August 6, 2020 Volume 27 Issue 13
Local theatre sensation Jade Jones is preparing to unleash
her pandemic-born nonbinary persona, Litty Official.
By Doug Rule
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
“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.
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
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.
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-
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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
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
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.
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
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.
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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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.
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.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
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
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
Democrats’ 2020 platform pledges to advance LGBTQ equality,
undo Trump’s attacks. By John Riley
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
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
Highland High School’s 2020 drive-through graduation ceremony
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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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,
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.”
Trump appointee who called US a ‘homo-empire’ departs USAID. By John Riley
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
“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
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
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
“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
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
“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
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
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.”
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
“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
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
Counter-protesters in cars featuring Confederate and U.S.
18 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
flags circled the location of the rally, revving their engines and
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.
Canadian mayor offers to help anti-gay resident leave town. By Rhuaridh Marr
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
“She is not sick. She is not disgusting. She is perfect in EVERY
SINGLE WAY,” Hanks wrote, adding that the letter “shook me
20 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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
“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
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
22 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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
Saudi Arabian court sentences Yemeni blogger to prison and deportation
for supporting LGBTQ rights. By John Riley
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
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
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!’”
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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
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
about her at
first and she
was like, ‘You
don't ever talk
I just didn’t
to say. And
SAY, SHE WAS
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
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?
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
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
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...
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
walk out in
the middle of
a Trump joke,
don't want to
hear what you
got to say. And
I think THEY
NOT WANT TO
YOU GOT TO
OF WHAT YOU
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
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
“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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
34 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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
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
36 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
Beyoncé’s visual album, Black is King, is a majestic love letter
to Black communities past and present. By Sean Maunier
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
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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
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
40 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
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.”
AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM
42 AUGUST 6, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM