In summer 2013, the brutal beating death of young Harlem transgender woman Islan Nettles was but one of an alarming number of such assaults on trans women of color, often fatal, throughout the U.S. Half of all assaults on LGBTQ people in the U.S. are against trans women of color. On the bright side, this community is fighting back, demanding respect, legal rights and greater accountability from law enforcement for their safety. This special report I did for OUT magazine includes the impassioned voices of prominent transwomen Laverne Cox (from the TV show “Orange is the New Black”) and Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness.
New York expat Diane Pernet is an iconic figure in the streets of Paris, appearing daily in head-to-toe black mantilla, veil and sunglasses. She started one of the first fashion blogs nearly a decade ago and since then has founded a fashion film festival. I chatted with her for the NYTimes Styles section right before she brought her filmfest to her old hometown of Gotham for the very first time.
There’s a cool new social networking group in outer Bushwick, Brooklyn. They call themselves witches but they’re more about tarot cards and cool music than brooms and black cats. I hung out with them for the NYTimes Styles section and found out how they’re taking the traditional power of witches and applying them in our contemporary digital indie culture.
Ever since I saw her landmark stage show “Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!” when I moved to New York more than 20 years ago, I’ve loved the no-holds-barred honesty of the performance artist Penny Arcade, who has had a foothold in the downtown performance and art scenes since the late 1960s. I’d been wanting to write the first NYTimes piece on her for several years, and finally I got my chance when Penny appeared opposite the John Waters movie actress Mink Stole in an acclaimed revival of the late-stage Tennessee Williams one-act “The Mutilated.” I only wish I’d been assigned three times the word count…it’s hard to do Penny’s amazing life and career justice in 1,200 words.
This feature I wrote (for the October 2013 issue of OUT magazine) has gotten thousands of views, tweets and comments. It’s about the HIV med Truvada, which, taken daily by HIV-negative people, can prevent HIV infection. So then why are so few guys taking it one year after the FDA approved it for this purpose, which means that most health plans will cover it? Read the story and find out.
For my money, Gossip diva Beth Ditto was the star of last night’s French-import tribute to Edith Piaf at the Beacon Theater, which I covered for my After Hours performance blog for the NYTimes’ T magazine. She rocked out to “L’homme à la Moto,” and was among the few performers, American or French, who looked like they were having a blast against the rather stiff filmed-for-French-TV cheese factor of the evening. The African Francophone singer Angelique Kidjo, accompanied only by Afrobeat rhythm guitar, was pretty fierce, too. Meanwhile, Harry Connick, Jr., looked like he was terrified of flubbing the French words to “La Vie en Rose.”
SAYING GOODBYE TO THE ICONIC NYC GAY BAR SPLASH
In August 2013, Splash Bar–which ushered in a whole new era of high-end, snazzy gay bars when it opened way back in 1991–put its famous go-go gods under the shower nozzles for the last time. Here, Michael Musto, Lady Bunny and others recall hijinks at the venue whose tiny stage hosted the likes of Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears and *both* Pattis (LaBelle and LuPone, thank you very much).