Leslie Jordan - Metro Weekly - August 13 & 20, 2020

metroweekly

Here Comes Mr. Jordan: A natural, hilarious storyteller, Leslie Jordan is the star of this Saturday’s Gay Men’s Chorus virtual summer gala. Interview by Doug Rule. Page 28

Also: The DC Eagle allegedly withheld tens of thousands in PPP loan money from employees. By John Riley. Page 16

And: Boys State documents a contentious mock election where the emotions, intrigue, and shady politics are vividly real. Reviewed by André Hereford. Page 37

Inside: Out On the Town p.5 Spotlight: Restaurant Week p.9 Hey Mr. VJ p.11 The Feed: Counting on Kamala p.13 Transphobic Tweeting p.18 Change of Mind p.19 Teacher Trouble p.20 Harboring Hate p.24 Super Ceremony p.26 Gallery: Luca Buvoli p.34 RetroScene p.38 Last Word p.41

Patron Saint: Earl 'Brother Boy' Ingram

Contents

August 13 & 20, 2020 Volume 27 Issue 14

16

By John Riley

FROZEN FUNDS

DC Eagle allegedly withheld tens of thousands

in PPP loan money from employees.

HERE COMES MR. JORDAN

A natural, hilarious storyteller, Leslie Jordan is the star

of this Saturday’s Gay Men’s Chorus virtual summer gala.

Interview by Doug Rule

28

37

STATE OF THE UNION

Boys State documents a contentious mock election

where the emotions, intrigue, and shady politics are vividly real.

By André Hereford

OUT ON THE TOWN p.5 SPOTLIGHT: RESTAURANT WEEK p.9 HEY MR. VJ p.11

THE FEED: COUNTING ON KAMALA p.13 TRANSPHOBIC TWEETING p.18

CHANGE OF MIND p.19 TEACHER TROUBLE p.20 HARBORING HATE p.24

SUPER CEREMONY p.26 GALLERY: LUCA BUVOLI p.34

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 Earl ‘Brother Boy’ Ingram Cover Photography Courtesy of Leslie Jordan

During the pandemic please send all mail to: Metro Weekly PO Box 11559 - Washington, D.C. 20008 • 202-638-6830

All material appearing in Metro Weekly is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced in whole or part without the permission of the publishers. Metro Weekly assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials submitted for publication. All such submissions are subject to

editing and will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Metro Weekly is supported by many fine advertisers, but we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers, nor can we accept responsibility for materials provided by advertisers or their

agents. Publication of the name or photograph of any person or organization in articles or advertising in Metro Weekly is not to be construed as any indication of the sexual orientation of such person or organization.

© 2020 Jansi LLC.

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Out On The Town

Compiled by Doug Rule

GARRETT CLAYTON’S A GAY IN THE LIFE

Former Disney Channel star and out Hollywood actor Garrett

Clayton (King Cobra) recently launched a weekly LGBTQ series

on YouTube with the long-term goal of humanizing the stories

and struggles of contemporary LGBTQ rights and peoples

around the world. Co-created and co-hosted by Clayton’s fiancé

Blake Knight, the series also intends to reveal how LGBTQ

identities, attitudes, and experiences vary greatly from one

country and culture to the next. Episodes from the first several

weeks have offered quick takes on subjects ranging from LGBTQ

issues in the Philippines to racial prejudices within America’s

LGBTQ community, as well as short interviews with Tan France

of Netflix’s Queer Eye and the Zakar Twins, the Pray The Gay

Away Iraqi-American comedy duo — plus Clayton and Knight

sharing their coming out stories and giving a peek into the happy

couple’s Date Night activities. Future episodes are expected to

include profiles of a Two Spirit Native American and a fa’afafine,

or third gender, Samoan, glimpses into LGBTQ life in

China, Thailand, Sudan, and Spain — and Los Angeles, through

additional vignettes planned from the hosts. New episodes every

Thursday. Visit www.youtube.com/c/AGayInTheLife.

RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: VEGAS REVUE

The showgirls will go on even if RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! can’t.

A sextet of veteran Drag Race queens are featured in a new docuseries

originally conceived as a way to promote the franchise’s

expansion into live theater and debut Las Vegas residency,

before COVID-19 put an end to all that only two months into

the run. As a result, the six-episode Vegas Revue now serves to

document the making of the show and the work of its stars Yvie

Oddly, Asia O’Hara, Derrick Barry, Kameron Michaels, Naomi

Smalls, and Vanessa “Vanjie” Mateo. Premieres Friday, Aug. 21,

at 8 p.m. Visit www.vh1.com.

A Gay in the Life

RuPaul’s Yvie Oddly

ROMEO AND JULIET

A new production of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic tragedy

aims “to shed new light on what it is to love others and yourself.”

More specifically, what it is to love another of the same

gender, as we see Juliet (played by Erin Nealer) fall for a young

woman named Romeo (Audra Jacobs) in a staging by the Rude

Mechanicals. The update from the provocative theater troupe is

set in a small rural American town where the queer star-crossed

lovers are forced “to grapple not only with their secret infatuation

but with the secret of their own identities” — not to mention

“the prejudices of their families and even themselves in order to

be together.” Director Claudia Bach leads a mix of professional

and amateur artists in two closed-door performances from the

Greenbelt Arts Center that will be livestreamed for the public

on Zoom and YouTube. Saturday, Aug. 15, at 8 p.m., and Sunday,

Aug. 16, at 2 p.m. The Sunday matinee includes a post-show

talkback with the cast and crew. Suggested donation of $10. Visit

www.rudemechanicals.com.

ZERO

A trio of teenage troublemakers become obsessed with the

seemingly bottomless pit they stumble upon one day in the forest

near their reform school in Zero. Gay playwright Ian August

officially describes his work as “a darkly comedic allegory about

the relationship between addiction and empathy, the danger of

simple solutions, and whether ‘nothing’ actually exists anyway.”

Mental illness, depression, and non-binary are three additional

keywords for Zero, which also comes with the disclaimer,

“Trigger Warnings: This play includes all the things. This ain’t

no Disney Channel sh*t.” Craig Baldwin will direct a “livestream

reading” of Zero for Spooky Action Theater with actors Emmett

Shaw Grosland, Dylan J. Fleming, Shubhangi Kuchibhotla, and

Alejandro Ruiz — “and featuring Rick Hammerly.” Premieres

at SpookyActionDC on YouTube Sunday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m.

Available through Aug. 19. Free, but donations gratefully accept-

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ed to benefit Food for All DC. Call 202-248-0301 or visit www.

spookyaction.org.

BRANDY CLARK

March started off with a bang for the lesbian country artist with

the release of her stunning third album, Your Life Is A Record.

“No one is writing better country songs than Brandy Clark,”

wrote David Cantwell of the New Yorker. Clark has also been

called Nashville’s “best-kept secret,” but by now any self-respecting

queer country fan should know the name, or at least

her work in writing hits for others — including “Follow Your

Arrow” for Kacey Musgraves. Early on in the pandemic, Clark

launched a series of livestreams from her Nashville home called

“You Can’t Come Over (But You Can Come In)” — a play on an

early Clark song, “You Can Come Over.” Over time, she’s done

a little less singing and a lot more talking per episode — all in

conversation with her special guest of the week — usually a

fellow female artist, occasionally a superstar, with Mary Chapin

Carpenter, Reba McIntire, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls

all past guests. (All episodes are available for streaming from

Clark’s YouTube page.) After taking a few weeks off, Clark has

now revived the series, with upcoming guests Jessie Jo Dillon,

the artist who co-wrote Clark’s singles “Girl Next Door” and “I’ll

Be The Sad Song,” set for Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m., and Liz

Rose, a frequent Taylor Swift collaborator, on Wednesday, Aug.

26, at 7 p.m. Visit www.brandyclarkmusic.com.

DAUGHTRY

Led by the one-time American Idol hunk Chris Daughtry, this

hard-rock band is currently in the midst of a special 19-date

livestream tour, each geared to a specific city and benefiting a

specific venue, with a unique setlist and other surprises in store

on each date. On Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m., the “Live From

Home Tour” virtually stops at the Birchmere, which will benefit

from proceeds of ticket sales and tips. Tickets are $10, or $25 to

$75 including VIP packages and merch. Visit www.onlocationlive.com/category/birchmere.

GREENSKY BLUEGRASS

In order to safely and truly perform together as one band in

one room any time soon, the musicians in this genre-defying

progressive bluegrass band reasoned they would need to get

creative in devising a kind of concert compromise. So last

Brandy Clark

month, the quintet booked a week at an empty concert venue in

St. Louis, where they proceeded to perform eight different concerts,

each with a completely different set list. All are full-band,

full-production spectacles from a quiet hall, where the only

other folks were members of a camera crew capturing the performances

in 4K with high definition audio. Now, every Friday

night until the end of summer, Greensky will unveil these Leap

Year Sessions, delivered to pay-per-view audiences through the

new platform HYFI. Friday, Aug. 14, at 9 p.m., and every Friday

through September. Tickets are $14.95 for individual sessions,

available for two-week streams, or $99.95 for a Full Tour Pass of

all eight sessions available after broadcast through Halloween.

Visit www.hyfi.com/greensky-bluegrass.

TOM GOSS

“Dancing in My Room” was a very April thing to do. Now that

we’re in the thick of summer, singer-songwriter Tom Goss has

responded by releasing a new song and video suited to the season.

You might even consider it a sequel to “Bears,” his playful

ode to furry fellas everywhere released during the summer of

2013 paired with a video featuring a pack of hirsute hunks in

D.C. In 2020, though, Goss is in hot pursuit of a particular type of

furred fellow: a “Nerdy Bear.” The new summer anthem sounds

little like anything you’ve heard from Goss before, a sultry slowjam

that’s more R&B than pop — and not folk at all. Directed

by Michael Serrato and photograhed in New York, the video

finds Goss chasing after a particular plus-sized gay man (Jason

Villegas), pulling out all the stops in trying to get his attention:

gyrating wildly, singing like a vocoder madman, jumping

through hoops, even donning a little drag to appear as Princess

Peach from Mario Brothers. It’s as fun and silly as Goss intended.

“Given the hot mess that is 2020,” he says in a press release, “I

feel like I have a responsibility to create music that brings people

together and helps them to see the world in a positive light.”

Visit www.tomgossmusic.com.

JANE FRANKLIN DANCE’S FORTY+ PROJECTS VIRTUAL PROGRAM

Dancers over the age of 40 comprise this organization’s Forty+

ensemble, which next week will present a virtual program of

mixed repertory, including a new work for camera by choreographer

Emily Crew. Hoopla is inspired by circles, both the space

contained within the geometrical shapes and at their edges, and

was developed virtually by company dancers performing at their

Tom Goss

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home. The bill also includes Franklin’s Shorthanded, performed

by an intergenerational cast exploring what it means to be of

“your generation” as symbolized by key cultural practices and

popular technologies of the time —- from shorthand notation

and paper dolls, to cassette tapes and VHS — and Kelsey Rohr’s

You and Me, a work set to the groovy music and sultry voice of

Barry White and featuring moves intended to serve as a reminder

to have fun and let go. Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m. Free. Call

703-933-1111 or visit www.facebook.com/JaneFranklinDance or

www.janefranklin.com.

FORD’S THEATRE: CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS CONVERSATION

Through Cabinet Conversations, its ongoing series of livestreamed

discussions, Ford’s Theatre has examined an array of

topics, aimed at connecting aspects of our nation’s history — lessons

of the Civil War and/or Lincoln’s presidency and legacy in

particular — to contemporary life and issues. Although details

have not yet been announced, the next discussion — Thursday,

Aug. 27, at 4 p.m. — will focus on the 57th anniversary of the

original March on Washington in light of today’s resurgence

in activism for racial justice, and a return to the Lincoln

Memorial for the March on Washington 2020 planned the next

day (also when the NAACP will lead a 2020 Virtual March on

Washington). Among a handful of past Cabinet Conversations,

all of which can be streamed from Ford’s YouTube page, arguably

the most timely and illuminating was the July 30 discussion

“A Reckoning for Confederate Memorials.” Historian Kevin M.

Levin helped frame and contextualize the discussion as well as

elicit keen observations and experiences from Washington Post

columnist Eugene Robinson and former New Orleans Mayor

Mitch Landrieu. In particular, Landrieu noted key lessons from

the successful effort he led to remove four prominent confederate

statues as part of the city’s post-Katrina rebuilding efforts.

He even revealed how he finally became convinced that removal

was the right thing to do. “I remember as we were rebuilding the

city, I was thinking about this: What the hell is the difference

between a confederate flag and a monument? Now I knew in

my head that one was metal and steel, and one was cloth. And

the cloth was easier to take down, and the monuments would

be much harder. But really, as a matter of integrity, what’s the

difference? They’re no different at all. And it was just time. It just

kind of hit...like the moment that we’re in right now in America.”

Visit www.fords.org.

Inherit the Windbag

Hello, Bright Eyes

MOSAIC THEATER’S INHERIT THE WINDBAG

Mosaic Theater’s sixth season was originally set to kickoff next

week with preview performances of the world premiere Inherit

the Windbag. While that’s obviously not possible during the

ongoing pandemic, the company is doing what it can to keep

a mid-August focus on the play by Washington Post humorist

Alexandra Petri. Rehearsals have started for the virtual adaptation

of Inherit the Windbag, set for release in the fall and

starring Paul Morella as Vidal and John Lescault as Buckley,

with Tamieka Chavis and Stephen Klime as multi-character

“Demons.” This week’s Creative Conversation — taking

place Friday, Aug. 14, at 4 p.m., on Mosaic Theater’s Facebook

page — will feature Petri and the play’s director Lee Mikeska

Gardner shedding light on the work as well as the seminal

moment in American history that inspired it. Specifically,

the blistering nightly free-for-all between conservative pundit

William F. Buckley and gay liberal author Gore Vidal in 1968

during the televised Republican and Democratic conventions.

Documentary filmmaker Nicholas D. Wrathall (Gore Vidal: The

United States of Amnesia) will join as a special guest to further

illuminate that history as well as its resonance to today. Inherit

the Windbag will also be the focus of Mosaic’s next online Peace

Cafe, “Political Partisanship, Resistance & Reconciliation,” set

for Monday, Aug. 17, at 4 p.m., on Zoom; RSVP required. Visit

www.mosaictheater.org/alive.

HELLO, BRIGHT EYES

Old eyeglasses, lenses, and eyeglass “arms” have been reused

or upcycled in some of the artworks on display this month at

Del Ray Artisans Gallery. Hello, Bright Eyes is the latest themed

show at the quirky Virginia gallery, whose member artists

were inspired to create paintings, photographs, sculptures,

mixed-media collages, and other artworks focused in some

way or another on eyes, eyesight, eyewear, or one’s sense of

vision. The Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan

Washington donated the upcycled used eyewear and is also

overseeing a series of screenings and discussions to complement

the exhibition, curated by Stephanie Chan and Tracy Wilkerson.

Now to Aug. 29. Del Ray Artisans Gallery is located in the

Colasanto Center, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria.

Free and open to the public, with proper social distancing and

the wearing of face masks, from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays and

Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call 703-731-8802 or visit

www.thedelrayartisans.org.

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Spotlight

APRIL GREEG TMG

Duke’s Grocery’s Proper Burger Fully Loaded

SIMO AHMADI

Unconventional Diner’s French Dip Pappardelle

Meal Deals

Next week sees the return of Summer Restaurant Week, completely reimagined

and reconfigured for these pandemic times.

ORGANIZERS WERE INITIALLY UNSURE IF THEY

should even proceed with Summer Restaurant Week.

After all, at its core, “it’s a promotion designed to push

people to restaurants,” says Kathy Hollinger of the Restaurant

Association of Metropolitan Washington. “And we had to really

think about overall comfort levels” as well as “be very mindful

of capabilities” at a time when restaurants are operating with

reduced staff and limited service.

It’s also a time when restaurants, which survive on incredibly

thin profit margins even in the best of times, could really use

the boost. “The overwhelming response was, ‘We absolutely

need Restaurant Week, even if it is reimagined and rethought,’”

Hollinger says, citing surveyed members of the association.

“We wanted to offer something for everyone,” she continues.

“We wanted to design a promotion that

allows for the fullest flexibility and options

for diners and restaurants.” As a result, this

year’s Summer Restaurant Week, which

starts Monday, Aug. 17, has been expanded “to include to-go

offers and family style meals [and] beverage pairings.” It will also

run twice as long: “It's two weeks long this year allowing operators

to ease into a longer promotion to encourage more support.”

Click Here to View

Participating Restaurants

“It’s a real big push of dine-out, takeout, and eat up, focusing

on al fresco and focusing on Restaurant Week however you want

it,” Hollinger says. In addition to the promotion’s standard multicourse

meals available at participating restaurants for $22 per

person at lunch and brunch, or $35 and $55 per person at dinner

(not including tax and tip), some participating restaurants will

also offer special family-style to-go meals available for curbside

pickup. Prices for these RW to Go packages range from $60 to

$100 for two, and $130 to $210 for four.

Over 200 restaurants are participating in the promotion,

including Clyde’s, The Hamilton, Duke’s Grocery, Rasika, Tico,

Oyamel, Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen, Logan Tavern, Slate

Wine Bar and Xiquet by Danny Lledo, Nazca Mochica, Jaleo,

The Pig, Stellina Pizzeria, Bastille, Mintwood Place, Founding

Farmers, RIS, All-Purpose Pizzeria, Cafe

Berlin, Sushi Ko, Centrolina, Napoli Pasta

Bar, Annabelle, Officina, Ankara, The Red

Hen, and Shaw’s Tavern.

“For everything that this industry has gone through,”

Hollinger says, “to be above 200 going into this promo is pretty

indicative of the need for diners to come out and support small

business.” —Doug Rule

Summer Restaurant Week kicks off Monday, Aug. 17, and runs to Aug. 30, at participating restaurants in D.C.,

suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Visit www.rwdmv.com.

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Spotlight

LAURA HARDING

Hey Mr. VJ

Singer-songwriter Kisos spends Queerantine building community

and boosting the music of emerging queer artists.

BEAMING QUEER MUSIC AND POSITIVITY TO A

global audience, Queerantine has opened a unique conduit

of connection for its growing community of fans. The

LGBTQ music video showcase, which just premiered its second

season on livestreaming platform Twitch, was created by NYCbased

singer-songwriter Kisos as a means of elevating queer

artists and performers who have been hit particularly hard by

the loss of live venues during the pandemic.

Kisos and Canadian artist Cory Stewart had been hard at work

plotting an LGBTQ music tour, “and then all the COVID news

started coming out,” Kisos says. “Cory was like, ‘Do you think we

should not plan a whole tour when it looks like things might be

happening in the world?’ I was like, ‘You know what? Good idea.

Maybe let's put this on hold.’ Obviously, none of us expected it to

go for as long as it did, and be as deep as it's going to be.”

Still, Kisos and Stewart remained committed to showcasing

queer music acts, if not live, then digitally via Twitch, best

known as a hub for gamers. “I've been livestreaming since

2018 on Twitch, but it was more just kind

of playing games, or sometimes I would do

acoustic sets,” says Kisos. “I was like, okay,

what can I do that's more of an event?” Thus,

Queerantine was born — a weekly interactive, 21st-century

TRL-style music video marathon, featuring Kisos and a guest

host chatting alongside the latest clips by queer indie artists like

Sellah, foxgluvv, and Teacup Dragun.

Click Here to

Watch “Queerantine”

In addition to serving up fresh music and good vibes, episodes

raise funds for causes from Black Lives Matter to trans advocacy

charity G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender

Society). The focus, Kisos says, is on sharing and uplifting —

Queerantine is a no-negativity zone. “At the beginning of each

episode, I set some ground rules, but the ground rules are really

just [that] this is the safest space, it's the most positive space,” he

says. “Not to say that everyone's perfect or whatever. You don't

have to fake positivity, but it’s more just about focusing on what's

good. Focusing on what you like. So it's just about appreciating

everybody instead of comparing.”

Maintaining that positivity isn’t as hard as one might think,

reveals the artist, who describes his recently-released second EP

Sweet Nothings as “music to break your heart and heal your soul.”

Queerantine just happens to attract “a super positive group, and

I really don't have to do anything. I did prep in certain weeks —

like when we did, at the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests,

an all-Black lineup, of all LGBTQ artists. And I was just waiting

for racist, homophobic trolls to come in. But,

actually, nothing happened. And it was one

of our best episodes and everyone had a great

time, and we raised over four thousand dollars

that day. So it's just been really surreal to see how everything

fell into place without me having to try that much. Like once I set

it up, everyone was there, everyone was ready to be positive. And

it was amazing.” —André Hereford

Queerantine streams Sundays at 3 p.m. ET on Twitch. Visit www.twitch.tv/itskisos.

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theFeed

QUINN DOMBROWSKI

Counting On Kamala

Harris

Joe Biden picks LGBTQ ally Kamala Harris

for Vice President. By Rhuaridh Marr and John Riley

JOE BIDEN HAS PICKED SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA)

to be his running mate and potential vice president, his

campaign has announced. Harris, a strong supporter of

LGBTQ rights, will become the nation’s first female, Black and

Indian American vice president if she and Biden are successful

in November’s election against Donald Trump.

“You make a lot of important decisions as president. But the

first one is who you select to be your Vice President,” Biden

wrote in an email to supporters. “I’ve decided that Kamala

Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald

Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in

January 2021.”

In a follow-up tweet, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter

for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.”

“Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely

with Beau,” Biden said, referencing his son. “I watched as they

took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected

women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud

now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

While Harris, 55, and Biden, 77, clashed during the presidential

campaign — an exchange over busing led to Harris to briefly

become the Democratic frontrunner, before bowing out of the

race at the end of last year — the California senator has become

a vocal supporter of the former Vice President, often drawing

strong contrasts between a potential Biden presidency and the

current Trump administration.

Her selection as vice president finally ends months of speculation

over whether Harris would receive the nod from Biden,

despite widespread support and most pundits agreeing that

Harris would be the likely pick.

It also cements the Biden-Harris ticket as one of the most

pro-LGBTQ campaigns in recent memory, and possibly ever.

Harris, elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, has a long history

of supporting and defending LGBTQ rights, including perhaps

most notably during her tenure as California’s attorney general,

where she refused to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage,

Proposition 8, ultimately setting the stage for marriage

equality to be legalized nationwide in 2015.

A longtime supporter of marriage equality, Harris not only

refused to defend Proposition 8 as attorney general, but also

spoke out against it prior to its passage in 2008.

When Harris was first elected as the District Attorney for San

Francisco County, she installed an LGBTQ hate crimes unit to

work with victims and to prosecute those who commit bias-mo-

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theFeed

tivated crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Harris also used her tenure as attorney general to urge the

state legislature to outlaw the use of gay or trans “panic” defenses,

which allowed defendants to justify violent crimes against

members of the LGBTQ community due to discomfort with their

sexual orientation or gender identity.

During her tenure in the Senate, Harris has used her position

on the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold to account President

Donald Trump’s nominees to the federal bench, one-third of

whom held blatantly anti-LGBTQ records, including during

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing,

where Harris repeatedly asked Kavanaugh whether he believed

that the court’s 2015 marriage equality decision was rightly

decided.

She also introduced legislation to ensure LGBTQ Americans

were properly counted in the census, introduced the Do No

Harm Act in 2018 to prevent religious beliefs from being

used to justify discrimination against the LGBTQ community,

and was one of 19 senators who spoke out against the Trump

administration removing LGBTQ health information from

federal websites.

Harris also supports the passage of the Equality Act to extend

federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people, and

supports allowing transgender Americans to use public facilities

that match their gender identity.

During her campaign for president, Harris touted LGBTQ

rights and equality, both in her campaign pledges and while

out on the campaign trail, including reversing the Trump

administration’s attacks on LGBTQ Americans, such as banning

transgender people from open military service and attempting

to prevent trans people from accessing emergency shelters that

match their gender identity.

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ

civil rights organization, said Harris has “exemplified what it

means to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.”

“Senator Kamala Harris is an exceptional choice to serve

as the next vice president of the United States, and Equality

California is proud to stand with her and Vice President Biden

in their historic campaign to take back the White House and

restore the soul of America,” Executive Director Rick Chavez

Zbur said in a statement.

“Throughout her career, Senator Harris has demonstrated

an unwavering commitment to civil rights and social justice for

all LGBTQ+ people,” Zbur said. “As vice president, we are confident

she will continue Vice President Biden’s tradition of using

the office to champion and advance full, lived LGBTQ+ equality

— and equality for the diverse communities to which LGBTQ+

people belong.”

Zbur noted that Equality California has had “the privilege of

working alongside [Harris] in her fight for civil rights and social

justice” since she was first elected to public office more than two

decades ago” and said “Senator Harris has exemplified what it

means to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.”

“The LGBTQ+ community knows that representation is

power,” Zbur continued. “We strongly believe that when

America’s leaders look like the diverse communities they serve,

everyone benefits. We applaud Vice President Biden for choosing

a Black, Indian American woman to serve as his running

mate and the next vice president of the United States, and we

look forward to helping her make history this November.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ

rights organization, tweeted: “This fall, we have the opportunity

to vote for the most historic, pro-equality ticket in history. We’re

proud to support @KamalaHarris and elect her as our next vice

president.”

HRC President Alphonso David called the Biden-Harris campaign

a “historic, trailblazing unity ticket we can all get behind,”

and said HRC is “is ready to help send this incredible team to the

White House. Let’s go!”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called Harris a

“proven fighter for equality, safety and justice for all” in a tweet,

adding, “we know she will continue making LGBTQ acceptance

a priority in her history-making run alongside [Joe Biden].”

“Sen. Harris’ record stands in stark contrast to that of Mike

Pence and the Trump Administration, which has relentlessly

targeted LGBTQ people — 168 attacks in policy and rhetoric

since taking office, according to GLAAD’s research — and the

number goes up every week.”

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task

Force Action Fund, said that Harris' selection as Biden's running

mate meant that "millions of people across the country will finally

see themselves reflected in this historic choice."

"If elected, it will be the first time a woman and a woman

of color would have held federal executive office in the United

States of America which will forever shift what our nation’s

leaders will look like in history," Carey said in a statement.

Carey added that the Trump administration's attacks on

voting rights, immigration, and civil rights, among other things,

show that the "administration will stop at nothing to weaken

democracy and call into question the election outcome."

"This is not a partisan issue, this is not a Republican versus

Democrat issue, this is an American issue," Carey concluded.

"The most important thing for each and every one of us to do

is to vote. Vote your heart and your head for those candidates

who you feel will best serve you, the LGBTQ community, and

the country."

“As a Black, queer woman and leader in the LGBTQ movement,

I know far too well how women of color are often asked to

fix all that’s wrong with our systems in a short period time as if it

didn’t take centuries for the system to become as corrupt as it is,"

Kierra Johnson, National LGBTQ Task Force Deputy Director,

said in a statement.

Johnson urged "the media and others to be attuned to the racism

and sexism targeting candidates, including Senator Harris,"

and said there was "no doubt that Sen. Harris would be a Vice

President who would go to sleep every night working to ensure

the civil rights of all of us are protected all of the time."

Biden has established his campaign for president as a counterpoint

to Trump’s administration with regards LGBTQ rights,

pledging to enact pro-LGBTQ legislation and undo Trump’s

attacks on LGBTQ people.

Earlier this summer, the Biden campaign launched the “Out

for Biden” initiative, which will target LGBTQ people and seek

to drive them to the polls in November.

“Our campaign’s decision to launch Out for Biden in the

shadow of historic protest elevates the power of the moment and

encourages deep — and sometimes difficult — dialogue within

our LGBTQ+ community as Pride month begins,” Reggie Greer,

the Biden campaign’s LGBTQ Vote Director, said in a statement

in June.

“LGBTQ+ people of color are central to the fabric of our

communities. We must elect a government that will center

their voices and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ+ people

everywhere.”

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DAVID UY

Frozen Funds

DC Eagle allegedly withheld tens of thousands in PPP loan money

from employees. By John Riley

DC Eagle

MONTHS AFTER THE DC EAGLE CLOSED DUE TO

alleged mismanagement, former employees say they

have still not been paid for past-due wages, even

though the bar received tens of thousands of dollars from the

federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Bank accounts belonging to D.C.’s longest-running LGBTQ

leather, kink and BDSM club have allegedly been frozen amid

an ongoing legal fight between Eagle co-owners Ted Clements

and Peter Lloyd, preventing an estimated $35,000 in federally

provided funds from reaching former employees to cover lost

wages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former employees and an attorney for Lloyd accuse Clements

— majority owner of the business entity Eagle N Exile LLC,

which operated the bar — of having the Eagle’s accounts frozen

before employees could be paid with the funds. They also allege

that he failed to pay wages, utility bills, and vendors prior to the

Eagle’s closure.

The closure of the DC Eagle, which had served Washingtonarea

patrons for nearly 48 years, came as a shock to some of the

bar’s lower-level employees, who were informed of the decision

to close during a Zoom meeting in early May.

While many lamented the end of a bar that had played such

a significant role, not only as an employer, but as one of the first

spaces where they felt secure in their LGBTQ identities, some

also reported that they were still owed checks for hours worked

prior to the Eagle’s closure.

Miguel Ayala, who served as the DC Eagle’s marketing promotions

manager, claims that he assisted Lloyd in applying for

a PPP loan — a program implemented by the federal government

as a way to assist small businesses affected by the ongoing

COVID-19 pandemic — in the hope of obtaining money to compensate

the bar’s employees.

He says the application was submitted in late April, weeks

after the bar closed to customers amid the raging global pandemic.

“When we closed on March 15, there were no more shifts,”

says Ayala. “There was no money to pay employees. Because

we closed in the middle of a pay period, we had checks owed

to employees. We applied, and got a notice around April 28 or

29 that we were approved. So I let Peter know that right away.”

Ayala claims he and Lloyd “had a primary concern and fear

that the money would be mishandled by someone other than us,”

and so Lloyd opened a separate bank account, attached to Eagle

N Exile, “where we would be able to store that [PPP] money

until it was distributed.”

“Our goal was to distribute the money to employees imme-

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diately,” says Ayala. “And Peter had already gone through and

done the math of figuring out the average amounts of most of the

employees’ checks.”

But Ayala says that as he and Lloyd were setting up the

payroll system and preparing to reimburse employees, Lloyd

received a call from BB&T Bank around May 5 informing him

that the Eagle’s accounts had all been frozen, at the request of

Clements’ lawyers.

Ayala claims he and Lloyd sent an Excel document to

Clements’ lawyers outlining what the plans for the PPP money

were, with most of it going to compensate employees, as required

by guidelines established by the Small Business Administration,

but he claims that Clements’ lawyers did not respond.

“Ted did respond in an email directly to me, not to anybody

else, saying that the lawyers have the money and there’s nothing

we can do with it, and that a judge or trustee will figure it out,”

says Ayala. “I’ve since replied and let them know: this is not

money that the bar earned or made in any way. This is not the

bar’s money. This is money that the government has given to

the bar to use in a specific fashion, primarily to help employees.

So it’s not subject to anything in terms of bankruptcy, if that

happens, or liquidation of the business. It should be distributed

immediately.”

Ayala says he received no follow-up reply from Clements or

his lawyers. If the money isn’t used to help compensate employees,

the money must be returned and it is the Eagle’s responsibility

to pay it back.

“I’m sure the government will find out [if the money isn’t

used] because there are deadlines to the use of this money,”

Ayala says. “Luckily for us, in this situation, the government

extended those deadlines recently until the end of the year,

which is good, because if this has to go to court or something,

I’m hoping someone of sound mind will say, ‘Yes, this is a PPP

loan. This has to be used in a particular way and should be used

immediately.’ But at this point, the money is just sitting there.

And even if we wanted to return it to the SBA, Peter and I can’t

because the accounts are frozen.”

In a statement, Glen Ackerman, the attorney representing

Lloyd, told Metro Weekly that the Eagle had received $45,633.36

in PPP money from the government, which was deposited into

an Eagle N Exile account at BB&T bank in May 2020, but the

funds have not been distributed to employees.

Ackerman told Metro Weekly that the Eagle N Exile had filed

a petition for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the

District of Columbia on June 26.

“The Eagle’s bankruptcy filing identified the Small Business

Administration as a nonpriority unsecured claim in the amount

of $56,298.63 for an alleged payroll protection program loan,”

Ackerman said in the statement.

Ackerman said that an attorney representing the Eagle had

filed the Eagle’s petition for bankruptcy without contacting

himself or Lloyd, and that the attorney, Donald F. King of Odin,

Feldman, & Pittleman, did not respond to Ackerman’s request

to engage.

In addition, Ackerman said that he is drafting a complaint for

Lloyd — who is the minority owner of the Eagle N Exile — alleging

Clements, the majority owner, has “breached his fiduciary

duties he owed to the Eagle N Exile and to Mr. Lloyd.”

Ackerman added: “Mr. Lloyd is seeking damages in excess

of $1,000,000. The Eagle in Exile and Mr. Clements are represented

by Stephen O’Brien, of Milos O’Brien. The relationship

between Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Ackerman is strained because Mr.

O’Brien refuses to provide any financial documentation.”

Ackerman claimed in an email to Metro Weekly that he

obtained a copy of the Eagle’s petition for bankruptcy from a

friend who practices bankruptcy law, but alleges that the petition

is not accurate because it fails to identify all of the Eagle’s

creditors, or those people or entities to whom the business owes

money. (Disclaimer: The Eagle currently has an outstanding

balance with Metro Weekly. The Eagle failed to identify Metro

Weekly as a creditor in its bankruptcy filing.)

In addition, Ackerman claimed that Clements stopped paying

attention to the Eagle’s day-to-day operations in 2018, including

neglecting to pay rent, the building’s electricity and water bills,

vendors, or to “timely fund the payroll account, and to pay taxes.”

“Mr. Clements did, however, make several payments to his

spouse, Dr. Thomas Kristie, for an alleged loan,” Ackerman said.

Multiple calls seeking comment from Clements, O’Brien, and

King were not returned as of press time.

Ryan Oberlin, a former manager with the DC Eagle who

left in 2018, provided copies of notifications from Comcast

and Rubicon Global, a software company specializing in waste

management, that were sent to him in June seeking payment

for overdue bills. Oberlin responded to the company informing

them that he was no longer the contact person for the account,

and giving them Clements’ personal information.

Oberlin says he had previously listed himself as the point of

contact and set up the bills for automatic debit so that Clements

couldn’t refuse to pay them. He alleges that Clements emptied

the accounts, but did not update the contact information or

cancel the services, even though Oberlin had provided Clements

with all the necessary account information on his last day, in

December 2018.

Ayala says that the Eagle owes a significant amount of money

in past due bills, surpassing the amount of the PPP loan. But the

money could help reduce the debt the bar owes.

However, he’s primarily concerned with the estimated

$35,000 that has been earmarked for almost 25 employees who

were never reimbursed for their work, including bartenders,

security, maintenance professionals, and performers, including

some of the bar’s drag queens and DJs.

“From what I know, there are at least six or seven employees

who have had checks bounce, and some of those checks are

for $25. But now they’ve been charged $30 for the checks that

bounced,” Ayala says. “We could use the money to reimburse

them, because it’s part of the payroll expenses. But the problem

is when they froze the account, they froze everything. And that’s

why some of those checks bounced.”

Jon Rybka, who worked as lead bartender on Friday and

Saturday nights, claims that he did not receive his last paycheck.

“It was only 100 bucks or so, but still,” says Rybka. “I reached

out to Ted and asked him about my last paycheck, and it bounced

twice. So I texted him and he basically sent me a message saying,

‘Talk to my lawyer.’”

He then claims he received a letter in the mail from Clements’

lawyers, along with a copy of the bankruptcy filing, listing him as

one of the bar’s creditors. He says that he knows of another creditor,

who allegedly loaned the bar a substantial amount of money

to help keep it afloat, who has also not gotten his money back.

“I’m a little pissed at Ted,” says Rybka. “I mean, I sat there,

and even talking with you, I defended him, thinking he was going

to do the right thing, and all of this shit happened. I feel kind of

betrayed by what I thought was a friendship, but obviously, he

didn’t give a shit.”

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FACEBOOK

Ellis

Transphobic Tweeting

Trump advisor Jenna Ellis misgenders and attacks Pennsylvania Health Secretary

Rachel Levine. By John Riley

TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN ADVISOR JENNA ELLIS

continued her habit of anti-LGBTQ comments, aiming

her fire at Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine,

who is transgender, and misgendering her in a tweet.

Commenting on a May 2020 article about an incident

where Levine criticized a reporter for a right-wing talk radio

station after he repeatedly called her “sir” during an on-air

interview, Ellis tweeted: “This guy is making decisions about

your health.”

Ellis is a senior legal advisor to the Trump campaign, and has

a long history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, including endorsing anti-

LGBTQ conversion therapy and saying higher HIV rates among

gay and bisexual men was “God’s moral law.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia)

responded to Ellis’ tweet, saying that Levine is “a world-class

public health expert who has been saving countless thousands of

lives. I realize you may not know what that looks like.”

Sims continued: “She’s also a hero to LGBTQ+ people like me

and doesn’t deserve your scorn or mockery.”

Levine, due to her public persona as the person in charge of

Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn

the attention of anti-LGBTQ social conservatives.

A person in a dress claiming to be Dr. Levine was featured as

part of the “dunk tank” at a local festival, a Pennsylvania restaurant

named one of its dishes after her in a jab that made a gross

reference to her genitalia, and she’s been frequently misgendered

on social media with transphobic memes.

The harassment led Levine to denounce the attacks, telling

her detractors that they weren’t harming her so much as “perpetuat[ing]

a spirit of intolerance and discrimination” against

LGTBQ Pennsylvanians, particularly transgender youth struggling

with their identity.

In response, a state lawmaker who has previously called for

her resignation over the slow reopening of the Pennsylvania

economy then rewrote her comments to create a parody in

which people who refuse to wear masks during the COVID-19

pandemic are victims of discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign condemned Ellis’s remarks in

a statement.

“Jenna Ellis is a bigot and Dr. Levine is a patriot — plain and

simple. Dr. Levine illustrates character and patriotism while

Ellis cannot even define those terms. Using a person’s pronouns

is a basic level of respect,” HRC President Alphonso David said.

“Despite claims of allyship, Donald Trump, Mike Pence and

their staff have gone out of their way to dehumanize and attack

transgender and non-binary people simply for existing,” David

added. “Trump and his allies have refused to acknowledge the

epidemic of violence transgender and gender non-conforming

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people face, attempted to strip away their access to health care,

and blocked these patriotic Americans from openly serving in

the military.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Levine has steered

Pennsylvania through this crisis leading efforts to reduce the

spread of the virus and keep Pennsylvanians safe and healthy.

Our nation has and should continue to laud the frontline workers

and public servants confronting this pandemic, not attack them

simply for living their truth.”

Ellis responded to the criticism, telling The Hill in an email

that HRC “thinks it can define character and patriotism while it

apparently can’t even define male and female.”

When Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel attempted to

show Ellis’ hypocrisy by showing a “Trump Pride 2020” T-shirt

that the campaign is selling — as part of an effort to cast itself as a

defender of LGBTQ rights at home and abroad — Ellis continued

to troll her critics, tweeting: “I have a lot of pride too that Donald

Trump is your President! Great shirt.”

Ellis, an evangelical Christian who often engages in outreach

to social conservatives, recently told those who opposed a recent

Supreme Court decision on LGBTQ workplace discrimination

that they should re-double their efforts to elect Trump and

ensure that the federal judiciary is stacked with socially conservative

judges that will rule against LGBTQ rights.

Ellis has previously claimed that higher HIV rates among gay

and bisexual men are a testament that “We cannot escape God’s

moral law and His supremacy.”

She has also called the Stonewall Inn monument a “celebration

of sin,” has argued in favor of conversion therapy by linking

to since-debunked “reference material” that claims it is safe

for those subjected to it, and argued that Christians cannot be

accepting of homosexuality or equal treatment for LGBTQ people

under the law, on the grounds that homosexuality is sinful,

and thus, cannot be condoned.

In 2016, following the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando,

she penned an opinion column in which she lamented that some

people began calling for greater tolerance of, or expanded rights

for, LGBTQ people following the massacre.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Change of Mind

Mormon therapist apologizes for homophobic past

after ‘painful’ education from gay sons. By Rhuaridh Marr

Bergin

A

PROMINENT MORMON THERAPIST WHO SUPported

conversion therapy and made homophobic claims

about gay people has apologized and urged others to

reconsider their anti-gay views. Dr. Allen Bergin is a clinical

psychologist known for his work integrating psychotherapy and

religion, as well as for his leadership positions within the Church

of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In a formal apology to Latter Gay Stories, a podcast dealing

with LGBTQ issues and the Mormon Church, Bergin, 85,

revealed that two of sons are gay, as well as one of his grandchildren.

As such, he had endured a “painful and enlightening”

education on the gay experience, which has transformed how he

AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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views homosexuality.

Bergin’s family responded to the release of “On the Record,”

a project created by Latter Gay Stories to document the church’s

various stances and doctrines on LGBTQ issues.

During his time with both the church and the Mormonaffiliated

Brigham Young University, Bergin was “often quoted

by Church leaders as an authority on homosexuality within

Mormonism,” Latter Gay Stories noted.

“Bergin’s research was used to promote LDS teachings that

homosexuality was a compulsion, it led to bondage, and labels

homosexuals as bizarre,” they write. “He also made claim that

the average gay man had between 500-1000 partners.”

Bergin touted that homosexuality could be “overcome”

through conversion therapy efforts, including teaching that

“self-discipline” and “a mixed orientation marriage” could solve

“the problem of homosexuality.”

His family subsequently reached out to Latter Gay Stories,

saying that Bergin had undergone “a change of heart.”

“As a mental health professional and psychology professor

from 1961 until my retirement in 1999, I was among the traditionalists

who believed that homosexuality was a disorder and that

it could be treated and changed to some degree,” Bergin wrote,

noting that his views “have carried influence in some circles.”

“I regret being part of a professional, religious, and public

culture that marginalized, pathologized, and excluded LGBT+

persons,” he said. “As a father of two gay sons and grandfather

of a gay grandson, I’ve been given a personal education that has

been painful and enlightening.”

Bergin told the general public to “Stop. Listen. Learn. Love,”

and said his colleagues, fellow church members, and political

leaders should “apologize and compensate those of God’s children

who have been afflicted by our treatment of them when

they should have been embraced and loved.”

“We are all children of the same Heavenly Parents, who I

believe love and value all their children, regardless of sexual

orientation, and who grant each of us the same opportunity to

receive Jesus Christ’s Grace,” Bergin concluded. “I will continue

my efforts for the rest of my days to receive that Grace for myself

and to point others toward His healing and redeeming power.”

The Mormon Church’s official doctrine rules that “sexual

relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are

legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife,” effectively

forbidding all same-sex sexual relations. However, the church’s

stance towards LGBTQ Mormons has changed in recent years.

Last year, the church clarified its opposition to conversion

therapy, after Utah — where the church is based — mulled introducing

a rule that would effectively ban the practice.

Conversion therapy — also known as “ex-gay” therapy — is a

widely debunked and harmful practice that purports to change

a person’s sexuality or gender identity, through talk therapy or

more extreme methods such as aversion or shock therapy.

While church officials had reservations about the ban and

its lack of protections for parents and religious leaders, an LDS

spokesperson said, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day

Saints opposes conversion therapy, and our therapists do not

practice it.”

In 2018, the church donated to an LGBTQ support group

for the first time, sending $25,000 to Affirmation, which offers

suicide prevention support to LGBTQ Mormons, and in 2015

the church gave its assent to a nondiscrimination bill in Utah

that protected LGBTQ from discrimination in employment and

housing.

Last year, the valedictorian at Brigham Young University

made headlines after coming out as gay during his commencement

speech. Matt Easton told those in attendance that he had

come to terms “not with who I thought I should be, but who the

Lord has made me,” adding that he was “proud to be a gay son

of God.”

And in January 2019, Mormon “ex-gay” therapist David

Matheson came out as gay and admitted that conversion therapy

doesn’t work and apologized for the “damage and harm” he had

caused.

Teacher Trouble

Gay congressional candidate Alex Morse rebuts "completely untrue"

allegations of improper conduct with students. By John Riley

HOLYOKE MAYOR ALEX MORSE, THE PROGRESSIVE

challenger to U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman

Richard Neal (D-Mass.), has rebutted accusations that

he engaged in improper conduct by pursuing sexual relationships

with college students, calling some of the allegations

lodged against him "completely untrue."

Speaking on Tuesday with Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti,

hosts of The Hill's online web series Rising, Morse denied any

wrongdoing and challenged the factual basis of some of the

allegations that had been made in a letter from the College

Democrats of Massachusetts disinviting him from future events.

In that letter, the College Democrats claimed that Morse, a

political science adjunct professor and lecturer at UMass Amherst,

matched with Democratic and progressive students on dating

apps, added them as "friends" on social media and sent them direct

messages, and engaged in sexual relationships with students.

Though none of the students were in Morse's classes or in

a subordinate position to Morse, the letter argued that, while

consensual, Morse had created a "lopsided power dynamic" by

taking advantage of his position as both an elected official and

as a professor.

To begin with, Morse called the timing of the accusations —

dropped less than three weeks before what many expected to be

a fiercely contested Democratic primary on Sept. 1 — "incredibly

suspicious," given that he's been running for mayor for more

than a year but the accusations are only coming forward now.

Throughout his campaign, Morse has touted his progressive

bona fides, running on a platform that includes support for

Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and other liberal initiatives,

while also blasting Neal — whom The American Prospect

reported in February was the member of Congress who had

received the most campaign money from pro-business political

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FACEBOOK

action committees — for being beholden to corporate interests

and using his chairmanship to defeat amendments or bills that

would help working people, including one that would have

ended surprise medical billing.

Morse later told public radio station WAMC he believes the

Neal campaign was involved in the publication of the allegations

against him, saying he would "not be surprised" if more information

comes to light regarding the basis for the accusations that

reveals them to be part of a political smear.

"I think this is what happens when you go against power," he

said. "This would not be happening if I wasn't a candidate for

Congress, this would not be happening if I wasn't on the verge of

defeating one of the most powerful Democrats in this country.'

A spokeswoman for the Neal campaign told the Springfieldbased

newspaper The Republican that the campaign played no

role in the publication of the allegations, praising the "courageous"

students who lodged accusations against Morse while

also noting that the College Democrats came forward of their

own accord.

Morse told the Rising co-hosts that the story was "shopped

around" to outlets like Politico and The Washington Post in the

preceding weeks, who passed on it because they were never

able to obtain on-record confirmation from any students who,

as the letter claimed, felt "uncomfortable" after learning of his

positions.

"Basically the UMass Daily Collegian" — which first reported

the accusations — "just printed word-for-word an email from the

College Democrats," Morse said. "And the mainstream media, I

think, have done an incredible disservice by amplifying this, and

publications from the Boston Globe to other outlets have given

more scrutiny to my personal sex life, and personal life, than

they've ever given scrutiny to Congressman Neals' corruption

Morse

and the way in which he's used his power over a 30-year period."

Morse also takes issue with the claims made in the College

Democrats' letter, saying that the allegations are vague, although

he insists that the messages he sent to people were neither sexual

nor salacious.

"If you look at the letter from the College Democrats, there is

very little specificity. There are no names. Even their follow-up

statement talks about Instagram messages, but doesn't go as far

as to say the messages were inappropriate," he said.

"Anyone on my 'Close Friends' on Instagram knows I take

pictures of sunsets and chocolate-chip cookies and blueberry

muffins that I cook...and so, I just think it's interesting that three

weeks out, we're talking about my personal sex life," Morse

continued.

Morse flatly rejected the notion that he had behaved in a

lecherous manner with members of the College Democrats of

Massachusetts.

"[T]his suggestion that I would seek out college students

at College Democrats events is completely untrue. I've never

hooked up with a college student that I've met at a College

Democrats event. I've been to one College Democrats event

since I announced this campaign over a year ago," he said.

Morse did acknowledge that he should have been more cognizant

of his positions of power and the way that might influence

people's reactions towards him, and apologized if any students

felt "uncomfortable" after he sent them "friendly Instagram messages,

thanking them for the panel, or for the event."

"It was never my intention to abuse power whatsoever. And I

don't think I ever have. I've never used my status as mayor or as

a guest lecturer at UMass Amherst to coerce or take advantage

of any students," he said. "I am completely confident that I have

not violated any policies of the University of Massachusetts, and

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I believe I have every right to have consensual relationships with

other men."

Morse worries that the controversy will overshadow the substantive

issues that have allowed his campaign to gain traction,

but also notes that he has received an "outpouring of support"

from people in the district — as well as progressives across the

country who believe he's being unfairly smeared — with his

campaign enjoying one of its best fundraising weeks since its

launch last year.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Morse's bid for

office, also expressed skepticism around the timing of the allegations,

calling it a "disservice to voters who want a progressive

member of Congress but now only have time to make a decision

based on vague and anonymous accusations."

"Alex is taking responsibility for actions that made students

uncomfortable and we support the independent investigation

by UMass, despite no complaints having ever been made to the

university," Victory said in a statement, "But it is critical the

media and others avoid reinforcing tired homophobic tropes or

sensationalizing this story because of Alex's sexual orientation.

"Alex has been open about the fact that he has had consensual

relationships with other men, including students enrolled

at local universities that he has met using dating apps, and there

are no allegations of non-consent or of anyone underage. The

media and voters should review the allegations and determine

whether a straight candidate would be held to the same scrutiny

and standards."

Morse echoed those concerns about whether fears of similar

treatment will intimidate other LGBTQ people from becoming

politically engaged due to fears that their personal lives become

fodder for political operatives dealing in bad faith.

"What's most problematic is this age-old response to these

allegations, the language being used to describe these allegations,

and people like me, who have had to ensure an over-policing

of our sex lives, as a member of the queer community,"

Morse said.

"This framing of gay men as predators is incredibly problematic,

and something we've been going against for generations....

[Y]oung people and queer people need freedom, too. We deserve

to run for office. Will young people, gay people ever run for

office, if this is how powerful people are going to treat us when

we want to make a difference in this country?"

Screenshot of the attack

Harboring Hate

Gay Arab couple attacked and spat on as large crowd watches. By Rhuaridh Marr

A

TEENAGER HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN ISRAEL

after allegedly spitting on and attacking a young gay

Arab couple in the port city of Jaffa.Hundreds of people

watched as the 16-year-old and another person harassed

the couple after allegedly spotting them kissing in the harbor,

Haaretz reports.

The men were reportedly attacked because of their sexuality,

with the alleged suspect telling a witness that they were “[giving]

Arabs a bad name.”

Footage of the attack, which police described as “grim video

evidence of the brawl,” was shared online, showing the couple

being assaulted by at least two men while another person intervenes

to help them.

The teenager who allegedly participated in the attack was

arrested after the attack and charged with aggravated assault

and committing a hate crime.

Prior to the attack, the couple — who are Arab Israeli — reportedly

kissed while in the harbor area after enjoying a boat tour.

Itzik Avneri, who operates a tour boat business, said the

attack took place next to his boat and that he tried to help the

couple. He told Haaretz that he attempted to restrain the attackers,

and ultimately pushed one of them into the water in the

harbor — something visible in the background of the footage of

the incident.

“I have a tour boat in the port, and there was the holiday [Eid

al-Adha] for the past few days when a lot of Muslims come to the

port to have a good time and take a cruise,” Avneri said. “Two

guys got on the boat to go sailing and when it ended, they got off

and sat on the dock next to each other. Other people saw them

and spat at them.”

When he intervened, one of the alleged attackers reportedly

told him that they were harassing the couple “[because] we’re

24 AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

25


theFeed

Arabs and they’re gays, and there won’t be gays among the Arabs,

it gives Arabs a bad name.”

Avneri said he tried to isolate the couple in a private part of

the dock surrounded by a fence, but two people ” jumped over

the fence and they began to hit and kick” the couple.

“This violence was just because of the hate,” he said. “There

was no talk between them, all they did was look a little bit different,

that’s all.”

Avneri added: “What you don’t see in the video is 500 people,

not a single one of them lifted a finger.”

LGBTQ youth organization IGY praised police for the prompt

arrest of those involved in the attack, but said the “severe beatings

seen in the video are the nightmare of every LGBT+ child in Israel.”

“It should be clear — violence against LGBT+ people continues

to rage, and we must fight it with all our might, and in all

parts of Israeli society,” they added.

Ofer Cassif, a lawmaker in the Knesset (Israel’s legislature),

called the attack homophobic and said it was “a horrific event

that must not overlooked.”

“I expect the attackers to be treated as perpetrators of a hate

crime in every way,” Cassif said. “Homophobic hatred is as ugly

and dangerous as any other form of discrimination.”

MARVEL

Super Ceremony

Hulkling and Wiccan

Marvel features first-ever same-sex wedding between gay superheroes. By Rhuaridh Marr

MARVEL HAS PUBLISHED ITS FIRST-EVER COMIC

featuring a same-sex wedding between two superheroes.

In Empyre #4, Young Avengers members

Hulkling and Wiccan — alter egos of Teddy Altman and Billy

Kaplan — were shown to have wed in a secret ceremony prior to

a major cosmic event.

Marvel has published same-sex weddings before, but

Hulkling and Wiccan’s nuptials represent the first time that two

gay superheroes have tied the knot.

In Empyre #4, the pair head to Las Vegas for a last-minute

wedding attended by their Young Avengers friends. They opted

to marry prior to Hulkling venturing into space to become the

Emperor of the Kree/Skrull alliance, CBR reports.

The wedding was revealed in a surprise flashback at the end

of Empyre #4, but was fully addressed in Empyre #5, released

on August 12. In the issue, Wiccan describes the wedding as the

“ultimate drop-everything secret mission,” decided in the hour

prior to Hulkling leaving for space.

“I just looked at him and... I couldn’t keep it in,” Wiccan tells

Human Torch and Captain Marvel. “Everything I felt about him.

This unbelievable space prince.”

Hulkling then suggests the couple marry, and they teleport to

Las Vegas for the ceremony — where, in an Easter egg, Hulkling

and Wiccan co-creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung appear

as greeters at the venue.

The characters were first introduced in 2005’s Young

Avengers, where their relationship was widely interpreted to

be more than just a friendship — something later confirmed by

Heinberg, who had intended to reveal their relationship at a

later date.

Empyre writer Al Ewing said he has “a lot of love for Hulkling

and Wiccan, both individually and as a couple.”

“It’s a good feeling to be able to deliver this kind of ‘shock

ending’ for readers,” he said of the surprise wedding, “which

hopefully lifts fans’ spirits a little rather than bringing them

down.”

Cheung, who co-created the heroes, said he had “no inkling”

the characters would survive for as long as they have — gaining

status as Marvel’s most prominent gay superheroes in the process,”

PinkNews reports.

“Billy and Teddy really became fully fleshed people to me,

thanks to Allan’s incredible writing, and it’s been wonderfully

rewarding to follow their growth and evolution under the guidance

of other creators over the years,” Cheung said.

“Now that they’re taking their relationship to the next level,

I can’t wait to watch where their next adventure takes them!”

26 AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


Here

Comes

Interview by Doug Rule

Mr. Jordan

A natural, hilarious storyteller, Leslie Jordan is the star

of this Saturday’s Gay Men’s Chorus virtual summer gala.

Have you heard the one about Boy George and

Leslie Jordan on a horse in the Mojave Desert?

It’s not a joke — well, not exactly — but it is a funny tale when recounted by

Jordan with his signature flair. It’s also exactly the kind of story that has made his

life and career so rewarding.

“I was on a horse, and Boy George led me across the Mojave Desert,” Jordan

says. “It was miserable!” The occasion was an elaborate film shoot to capture a

15-second TV commercial starring Boy George to promote a Japanese sake brand.

“That was one of my first jobs,” says Jordan, who was uncomfortably outfitted to

portray a monkey with “straws up my nose and prosthetic pieces.”

“I really enjoyed being with him,” he continues. “He's quite the jokester. I asked

him at one point, ‘How do I yell to the Japanese crew that I've got one more take in

me? How do I say one more? That's all, because the sand is getting into my contact

lenses, and it's getting up under these prosthetics, and it's like sandpaper on my

skin. I'm bleeding.’ And he taught me a Japanese phrase, because he’s fluent [that]

I yelled. And you know what I was yelling? ‘Do you have a big dick?’ Well, they all

looked at me and bowed and ran away.”

Spend any time with Jordan, and you’re sure to hear story after story just like

that one. And always — always — with Jordan finding the funny. It all comes naturally.

“I come from a family of really funny people,” he says. “My dad was hilarious.

And my mother's father was hilarious. So much of my comedy is storytelling. I

don't do jokes.” All that storytelling is a reflection of his southern upbringing in

particular.

This Saturday, Aug. 15, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington will present

Jordan as part of a brand-new virtual gala. Billing him as “the Quarantine Queen

and Emmy-winning star of NBC-TV's Will & Grace,” the organizers of “A Summer

Soirée with Leslie Jordan” promise “hilarious stories from his many adventures in

the entertainment industry.” For his part, Jordan vows to make the most of it. “I'm

going to put on a tuxedo, and stand in my apartment, and virtually host a wonderful

evening. They have so much planned,” he says. Indeed, gala attendees can expect

PHOTO COURTESY OF LESLIE JORDAN

28

AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


performances by the chorus, an online silent auction, “special

celebrity guests,” as well as appearances by its directors, Justin

Fyala and Thea Kano. And all for free.

Jordan has no shortage of material to draw from as the evening’s

featured entertainer, be it his colorful upbringing as a

self-proclaimed “Southern Baptist celebutante” or the 65-yearold’s

long and varied career in Hollywood. “It's more sordid than

a movie, okayyyyyyy,” Jordan teases, referencing his starring

role in the Southern-fried cult-classic film Sordid Lives.

There’s also, of course, his latest feat, at an age when most

others consider retirement: A nearly overnight rise during the

pandemic to become the hottest Instagram celebrity around,

with five million followers and counting. And he did it all, essentially,

by doing what comes naturally. Or, as Jordan puts it, “I

just talk about whatever. There is no plan. I just think of something

funny, and say it, and post it.”

METRO WEEKLY: Let's start by going all the way back to your roots.

Where did you grow up? And what was your family like?

LESLIE JORDAN: I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I had an

amazing, amazing childhood. Mother had me at 19, daddy was

21. There's myself and then 22 months younger than me are

identical twin sisters. We were this golden family with a beautiful

mother. When I was little, I thought she was a fairy princess.

She's a bashful champagne blonde, and still at 85 she is the prettiest

woman I know. My dad was very handsome, and we were

just an adorable, churchgoing family. I was raised in the Baptist

church, which is both good and bad. It can get a little rough if

you landed in your mother's high heels! All that's in my past, too,

any kind of anger or upset. It all made me who I am today. It was

a wonderful, wonderful childhood. I'm very blessed.

My dad was in the Army. When we were little, we lived in

Germany and all over. And then once I got into school, we settled

back where both my mom and dad are from. When I was 11,

he was flying to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to Camp Shelby for a

summer Army Reserve camp, and the plane crashed. Now that

was a terrible time to lose your dad. My mom was 33, with three

children to raise. There's a bond there from that. My sisters, over

the years, they've always lived together. Now they're married.

But they're the happiest human beings I know.

One time, I remember after I had moved out to the San

Fernando Valley, my sisters and I were having dinner. They

said, "Do you like it out there?" I said, "Well, it's a little lonely."

They go, "What do you mean?" I said, “All my friends are in

Hollywood." They looked at me like, “Oh." I thought to myself,

They don't know lonely. Of course, as a concept they do, but

they've always had one another. They just don't quite get that.

I thought, wow, that's a great way to go through life, always

having that person.

MW: When did you come out?

JORDAN: I told my mom when I was about 12 years old, in the

’60s. Her only reference was Liberace, who never came out, or

Paul Lynde, being snarky in the center square [of Hollywood

Squares]. Her advice to me was pretty sterling. I thought that she

might pull her Bible out, because she's pretty devout, but she just

said, "I'm so afraid Leslie, if this is the path you're going down,

that you'll be subject to ridicule. I don't think I could bear that.

Perhaps you should just live quietly." Well, here I am!

She did the best she could with the light she had to see with

— that's what my spiritual advisor said. And I love that. I started

telling people in high school. I would say, “I’ve got this big thing

to tell you: I’m gay!” I got the same reaction every time. They

would look at me like, "Duh! Ah, yeah, what else? You're gay

and you're a murderer?” I was a very popular kid. I learned very

early I could keep the bullies at bay if I could make them laugh.

I was the funny guy [with] a lot of inner turmoil. My main inner

turmoil was the spiritual. I wanted to be a good little Christian

boy, but yet you have these thoughts, and these desires. And

you're just like, "Oh my God! I'm going to go to hell." It was a

struggle. I've been baptized 14 times! Every week the preacher

would say, "Would the lost sinner come forward?" I'd think, "Oh

my goodness. I was behind the barn with that boy. I’d better go

down there."

MW: You’re still very close to your family.

JORDAN: We're very supportive of one another. The greatest

thing I ever did as an adult was buy them this beautiful

two-story, four-bedroom townhouse. God, what you can get in

Chattanooga, Tennessee!

MW: Is that where you were living at the start of the pandemic?

JORDAN: Well, I go there quite a bit, and I saw it coming. I

thought, “They're going to make us stay home. They're going to

make us stay in. [But] there is no way I could hunker down with

my mother and sisters.” So I rented a bed and breakfast. [And

that’s where] I started posting on Instagram twice daily. For 80

days I did two posts a day. And I have a gobsmacking 5.1 million

followers.

And it's all coming to fruition. I'm getting jobs [that] I really

cannot talk about. I got this top-secret job that is just amazing.

They'll be announcing it very, very soon, but they've sworn me

to secrecy. Then I’m starting [shooting] a big television series

for Fox in October with Swoosie Kurtz, Mayim Bialik, and

Cheyenne Jackson. A bunch of wonderful actors, and it's adorable.

It’s called Call Me Kat. Mayim Bialik and a lady named

Darlene Hunt created it. It takes place in Louisville, Kentucky,

and it's very southern. It's about a mother-daughter. Swoosie

Kurtz plays the mother [and] is very fancy, and goes to the races.

“I was playing a Ferengi on Star Trek. I delivered my first line, and they

just fell on the floor. The director said, "This is not ‘Deep South Nine.’

I had to work with a linguist,

who said, ‘Mr. Jordan,

feather doesn't have

four syllables!’”

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AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


“Young actors say, ‘I don’t want to be typecast.’ Yes you do! Yes you do!

The minute you're typecast, you work. All the shit they teach you in acting

class, that's not going to happen.

If you're a gay man,

you're going to play

a gay man.”

Then she's got this 38-year-old daughter, and she's just a little

horrified and desperate to get her daughter married. Mayim

Bialik says, "I'm fine mom. I'm happy." To spite her, she takes her

dowry and buys a cat café. I run the cat café.

MW: Do you like cats in real life?

JORDAN: I do love cats. I'm the pussy wrangler. I don’t have a cat

right now — I’m 65 and I travel too much — but my sisters have

cats. We're big cat people. We've spent the last two years dealing

with a feral cat problem in their neighborhood, and we've got

them all now. We catch them and we trap them, and then have

them fixed, and then release them.

MW: Speaking of animals, you also grew up around horses, right?

JORDAN: Yeah. I rode my whole life. I got my first pony when I

was four, and I rode and I rode. I just went to Kentucky and took

a clinic with some of the best American saddlebred instructors.

I'm really getting into it. I may show — I may buy a horse and go

to horse shows.

MW: Is that what you wanted to do before acting entered the picture?

JORDAN: I wanted to be a jockey with racehorses, which is a

whole different breed. I did that for many, many years. I never

became a jockey, I was an exercise rider, where you get on the

horses in the mornings and exercise them. I was very involved in

that world for years before I started acting.

MW: I know we can't talk about the top-secret show, but I want

to clarify something. Do you think you got that because of your

success on Instagram?

JORDAN: I know I did, because for the first time, my contract

involved how I can take my Instagram followers and help. I've

never had that before. We went back and forth, because I said,

"Look, I don't post to push things. That's part of my success, that

I just post funny things." I've been approached by companies

where I could have made a lot of money pushing their products,

but I don't do that, I'm having too much fun. We worked it all

out, as long as I'm doing fun things. While I was on the set this

last week...they would come and say, "You can't post it." I said,

"I'm not going to post it. I'm banking it, so I could post it [later].”

Anyway, when you get involved with these big studios — and

this is an app, which I don't even quite know what that is! They

have a publicity department, and they have a plan, and they’re rolling

it all out. I wish I could talk about it, it's a lot of fun. It’s something

sweet. I've been in show business a long time, and I could tell

by about day three, I said, "Look, we've got something here."

MW: I guess it's fair to say you've become a fan of social media, or

Instagram at least.

JORDAN: Well, I wasn't. I was on The Cool Kids with Vicki

Lawrence, Martin Mull, and David Alan Grier. I'd say something

funny and the girls in the publicity department kept telling me

"Post that. Post it.” I said, "I don't know what you mean." They

go, "You don't have Instagram?" I go, "No." Well, they signed

me up, and within two or three days I had 20,000 followers,

and I was just excited. They said, "Oh, that's nothing. You'll get

more." Then Megan Mullally from Will & Grace reposted, and

I had 80,000. I said, "Oh my gosh, 80,000 people!" And then I

started posting during the pandemic. I was so real about it, just

being locked down and going crazy. I started that way — "Well

shit, what are y’all doing?" It became a catchphrase. It's a little

arduous right now, only because I also have a book deal that I got

from my Instagram — which I also can't talk about. This is crazy,

but I am writing. They're going to roll it out pretty soon. I want

my stories to go into my book.

MW: Will it be a memoir?

JORDAN: No, I had a memoir, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,

where I went into all about growing up gay in the Baptist church.

This is more just stories of me now, current day, more like

essays. In the vein of David Sedaris, something like that.

MW: A few months back you participated in a Sordid Lives virtual

reunion and performance. How did that go?

JORDAN: What we did was, we read it virtually. It seemed to

me, it didn't have the magic — I don’t know. You know what, it's

hard. Everything is done virtually, so you're sitting in your bedroom.

You see the other actors. But because my particular part

of that had to be pre-taped because of scheduling, they were all

live and it looked like I was live, but I had already taped my part.

They went on Instagram Live, but I wasn't there. The magic of

Hollywood! But I had pre-taped Brother Boy's parts and all my

scenes with Rosemary, Dr. Eve. I've done a lot of those Zooms. It

just drives me crazy. I want to be in the room with you. I want to

see you, I want to hug you. I'm really having a hard time with it.

I walked back in this week onto a set, to a whole new world.

We were at a gated studio. You pulled up to the gate, you had to

go on this thing called Work Care, and do a morning check in.

“Do you have a temperature? Have you shown any signs?” Then

you get it on your phone, your work clearance. They take your

temperature. We had daily COVID tests — daily. I have had so

many Q-tips up my nose, I've been sneezing all weekend. I can't

take another Q-tip up my nose. We had on-set masks, absolutely.

The make-up and hair [people] had gloves. I thought, “This is it.

It may be like this for a long time.” You just don't know. But it

was a whole new way of working. Of course, we were allowed

to lower our masks, and take them off when we were working,

but the minute that we finished, they went back up. They were

very careful with social distancing. We had plexiglass shields

between us. It was so bizarre.

MW: It seems likely that we’ll be facing such drastic measures for

another six months, or more.

JORDAN: I think so, unless there is some sort of vaccination or

something. It's not going to just go away. When people ask me

AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

31


about it, I say, "Listen, when this all started, I thought, ‘I've been

through this before, with the AIDS epidemic.’ What happened

was, we knew as a community we weren't going to get a lot of

help. We thought, ‘We're going to have to take care of our own.’”

That was the birth of Project Angel Food, and AIDS Project Los

Angeles. I was around during all of that. We came out of it, I

feel, a stronger community. There was more of a sense of us as a

community. We're going through the pandemic as a worldwide

community — perhaps we'll come out of this a little stronger, and

more willing to reach out to one another, to help one another.

I'm trying to look on the good side of it.

MW: I'm with you on that, although I would have thought by now

we would have seen signs of that. Since you mentioned it, the AIDS

epidemic tracks pretty closely with your time living in Los Angeles,

right?

JORDAN: Yeah, I got to L.A. in 1982, and West Hollywood was

in crisis. You'd go to the bars every night — we were out every

single night. In the early days, people would lose weight really

quickly — the first sign. You'd see somebody was gaunt, and you

didn't know what to say. You just did not know what to say — but

you knew they had it.

MW: That must have taken a real toll on you emotionally and psychologically.

But you survived, which is something.

JORDAN: I think those of us that came through it have a responsibility.

I've done a lot of fundraising, and a lot of charity work,

and giving up my time for that. There is a sense of responsibility,

because listen — I was no angel. I was acting out in unsafe ways,

that's for sure. But I didn't get it.

MW: And I take it you haven't gotten COVID-19 either?

JORDAN: No, I haven't. I'm healthy as a horse. In the beginning,

I thought, "Oh my God, I've got to get checked." Because I'm

a little bit of a hypochondriac. We have a wonderful clinic for

the Screen Actors Guild. For $25, you can get everything from a

facelift to a colonoscopy. I'm over there so much, when I walk in,

they go, "So what now, Mr. Jordan?"

MW: Let's talk a little bit more about your career overall and highlights

from the past. Do you have a favorite memory? A favorite

show? A favorite costar?

JORDAN: I'd say my best memories are of Sordid Lives. We were

able to take that from a play to a movie to a television series.

That's pretty spectacular, to take a character all the way through

that. And I knew the minute I walked on the Will & Grace set

and threw my first line at Megan Mullally, I thought, "This is

going to be verbal ping pong. This is going to be fun." I have to

say that working with her has been an amazing experience. She's

a brilliant, brilliant comedian. Those are probably my two best

memories — Sordid Lives and Will & Grace.

Standing on the set of American Horror Story with Lady Gaga

for months — I got that, too. George Clooney, I did a series with

him called Bodies of Evidence. It didn't last very long. That was

even before E.R. It was so long ago. I did a series with Billy Bob

Thornton for years called Hearts Afire by Linda Bloodworth-

Thomason. I've worked with the best. I think the wonderful

part is that I've done everything I set out to do. I had $1,200 that

mama pinned into my underpants when, on Valentine’s Day in

1982, I got on a bus, and I went to Hollywood. I had a degree that

I couldn't even pronounce when I got off that bus in Hollywood.

I said, “the-AA-ter." They said, "It's theater." “That's what I said,

the-AA-ter!"

MW: So your Southern drawl was a hurdle right off the bat. What

about in the decades since, has it gotten in the way at all? Have you

tried to tame it?

JORDAN: I've been asked many, many times, but I can't. I’ve

tried. It's a marketable package. The only time I got in trouble,

I was playing a Ferengi, which is a character from outer space

on Star Trek. They put 40 separate prosthetic pieces on me, and

I waltzed onto the sound stage and delivered my first line, and

they just fell on the floor. The director said, "This is not ‘Deep

South Nine,’ it's ‘Deep Space Nine.’ You've got to get that Ferengi

north of the Mason Dixon." I had to work with a linguist, who

I didn't get along with. She was such a bitch. She said, "Mr.

Jordan, feather doesn't have four syllables!”

MW: She sounds like a ringer for the antigay conversion therapist

who antagonized your character in Sordid Lives.

JORDAN: Exactly. She was mean to me.

MW: I like the way you describe your accent as part of your “marketable

package.” It’s part and parcel with being openly gay and

naturally effeminate — on a good day, anyway. Do you think it’s

cost you any roles or jobs you tried out for? Did you ever try to

suppress it?

JORDAN: I tried. I remember, believe it or not, I was being considered

as a hockey coach when they were [casting for the 1992

movie] The Mighty Ducks. Early on, I wasn't quite as typecast as

I am now. Young actors say, "I don’t want to be typecast." Yes

you do! Yes you do! The minute you're typecast, you work. All

the shit they teach you in acting class, where you can do a stretch

— that's not going to happen. That happens for Robert De Niro

and Meryl Streep. It ain’t going to happen for you. You're going

to play what you are. If you're a gay man, you're going to play a

gay man.

Can you play a straight man? Well absolutely. But I can't,

really. I used to, and I was being considered, I swear to you, for

[the part played by] Emilio Estevez in The Mighty Ducks. Why

on earth would they consider me for that part? My agent said,

"Look, you're out of the running. They've decided to go another

way." I said, "Because I'm so sissy!" He said, "No, no, no, no. They

just had some problems with your southern accent. It's supposed

to be New England." I mean, I could have been in The Mighty

”We’re going through the pandemic as a worldwide community — perhaps

we’ll come out of this a little stronger, and more willing to reach out

to one another, to help one another.

I’m trying to look on the

good side of it.”

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AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


“I've been baptized 14 times! Every week the preacher would say,

‘Would the lost sinner come forward?’ I'd think, ‘Oh my goodness.

I was behind the barn

with that boy. I better

go down there.’”

Ducks had I been a little butcher, and not so southern. My career

would have taken a different trajectory.

MW: You’ve played a straight character before though.

JORDAN: I have. I went to England to do a TV series, Living The

Dream. Very early on, I thought the character was probably gay.

They didn't say yes or no. Then I saw in some of the future episodes

where I had a little bit of a crush on the lead. Her name

was Leslie Sharpe. I said, "Oh, so he's not gay?" They go, "Oh

God, no." I thought to myself, it’s different over there, because

so many European men, you think are gay. I don't think they're

raised quite with the macho thing we are. I was told when I was

little, "Don't cross your legs." My daddy would tell me, "Little

boys don't sit like that. Little boys don't do this, don't do that."

We were raised that way, but I don't think you have that there.

They all seem gay over there.

MW: In 2014, a few years before Living The Dream, you were

also seen on British television — as a contestant on Celebrity Big

Brother UK. What was that like?

JORDAN: Worst experience of my life. I'll tell you exactly what

happened. I had some problems with the IRS. I still owed them

for something, I can't remember. And I couldn't get that damn

bill paid off.... I was really panic-stricken about it. The phone

rang, and I had been offered five episodes of American Horror

Story: Freak Show. And I didn't make a lot of money on that show,

and I thought, "I don't know that I can get it paid off with that."

Then the phone rang, and my manager said,

"You've been offered a reality show." I said,

"No, I don't want to do that." He said, "It's

Big Brother UK." I said, "No, I've seen that

show. They lock you in a house. No!" He said, "Leslie, the initial

offer is $150,000.” I said, "Well, fuck Ryan Murphy! I'm going."

I went over there, and the minute I got in that house, I

thought, “This is the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life.” I

really had a hard time with it. I fought with everybody, I fought

with [eventual winner] Gary Busey — I tried to spit on him,

because I thought he spit on me. I mean, just insane behavior on

my part. I'm self-diagnosed, but I am radically hypoglycemic — I

have to eat little bits along the way or I have sugar drops, and

I get mean! My mother has noticed it, and said, "Have you had

sugar? Why are you acting like that?"

Anyway, I got kicked out [of Big Brother]. They kicked me

out! But I got my money. And my manager at the time was so

smart. They said, "If we kick him out, we have to bring him back

for the finale." My manager said, "It's only 28 days. If you kick

him out, keep him. We don't want him back here in L.A. Keep

him over there." So when I got kicked out I got a two-week vacation

in London. I was put up in a beautiful hotel. They gave me

Click Here to Register

for the Free GMCW Gala

£100 a day to eat on. I could go to these fancy restaurants.

That's the number one show in Europe, so I thought maybe

it would segue into something. I thought, “I’ll be able to do my

one-man show all over Europe.” But it didn't — it was just a bad

experience all around. Except when I came off the show [but

still in London], it was like I was Elvis. They would scream when

they’d see me.

MW: I’ve also heard you say you get recognized often here in the

states.

JORDAN: I sure do. A lot. I used to love to sit at Starbucks and

read the paper. But I can't do that anymore. People, they line

up. They used to want autographs, now they want a picture

with you, and everybody has a camera. It's, "Just real quick Mr.

Jordan, can I get a picture?"

MW: And “real quick” turns into five minutes, or longer.

JORDAN: Exactly. They will tell you things. But you can't complain,

it comes with the dinner.

MW: What would you want to say about your future, or what are

you hoping for?

JORDAN: Here is what I'm hoping. I'm hoping that Call Me Kat,

my series with Mayim Bialik, runs about eight years. I was in

Louisville, Kentucky, last week looking for show horses. Outside

of Louisville, there is a town called Simpsonville, the American

saddlebred capital of the world. You could buy a farm for like

$800,000. A cute little farm with a house, and a barn, and the

acreage. I think you would never hear or

see from me again! I would do my television

show, and then on my break I would

go and ride my horses, which I think is a

wonderful way to grow old.

MW: So you think you might retire there?

JORDAN: Well, I'll never retire. I will always have a place in L.A.

And I want to work longer than Betty White, that's my goal. I'm

going to still be working in my nineties. I want to work forever.

There is no way I could retire.

But I would have a place to go — to get back to the south, get back

to my roots. Get where you can order sweet tea, and they don't

look at you funny like, "Well, there’s the sugar over there.” “No,

I want sweet tea!”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents the virtual fundraising

event “A Summer Soirée with Leslie Jordan” this Saturday,

Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. The gala’s auction is open until Sunday, Aug. 16, at

midnight. Free but registration is requested. Visit www.gmcw.org.

Follow @thelesliejordan on Instagram and other social media

platforms.

AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

33


Gallery

Luca Buvoli

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. —Doug Rule

Picture: Present is featured on the Phillips’ website as well as on its Instagram account. 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.

34 AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


36 AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


Television

State of the Union

Boys State documents a contentious mock election

where the emotions, intrigue, and shady politics

are vividly real. By André Hereford

IF LIFE IS LIKE HIGH SCHOOL, AND POLITICS HAS BECOME JUST A REALity

show, then the documentary Boys State (HHHHH) has found the perfect formula

for distilling our modern political era down to one riveting campaign among

a group of teens in Texas. Since 1935 — starting in Illinois, then throughout the U.S.

— the American Legion has sponsored Boys State, which assembles high school lads

for a week-long immersion in the functioning of state and local government. The deep

dive into policy and civil discourse also confers a profound education in partisanship,

at least according to the film’s broad insight into the summer 2018 assembly of Boys

State Texas.

Day one, participants are randomly assigned to two political parties, Federalist and

Nationalist, the members of which must caucus to decide their respective party’s positions

and candidates in elections for statewide offices. The top elected spot would be

the office of governor, although races for party chairman on both sides turn out to be

hotly contested, as well. Of the hundreds of boys assembled, only a few will lead, and,

whether to stoke their ambitions, to better themselves, or merely for the power and

popularity, the ones who want it really want it.

They’re all also shrewdly aware that the previous year’s Boys State Texas assembly

garnered headlines and hits nationwide by voting to secede from the United States.

The temptation to leave a similarly sensational mark on history

is brought up by more than one participant. They are a savvy

group, social media-fluent, conscious of the camera but not overly

self-conscious, and still notably conservative in their politics.

Even in Texas, it’s striking to hear so many 17 and 18-year olds this fired up about being

anti-abortion and pro-gun. One candidate for party chair, René Otero, calls the experience

an education “that every liberal needs.”

A Black kid originally from Chicago, Otero operates with verbal dexterity and a

Click Here to Watch the

“Boys State” Trailer

Boys State is available globally on Apple TV+. Visit www.apple.com/apple-tv-plus.

Otero, center, with water bottle.

take-no-shit fierceness that generally protects

him from some low blows thrown

by opponents. He’s one among the movie’s

compelling quartet of lead subjects,

including Steven Garza, the self-described

progressive son of an immigrant, who

arrives for the week wearing his Beto campaign

tee, and Robert MacDougall, whose

golden boy, “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t

lose” bravado belies a genuinely thoughtful

young man. The fourth, Ben Feinstein,

a whip-smart amputee who prominently

raises his disability in his campaign speech

for party chairman, is the most openly calculating,

confessing a belief that “personal

attacks” are sometimes the most effective,

expedient tactic.

Being bright teens, these guys aren’t

above deception and obfuscation, yet

they’re guileless enough to be refreshingly

transparent about it, relative to their

adult counterparts. The film’s directors

Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss dangle

the question of what happens to political

aspirants between these noble years

of wanting to perform a public service,

and later becoming a hypocritical party

stooge. The distance

from one to the other

might not be as vast as

seemingly good guys

like Steven Garza would hope. Not that

any of these kids are bad guys — merely

the voices of our future reflecting the

truth right back at us.

AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

37


RetroScene

BackTracks at Tracks Nightclub, Oct. 1997 - Photography by Randy Shulman

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

38 AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


RetroScene

American Brotherhood Weekend, April 1998 at The Improv and DC Eagle

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

AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

39


40 AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


LastWord.

People say the queerest things

“Joe Biden clearly still thinks gays are security risks.

No gays or lesbians even considered. ”

—Gay former Trump administration official RICHARD GRENELL, in a tweet accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of homophobia

for not choosing an LGBTQ running mate. Grenell’s curiously specific accusation ignored a number of LGBTQ people connected

to the Biden campaign, as well as the Trump administration having attacked LGBTQ rights an estimated 167 times

since January 2017, per GLAAD.

We have our struggles of course, like every marriage, but


me being gay hasn’t been...

the biggest issue in our marriage.

It’s been communication. ”

—SKYLER SORENSEN, a gay Mormon in Utah, speaking to the New York Post about his “mixed-orientation” marriage to heterosexual wife

Amanda. Sorensen went viral for a tweet proclaiming that his “happy” marriage was “like going to Disneyland and having some people

tell you you’d be better off at Six Flags. Six Flags may have more rollercoasters, but it’ll never beat the happiest place on earth.”

“These text messages are pathetic

appeals to homophobia

and they will backfire. ”

—Victory Fund President and CEO ANNISE PARKER, responding to news that Shevrin Jones, who is seeking to become Florida’s first

openly gay state senator, has been the target of homophobic robotexts linking to a story about him being rejected for blood donation

because of his sexuality. Parker said it was “vital that the cowards sending this information are identified and exposed.”

Your use of that word, as you know,


implies a form of harassment to me.”

—WILLIAM SHATNER, in a series of tweets asking Forbes writer Dawn Ennis to stop calling him “cis,” short for cisgender,

meaning someone who is not transgender. “It’s used as a slur & term of harassment,” Shatner tweeted. “If you want to use that term

in your own mind to differentiate people for whatever reason; that’s your right. You using it to label me; I’m going to object to it

because I cannot fathom any positive reason to use it on strangers online.”

The church has lost her way and fails to communicate this message


when it flies a sodomite flag.”

—DANIEL CHARLES SVOBODA, a “Trump Republican” and recent candidate for the Washington House of Representatives,

in an email to The Leader explaining why he tore down a rainbow Pride flag from Seabold United Methodist Church on Bainbridge Island.

Svoboda may face charges of harassment and malicious mischief after congregants alleged

he threatened them while removing the flag.

AUGUST 13 & 20, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

41

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