Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why We should Celebrate Prof. Pamela S. Karlan…

…with Gifs from The Birdcage, because politics is a real drag lately.

By Sebastian Fortino, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief ProudTimes.com

But, before the funny, the facts.

According to Business Insider:

The constitutional-law expert Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford Law School, admonished Republican Rep. Doug Collins for suggesting she hadn’t read the transcripts of witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry during her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. 

She didn’t waste any time letting her thoughts be known. This should make her detractors realize…

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So, are you watching the proceedings today in Washington? Yes or…

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How do you feel about all of this?


Well, if you are following or not, as a queer person or ally, you should be proud to learn about Professor Pamela S. Karlan.

According to the New York Times:

Ms. Karlan, 60, received bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from Yale and clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the Supreme Court. She is now a director of Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Ms. Karlan made regular media appearances discussing the 2000 presidential election and recount, and was one of the authors of “When Elections Go Bad: The Law of Democracy and the Presidential Election of 2000.”

During the Obama administration, she worked in the Justice Department’s civil rights division and received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the highest award employees there can earn.

Ms. Karlan has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court, most recently in October, when she argued that employees should not be fired over sexual orientation.

Notably, she is the only woman on the panel of four Constitutional Lawyers…

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I am sure the president is just as unhappy about this as, well…as Senator Keeley.

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She is also openly bisexual, and according to her Wikipedia:

Karlan told Politico in 2009, “It’s no secret at all that I’m counted among the LGBT crowd”.[11] She has described herself as an example of “snarky, bisexual, Jewish women”.[12] Her partner is writer Viola Canales.[13]

Hopefully, this will have you break out into an eclectic celebration of dance!

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So, if you can honestly say…

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Don’t just fall down…

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Get up & dance, even if it’s by yourself!

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Prof. Karlan, isn’t gonna just let…

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After all, the only thing Trump & his supporters in congress can do is pretend…

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So, go…go out & have a day like this!

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World AIDS Day: ProudTimes Publisher & CEO Appear in a New Podcast

Greg Halpen, a New York City-based vocal artist and host of Redefining Gayness explores a topic many queer couples can identify with today: being in a mixed-status couple in terms of HIV-diagnosis. Please check out the column which inspired the podcast at Metrosource.com, and keep up with Greg on his website where he publishes his podcasts.

The Bubbles No Longer Tickle My Nose: Being Gay & Half-Native on Thanksgiving

By Hellen Back

Ms. Back is a performer, originally from Santa Cruz, who now makes their home in Portland. She has kindly agreed to share recollections from her life, in and out of drag.

My dad’s family didn’t approve that my mother wasn’t white: so I never met them, never celebrated holidays, never met my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the whole lot. Instead I was raised by my Mom’s family, who are Native-American.

Thanksgiving was always kind of a joke in our family.

During these dinners, a maternal relative would inevitably shout out, and cause everyone to laugh, “Why the hell are we celebrating this again?” You bet, Thanksgiving was always kind of a joke in our family.

Thanksgiving was alway a mindless eating binge, with very little thought given to the supposed history behind the holiday. A time to gather with family to eat, laugh, eat, nap, eat, repeat. Then watch old movies and football and then of course eat some more. 

My nana’s green bean casserole with the crunchy God-knows-what on the top, the standard dry and overcooked bird, the forgotten rolls burning away in the oven, lumps in the gravy and years, the standard shit some families insist on repeating less than 30 days later on Christmas. Of course, years ago, when various pain-in-the ass uncles were still alive, the political arguments. This was often followed by squealing tires as someone left in a rage. As dad once put it, “They drove up in a Mercedes, but left in a huff!”

Dad had married into my big crazy Native American family when he met mom. She was petite and gorgeous and the love of his life. He was great, a big, good look’n guy. A bit actor in “motion pictures” and TV shows, mostly Westerns. 

He was great on a horse so he was often a stuntman, and made his career doubling actors like Errol Flynn and John Barrymore. He really was a dead ringer for Barrymore and cut quite the figure and profile. As a kid I remember dad always being impeccably dressed and people inevitably used the word dapper when describing him. He was also the most liberal, loving person you’d ever meet with a huge heart that was definitely in the right place.

…roped-off heirloom chairs in their houses and roped-off heirloom minds in their heads.

He had been born into a well-to-do, Protestant Bostonian family of polite WASPs–the kind with roped-off heirloom chairs in their houses and roped-off heirloom minds in their heads. Scandalously, his mother had been French-Catholic and had made sure he was christened in the Roman Catholic Church just before she passed away from complications caused by his birth.

That’s all it took, a few drops of holy water and the unintelligible mutterings of some musty old priest and his life was changed forever. His father’s family from that day forward treated him like a servant, even worse than a servant. He slept on the porch, even in the dead of winter. He stole bagels and milk off of the neighborhood porches and did his best to get by.

Hellen as a Youngster, at Roughly the Same Age His Father was Abandoned by His Own Father…

One day his father took him down to the train station when he was about five-years old or so, handed him a couple dollars and then stepped aboard a departing train as it pulled away from the station, never to be seen or heard from again. After that, dad was on his own. Luckily for him he was taken in by a Black family in Boston who fed and clothed him. He never forgot that kindness and he lived his life completely devoid of any racism. His first wife was latino with whom he had eight very good look’n kids.

“Would you like to be in motion pictures?”

Later in life, in his late forties, he met my mom. Mom was dark and beautiful with a dazzling smile and a killer figure. She told me that dad’s first words out of his mouth to her had been, “Would you like to be in motion pictures?”

Yeah, She Was in Pictures…No Joke.

She laughed and told him what a line and then, they were together for the next thirty or more years. I remember people staring at us and yelling things when we’d go out. Restaurants were particularly uncomfortable. I was born in 1957 so-mixed race couples were few and far between. Kids at school would say “Your mom’s a n****r.”

So, dad would come down to the principal’s office to raise hell.

Both mom and dad’s best-friends were black. When they’d visit, I’d be in the front yard playing with their kids, and every other house on the block in our lily white neighborhood of Downey, California was studded with angry faces peeking through curtains watching us disapprovingly. A few years later when I was to come out as gay the residents of Downey had something else to hate me for and–hate me they did. Daily verbal and physical assaults which lasted until the day I escaped that awful little city.  

Portrait of the Artist as a Fey Lad

When I came out to my parents…dad wasn’t in the least bit fazed and never had an issue with it. Mom had wanted grandchildren badly, but soon got past that and our family, mom’s family, they didn’t blink an eye, they loved me unconditionally, the entire family.

After knowing the “good Christian” white people of Downey I realized that I wasn’t missing a thing by not knowing my dad’s family, the only good thing they ever produced was him, a good guy that never saw the color of a person’s skin or judged someone by whom they loved. 

…the only family I’ve ever known.

Today I think of family, my Mom’s Family…the only family I’ve ever known. Today they are scattered around the country and many have passed, but they are all in my thoughts and my heart. Just a bunch of fun, loving, crazy Indians (we still call ourselves Indians by the way, because we can call ourselves whatever we damn well please) and at some point today someone in each household will pause and ask, 

“Why the Hell are we celebrating today again?” 

Autumnal Greetings from Pride Northwest

A Message from Executive Director Debra Porta

Hello! Welcome to the new Pride Northwest newsletter! Each month, we will bring you important news and updates, exclusive promotions, and opportunities to Make Pride Happen!

At Pride Northwest, we strive every day to bring visibility to, and celebrate, the accomplishments and talents of Oregon and SW Washington’s LGBTQ+ community. In addition, we educate all people about those things, and ensure that the LGBTQ+ community’s voice is included and heard.  As a 501(c)3 organization, we take seriously our commitment to honoring and lifting up that voice.

A year-round planning process, Pride Northwest staff is already hard at work on the 2020 Portland Pride Waterfront Festival and Parade. In 2019, we celebrated Stonewall as well as Pride Northwest’s 25th birthday. In 2020, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pride itself! We look forward to spotlighting important milestones in our history, as well as the LGBTQ+ heroes who have paved the way for where we are today.

Portland Pride is a nationally recognized celebration, attended by approximately 60,000 people, and draws thousands of visitors from across the country. As the Portland Pride Waterfront Festival and Parade grows, we continuously look for opportunities to broaden and improve the Pride experience for attendees and participants. Look for updates in the coming months as well as opportunities for you to engage and support!

We have a few staffing changes this year.  Due to a promotion in his professional career, Max West has left his role here at Pride Northwest. Max has been instrumental in helping to streamline registration processes for the festival and parade, work that we will continue to build upon. Although he will be missed, we are super excited for Max and the opportunities ahead for him, in his chosen field!

We also said goodbye to Angela Ogren this year. Angela has been part of the Pride Northwest family for twelve years, serving as a volunteer, a board member and, most recently, as Volunteer Coordinator. Like Max, Angela is pursuing opportunities in their chosen career, working with at-risk youth. We wish Angela well and will miss them!

Kari Anne Horton joined the Pride Northwest family this year and will be taking on the role of primary contact, for festival exhibitors and parade registrants. Kari Anne brings with her a breadth of knowledge in program planning and communications. Community is important to Kari Anne and she hopes her work at Pride Northwest will help other queer folks feel accepted and welcome!

Thank you for your continued support – Happy Fall!
Debra Porta

Madama Butterfly Opens 2019/2020 Portland Opera Season

Portland Opera Opens 55th Season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura makes her U.S. debut as Cio-Cio-San 

Portland, OR (September 26, 2019) – Portland Opera will mark the start of the 2019/20 season with Giacomo Puccini’s powerful drama Madama Butterfly. This production will feature the U.S. debut of acclaimed soprano Hiromi Omura as the title character, a role she has sung with Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House, the Latvian National Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and The New National Theatre Tokyo. This piece tells the story of a young wife and mother named Cio-Cio-San, in Nagasaki, Japan, who waits for the return of her beloved B.F. Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the United States Navy. Written in 1903, and last seen on the Portland Opera stage in 2012, Puccini’s stunning and emotional work continues to be one of the most popular operas performed in the United States. Portland Opera will present four performances of Madama Butterfly on October 25, 27, 31, and November 2 at the Keller Auditorium in downtown Portland. 

Portland Opera’s esteemed music director, George Manahan, will conduct Puccini’s intimate and heart-wrenching score, which features Cio-Cio-San’s famous aria “Un bel dì vedremo,” and the ethereal Humming Chorus. E. Loren Meeker, who was last seen at Portland Opera as the Assistant Director of Puccini’s La Bohème in 2009, returns to direct this production. Momo Suzuki and Kevin Suzuki make their Portland Opera debuts as Japanese Movement & Cultural Advisors for the piece. 

Tenor Luis Chapa will make his Portland Opera debut as Pinkerton, a role he sang at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2017/18 season. Suzuki will be sung by mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida, who also makes her company debut. She has previously sung the role at the Manitoba Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Utah Opera. Baritone Troy Cook joins the company for the first time. He will sing the role of Sharpless, a role he has previously sung with the Washington National Opera, Utah Opera, and Central City Opera. Baritone André Chiang, a former Portland Opera Resident Artist, returns to the company as Prince Yamadori and The Imperial Commissioner. Bass Peixin Chen makes his Portland Opera debut as the Bonze, after making his Metropolitan Opera debut last season as Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Washington native tenor Karl Marx Reyes will make his company debut as the marriage broker, Goro. Current Portland Opera Resident Artist mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman sings the role of Kate Pinkerton. Lighting is designed by Mark McCullough. Performances will also feature the talented local and regional musicians who make up Portland Opera’s orchestra and chorus. 

“An idealistic, Japanese girl in the early 1900s falls for a brash, entitled American soldier whose actions turn her love into a story ending in exploitation, betrayal, and abandonment,” says stage director E. Loren Meeker. “Puccini’s masterpiece Madama Butterfly forces American audiences to consider our history, culture, and the unknown victims of our past foreign policy. Our goal within a traditional setting is to honor Japanese culture through insightful storytelling and modern characterization. This creates an environment where we can examine the harsh realities of our past in an effort to learn from our mistakes at global, national, and personal levels.” 

As work begins onstage with this production of Madama Butterfly, Portland Opera seeks to enhance community dialogue and context surrounding this piece. On Sunday, October 13, audiences are invited to a free preview event at the Multnomah County Public Library, featuring performances by Portland Opera artists and commentary by Nicholas Fox, chorus master and assistant conductor. On Thursday, October 24, Portland Opera will welcome special guest speakers Dr. Kunio Hara (Associate Professor of Music History at the University of South Carolina) and Dr. Laura Mueller (Portland Japanese Garden) for an evening of insights and conversation titled “Context & Conversation: Puccini, Madama Butterfly, and Honoring Tradition.” Portland Opera will also present “East & West: A Special Evening of Song” on Tuesday, October 29. This recital, featuring members of the Madama Butterfly company, will explore influence and musical cross-pollination between the East and the West. More information on these events can be found on page 4. 

Madama Butterfly was made possible by Barran Liebman, LLP and Et Fille Wines. Portland Opera is grateful for the ongoing support of the Meyer Memorial Trust, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Portland Opera is a member of OPERA America. 

Madama Butterfly Tickets and Information 

Performances take place at 7:30PM at the Keller Auditorium with the exception of the matinee on October 27 which begins at 2:00PM. One hour prior to each performance, audience members are invited to a pre-show lecture. 

Madama Butterfly will be sung in Italian with projected English translations. 

Student rush tickets are available for performances of Madama Butterfly. Call 503-241- 1802 Monday through Friday from 10AM–5PM for more information. Portland Opera is proud to also work with the Veteran Tickets Foundation (vettix.org) to share tickets to the performances on October 31 with U.S. Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families. In addition, a limited number of free tickets are available through My Discovery Pass, a program created by Multnomah County Library that offers access to local museums and cultural institutions for library card holders. 

A limited number of $5 tickets for Oregon Trail Card holders are available two weeks prior to each performance, subject to availability. These tickets must be purchased via phone by calling 503-241-1802. 

The performance on October 27 at 2pm will include an audio description of the visual and physical events on stage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance is visually translated with English text projected above the stage. 

Tickets for Madama Butterfly are now available, starting at $35. For more information, and to purchase tickets visit portlandopera.org or call Patron Services at 503-241-1802. For more information, patrons may also contact the Opera Concierge at concierge@portlandopera.org, Monday through Friday from 10PM–5PM. 

Special Events 

Madama Butterfly Preview: Multnomah County Public Library Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 2pm Central Branch | 801 SW 10th Ave. Free admission. 

A preview event featuring performances by Portland Opera artists and commentary by chorus master & assistant conductor Nicholas Fox. 

Context & Conversation: Puccini, Madama Butterfly, and Honoring Tradition Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 7 PM Hampton Opera Center | 211 SE Caruthers St. Free admission. Reservations are recommended. 503.421.1802 | Concierge@portlandopera.org 

Portland Opera welcomes special guest speakers Dr. Kunio Hara (Associate Professor of Music History at the University of South Carolina) and Dr. Laura Mueller (Portland Japanese Garden) for an evening of insights and conversation, in preparation for the opening of Madama Butterfly. The program will be an hour, followed by a question and discussion session. 

East & West: A Special Evening of Song Tuesday, October 29, 2019 | 7 PM Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum | 1219 SW Park Ave. Free Admission. Reservations highly recommended. 503.421.1802 | Concierge@portlandopera.org 

Portland Opera invites the community to a unique musical program, featuring guest artists and members of the Madama Butterfly company. The selections will explore influence and musical cross-pollination between the East and the West. The evening will include an aria from An American Dream (music by Jack Perla and libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo), a contemporary chamber opera that reflects on the experiences of WWII-era Japanese Americans who were persecuted and imprisoned by the United States government. The performance will feature chorus master & assistant conductor Nicholas Fox as pianist. 

Madama Butterfly Cast & Creative Team 

Cio-Cio-San Hiromi Omura Pinkerton Luis Chapa Suzuki Nina Yoshida Sharpless Troy Cook Goro Karl Marx Reyes Yamadori/Commissioner André Chiang Bonze Peixin Chen Kate Pinkerton Camille Sherman Cio-Cio-San’s Cousin Cristina Marino Cio-Cio-San’s Mother Aimee Chalfant Yakuside, Cio-Cio-San’s Uncle Jim Jeppesen Cio-Cio-San’s Aunt Kate Strohecker Official Registrar Bryan Ross Sorrow, Cio-Cio-San’s Child TBA 

Conductor George Manahan Director E. Loren Meeker 

Lighting Designer Mark McCullough Set and Costume Designer Lloyd Evans Japanese Movement & Cultural Advisors Momo Suzuki & Kevin Suzuki Chorus Master & Assistant Conductor Nicholas Fox Assistant Director Conor Hanratty 

About Portland Opera 

Portland Opera exists to inspire, challenge, and uplift our audiences by creating productions of high artistic quality that celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera. 

Since 1964, Portland Opera has contributed to the cultural, artistic, and economic landscape of the city and region that we love. We celebrate the beauty and breadth of the opera repertoire with performances that take place in the Keller Auditorium, Newmark Theatre, and the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre at the Hampton 

Opera Center. The company is also a committed educational partner, touring fully staged operas to schools and community centers throughout Oregon and SW Washington region each year, in addition to a host of other efforts designed to make opera accessible for all. 

The Bubbles No Longer Tickle My Nose: Gay Memories

When Alexis Carrington Met Baby Jane, Her Sister Blanche, and GI Joe on Halloween

By Hellen Back

Ms. Back is a performer, originally from Santa Cruz, who now makes their home in Portland. She has kindly agreed to share recollections from her life, in and out of drag.

Dried leaves rustled across the streets and sidewalks as the sky glowed in rich amber hues like a Maxfield Parrish sky began to sparkle with stars illuminating the twilight. Costumed children dart from porch to porch chiming “trick or treat” in unison, their plastic pumpkins held outstretched, eager for candy treats.

A ghost here, a witch there and I was Kharis, the mummy! High priest to the princess Ananka. Swathed in shredded linen bandages I held one arm outstretched, dragging one leg in my very best Boris Karloff impersonation that I could muster as an earnest eight-year-old…but that was long ago. Travel with me some twenty odd years later and those sweet Halloween memories now lay in the distant past. 

Nope, no Maxfield Parrish sky this time, no Norman Rockwell Halloween magazine cover here.

There I was, my evening gown pulled up around my neck, in a dark little shed as my neighbors teenage son banged away at me so hard I swore that any minute he’d either strike oil or the damn shed would rattle apart. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. It was once again Halloween, or “The Bitches Christmas” as we always called it. Months had gone into preparation for my costume, every detail was perfection…I was every inch Alexis Carrington Colby! 

Dynasty was the hit of the year and I was prepared! Though I was a good foot or two taller than Joan Collins, I felt it only added stature to my characterization. I was in a word…flawless! The evening was a huge success, cocktails, cocktails, and more cocktails. The party was up at the old Pogonip Lodge in Santa Cruz, used as the house in the movie Lost Boys which had just been filmed in town. 

The party was loud and wild. Everywhere were fabulous costumes, hot guys, and great dance music. It was the 80’s and drugs were plentiful. Clouds of dope hung lazily in the air and if there was a flat surface somebody was laying a line of coke out on it! But, Cole Porter said it best, didn’t he? 

“Some get a kick from cocaine,

I’m sure that if,

I took even one sniff,

It would bore me terrifically, too,

Yet, I get a kick out of you.”

Now, being a bit high-strung bitch I was never one for cocaine. I really didn’t care for it…I never turned it down, but I really didn’t care that much for it. But what the hell, ‘tis the season! I guess. 

At one point, while dancing madly and having long since dropped my sophisticated Joan Collins persona, I lapsed into something closer to a drunken, drugged-up Tallulah Bankhead. I spied across the dancefloor Jesus and the Apostles! And it wasn’t the drugs, there really was a group of 13 fabulous men in biblical garb all perfectly done! 

Opposite them, heading in their direction, were two drag queens done up as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in their roles of Baby Jane Hudson and her sister Blanche Hudson. Jane was pushing the wheelchair and “Blanche” was wringing her hands and giving it her Joan Crawford all! 

Well fucking Hell, what a convergence of characters! I immediately sprung into action. Racing to the center of the dancefloor I grabbed Blanch/Joan by the wrists and hauled her heavy carcass out of the wheelchair while calling on “Jesus” to “Heal this woman! Make her walk again! We need a miracle!”

Oh, it was perfect! What a scene, though I did begin to notice through my drunken haze that Joan/Blanche was putting up quite the struggle as I hauled her out of the wheelchair. Not only that, her companion Jane seemed to be overreacting just a bit to the whole situation and was flailing and gesticulating madly at me. But why? 

That’s when it happened, Joan/Blanche hit the floor like a sack of potatoes, Jesus freed himself from my clutches and took a few steps back along with the rest of the apostles and the entire dancefloor froze as baby Jane scrambled quickly to her friend’s side and attempted to haul poor Blanche Hudson back into her wheelchair, because, well…it was her wheelchair. It was the wheelchair she lived in and not–as I supposed–a Halloween prop.

Yep, the bitch actually needed the damn thing. She was paralized from the waist down and I had yanked her ass right out of her wheelchair and tossed her on the floor like a rag doll. (Unless of course, she was a student of method acting.) I now stood over her thinking, “What would Alexis do?” 

I adjusted my flawless wig and the fabulous gown. I looked around the room of horrified faces and said, “Well, so much for miracles,” and made a hasty exit through the crowd before they could turn into an angry mob. Heading home, gunning my enormous convertable Cadillac, I roared around curves squeaking my tires, cursing that damn bitch for rolling around in her fucking wheelchair and ruining my evening!

I mean, who the hell did she think she was? 

I slid into my gravel driveway a bit drunker than I should have been, when behind a wheel. But, fortunately no Hudson sister, Blanche or otherwise, met me at the gate. Hell, let’s face it, i was so high I shouldn’t even have been allowed to walk home let alone drive! But I made it…I was home and just about to put the entire debacle behind me when I heard a voice in the darkness cry, “Happy Halloween.” I turned and could see a vague shape in the darkness. 

“Happy Halloween” I answered. 

“Who are you supposed to be,” he asked insolently. 

Smartass, i thought. And so responded: “I’m Alexis Carrington Colby, who the fuck are you?” 

“I’m GI Joe,” he said as he stepped out into the porchlight. 

Dear gods, it was Bobby, my neighbor’s hot, teenage, surfer son. He was wearing a full army uniform and looked amazing! I’d spent the past couple years watching his daily routine of stripping out of his wetsuit behind their home when he returned from surfing. He’d peel out of his wetsuit like a banana and then slowly hose himself off. Sometimes his brother would join him.

They had a little shed behind their parents house where they hung out, drank beer, smoked weed and hosed off the sand and saltwater from their nubile, strong, young bodies. it was a daily routine that was not lost on me. The memories still are not lost. 

“Wanna smoke a joint?” he offered. 

Yep, that’s all it took and that’s how I found myself moments later drunk, high and dressed like a seven foot tall Amazonian Joan Collins, getting my brains banged out by the neighbor’s son. No, this was not the Halloween of my childhood memories, though I’m sure that if I had craned my neck as I bent over his surfboard I might have caught just a peek of a lovely Maxfield Parrish sky through the shed door. 

And if my head hadn’t been pushed into the wall, and listened very carefully I might have once more heard the soft rustle of fall leaves as they skittered across the pavement. And though that part of my Halloween experience somehow managed to slip past me, all in all it wasn’t a bad night. Not a bad night at all, and though we came up a bit short on miracles, I still got my trick or treat.

The Colors of Converse

By Kenyth Mogan, ProudTimes’ LA Correspondent

Converse once again releases Pride Collection for 2019, to celebrate the LGBT Community.

I was born proud.

Most of my family had figured out I was gay by the time I was three. It wasn’t something that was talked about, nor was it something I was taught to be ashamed of – or hide. I was free to live my life exactly how I wanted. This included Hello Kitty tee shirts and hot pink converse with electric blue laces. I was a walking, one man, gay pride parade living in a tiny little town in northeastern Montana.  

I was lucky. There were a lot of men and women who had to fight like hell to put me, and others, in a spot where we didn’t have to be afraid of how we were born. While there’s still a LONG way to go, the strides we’ve made have been monumental.

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. For anyone who doesn’t know, it was a turning point in gay history. Marsha P. Johnson, a beautiful and brave trans woman threw a brick, and collectively, as a community, we stood up to say “enough!”

To learn more about her you can check out a preview of the Netflix documentary on Marsha P. Johnson’s life, here.

To celebrate a half-century of LGBTQ visibility: Converse has released a very special collection that encompasses the community as a whole. A special collection for Pride is a way to show they celebrate diversity and inclusion. In fact, Converse has been doing them for a while. But, they’ve always been ahead of the curve, which is one of the reasons I love the brand so much.

“Converse’s Pride collection was born out of our LGBTQ+ employee network in 2015,” their press release states, “and it has since evolved into an annual celebration.”

It’s easy to slap some rainbow product on a pretty model and call it pride. Whether the model is part of the community or not. Not Converse, and not with this line. The models are as diverse, colorful, and unique as the shoes they’re wearing. They’re also genuine members of the community.  Included in the 2019 campaign you’ll find: Desmond is Amazing, Drag Kid and LGBTQ+ advocate, Kristin Beck, a retired United States Navy SEAL and trans activist, Alexis Sablone, a pro-skateboarder (and CONS Skateboarding teammate) and the artist Felix, a student advocate and nature enthusiast who first connected with Converse through OUT MetroWest, Ayishat Akanbi, UK-based fashion stylist, writer and cultural commentator, and Fran Tirado, a queer podcaster and Deputy Editor of OUT Magazine.


The style makers & LGBTQ+ shakers for the 2019 Converse Pride Line. From left to right: Ayishat Akanbi, Kristin Beck, Alexis Sablone, Desmond, Fran Tirado, & Felix.
Fran Tirado, Deputy Editor of OUT Magazine.
All photos found on Converse.

When companies like Converse, such as Nordstrom, Gap, Doc Martens, not only celebrate Pride Month, but represent it with members of our community, the conversation goes beyond just a pair of shoes. It shows the queer community for who we really are, people. Because of the integrity of Converse as a brand, LGBTQ+ people and allies will spend their dollars wisely…and, queerly.  

The shoes, which retail from $60 – $100 became available on May 6th. They can be found in Converse stores and through their website. In celebration of Converse’s annual PRIDE collection, contributions are supporting longstanding local and global LGBTQ+ partners, including It Gets Better Project, OUT MetroWest, & Fenway Health.

Faye Fearless of Lez Prom: Coming Out & Producing LGBTQ+ Events

ProudTimes connected with Faye Fearless, LGBTQ events planner extraordinaire.

Faye Fearless

ProudTimes: You have been producing a wide spectrum of events from Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom, trivia nights, to LezProm’s in the queer community. We connected with you through Lez Prom Portland. How did you get your start creating and hosting events?

Faye Fearless: I got my start at the end of 2015. Lez Prom was actually the first event I ever produced. The idea came from the community itself via a post on a popular Austin lesbians Facebook group.

PT: You are involved with the LGBTQ and fandom communities through your events. Also, you produce events for self-empowerment. Do you feel intersection in these communities?

FF: Absolutely. That’s actually the common factor across all my events. Each and every event we produce is designed to be a safe space for self-expression. A place where a lesbian, a superfan, a witch, a cuddle monkey, or a princess can be exactly who they are without feeling inhibited and free from judgement or shame.

These events are about freedom of expression and living as your authentic self, whether that’s a lover of ladies or a super nerd. Each event empowers the individual to be freely themselves, to not hold back. We dance like no one is watching, we sing out loud, we cast spells, and we show our true color, whether green/silver or rainbow toned.   

PT: What are some of the methods that you incorporate into your self-empowerment events?

FF: Each event is a judgement and shame free zone. That includes ensuring everyone feels welcome to wear what they want to prom, to believe in magic, or to express just how hardcore of a fan they are at trivia nights. We all see ourselves in a very specific way and know who we are better than anyone else ever could. One of the best feelings in the world is having someone else truly accept who you are. That validation is what we try to provide at every event.  

PT: Which events do you feel have made the most positive impact on folk’s lives; do you have a specific example?

FF: Lez Prom is definitely an event that leaves a lasting impact. For a lot of folks who attend, it’s about recreating that perfect prom experience, but for others, it’s the sense of belonging and the true community feel that the event creates. It’s the one night a year all the lesbians come out for, and it’s really special to share that night with our sub-community.

Often this slice of the LGBTQ+ community goes overlooked and under represented at larger queer gatherings. It can be overwhelming to be at PRIDE with everyone and yet not feel like there is much common ground. Events specifically for lesbians and non-binary folks are very rare. So, having a place like Lez Prom where we can gather once a year to share our lives and love is exceptionally special.

I’ve had the privilege of hearing about the powerful experience of attendees at the end of each Lez Prom. This is why I do it. It’s powerful to hear people describe the experience of how they felt welcome, accepted, and a sense of belonging. Getting to create this space each year that allows these emotions and experiences to happen has been such an honor.  

PT: We have to know – have you seen love bloom between people who met at LezProm?

FF: Yes! The love is infectious at Lez Prom. You can really see it when the photos come out. Our photographer captures a lot of candid photos, and you can see the pure joy on so many faces. What is really neat about this event is it doesn’t just attract couples.

We have a lot of folks who attend with a group of friends or solo and meet people at the event. We even reserve a special section of tables just for singles to find each other and meet dancing partners. A new love blooming at Lez Prom is definitely a possibility! This event is also inclusive of the non-monogamous/polyamory community. Being a member of that community myself, I like to make sure folks with multiple partners feel free to express their love in this space.

PT: Do you mind sharing your personal journey with coming out and how it’s shaped you as a public figure?

Faye Fearless – 2016 , Austin, TX (First LezProm)

FF: Sure! My coming out was pretty unique in that the first Lez Prom event could be considered my coming out party! Here’s the story. I came to the realization that I was gay just five years ago when I was 25. It was not until 2014 that I actually considered dating women to be an option for myself.

Dating and being with men felt like the default mode and I didn’t question it. It wasn’t until I moved to Austin in 2011 that I considered other options. Shortly after, I met a woman who practiced polyamory – an open style of relationship that allows you to date and form relationships with multiple partners with the knowledge and consent of all involved. I had never heard of this lifestyle before and wanted to learn more.

Eventually, my long-term boyfriend and I decided to give polyamory a try. I went on my first date with a woman shortly before PRIDE in 2014, and it was glorious. In early 2015, I attended several queer women’s events and started to experience what the culture was all about. This was incredibly liberating. As I continued to date women in 2015, I became more and more disconnected from my male partner. Sometime around the summer of 2015 we officially split, although we remain very good friends to this day.

I was fortunate to have found a few lezzy centered events right around the time I was discovering my own sexuality and this had an impact on my career as a producer. If I had not experienced for myself that special kind of energy that comes from an event with 500+ lesbians and non-binary folks in attendance, I might not have thought about creating this kind of event.

I’m so fortunate to have family and friends that accept me. I am forever grateful to the friends I met in Austin who enlightened me by sharing so openly about their lives and loves. Because I was always accepted completely on my journey, I never was pressured to hide any part of my identity. This is something I have learned to be extremely grateful for and to cherish because I know so many others who never received the same acceptance.

I want to recreate that experience of acceptance for folks who attend my events, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community. At least at my events, folks can have that acceptance, validation, and the love they deserve. It’s a small thing I can do, and I know how powerful those feelings are.

Photo from LezProm

PT: What are some of your upcoming projects and is there anything in the pipeline that has you especially excited?

FF: I was thrilled to be able to bring Lez Prom to Portland and Seattle this year after having established the event in Austin. I hope to continue to bring the event to more cities. I have a few ideas in the works but cannot release details quite yet.

PT: What is the vision for your event business and what steps do you take to ensure that your events align?

FF: I hope the business always stays authentic to its original values. Each event is created for the community (LGBTQ+ or fandom) and by someone deeply connected to that community. As Faye Fearless Productions grows, I personally may be less involved with each event individually. But what will never change is that those working the events will be a part of the community. I couldn’t imagine running it any other way.  

PT: As a successful female entrepreneur, what is the best advice you’ve ever received? Today, what advice would give to others following in your footsteps?

FF: The best advice I ever received is “never take it personally.” A business is not about you; it’s about the product you are creating. So, the feedback you receive is about the product and not an attack on the one who made it. This has been particularly prudent advice for LGBTQ+ related events.

It’s hard to predict how individuals will interpret an event, and when I learned in the past that particular groups didn’t feel as welcomed because of representation in marketing materials or the event description, we worked to correct this. But sometimes even when working towards a resolution, the feedback can feel like a personal attack, and sometimes it’s absolutely designed that way. I was shocked to find bullies within the LGBTQ+ community, but even here, they exist.

As an event producer, it’s my job to listen to any and all feedback, evaluate it and reply in a way that is professional. Those giving the feedback, however, are under no such professional obligations. My advice: always take the high road, consider all feedback fairly and implement solutions that are important and reasonable, and remember that you can’t please everyone.

Another piece of advice that I was given was to “accept that failure will happen.” I have been fortunate to have what I consider very few losses or failed events, but there have been a few. Working for yourself is a risk. Entrepreneurship is like gambling; it’s a roller coaster. But I’ve always thought you need the lows to realize how epic the highs really are. You have to have that perspective to appreciate it; I’ve never liked neutral anyway.

Your first loss is always really hard, especially as a small company. It’s easy to feel responsible. One way to mitigate this is to know and to trust that you did everything you could have done. Usually, our regrets come from wanting to change something about our actions in the past, but there is nothing I would change about the events that failed because I feel secure in my efforts.

Lastly, here’s my advice that should be particularly helpful for women entrepreneurs “be confident in your abilities and decisions.” Paralysis in decision making is the death of many businesses. You have to take the leap at some point. And finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate and don’t accept the terms you are given in life or business. There is no default mode anymore: not straight, not working for someone else, and not getting married and having kids.

PT: Since this year marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, this is a big Pride year. What does Pride mean to you on both a personal and professional level? What will you be doing to celebrate?

FF: To me PRIDE is about acceptance, and that goes beyond sexuality and identity. It’s about accepting that our journey is fluid and full of discovery. I have only been a part of this community since 2014. When I first realized what I wanted and how different it was from everything I knew about myself, it made me feel self-conscious. Not because I didn’t want people to know or thought they would judge me for it, but that I was judging myself for not knowing sooner. Like why didn’t I know this about myself, especially when faced with a community that appears from the outside to be mostly people who have always known for a long time. This somehow made me feel less legit.

Photo from LezProm

Pride month also happens to be my birthday month, and for the last several years I’ve hosted a lesbian boat cruise on the lake the weekend closest to my birthday! So that is how I’ll be celebrating PRIDE this year and my 30th birthday!

PT: Anything else that you’d care to add?

FF: Talk and get to know people from all walks of life. Learning about other lifestyles was fundamental in my discovery of who I am. Don’t be scared to try something new. Sure, you won’t have a blueprint for it, but that means you have to trust something deep within you, something powerful. Don’t be afraid to explore in love and dating, try new things, be confident, no one knows what they’re doing at first but you have to try to get better.

If you know any event producers or artists who you think ProudTimes should celebrate, emailproudtimesmag@gmail.comand we’ll see what we can do!

The Gravity of Alexz Johnson’s Weight


After a Decade, New Track is Worth the Wait

By Kenyth Mogan, ProudTimes LA Correspondent

To listen to Alexz Johnson is to enter a sonic nirvana. Her lyrics are deep, and sensitive, yet relatable. They penetrate your soul while her voice–at once powerful and angelic–invokes emotions which connects you to her songs in ways not all artists can do. To meet Alexz, is quite a similar experience. She’s genuine and sincere. All it takes is a single conversation to realize that beyond the artist, there’s a human being who is nothing less than extraordinary. She welcomes you into her world with such effortless kindness that you immediately feel like you’re two old friends, catching up. As a journalist, I’ve met some of the biggest names in the industry and as an artist myself, I’ve been given the chance to work with incredible men and women regardless of their fame. However, none of them have had as profound of an effect on me as Alexz Johnson.

She’s my go-to artist whenever I need a mood change, or music to relax to, or someone to inspire me. I’ve reviewed almost every single one of her three studio albums, her remix album, the three demo compilations, her two live albums and her five EPs. I’ve loved every single one  of them, but none of them have made me as happy as her newest release Weight.

Cover photo – Shervin Lainez

As a fan, I’ve followed Alexz’s career from the beginning, so I’m familiar with the weight behind Weight and the significance this release not only means to her as an artist, but also what it means to her fans.

Originally scheduled to be included on the debut album she recorded for Epic/Sony Records in 2009, the song and the album were shelved after a shift at the label. This lead to Alexz, and several others, being released from their contracts. However, red tape being red tape, there was still the caveat which meant Epic still owned all the songs she recorded while under said contract. However, Alexz pushed forward to release her music her way, unbeholden to anyone who wanted to make her anything other than who she was.

Eventually a recording of Weight was released on the first volume of her demo compilations, The Basement Recordings. It was also leaked online with a lot of the other recordings from Epic. Still, release of a fully-produced, official version of the song was slim to none.

That all changed when Alexz revealed on Instagram that Weight would be her first official release of 2019. I knew a new song was coming, but the realization that this was it was huge. So, the first thing I did after seeing her post was to purchase the track.

I’ve listened to Weight hundreds of times, and it has brought me to tears. But as I sat there taking in the scope of what I was listening to, it was like I was finally hearing the song for the first time. It gave me goosebumps. Alexz’s voice fit seamlessly with this new production’s synth-pop sound–and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Since the release, Alexz’s fans have been flocking to social media in support of her and the song. Atwood Magazine, who debuted the track, and the music video, called it a “Cathartic anthem of Freedom,” and they’re spot on in their assessment.

Full of hope, Weight is a song of perseverance. Not only is pure pop perfection, It’s a testament to Alexz’s talent as an artist and her integrity. As a fan, I’m excited for the new music, as a friend, I couldn’t be more proud of this amazing and awe-inspiring badass.

“This has been such a special few days,” Alexz told ProudTimes. “I am ever so humbled by the incredible audience I’m lucky enough to share my sound with. Some say fans, I think of the listeners as my friends–people who share so much of themselves and in return gives me the opportunity to be as real as I can be.”

Released on April 19, 2019 Weight can be purchased on all digital platforms including iTunes, and can stream the song on Spotify.  You can see the music video here.

Kenyth Mogan is a Los Angeles-based recording artist who grew up on the prairies of north-eastern Montana. He is an avid lover of cartoons, comic books, puppies, and all things cute and colorful. His spirit animal is something between Rainbow Brite and Kim from Netflix’s “Special.”

Promo shot © by Shervin Lainez

Update: Dennis Day Disappearance

Breaking News

By Sebastian Fortino

Phoenix, Oregon–ProudTimes brought what should have been a story of national importance to the Portland region a few weeks ago concerning the disappearance of Dennis Day.

Day, who was last seen in mid-summer 2018, was an original Mousketeeer on the Mickey Mouse Show. Several factors however contributed to this case not gaining as much attention as it should have. Only in February, about seven months after the disappearance, did Dateline run a story on the investigation. The pictures used offer grim contrast; perhaps too severe a disparity between the two images.

Mr. Day was an openly gay, lower-income senior citizen living in a largely rural community.

“I think a lot of this has to do with the fact my uncle was poor, gay, and older,” said niece Janel Showers, who lives in the Fresno, California area. She has also said initial quotes were rehashed on both a local and national level from an original story released by the press. “No one really contacted us, his family.”

Due to constraints, such as a small police force with limited resources, and that Mr. Day’s next of kin–his husband–suffered from dementia and was living in a care facility, both the investigation and his family were seemingly ignored. In fact, the Day family didn’t even know their brother and uncle went missing for several weeks after the man was reported missing to police.

Today, April 5th 2019, the family called ProudTimes to say the case had progressed–finally. ProudTimes was the first news outlet to know that as of yesterday cadaver dogs and drones were being released to search the vicinity of Mr. Day’s property.

What was not shared with the press earlier is that Mr. Day’s home located at 510 Pine Street in Phoenix, Oregon shares a property line with a cemetery. They did not find a body in the cemetery however. Instead a body has been found on the grounds which Mr. Day and his partner called home for over 30 years.

The case, and the family were largely ignored. ProudTimes is privy to much information that we can only reveal when more comes to light about the investigation.

“We loved my uncle,” Showers said. “In fact the last time she saw him was in 2017, when my mother,” Nelda Adkins, “went to check on him in July 2017.”

Day, due to his husband’s ill-health hadn’t left the area for many years. Ideas were put forth by a source close to the case which painted Day’s closest relatives as estranged and homophobic. Upon interviewing both Showers via phone and her mother via email, ProudTimes is certain they were not biased against their missing relative.

Only now that a corpse has been found on the property of Mr. Day, is the mainstream media taking an interest. A man’s life was discounted because of his station socio-economically by mainstream media, but now that larger news outlets have a story to sell…they are taking an active interest.

This is an ongoing case. ProudTimes will be releasing more information as it becomes available.