits, Ciggy, Kam Franklin of The Suffers, Allison

Russell and Leyla McCalla of Our Native Daughters, and The

Building. Visit www.headcount.org/voteready.

COMMISSARY’S BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH

Over the years Commissary, the casual neighborhood restaurant

in Logan Circle, has become known for its brunches, including

those themed to coincide with special events, from the Oscars to

Beyonce and Jay-Z at FedEx Field. Fortunately, you don’t have

to wait for a special occasion or even the weekend anymore, as

Commissary has now started offering brunch every day — and

yes, you can even go bottomless with your mimosas or Bloody

Mary’s if you dare. The menu ranges from Ricotta Blintzes with

strawberry and fresh mint ($11), to a Southern fried chicken

sandwich with a sunny side up egg ($12.50), to an Avocado Bowl

with poached eggs ($11). Brunch and breakfast is available every

day from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Commissary is located at 1443 P St.

NW. Call 202-299-0018 or visit www.CommissaryDC.com.

To mix it up a bit, on weekends you could drop in to the original

EatWellDC eatery on the block, Logan Tavern. The 17-year-old

restaurant has added new items to its weekend brunch menu,

including a Tomato Caprese Omelet featuring fresh mozzarella

and heirloom tomatoes from EatWellDC’s farm in Maryland

($14.50) and the Brunch Platter of French toast and eggs accom-

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Rasika

Luca Buvoli

panied by bacon, turkey sausage, and home fries ($16). Brunch is

served Saturdays and Sundays between 10:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.

Logan Tavern is located at 1423 P St. NW. Call 202-332-3710 or

visit www.LoganTavern.com.

RASIKA SIMMER SAUCES

Noted local restaurateur Ashok Bajaj has bottled up three premade

simmer sauces based on the recipes from Sunderam, the

James Beard Award-winning chef. There’s Makhani, the mild,

creamy tomato sauce that is ideal for chicken tikka, paneer, or

Indian cheese, or over vegetables; Korma, the mild nutty aromatic

sauce that pairs well with lamb and other braised meat

dishes as well as paneer; and Vindaloo Curry, a spicy tangy chili

sauce for chicken, lamb, pork, and shrimp. “The from-scratch

sauces are labor intensive to create,” Sunderam says, “so we are

making it easy for our clientele to design their own fabulous

dishes in a fraction of the time by utilizing these time-tested

recipes.” The sauces are available for purchase at Rasika Penn

Quarter and Rasika West End as well as at their casual sister

venue Bindaas Cleveland Park, plus carryout via Caviar and

Doordash. Each 16-ounce container is priced at $10, or $25 for

three. Call 202-466-2500 or visit www.rasikarestaurant.com.

LEBANON THEN AND NOW: PHOTOGRAPHY FROM 2006 TO 2020

Originally planned as a physical show to be displayed at the

Middle East Institute’s art gallery in Dupont Circle, Lebanon

Then and Now captures the dizzying social, political, and economic

developments that have marked Lebanon over the past 15

years through the work of 17 photographers and one filmmaker.

Organizers of the MEI Art Gallery, which launched last year

with the aim of presenting socially engaged art from the Middle

East and helping foster cross-cultural dialogue, thoroughly

reimagined this temporary exhibition to become an immersive,

360-degree virtual experience. As selected by Beirut-based

curator Chantale Fahmi, the featured artists in Lebanon Then

and Now include, among others, Lamia Maria Abillama, Pierre

Aboujaoude, Hussein Beydoun, Blanche Eid, Jana Khoury, Elias

Moubarak, Badr Safadi, and Jack Seikaly. Now to Sept. 25. Visit

www.mei.edu/exhibition/lebanon-then-and-now.

STEVEN WALKER: THIS ROUND’S ON ME

The vulnerability Steven Walker faced in dealing with depression

and anxiety is reflected in the fragile glass works the artist

has created in This Round’s On Me. Known for illuminating

landscapes and nocturnal paintings, Walker switches things

up with this personal series of still lifes. Bold brushstrokes

and emotive color palettes express the artist’s deepest feelings,

while objects placed within the glass evoke positive memories

from his life, offering viewers a sense of hope amidst darkness,

as well as the play between light and dark that Walker experiences.

Presented by Georgetown’s Calloway Fine Arts, the show

is intended to signal to those suffering from depression that

they are not alone. On virtual display to Aug. 22, with in-person

visits by appointment only. Calloway Fine Art & Consulting,

1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Call 202-965-4601 or visit www.

callowayart.com.

LUCA BUVOLI: PICTURE: PRESENT

Through his ongoing Astrodoubt and The Quarantine Chronicles

series, multimedia artist Luca Buvoli has been reflecting on our

present-day realities through the guise of a fictitious astronaut.

Named Astrodoubt, the character doesn’t let an earth-shattering

deadly pandemic get in the way of his escapist fantasies

about life in outer space or a post-pandemic future on this

planet. Buvoli, an Italian-born, New York-based artist also on

the faculty at the prestigious Maryland Institute College of

Art in Baltimore, was invited by the Phillips Collection to produce

new work that engages in some way with the museum’s

permanent collection as part of its Intersections series — and

becoming the first-ever digital Intersections edition in the process.

The result is an extension of Buvoli’s Astrodoubt series

— with the astronaut exploring 12 paintings from the collection,

inserting text to reflect on each scene depicted from an often

tragicomic perspective of COVID-19. Featured on the Phillips’

website as well as on its Instagram, Picture: Present is a 12-day

exercise, with a new scene released each day through Friday,

Aug. 7. A Zoom Artist Talk with Buvoli is set for Thursday, Aug.

13, at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.phillipscollection.org or www.instagram.com/phillipscollection.

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Spotlight

Ladykiller

Local theatre sensation Jade Jones is preparing to unleash her

pandemic-born nonbinary persona, Litty Official

JADE JONES WAS BARELY A TEENAGER WHEN SHE

first heard the axiom “there’s no business like show business.”

Then a seventh-grader, Jones was attending a performance

of Annie Get Your Gun, the musical the familiar phrase

is drawn from. “That production really stuck with me,” she says.

“It definitely was a catalyst for me wanting to do theater.”

It was a delayed catalyst. Jones didn’t pursue work on the

stage until after college. “I had a serious self-confidence issue

growing up,” says the 30-year-old. “And as much as I wanted to

perform, I didn't think that people believed in me. I was told I

was too black, too fat, too queer. There was definitely something

different about me that I was told the market was not interested

in. So I redirected my focus from performing to teaching.”

While working as a drama instructor in D.C., Jones decided

to try her hand at acting, and auditioned for Hair at The Keegan

Theatre. Just like that, she was all in. “It was the first professional

production I ever did,” she says, adding,

“I got naked on stage.” In the six years since

Jones has proceeded to steal scenes and

hearts everywhere from Creative Cauldron

to Mosaic Theater. Recently, she picked up

two Helen Hayes nominations, including one for her memorable

turn as Little Red Ridinghood in Into The Woods at Ford’s.

“My 2020 was looking amazing,” says Jones. “I was booked

up all year. I was doing The Amen Corner [at the Shakespeare

Watch Litty Offical

perform “Say Nuthin”

Theatre] and then I was going to have a week off [before] Much

Ado About Nothing. Then COVID hit, and I lost all my jobs. I was

like, ‘What am I going to do?’ I felt that maybe this was the time

to explore other aspects of myself and my creativity.”

Enter Litty Official, the Dr. Jekyll to Jones’ Mr. Hyde.

“There's a side of myself, of Jade, that's sweet and compassionate

and joyful and generous. And I've definitely portrayed and

expressed that part of me on stage,” she says. “Litty Official is

the flip side of that.”

Named after a penchant for getting lit using the nomenclature

of social media, Litty Official is a rappin’, rhymin’ nonbinary

ladykiller. “Litty Official is an unapologetically Black, queer alien

who hails from Planet #TooMuch. They are thick and proud,

with a heart as cold as a frozen daiquiri,” Jones says. Litty’s fivesong

debut mixtape, He Could Never, drops this weekend.

Ultimately, Litty Official grew out of Jones’ childhood experiences

— right down to her fascination with

Annie Get Your Gun: The persona’s motto

stems from that show’s signature song,

“Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better).”

“As a queer youth, there was always a part

of me that felt in competition with the boys — whether it was

sports, whether it was sexual orientation,” she says. “In my older

and wiser age, I've discovered that there is no competition. Litty

is the creative expression of that revelation.” —Doug Rule

Litty Official performs Saturday, Aug. 8, at 8 p.m., at Songbyrd Music House, 2477 18th St. NW. The concert will be livestreamed

as well as projected into the venue’s outdoor dining area. Tickets are $20 for a livestream link.

Call 202-450-2917 or visit www.songbyrddc.com.

He Could Never, Litty Official’s debut mixtape, will be available on Spotify and Apple Music on Saturday, Aug. 8.

For details follow @littyofficial on Instagram.

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Spotlight

Speedo Racer

Coree Woltering and Team Onyx blaze trails and scale mountains

on World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji.

BILLED AS THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST RACE, THE

11-day, multi-terrain Eco-Challenge Fiji, by all

accounts, lives up to its daunting title. Viewers can

judge for themselves with the August 14 release of Amazon

Prime’s World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji, a ten-episode

event hosted by Bear Grylls. Sixty-six teams from thirty

different countries run, climb, bike, sail, paddle, spelunk, and

swim through jungles and rivers, over mountains and the

Pacific, racing to claim victory.

"They definitely designed the course to make it just unforgiving,”

says elite ultra-runner Coree Woltering, who competed

in the Eco-Challenge as a member of Team Onyx — the first

all-Black, predominantly LGBTQ team in expedition racing.

“It takes an all-around athlete to be able to do something like

that, and just an extremely mentally strong person.”

Woltering would know. As a pro runner specializing in

competing at distances longer than a marathon, he just set a

formidable new record in June, running the

1,200-mile Ice Age Trail in under 22 days. The

Illinois native had been thinking of taking on

the Trail for a while, but, surprisingly, it was

life under the pandemic shutdown that made the enormous

undertaking possible. “Normally an effort that big would just

take too much out of me,” he says. “So I wouldn't be able to do

that in the middle of a racing season. But with COVID and no

races coming up, this was just kind of the perfect time to do it.”

Click Here to

Watch the Trailer

While the Ice Age Trail was the longest expedition

Woltering has completed — “three weeks of running and just

being out there every day” — he still calls Eco-Challenge Fiji

“the toughest race I've done.” And he hopes that his and Team

Onyx’s performance inspires others on their own boundary-pushing

adventures. “You don't see a lot of people of color

in the adventure racing world,” he says. “You don't even necessarily

see a ton in the outdoor [sporting] world, and especially

not at a high level. So I just think it's really important to be a

role model and show that people of color do love the outdoors.

We love adventure. We can do these things.”

Woltering recognizes a similar importance in representing

the LGBTQ community on the course. Yet, racing with

a purpose, he still makes a point of keeping the competition

fun. Known for racing in a pair of Speedos, the runner, who

found a fellow adventurer in his professional skydiver husband,

assures, “You'll definitely see a few Speedos in Eco-

Challenge.” The Lycra briefs might even be

Woltering’s secret weapon.

“It's really funny. I was racing a 50K in

Florida in 2015, and I was going to the beach, so,

of course, I packed a couple Speedos. But I also packed my running

shorts, or at least I thought I did. On race morning, I found

out that I forgot to pack my racing shorts. And so people are like,

‘It's Florida. No one cares. Just wear a Speedo.’ And I was like,

‘Okay.' So I wore a Speedo and I won the race.” —André Hereford

World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji is available for streaming starting August 14 on Prime Video. Visit www.amazon.com.

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Among the specific promises made in the platform are

that the party will enact protections for LGBTQ+ youth who

find themselves homeless, reverse the Trump administration’s

transgender military ban and its attempts to discharge service

members living with HIV, and provide coverage for HIV/AIDS

treatment and HIV-prevention medications, including pre- and

post-exposure prophylaxis.

With respect to health care, Democrats have vowed to

reverse a Trump administration rule that allows medical providers

to refuse to provide certain types of care or treatment

to LGBTQ people or others based on the provider’s personal

religious beliefs.

The party has promised to reinstate a provision of the

Affordable Care Act prohibiting discrimination based on sex

— including gender identity — by insurance companies and

medical providers, and ensure that transgender people receive

any care, including hormone therapy or gender confirmation

surgery, that their doctors have classified as medically necessary

to treat gender dysphoria.

In keeping with positions embraced by its presumptive nomtheFeed

IDA MAE ASTUTE FOR ABS

Democratic National Convention 2016

Equality Pledge

Democrats’ 2020 platform pledges to advance LGBTQ equality,

undo Trump’s attacks. By John Riley

A

DRAFT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S 2020 PLATform

solidifies the party’s stalwart commitment to

advancing equality, and offers one of the most pro-

LGBTQ party platforms ever. Shared by the Democratic

National Convention, which is set to take place virtually from

August 17-20, the platform draft checks off several key policies

that LGBTQ people have either been trying to push through

Congress for years, or that reverse harmful policies enacted by

the Trump administration.

In the platform’s preamble, the party vows that it will “give

hate no safe harbor,” whether in the form of “bigotry, racism,

misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or white supremacy.”

“Democrats will protect and promote the equal rights of all

our citizens — women, LGBTQ+ people, religious minorities,

people with disabilities, Native Americans, and all who have

been discriminated against in too many ways and for too many

generations,” the preamble reads.

“We commit ourselves to the vision articulated by Frederick

Douglass of ‘a Government founded upon justice, and recognizing

the equal rights of all.'”

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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theFeed

inee, former Vice President Joe Biden, the platform also praises

a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision finding that employment

discrimination against LGBTQ people is unlawful, and promises

to pass the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination

in several other areas of life in addition to employment, such

as housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations, and in

accessing federal programs.

Other planks of the platform include making sufficient mental

health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention services

available to LGBTQ individuals, ensuring all transgender and

nonbinary people can obtain official documents reflecting their

gender identity, combating the epidemic of anti-trans violence,

investigating alleged hate crimes, and reinstating Obama-era

guidance protecting transgender students from discrimination

under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act.

The party also promises to advocate for LGBTQ human rights

abroad and call out instances of anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination

in other countries.

“Democrats will advance the ability of all persons to live

with dignity, security, and respect, regardless of who they are

or who they love. We will restore the United States’ position of

leadership on LGBTQ+ issues by passing the GLOBE Act and

appointing senior leaders directly responsible for driving and

coordinating LGBTQ+ issues at the State Department, USAID,

and the National Security Council,” the draft platform reads

“We will ensure that our immigration policies account for

the needs of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers, and that we

use the full slate of human rights promotion and accountability

tools to defend the universal rights of LGBTQ+ people. We will

amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ persons around the world and

counter violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons

wherever it appears.”

The party’s platform stands in contrast to that of the

Republican Party, which repurposed its full 2016 platform

for this year’s upcoming November election, meaning it still

contains opposition to to same-sex marriage, support for religious-based

refusals of service, opposition to same-sex adoption,

and endorses the right of parents to determine whether to pursue

conversion therapy for their LGBTQ-identifying children.

Shortly after adopting its 2016 platform for the 2020 election,

the Republican National Committee released a memo

seeking to shore up their support among right-leaning LGBTQ

people and social libertarians by claiming that President Donald

Trump has taken “unprecedented steps to protect the LGBTQ

community,” citing his policies around increased funding for

HIV/AIDS and his administration’s efforts, led most recently

by former Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell,

to encourage countries with laws criminalizing homosexuality

to repeal them.

While Trump made history as the first Republican candidate

to support same-sex marriage, his administration has repeatedly

pursued policies — ranging from restrictions preventing

transgender individuals from serving in the military, to religious-based

exemptions for health care workers, to its efforts

to define “sex” as based only in biology — that critics say harm

LGBTQ people.

FACEBOOK

Highland High School’s 2020 drive-through graduation ceremony

Salty Senior

Salt Lake City high school publishes anti-transgender quote in yearbook. By John Riley

THE SALT LAKE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT IS APOLOGIZing

and condemning an anti-transgender quote from a graduating

student that has sparked controversy after it was published

in this year’s edition of the Highland High School yearbook.

The quote, from senior Daniel Totzke, claims: “There are

only two genders and a lot of mental illness.”

It was published underneath his photo in the space generally

reserved for inspirational or heartfelt messages from graduating

seniors. The person who first called attention to the quote was

another student, who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community.

14 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


theFeed

“I’m not usually one to post,” the student wrote in a Facebook

post that has been shared more than 7,500 times. “But I can’t

help but post about this. I am a student at Highland High School

going into my senior year. Due to the coronavirus our school

did not receive its yearbook until today. Shockingly, one of the

senior quotes was not as funny as the rest…. ‘There are only two

genders and a lot of mental illness.’ This is a clear attack towards

the trans community at Highland.

“As a member of the the LQBTQ+, this was extremely offensive

to me and many of the students at my school,” the post continues.

“I demand action to be taken against the student and the

administrator that made it so hate speech could go into our 2020

yearbook. The quotes were submitted before COVID started and

the yearbook came out late. There is no excuse for this. Please

help me make this public so [the student] can face the consequences

of his actions.”

It is unclear exactly how the controversial quote managed to

make its way into the final yearbook without vetting from student

editors, faculty yearbook advisors, or other administrators.

The district confirmed that the quote was genuine and had been

published in the yearbook in a statement to the Deseret News.

“Unfortunately, one of the senior quotes in the yearbook

included hate speech. Even more unfortunately, this quote was

published in spite of the editing protocol in place for the yearbook,”

the statement reads.

“This yearbook quote is absolutely unacceptable and in no

way reflective of the Salt Lake City School District, the value

we place on every student, and the standards we strive to

uphold,” Interim Superintendent Larry Madden said in his own

statement. “Let me make it clear that the Salt Lake City School

District condemns hate speech in any form.

“To have something like this included in one of our high

school yearbooks is abhorrent. We are committed to providing

a safe and equitable learning environment for all students,

including our LGBTQIA+ community. To our LGBTQIA+ and

other marginalized students I say, please know how deeply your

teachers, school administrators and district leaders care about

you and your well-being,” Madden added.

An investigation is ongoing into how the quote managed to

evade scrutiny. The district will also be working with Highland’s

new principal to review the editing process to ensure a similar

incident doesn’t happen in the future.

“The inclusion of this quote in the yearbook is more than

just an administrative oversight; it is an affront, an attack on our

Highland community and our LGBTQIA+ community in particular,”

Jeremy Chatterton, who started as the new principal in

July, said in a statement.

“As principal, I will not allow hate speech like this in my

school community. While the student in question has graduated,

I want to reassure community members that I will take the steps

necessary to make sure something like this is never allowed to

happen again.”

UNICEF ETHIOPIA-2013-SEWUNET

Criminal Behavior

Laws criminalizing homosexuality increase risk of gay men getting HIV. By Rhuaridh Marr

GAY AND BISEXUAL MEN IN COUNTRIES WITH

harsh laws criminalizing their sexual activity are almost

five times more likely to have HIV than in countries

where homosexuality is legal. That’s according to a new study by

Johns Hopkins University, which examined men who have sex

with men (MSM) in ten sub-Saharan countries, aidsmap reports.

In countries with laws harshly penalizing homosexuality, MSM

are 4.6 times more likely to be living with HIV than those in

countries where same-sex sexual activity is legal, researchers

found. For countries where criminalization exists, but punish-

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

15


homo-empire couldn’t tolerate even one commercial enterprise

not in full submission to the tyrannical LGBT agenda.”

She later canceled a planned meeting with a Politico reporter

and refused to respond to press inquiries about her comments.

Shortly after her appointment to USAID a few months ago, her

previous tweets — which had since been made private — were

once again trumpeted in the media, prompting a coalition of

congressional members to write a letter to John Barsa, the acting

administrator of USAID, to demand Corrigan’s resignation.

In the letter, the members said that Corrigan’s comments on

LGBTQ people and those who support them, as well as additional

comments she made on women in leadership, gender roles,

and immigration were “in direct opposition to the work USAID

supports.” They also said Corrigan “has no place in a federal

agency” and expressed concerns about USAID’s commitment

to fostering a work environment free from discrimination or

harassment.

“The statements made by Ms. Corrigan create a hostile work

environment and are antithetical to the principles the agency,

and indeed America, espouses. To date, there has been no public

retraction of these comments from Ms. Corrigan, or demand by

USAID, or the White House that she retract them, but rather a

statement defending Ms. Corrigan as ‘committed to enacting the

policies of President Donald J. Trump,'” the letter read. “For the

sake of USAID’s employees, the beneficiaries it supports around

the world, and the core values of the agency, we urge you to

immediately condemn this speech, and demand Ms. Corrigan’s

resignation.”

But on Monday, Corrigan appeared unapologetic, promising

to hold a press conference on Thursday to “discuss the rampant

anti-Christian sentiment at USAID” with Jacob Wohl and Jack

Burkman, political operatives who have, in the past, made scandalous,

but unproven, claims about opponents of the Trump

administration, accusing former Special Counsel Robert Mueller

of sexual misconduct, claiming that Kamala Harris is not a

natural-born U.S. citizen, and that Pete Buttigieg had sexually

assaulted a Michigan college student, among others.

In a Twitter thread, Corrigan claimed she “watched with hortheFeed

ments are less severe, MSM are more than twice as likely to be

living with HIV.

Researchers analyzed 8,113 MSM in 10 sub-Saharan countries

with varying degrees of criminalization: Burkina Faso, Côte

d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, and Rwanda, where homosexuality is

legal; Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, and eSwatini, where homosexuality

is punished with less than eight years in prison; and Gambia

and Nigeria, where MSM face more than ten years in prison for

having sex.

In the four countries without criminalization, 8% of the men

were living with HIV. In countries with some criminalization,

that figure rose to 20%. In the two countries with the harshest

punishments for same-sex sexual activity, more than half of the

men sampled (52%), were living with HIV.

Researchers also examined HIV rates relative to whether

countries ban pro-LGBTQ organizations. In countries that

restrict organizations serving MSM, men were more than twice

as likely to be living with HIV.

“Decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual practices

is necessary to optimize HIV prevention efforts and ultimately

address the HIV epidemic,” Carrie Lyons, senior researcher,

concluded.

Matthew Hodson, executive director of NAM aidsmap, told

PinkNews that countries sometimes argue that “[preventing]

the transmission of HIV and other STIs is sometimes used to as

cover to introduce or retain homophobic laws.”

“This report quantifies the increased risk of HIV acquisition

in countries that criminalize homosexuality and demonstrates

the relationship between severe penalties for same-sex sexual

behavior and higher prevalence of HIV,” Hodson said.

He added: “We will not end HIV without ensuring the rights

and dignity of LGBT people are respected.”

Federal Fumble

Trump appointee who called US a ‘homo-empire’ departs USAID. By John Riley

A

TRUMP APPOINTEE WITH A HISTORY OF ANTI-

LGBTQ comments has left her position with the U.S.

Agency for International Development, after members of

Congress demanded her resignation due to her public remarks.

According to NBC News, Merritt Corrigan, the deputy White

House liaison at USAID, was fired on Monday following months

of attacks from LGBTQ advocates and congressional Democrats

who found some of her past tweets and public statements offensive

and contrary to USAID’s mission.

Shortly after, Corrigan unlocked her previously private

Twitter account and issued six tweets, blasting USAID, congressional

Democrats, and the media, and issuing a series of

anti-LGBTQ attacks.

“Let me clear: Gay marriage isn’t marriage. Men aren’t

women. US-funded Tunisian LGBT soap operas aren’t America

First,” Corrigan tweeted.

She also claimed that she is a victim of anti-Christian discrimination

who has been unfairly targeted for holding conservative

beliefs.

It remains unclear whether Corrigan’s termination was

specifically because of her tweets, or whether the tweets were

issued in response to the loss of her position, which could have

been due to other factors.

In 2019, Corrigan, a former employee of the Republican National

Committee, took a new job as a political liaison at the Hungarian

embassy in Washington, D.C. After news of her employment

broke, Politico staffers Daniel Lippman and Lili Bayer reported

on Corrigan’s past tweets, noting that she had routinely praised

Hungary’s authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a vocal

opponent of LGBTQ equality, for his conservative views, calling

him the “shining champion of Western civilization.”

On her Twitter profile, which was made private shortly

after Corrigan’s comments came to light, Corrigan had said that

“Liberal democracy is little more than a front for the war being

waged against us by those who fundamentally despise not only

our way of life, but life itself.”

In another tweet, she criticized the LGBTQ rights movement

for allegedly bullying opponents into submission, writing: “our

16 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


theFeed

TWITTER

ror this week as USAID distributed taxpayer funded documents

claiming ‘we cannot tell someone’s sex or gender by looking at

them’ and that not calling oneself ‘cis-gendered’ (sic) is a microagression.”

She added: “I’m not cis-anything. I’m a woman.”

She accused several Democratic politicians, including House

Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, New Jersey Senators

Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine

of pushing for her ouster and slandering her. She also challenged

Engel to a debate and called Daniel Lippman, the Politico

reporter who first reported on her more controversial tweets, a

“stalker.”

“For too long, I’ve remained silent as the media has attacked

me for my Christian beliefs, which are shared by the majority

of Americans,” she tweeted. “Let me clear: Gay marriage isn’t

marriage. Men aren’t women. US-funded Tunisian LGBT soap

operas aren’t America First.”

“The United States is losing ground in the battle to garner

influence through humanitarian aid because we now refuse to

help countries who don’t celebrate sexual deviancy,” Corrigan

added, referring to LGBTQ rights and efforts to encourage

other countries to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality.

“Meanwhile, Russia and China are happy to step in and eat our

lunch.”

Corrigan

USAID released a statement to NBC News confirming that

Corrigan is no longer employed at the agency.

“USAID takes any claim of discrimination seriously, and

we will investigate any complaints of anti-Christian bias Ms.

Corrigan has raised during her tenure at the Agency,” Pooja

Jhunjhunwala, acting USAID spokesperson, said in a statement.

“USAID does not comment on the specific basis on which

employees leave the Agency. All political appointees serve at the

pleasure of the Administrator.”

The Human Rights Campaign celebrated Corrigan’s departure,

but noted that the Trump administration has many appointees

who have expressed identical sentiments in positions

throughout government.

“Sadly, Merritt Corrigan is not unique in the Trump

Administration. She is the exact type of anti-LGBTQ zealot

that Trump recruits and places in positions of power,” HRC

Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement.

“Corrigan’s biased and harmful beliefs are not shared by the

vast majority of Americans. Corrigan is a symptom of a larger

problem. It’s time to hold the Trump-Pence administration

accountable at the ballot box and elect a leader this November

who supports the fundamental humanity of LGBTQ people and

appoints people who share that basic decency.”

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

17


theFeed

FOX56

A

GROCERY STORE IN PENNSYLVANIA WAS SUBjected

to protests after displaying a sign accusing LGBTQ

people of spreading “deadly diseases and sickness.”

Wenger’s Grocery Outlet, in Mifflinburg, Penn., caused outrage

last month after creating a sign asking customers to be respectful

of those choosing not to wear face masks to help prevent the

spread of COVID-19.

It featured misinformation about the coronavirus, in addition

to anti-LGBTQ language accusing LGBTQ people of living a

sinful lifestyle.

The sign questioned the severity of the coronavirus pandemic,

which has led to more than 114,000 people becoming infected

and more than 7,200 deaths in the state, and suggested that the

virus was a “political agenda.”

It also featured a fake quote from U.S. Rep. Alexandria

Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) claiming that the New York congresswoman

had urged for businesses to remain closed until after

November to harm Donald Trump’s re-election chances.

But it was a section at the bottom about LGBTQ people that

drew particular ire from locals, the Daily Item reports. It accused

LGBTQ people of living a “lifestyle” of “sin,” and accused them

of spreading “deadly diseases and sickness.”

“There are people who got covid19 and not all the others

living in the same house got it,” the sign said. “This proves that

covid19 IS NOT AS CONTAGIOUS AS THE NEWS MEDIA

AND MANY OTHERS HAVE BLOWN IT UP TO BE. A lot of

these same people support LGBTQ. This lifestyle is sin in God’s

eyes and spreads deadly diseases and sicknesses.”

Selling Hate

Pennsylvania store protested for sign saying LGBTQ people

‘spread deadly diseases.’ By Rhuaridh Marr

After heavy criticism, the sign was removed and employees

in the store began to wear face masks, according to Daily Item.

“I hope they did it for the right reasons,” one resident said.

“I’m glad they took down the horrible sign and I’m hoping they

apologize for the comment about the LGBTQ community.”

Patricia Arduini, president of the Susquehanna Valley Ethical

Society (SVES), told Daily Item that she hoped Mark Wenger,

owner of the grocery store, had removed the sign and implemented

masks after further researching the seriousness of the

COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m also still not hearing a meaningful acknowledgement or

apology to the LGBTQ community,” Arduini said. “It was a very

divisive statement and not appropriate in uniting a community.”

After the removal of the sign, a Pride rally was held in the

street outside the store. Dozens of activists and allies lined the

town’s main street, wearing coordinated t-shirts in small groups

to form the colors of the Pride flag.

Speaking to FOX56, I Am Alliance founder Victoria Mathews

— who helped organize the rally — said those who attended were

“here to love…not for hate,” and hoped the show of support for

LGBTQ people would “bring unity and a greater understanding.”

“I am a gay man in central PA who grew up here, around

here,” Trevor Leon, who attended the rally, told FOX56. “It’s

hard.”

Leon added: “Some little gay kid growing up here in Central

PA is going to see this and see all the support and hopefully it

helps.”

Counter-protesters in cars featuring Confederate and U.S.

18 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


theFeed

flags circled the location of the rally, revving their engines and

blasting horns.

One van featured a sign saying, “Obey sodom = takeover +

annihilation,” while many of those attending the counter-protest

expressed their support for Donald Trump.

“Doesn’t mean we don’t love them,” Carl Schreck, a counter-protester,

said. “It just means it’s sin. My sin’s no different

than her sin, but God says you should not be a homosexual.”

Wenger has yet to publicly comment on the sign, or the subsequent

criticism of his store.

TONI REED

Executive Action

Canadian mayor offers to help anti-gay resident leave town. By Rhuaridh Marr

A

CANADIAN MAYOR HAS OFFERED TO HELP A

local homophobe find a realtor and move out of town

after backlash over an anti-gay letter. Tyler Gandam,

mayor of Wetaskiwin, Canada, said that he was “happy to help”

the anonymous author of the letter leave the city after they complained

about a pro-LGBTQ yard display last month.

It came after Wetaskiwin resident Jessica Hanks won the

Grand Prize in the city’s Canada Day yard decorating contest,

after winning the most votes from the public.

Hanks, whose 15-year-old daughter is gay, had included a

Pride flag in her display in a show of inclusivity.

She received an anonymous letter after winning the competition,

but rather than a note of congratulations, its author told

Hanks that she was supporting a “‘sick’ portion of society.”

“You apparently have no pride in being a true Canadian in

that I do believe that was a multi-coloured ‘flag’ hanging on your

fence indicating the ‘sick’ portion of society,” the anonymous letter

said. “Junk like the ‘Pride’ followers have no place in society

and certainly not in Wetaskiwin.”

The author also criticized the painting of rainbow crosswalks

in the city in June to celebrate Pride month, writing, “I sincerely

hope and pray you were not one of those who painted the avenue-way

by Norquest college. If you were, SHAME ON YOU!”

Hanks said the attack felt particularly personal as the mother

of an LGBTQ child.

“I started crying,” Hanks told the Pipestone Flyer. “My daughter

was standing beside me as I read it and my daughter is gay.”

Hanks shared the letter on Facebook, saying she was “proud

as hell to support the LGBTQ community. As the mother of a

gay child.”

“She is not sick. She is not disgusting. She is perfect in EVERY

SINGLE WAY,” Hanks wrote, adding that the letter “shook me

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AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

21


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to my core.”

The post was quickly filled with supportive comments, condemning

the letter and its author and offering encouragement to

Hanks and her daughter.

“It was nice to see Wetaskiwin have my back,” she told the

Pipestone Flyer, adding that she would be retaliating to the letter

with “even more love.”

“When you drive by my house next time the rainbow will be

even bigger,” she said.

The letter also drew the attention of Mayor Gandam, who

took to Facebook to support the city’s LGBTQ community and

offer to help the letter’s author find a realtor and move out of

town.

“If the person who wrote this, sees this post, please know that

I was one of the people who proudly helped paint the Pride crosswalks

on Main Street this year and last year,” Gandam wrote.

“I’m proud of the City I live in and get to be the Mayor for.

I hope that we continue to build inclusivity in our community,”

he continued. “If you’re unhappy with how things are and need

help finding a realtor, please let me know, I’ll be happy to help!”

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL

Bezos

Bezos Backpedals

Jeff Bezos opens door to allowing donations to

anti-LGBTQ groups through AmazonSmile. By John Riley

AMAZON CEO JEFF BEZOS POTENTIALLY OPENED

the door to allowing customers to donate to anti-LGBTQ

groups during an antitrust hearing on Capitol Hill earlier

this week. Bezos caved under fierce questioning from U.S.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) about Amazon’s Smile program, which

donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the charitable organization

of a customer’s choice.

Under the current guidelines, however, some groups are

ineligible to receive donations because they allegedly “engage

in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism,

violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities.”

Gaetz asked why certain organizations, such as Catholic

Family News, the Federation for Federal Immigration

Reform, the American Family Association, the Family

Research Council, and Jewish Defense League are not eligible

to receive donations.

Bezos responded that Amazon currently uses information

from the U.S. Foreign Asset Office and the Southern Poverty

Law Center’s list of known “hate groups” to determine whether

an organization is ineligible, according to Business Insider.

“I’m just wondering why you would place your confidence in

a group that seems to be so out of step and seems to take mainstream

Christian doctrine and label it as hate?” Gaetz said of the

SPLC. “…Since they’re calling Catholics and these Jewish groups

hateful groups, why would you trust them?”

Bezos acknowledged that Amazon was using an “imperfect

system,” and was open to suggestions on how to determine eligibility,

to which Gaetz suggested “a divorce from the SPLC.”

Later in the hearing, Bezos was again asked about the SPLC

and implied that Amazon would explore other options when

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AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

23


theFeed

determining appropriate organizations to which customers may

choose to donate.

“While I accept what you’re saying that the SPLC and US

Foreign Asset Office are not perfect, and I would like a better

source if I can get it, that is what we use today,” Bezos said.

If Amazon were to follow Gaetz’s lead and allow the groups

he mentioned to receive donations through the Amazon Smile

program, the company would effectively be funneling money

towards a number of groups that vehemently oppose LGBTQ

rights, including the American Family Association and the

Family Research Council, which was removed from Amazon

Smile’s list of eligible organizations last month.

According to the SPLC, the American Family Association regularly

engages in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric towards any expansion of

LGBTQ rights, based on the belief that homosexuality, same-sex

marriage, and transgenderism are sinful and harmful to society.

AFA’s “One Million Moms” offshoot has become infamous

for calling for boycotts of companies who express support for

LGBTQ rights or representation, with the Hallmark Channel

serving as its most recent target due to the channel’s statements

that it may be considering introducing LGBTQ characters or an

LGBTQ storyline for one of its famed Christmas movies.

The Family Research Council, meanwhile, regularly lobbies

lawmakers to oppose legislation that promotes LGBTQ rights or

same-sex marriage, including nondiscrimination bills, anti-bullying

laws, hate crime laws, and allowing LGBTQ individuals to

serve openly in the U.S. military.

FRC even opposed a Trump administration initiative calling

on countries to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, even in

places where homosexuality or same-sex activity is punishable

by prison or death.

The group’s president, Tony Pekins, said that pushing countries

to repeal their anti-LGBTQ laws would be a form of “cultural

imperialism.”

FACEBOOK

Dangerous Deportation

al-Bokari

Saudi Arabian court sentences Yemeni blogger to prison and deportation

for supporting LGBTQ rights. By John Riley

A

COURT IN SAUDI ARABIA HAS SENTENCED A

Yemeni national prison and deportation for an online

video expressing support for LGBTQ rights. The New

York-based Human Rights Watch reported that on July 20,

Yemeni blogger Mahomaed al-Bokari was sentenced to 10

months in prison and eventual deportation back to Yemen for

“violating public morality by promoting homosexuality online.”

He has also been charged with “imitating women,” with

prosecutors claiming he had undergone gender confirmation

surgery to become a woman — which al-Bokari has denied. He

will be fined 10,000 Saudi riyals, or the equivalent of $2,700, for

his alleged crimes.

24 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


“These charges show that the court decision is based on

discriminatory accusations against al-Bokari based on his perceived

sexual orientation and gender expression,” Human

Rights Watch said in a news release. Al-Bokari, 29, has 30 days

to appeal the verdict.

Saudi Arabia often brings charges against people who advocate

for LGBTQ rights by using cybercrime laws to prosecute

content that authorities find objectionable. Same-sex relations

are illegal and punishable by death in the country.

Last year, CNN reported that five men were executed in

Saudi Arabia for allegedly admitting to having se with other men,

but human rights watchers believe they were beaten into giving

false confessions.

Al-Bokari was arrested in April after posting videos to

Snapchat in which he urged others to respect the personal freedom

of gay people, according to Middle East Eye.

“Everyone has their own rights,” he said. “Homosexuals have

their rights. I hope you will leave homosexual people alone and

not intervene in their personal affairs. Everyone is free.”

He previously fled Yemen in June 2019 after being threatened

by local militia groups, and has since been living in Saudi

Arabia as an undocumented migrant. His eventual deportation

back to Yemen is all but certain to endanger his life.

“Saudi Arabia’s public relations campaigns tout the kingdom’s

‘progress,’ but the court’s jail sentence for peaceful

speech and then deportation to Yemen where the defendant’s

life is at risk shows how hollow these claims are,” Rasha

Younes, an LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch,

said in a statement.

“Saudi Arabia should match rhetoric with reality and drop

the case and the deportation against al-Bokari immediately.”

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

25


Taking Aim

Whether it’s her new Netflix special

or writing for SNL, Sam Jay is building

a comedy career that is as bold

as it is masterful.

Interview by André Hereford

IN HER FIRST NETFLIX ORIGINAL COMEDY SPECIAL,

3 in the Morning, Sam Jay comes out swinging. Aiming

punchlines at ripe targets from Elon Musk and Donald

Trump to the last man she slept with before coming out as a lesbian

(“I just hope I’m not the reason you’re like this”), she slays

without breaking a sweat. Filmed in Atlanta, where the comic

was born, the hour-long special captures the Boston-raised

Jay’s distinct humor and worldview in a tight burst of raw

energy and rapid-fire edits that match her swaggering delivery.

Before filming the special, Jay, also an Emmy-nominated

writer on Saturday Night Live, and 3 in the Morning director

Kristian Mercado Figueroa brainstormed its flow over blunts.

“We talked for an hour and a half just about ideas,” she says.

“This is what I wanted and how I wanted it to feel, and what

he was thinking.” She played Mercado her 2018 live stand-up

album, Donna’s Daughter, and showed him some of her appearances

on shows like Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup, and her

half-hour Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents special. “We just

vibed,” she recalls.

“I also really liked the way he lit people of color, and I just

thought he knew what to do with melanin,” she says of the

filmmaker, who also directed Hannibal Buress’ latest special,

Miami Nights. “That was exciting to me because I was like, ‘I

want to look good up there. I don't want to be washed out and

shit.’ You know what I'm saying? So then we just kept building

the vision and it came out. I couldn't be happier. I'm so glad that

I went with him.”

The product of a happy collaboration, 3 in the Morning

reflects a solo performer ready to flex her confidence on the

global stage. Jay surely earned some of that nerve by struggling

through her 20s, moving between Boston and Atlanta, ultimately

surviving a period during which she felt truly lost. “All

the endeavors that I had been pursuing were falling apart, and

I just really didn't know what I wanted to do,” she says. “I felt

completely unfulfilled and was just moving through life, but not

feeling like I was impacting life or even controlling my own.”

By then, Jay had tried her hand at comedy, without finding

her direction. Yet, at her lowest, “the stand-up bug just started

to come again,” she says. “I was being funny in group settings

and I was happiest when I was doing that. And I was just like,

‘Man, you kind of ran away from this thing in a way and it may

be the thing, because you're scared of it, that you need to be

walking head-on towards.’”

So she hit her stand-up head-on, honed her unfiltered comic

voice, and toured and hustled her way onto some major lineups.

“I did Just For Laughs, which is a big comedy festival that happens

in Montreal every year. I was there for New Faces, which

is one of the highest honors of the festival. I had a really good

set and there were some SNL producers in the audience, and

they just reached out to my management, ‘Will she audition in

L.A.?’ Because that's where I lived at the time.”

Jay’s L.A. audition went well enough for Saturday Night

Live to fly her to New York to audition in front of the show’s

legendary executive producer Lorne Michaels. “That went

well, and then they just offered me a writing job.” Nearly four

seasons and two Emmy nominations later, Jay, the show’s sole

Black lesbian staff writer, has found her direction, writing

installments of recurring parody Black Jeopardy and other viral

sketches, like Cha-Cha Slide, which featured John Mulaney as a

White guy at a Black wedding who’s casually hip to the culture.

“That's one of my favorite sketches,” she says. “It was, for

me, one of the first sketches where I got all my Black love

into it. And I was like, ‘Yay, look at it, look at it happening.

This is cool!’”

26

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


NETFLIX


METRO WEEKLY: You said you talked with 3

in the Morning director Kristian Mercado

about how you wanted the special to feel.

What was that?

SAM JAY: I wanted it to feel intimate and

I wanted it to feel important, without

saying it was important. I wanted you to

know it was a moment, because it was

a moment for me, but I didn't want it to

be like, "Ladies and gentlemen! Coming

to the stage...!” You know what I mean?

Because that's not how my actual life is in

stand-up right now. I'm still meeting audiences,

I'm still building a fan base, I don't

go to any show and they just lose their

fucking minds for me. So I didn't want to

portray that in the special, when it's not

real. But I also was like, this is special. So

how do we do both of those things? And I

feel like we executed it, or at least we did

to a degree that makes me happy.

MW: I didn't really think about that whole

“crowd goes wild,” Robin Williams entering

the Met kind of thing. Do you foresee that

for yourself?

JAY: I don't know if I'll ever be that style

of a person. I don't know. I don't think so.

MW: Now let's take it back. How did you get

started in comedy?

JAY: I tried comedy when I was 20, 21, and

my cousin, she was married to this dude

named Chris, he was a local comedian

and I had always wanted to try comedy. I

remember when I was like 12, he had put

on this show for kids — funny kids — and

he asked my two cousins to do it and he

didn't ask me. I was so hurt. I never said

anything but inside I was like, "I want to

see if I can maybe do that."

MW: Because you thought you were funny?

JAY: I thought I could maybe do it. I've

always been interested, I've always been

a super comedy fan, watched since I

was very young, probably too young to

be watching some of the things I was

watching, but I was just always super into

comedy. Loved the Wayans family, would

watch anything they made, love Eddie

Murphy, would watch anything he made,

then eventually that grew into watching

Comic View, sneaking to watch Def Jam,

trying to retell Def Jam jokes at school,

falling in love with Niecy Nash and just

always following funny people. That went

all the way through high school, and when

I started watching The State and Strangers

with Candy, and all these different sketch shows. I just always

had an affinity for that kind of stuff. Finally, around 20, I was

like, "I want to try this thing." And I tried it. It wasn't good.

MW: Stand-up or sketch?

JAY: Stand-up. I never tried sketch. I was always in a stand-up

space mentally. But I just didn't connect to it. It just didn't feel

like how I thought it was supposed to feel. And then I got sick, I

“My girl is a

little vain. I

wasn't talking

about her at

first and she

was like, ‘You

don't ever talk

about me.’

I just didn’t

have anything

to say. And

then WHEN

I STARTED

HAVING

STUFF TO

SAY, SHE WAS

LIKE, ‘DON'T

BE TALKING

ABOUT ME!’”

was in and out of the hospital for a while,

and then when I finally was healthy, I

moved to Atlanta to go to school around

22, 23. I went down to Atlanta, but did

not really go to school — I just used that

as an excuse to get the hell out of Boston.

Partied a bunch, drank a bunch, and then

started messing around with music and

stuff, and just forgot about it. [I] just

was just doing other things and moving

through life and these other directions.

And then when I hit about 27, 28, I was

just really lost a bit.

I got sick again in Atlanta, it had

come full-circle in a trash-ass way. It was

terrible. I had ended up sleeping on my

friend's floor, and this dude comes in and

he's her roommate and he's like, “Sam?”

He knew me because he used to sleep on

my floor. So it was just like, “I got to go.

This is all the way bad.” And I've tapped

this out, my Atlanta run is over.

So I took my ass back home, and when

I got home, everyone's still doing the

same shit. Boston's a small town. My family,

still everybody's working at a hospital

or working on a public bus and all that

kind of shit. And I'm just watching everyone

be in a rut and I'm like, "This can't be

life." And the stand-up thing is still nagging

at me. And I'm like, "You just need to

go ahead and put your head down and try

this shit." So I called up Chris, my cousin's

husband. And I was like, "Hey, man I

want to get back on the [open] mike.” And

he was like, “Oh, you’re serious?" I'm like,

"I'm serious." And he was like, "All right,

well, there's a mike on Sunday." And I

went, I got booed, but there was this kid

there and he told me about all the other

mikes in the city and I just kept going.

MW: That night were they booing your

jokes?

JAY: They just didn't want comedy. It was

at this VFW type situation that they had a

party, and then they were doing comedy

after the party, but the people who were

at the party hadn't cleared out and they

wanted to watch basketball and [organizers]

were like, "No, we’re going to start

this comedy show." And seriously, as

soon as I said a word, this dude from the

back was like, “Boo, shut the fuck up!”

So I didn't even get to do it for real. But

it was also like, I felt like that was God

being like, "Bitch, this is what it’s going

to be. Either you going to keep pushing with this shit or you're

going to let this stuff knock you off your square. We going to

check you right here, right now." And so, I felt like it was a test.

I just kept getting up and, really, three minutes turned into five

minutes, turned into 10, turned into 15.

MW: I mean, would you have wanted to start out with killing from

the very first set?

28

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


JAY: I don't think so. You want to get in the trenches with it and

build it, for sure.

MW: Now, shooting this special in Atlanta, why there?

JAY: I just have a connection to the city. I lived there for eight

years. I was born there, but I moved when I was a baby, very

young, so I don't remember it. So I'm Boston raised, basically,

but I was born there and I have family there. And that's where

I found myself, that's where I came out,

that's where I met my girlfriend, it's where

I met my first group of queer gay friends.

You know what I mean? Really just when

I feel like I came to be who I am.

MW: How are gay and lesbian comics

received there, and in terms of booking,

throughout the south?

JAY: I don't feel like I've had issues. I've

done shows in Asheville, North Carolina

and at the Dead Crow, which is near

Wilmington. I've done Florida.... So I don’t

think I’ve had issues. But sometimes you

get to those rooms and yeah, you'll get a

bunch of white people, for lack of a better

word, that just ain't gonna go with the shit.

And they might walk out in the middle of

a Trump joke, because they don't want to

hear what you got to say. I think they sit

down ready to not want to hear what you

got to say because of what you look like.

They’re already like, "We're not going

to like this." You know what I'm saying?

Sometimes you get that, and it just is what

it is.

MW: Since you brought up Trump. In 3 in

The Morning you make a case that Trump

is “the first nigga in the White House.” I

think I caught your meaning. Although I

can see how it could be misconstrued. Do

you ever worry, with that joke or any joke,

about the humor being taken the wrong

way?

JAY: Well, I'm curious what part of it do

you think could be misconstrued?

MW: You seem to make a dichotomy

between what a president would do and

what a “nigga” would do. That’s what you

set up, and I guess some people could construe

what a “nigga” would do as not necessarily

somebody who is...

JAY: Black?

MW: Black. I guess the thing is you're not

using that word just to mean Black, and

a lot of people could think you are, and it

could go down a whole other rabbit hole.

JAY: I just feel like if you listen, then you

know that's not the case. And if you want

to be triggered, then you're going to be

triggered. But then you want to be triggered,

and I can't do nothing about the

people that want to be triggered.

MW: But it feels like a lot of people want to

be triggered these days.

JAY: Yeah, they do. But that has nothing to

do with me. I think if you listen for what

“You'll get a

bunch of white

people...and

they might

walk out in

the middle of

a Trump joke,

because they

don't want to

hear what you

got to say. And

I think THEY

SIT DOWN

READY TO

NOT WANT TO

HEAR WHAT

YOU GOT TO

SAY BECAUSE

OF WHAT YOU

LOOK LIKE.”

it is, you get the joke in it. I tell it that way specifically, because

the white people will hear it, and I definitely want the ones that

support Trump to face a reality of what they're supporting and

stop pretending that it's something else that it isn't. And so it's

also that level of, let's take the veil off of this and stop playing

these games. You all being nigga’d. That's what's going on. He's

nigging in there and just doing whatever the hell he wants to do

and let's not pretend it's something else.

MW: It's a strong opinion.

JAY: You’re making me nervous. I felt

good about the joke, now you making me

nervous.

MW: Oh, no. No. I want strong opinions in

my comedy. Another strong opinion, and

something that I support in general, you

make a statement that trans women are

real women. And I'm wondering if you've

had any trans women or men in your audience

who have reacted or responded to any

of your trans humor.

JAY: I've definitely had trans women and

men in the audience. And they've never

specifically come up to me and been like

this or that about the joke as much they'd

just be like, "That's funny. And I appreciate

the angle you're coming at." But it also

lives in that same space as the Trump

joke, right? Where you can listen for one

thing and then you can run with that, and

you can take it and go left, and say that

I'm being anti-trans if you want to, if you

want to be triggered. Or you can listen to

the joke, and hear all the different levels

and things that I'm playing on and trying

to speak about, and see that I'm genuinely

trying to push the dialogue and open

the conversation up.

But I can't write thinking about the

triggered people, because then I'll be

writing in a box, you know what I'm saying?

Because I am queer, I'm gay. I definitely

don't want to be saying anything

that's anti-my community. So I do think

about things like that. Even when I wanted

to do the trans joke it was like, I had to

think about, “What are you saying? What

are you trying to say? Why do you want

to say this? Why do you think it needs to

be said?” And I do those types of checks

in my head before I move forward with

any joke: Me Too, trans, Trump. It's like,

"Why are you saying this? Why do you

want to say it? Why do you feel like you

need to say it? Okay. All your chakras are

aligned and in a good place, go forward."

MW: Sticking with people not necessarily

being triggered, how has your wife

responded to seeing herself and your life

presented in your stand-up? Or is that

something that you prepare somebody for

when you start dating?

JAY: I mean, so this is a real funny question

because my girl is a little vain. So I

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

29


NETFLIX

“I do checks in my head before I move forward

with any joke: Me Too, trans, Trump. It's like,

‘Why are you saying this? Why do you want to

say it? Why do you feel like you need to say it?

Okay. ALL YOUR CHAKRAS ARE ALIGNED AND

IN A GOOD PLACE, GO FORWARD.’”

wasn't talking about her at first and she

was like, "You don't ever talk about me."

And I was like, I don't know, I just didn’t

have anything to say. And then when I

started having stuff to say, it was like,

"Don't be talking about me!" But in the

realness of it, I run everything by her.

She's such a big supporter. I don't know

if I would even be here without my girl in

my corner. She literally goes on the road

with me and I hate going on the road,

especially I hate going alone, and going

with her always just enriches the experience.

Even all those jokes I got out of

Europe, I have to attribute that to my girl.

If I would've went on that European tour

alone, I wouldn't have much of nothing

to say about the trip.

So in that regard, I run everything

by her. Like, "Babe, I'm thinking about

doing this or talking about this thing,

and are you cool with that?" Or, "Are you

uncomfortable?" if I do just get on stage

and happen to riff something, and it just

comes out — when I get off, I'm like,

"Was that too much? Do you not want me

to say this part?" Or, "Are you cool with

all of it?" Because I do respect her, and

I don't want to be out there disrespecting

her. Even though people are going

to watch it and be like, "Oh shit, she be

talking crazy about her girl." I want home

to be good. I want us to be like, we good

and we know what we on.

MW: I've never dated a comic, so it’s never

come up, but I feel like if it takes a lot of

nerve to be a comic, it must take a lot of

nerve to be with on. Is that the case?

JAY: Yeah, my girl, she's no pushover. If

she don't want something, it's not going

to happen. I always tell people, "I'm really

the bullied one." If only people knew.

A lot of this stuff I have to run by her

because I'm just afraid of her. And I'm

like, I don't want to deal with no static

later on.

MW: So I want to talk about SNL, because

I am a lifelong fan of that show. Was it

a show that meant something to you as

a kid?

JAY: Well, yeah. I definitely watched it. I

was younger and I feel like the show is one

of those shows where it comes in phases.

So I remember being like nine, 10, and my

parents would watch it. And so by default,

I knew about it and knew the players and

stuff. And then I used to watch Eddie

Murphy's Best of SNL tape that my mom

had all the time. So I was aware of the

world and what the world was.

Then, when I was in my early teens,

it was all Molly Shannon, and I loved all

that. And I would go to every SNL movie.

30

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


Night at the Roxbury. Superstar. I would go see all that stuff and

I knew all the characters. And then you had the Maya Rudolph

years, with Gemini's Twin. So it's just like different points in the

show, that I just had these different things that I fell in love with.

So I was aware of it, but I never thought of myself in that space.

As I was doing stand-up and, as you see how my special is, I'm

like, "I don't live in NBC world." I'm over here doing some whole

other shit. So I never even saw myself in that space.

MW: Well, do you have a favorite Black Jeopardy sketch?

JAY: I like the Tom Hanks one.

MW: Honestly, I think they're all good. I liked the Chadwick

Boseman one.

JAY: I wrote on the Chadwick one. So it's by default that's my

favorite, but that's not fair, I feel. If I take myself out of it, the

Tom Hanks one.

MW: What is the process of getting something from the kernel of an

idea or a joke to script, then to something that's getting rehearsed

and on air?

JAY: I mean, the process is brutal and really not up to me. All I

do is, I write it, then it goes to the table. And maybe it'll go, and

maybe it won’t. And even through that process, even if you can

get past that and you're like, "All right, we're going to make the

sketch,” you still have to make it from dress [rehearsal] to air, so

you can get chopped somewhere between there. And then sometimes,

if the air's running over or it's crazy, and there's no time,

because it's live, you might be bottom of the show, you might get

chopped. So you never really feel safe, or feel things are going to

go till it goes and you see it, and you're like, "It happened, cool."

MW: Are writers at the table for those first reads?

JAY: Yeah, everybody is.

MW: I just have to ask, did you have anything to do with Cha Cha

Slide? Because that's like —

JAY: I sure did, boo.

MW: I wouldn’t say somebody could be triggered by that because

it's so good-natured, but I could see how, again, people could miss

the meaning despite the fact that there's so much love in that

sketch.

JAY: That's just my comedic voice, I guess. It's just like, you

could catch it or you could take it another route if you want to

take it another route.

MW: I wonder this every summer, when the show is on hiatus, is there

stuff happening right now in the world that you might be dying to

write about? Jokes that you would want to make because there's all

kinds of shit going on. How are you getting your comedy out?

JAY: Well, I've just been doing a lot of writing. I have some projects

that I've been working on, so I've just been trying to throw

Click Here to

Watch the Trailer

for Sam Jay’s

Special

my energy into the things I can do. You know

what I mean? I can write these shorts and I

can play around in this world through writing

and having Zoom sessions with my homies

and jamming on stuff in that kind of way. And

then there's been a few little popup shows that

are outside of New York that I've been able to

bop to, here and there, just to take the edge off. And at least, if I

really got fucking pressed and I'm like, "I need to talk about this,”

there’s somewhere to kind of do it now, but it is tough, because

it's not every night, it's not how it used to be.

That's what makes New York magical for comics. It's like,

you can get up every night, do three, four shows every night and

really build something. Honestly, if the world wasn't shut down,

I'd probably be 20 minutes into another hour by this point.

MW: How did you build the hour for 3 In The Morning? Was that

over the course of a bunch of road dates, or did you just hole yourself

up writing?

JAY: It was a little bit of both. When I first got the news that I

was going to do it, it was just getting up a lot in New York. It was

just really pounding the material out in New York and getting it

to a place where I was feeling good about it, because I feel like

New York's the best place to do stand-up. I think the audiences

are just savvy, they know comedy, they love comedy. New York

you can really fuck with them, that's how a lot of these bits got

made, because I was doing this shit in New York and they're

a place that'll let you fuck around and say some crazy shit and

push them and really figure out the nuance of it.

Then I was like, "Okay, once I get it there, now let me take it

on the road and figure out how to make this palatable to more

than grimy New Yorkers." And just grow it out like that. That's

why it was so important for me to go to Europe, because I just

wanted to also have gotten that more global and international

test to know, “All right, I'm not just talking out my ass.” And that

gave me the confidence to say the stuff I said, because I took it

all around.

MW: What is next now that 3 In The Morning is out of the bag?

JAY: I mean, I got some projects in development, some things

that I'm working on that I'm excited about that I can't talk about,

but hopefully they all work out. I'm going to keep writing, doing

stand-up and just let that take me wherever it takes me. And I'm

also just chilling and going to let it just wash over me and think

about what I want to do next, to be honest, and just assess where

I am after all of this and then see where my voice is bringing me.

MW: Are you going to do SNL this season?

JAY: I am, because there is no touring and I need a job.

MW: When reading up on you, other names come up like SNL cast

members Danitra Vance and Ellen Cleghorne, Maya Rudolph,

Leslie Jones. What is it like to be part of that legacy of Black

women at SNL when, frankly, not that many Black women have

walked through that door and created a sustained impact?

JAY: I mean, it's huge. And I think also it's a big deal because,

like you said, it's not a lot of Black women that walk through that

door. And I think the more that do, the more that will, and the

more that will even attempt to. I feel like they can. I definitely

know I was one, I didn't even think that was a door that could

open for me until it opened. And so I definitely feel like just

being in those spaces and also creating in your true voice and

your authenticity, and not letting that be decided by the space,

but you bringing something to the space, only helps up the visibility

for people that look like us.

MW: Speaking of, how are you keeping your fade together?

JAY: You know what? I was really messed up for a while, because

I was taking [lockdown] seriously, so I was

not getting a haircut. I was like, nope, nope,

nope. So I was really Sherman Klump-ing out

here. Shit was looking super crazy. But then I

had to do something for TV, and I was like, "I

cannot." So my barber's been coming over, and

he'll be like full hazmat. But I'm doing the DJ

Khaled thing.

MW: I was going to say, because your special starts out with you

getting your hair cut, that a barber’s a good person to have out on

the road with you when the time comes.

JAY: Yeah. I feel like that's when I’ll know I’ve made it, when

I'm like Diddy and the barber’s just with me everywhere. That’s

when I’ve arrived.

Sam Jay: 3 in the Morning is currently available for streaming on

Netflix. Visit www.netflix.com.

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

31


Gallery

Outrage I - Will we have to march again? by Andrea Rowe Kraus

Art & Activism

IN 2020, WE CAN NO LONGER STAY SILENT ON THE

issues that matter.” And with that as an opening statement,

Dupont Circle’s Studio Gallery is off and running with

the artist cooperative’s latest all-members exhibition. Art &

Activism showcases artworks that have been inspired by one

or more of the social movements of our time: from Black Lives

Matter to immigration reform, women’s rights to LGBTQ

equality, climate change to the coronavirus pandemic.

Available for viewing either as a traditional exhibition

in the reopened gallery space or as a virtual display, Art &

Activism features works by member artists, among them

Gordon Binder, Gary Anthes, Kimberley Bursic, William

Bowser, Deborah Addison Coburn, Suzanne Goldberg, Lois

Kampinsky, Thierry Guillemin, Yuno Baswir, and Lisa Allen.

Some participants have also elected to donate a percentage of

their sales to a charity of their choosing.

On display to Aug. 22. Studio Gallery is open by appointment

on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and to the general

public on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 6 p.m., with a maximum

of five guests in the space at any one time. Face masks

required. The gallery is at 2108 R St. NW. Call 202-232-8734

or visit studiogallerydc.com.

32 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


Day 2 by Sally Kauffman

Honor Guard (First Time Ever, Pride Parade)

by Gordon Binder

Scale Model for Border Protection Facility, Trump Era, 2019 by William Bowser

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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34 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


Television

NETFLIX

Streaming

Through Time

Umbrella Academy and Dark use time as a narrative device,

while Mrs. America returns us to a critical time

in our history. By Randy Shulman

WITH THEATRICAL RELEASES HAVING COME TO A SUDDEN,

screeching halt, our collective eyes have turned to our TVs and devices,

where streaming services now reign supreme. There is so much exceptional

content out there — both new and classic — that it’s helping make quarantine a bit

more bearable. With that in mind, here are three binge-worthy shows that you should

immediately put at the top of your must-watch list.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY. The Netflix series bears only a modest resemblance to the

comic book series written by Gerard Way and lavishly illustrated by Gabriel Bá. The

toning-down of the book’s extravagant violence is for the better, though the storyline

remains as offbeat and wild. The adventures of a profoundly dysfunctional family

of adopted siblings, each with his or her own special superpower,

retains all of its bizarreness, and season two, which dropped

last weekend, is as good as, if not better than, the first. Both deal

with the siblings attempting to halt a predetermined apocalyptic

event, and both delve into some fairly resonant emotional terrain.

Season two, which takes place in Dallas leading up to Kennedy’s

assassination, elevates the show’s LGBTQ quotient in a beautifully organic way. The

cast is fantastic, with standouts including a quietly simmering Ellen Page, Kate Walsh

(doing her very best Wendie Malick), David Castañeda as the brash, impetuous Diego,

a scene-stealing Robert Sheehan as the flamboyant clairvoyant of the clan, and the

remarkable Aidan Gallagher, whose portrayal of the time-traveling Five, a fifty-something

assassin trapped in the body of a 14-year-old, brings essential gravity and urgency

to both seasons. Bonus: Mary J. Blige shines in season one as a brutal assassin from the

future. I heard a rumor you’ll drop everything and watch it now on Netflix. (HHHHH)

MRS. AMERICA. This FX on Hulu miniseries does a little time-hopping itself, back

to the ’70s and the incipient struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment, notably the

war of words (and baked goods) between conservative nightmare Phyllis Schlafly

and her minions and the queens of women’s rights Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug,

and Shirley Chisholm, who slowly, tortuously attempt to get the ERA ratified. It’s

Click Here to

Watch the Trailer for

“Umbrella Academy”

Umbrella Academy

a stunningly well-written and produced

series, and features perhaps the most clever

opening credits sequences you’ll ever

see. Cate Blanchett makes a steely yet surprisingly

vulnerable Schlafly without ever

attempting to make her sympathetic. She’s

essentially a demon in apron strings. The

ensemble is sensational — there’s not a bad

performance, from Rose Byrne as Steinem

and Margo Martindale as Abzug to Uzo

Aduba as Chisholm and Sarah Paulson,

as an amalgam of several conservative

women who, as the series progresses,

evolves ideologically. It’s Tracey Ullman,

however, who walks away with the series

as a brash, perpetually inflamed Betty

Frieden. It’s a masterful performance in a

series filled with them. Exclusively on FX

on Hulu. (HHHHH)

DARK. If you’re looking for the granddaddy

of mind-bending time-travel shows, this

German Netflix-produced series, which

recently concluded a satisfying three-season

run, can’t be beat. It’s a mind-scrambler

of a show that gets

more and more addictive

as it moves forward

(and backward and

sideways). A mix of science

fiction and dense,

brooding drama, Dark keeps pushing its

own envelope on what a series is capable

of. For example, by the time you get to the

middle of season three, you are witness to

a murder that is at its very core impossible.

And yet, there it is. It leaves you gobsmacked.

Dark is one of those meticulously

considered shows that you can either

obsess over or go with the flow and enjoy

the ride. Either way, by the time you get to

the series finale, the landing is so perfect,

so beautiful, so emotionally resonant, that

you’re instantly ready to return to season

one, and give it another go. (HHHHH)

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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36 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


Music

PARKWOOD ENTERTAINMENT

Royal Treatment

Beyoncé’s visual album, Black is King, is a majestic love letter

to Black communities past and present. By Sean Maunier

A

FEW YEARS AGO IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN FAIR TO CALL BEYONCÉ THE

queen of pop, but with her unmatched ability to push boundaries and set the

tone of conversations, she likely deserves a bigger crown than that. Even so, her

latest project is an ambitious one, even for her. She noted on her Instagram that the

making of Black is King (HHHHH) was a “labor of love,” an undertaking that aimed to

do no less than tell the story of millennia of Black history and to discover “what it truly

means to find your self-identity and build a legacy.” More than a year in the making and

filmed on three continents, it is a massive, sprawling effort, one that Beyoncé and her

long list of collaborators have clearly poured their hearts and souls into.

Beyoncé is of course all but synonymous with the visual album, having established

herself as a master of the genre with Lemonade. Each scene is markedly distinct from

the one preceding it, both visually and in tone, but together they

tell a cohesive story of a young African king cast out from his family

who must find his way back, guided by his childhood love and his

ancestors. Conceived as a companion piece to The Lion King: The

Gift, it reimagines and reinterprets the story for a 2020 audience. The

project incorporates audio from the live-action remake of The Lion King, as in the first

interlude, when a voiceover of James Earl Jones as Mufasa plays over images of African

families as well as celestial bodies.

Black is King is awash with immediately recognizable symbolism. Beyoncé and her

co-director Kwasi Fordjour incorporate pan-African as well as biblical and Christian

imagery, with Beyoncé herself cast as guide, narrator, and both literal and figurative

Click Here to

Watch the Trailer

Black is King is available to stream exclusively on Disney+.

mother. She may be at the center of the

story, larger than life as she so often is, but

this time she is more its storyteller than its

subject. As she puts it in the opening track,

“I’ll be the roots, you be the tree.” The

project acts as a corrective to the sweeping

narratives of human history and culture

that have been handed down to us and

have all too often actively marginalized,

forgotten and scrubbed out the stories

and contributions of Black individuals and

communities. Images from classical western

art are reimagined accordingly, with

Beyoncé appearing in the likeness of the

Madonna and child.

As much as she deserves praise as the

driving force behind it, Black is King is

bigger than Beyoncé, a fact which is not

lost on her. Driving the point home, the

film ends with a dedication to her son

Sir, right before the credits

play over an extended

version of “Black Parade,”

the song she released a few

weeks ago to coincide with

Juneteenth. Setting the already powerfully

resonant songs over the gorgeous, inspired

visuals elevates them and their storytelling

power, elements that weave together

beautifully to tell a complex, timely and

necessary story.

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RetroScene

Remingtons, Feb. 15, 1997 - Photography by Randy Shulman

To see more photos from this event online, click on the photos below.

38 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


RetroScene

Liquid Ladies at Phase One, Oct. 15, 2002 - Photography by Michael Wichita

To see more photos from this event online, click on the photos below.

AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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40 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


LastWord.

People say the queerest things

Do you know what WE are sick and tired of?


our racist, homophobic, tyrannical, golfing

idiot of a president.”

—CLAUDIA CONWAY, daughter of presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway, in a tweet responding to President Donald Trump

complaining about people being “sick and tired” of apparent congressional inaction with regards to “Big Tech.”

We are thrilled to continue our legacy of


creating a holiday destination that is welcoming to all

at Lifetime. ”

—Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network programming Executive Vice President AMY WINTER, in a statement announcing that the channel

is producing its first-ever holiday movie featuring LGBTQ leads, The Christmas Set-Up.

Our treaties ensure that


every person in Europe is free to be who they are,

live where they like, love who they want

and aim as high as they want. I will continue to push for a #UnionOfEquality. ”

—E.U. Commission President URSULA VON DER LEYEN, in a tweet supporting the Commission’s decision to cut funding and other opportunities

to six cities in Poland that have declared themselves to be “LGBT-free” zones, as part of increasing intolerance towards

LGBTQ people in the Eastern European nation.

I might be the first person they’ve ever seen who stands up and just says, like


it’s a normal thing that you should not be ashamed of,

that I’m transgender. ”

—OWEN BONDONO, Michigan’s recently crowned Teacher of the Year, speaking to NPR-affiliate Michigan Radio about the importance

of being an out, visible trans person in school. Bondono, a ninth-grade English teacher,

is the first known trans winner of the award.

Took me a while, but


I am proud to be gay.”

—Swedish singer-songwriter DARIN, in an Instagram post coming out as gay. One of the Scandinavian country’s best-selling artists

with seven number one albums, the 33-year-old wrote, “Everyone in the world should be able to be proud and accepted for who they are.

I know how difficult it can be.”

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