Doug Jones’ Openly Gay Son Throws Major Shade at Mike Pence As Father Sworn In

There’s an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but this photo of Carson Jones at his father’s swearing-in ceremony speaks for itself.

Doug Jones officially became a member of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, taking his oath of office as Alabama’s first Democratic Senator in 25 years. Jones, who defeated anti-LGBTQ Republican Roy Moore in last month’s special election, was accompanied by longtime friend Joe Biden and son Carson, who recently opened up about his sexuality in an interview with INTO.

Also present was Mike Pence, who is pictured forlornly holding the Bible on which Jones placed his left hand. As the highest-ranking member of the Senate, it’s the vice president’s job to swear in elected representatives to the body.

But given that Pence’s boss backed Moore in the Alabama race, his stone face suggests anointing Jones was a thankless task.

Pence’s blank expression, however, was no match for what Carson Jones was serving. The 22-year-old is giving the vice president major side-eye in a picture posted to his Instagram account on Wednesday. A hashtag on the post (“#nocaptionneeded”) shows the vexed look was intentional.

##dougjones #swearingin #washingtondc #capitol #wemadeit #nocaptionneeded

A post shared by Carson Jones (@thedapperzookeeper) on

The post has received over 10,000 likes at the time of writing.

The younger Jones was unavailable to comment on the photo prior to press time, but the shade is unsurprising given the vice president’s long history of opposing LGBTQ rights.

As the governor of Indiana, Pencesigned into law a controversial billallowing people of faith to deny services to LGBTQ people based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Enacted in 2015, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was “fixed” when its passageled to a $60 million boycott of the state.

After President Donald Trump tapped Pence to be his second-in-command, he has continued to pursue anti-LGBTQ policies at the federal level.

Pencehas reportedly pushed Trump to sign an executive orderstrikingly similar to his widely unpopular RFRA bill. He was reportedly one of the most vocal proponents of a so-called “religious liberty” memorandumwhichwas tabled at the urgingof the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

The Commander-in-Chief once“joked” that the vice president, whomay or may not be a conversion therapy advocate, “wants to hang” all gay people in aNew Yorkerprofile.

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Alex Jones Comes Quickly to Defend Trump’s D

If there’s one thing that’s been taking up too much room in the current news cycle, it’s oblique references to Donald Trump’s genitals. On Tuesday night, Trump tweeted about the size of his nuclear button in a way that would force Freud to massage his temples.

But there was one person who felt the references to Trump’s naughty bits were a bit *too* oblique: Alex Jones. In fact, he’s had it up to *points to hip* here!

On the Wednesday episode of The Alex Jones Show, Jones defended the size of the president’s penisyes, I’m typing this sentencefrom attacks in the *Sarah Palin voice* liberal media.

Jones said:

“Now the media went into conniption fits and the headlines from MSNBC are Trump’s sexual obsessions may destroy the earth. They’re the ones saying hey we got a bigger nuclear button than you, we got a bigger arsenal, more powerful, and it works. Nothing to do with the media trying to say the president has small genitals. And by the way he doesn’t even have small hands, and by the way that’s a cliche, and a wives’ tale, and not even true as well. Medical doctors will tell you it’s the feet size. But the point is that it’s more comparable. And that’s not even an exact metric.”

There’s a lot to unpack here! But, Jones really wants you to know that hands are the wrong penis-size-guessing metric! It’s definitely feet!

By the way, one 2002 scientific study disproved this theory.

I wouldn’t expect Alex Jones to have a good scientific grasp on anything given how he’s shown over and over again that he and science go together like oil and water.

Photo by Brooks Kraft/ Getty Images

Here’s How to Make the Mormon Church’s Recently Deceased President Gay in the Afterlife

A new website wants to show former Mormon leader Thomas Monson the “joys of homosexuality” from beyond the grave.

Monson passed away in his home on Tuesday after spending his last decade as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposing gay inclusion in its ranks. Under the 90-year-old’s tenure, the church led the campaign to overturn same-sex marriage in California and banned the children of same-sex couples from receiving baptism.

But a site called “All Dead Mormons Are Now Gay” believes Monson can be redeemed in the next life: It allows users to make his ghostly spirit queer.

“Sadly, many Mormons throughout history have died without having known the joys of homosexuality,” claims the webpage, which asks users to enter the name of their “favorite” dead Mormon. “With your help, these poor souls can be saved.”

Were someone to hypothetically enter Monson’s name into the system (note: as the author may have done) and click “Convert!”, the page promises he would be “gay for eternity.”

“There is no undo,” the website warns.

Although the notoriously private Mormon leader never publicly spoke out against homosexuality, Monson made his opposition to the LGBTQ community known behind closed doors. He claimed the November 2015 policy branding gay couples’ kids as “apostates” was “the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord,” as the Salt Lake Tribune reported this week.

Russell M. Nelson, who is believed to be in line to replace Monson, quoted those words in a January 2016 speech.

But that decision led to major blowback for the LDS church. More than 30 LGBTQ youth reportedly took their own lives in the three months after that decree was announced, while an estimated 1,500 members of the faith resigned in protest of the policy.

Although the Mormon church has taken steps to address the fallout (e.g., backing off its support for conversion therapy), it continues to outwardly oppose LGBTQ rights. In September 2017, church leaders filed an amicus brief in support of a Christian baker fighting for his right to discriminate against gay couples at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Now that the Court has protected the liberty of same-sex couples, it is equally important to protect the religious liberty of these conscientious objectors,” the LDS Church claimed in a joint statement with the National Association of Evangelicals, among other groups.

The Mormon church has also distanced itself from the Boy Scouts of America after it lifted a ban on gay troop leaders two years ago. Monson is a former Boy Scout.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

Donald Trump Is Reportedly Too Impatient to Get a Good Hair Dye Job

This just in: Donald Trump doesn’t have the patience of a teenager who is experimenting with a new ~ look ~.

According to a new book, Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Trump’s signature Bozo-the-clown hair color stems from the fact that the Don can’t sit still long enough to get a proper dye job.

New York Magazine published a long excerpt of Wolff’s book which details how much Trump did not want to be president. NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander shared a snippet from the forthcoming book on Twitter.

“The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men the longer it was left on, the darker it got,” the excerpt reads. “Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blonde hair color.”

via GIPHY

According to the excerpt, Trump also got scalp reduction surgery. Which, like, OK, rich people stuff, I guess.

What else do you expect from President Twitter Fingers?

Ellen Page Announces Marriage on Instagram

Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page announced Wednesday afternoon on Instagram that she married choreographer Emma Portner.

The couple shared the same picture on both of their Instagram accountsboth of their hands touching with their wedding rings on.

“Can’t believe I get to call this extraordinary woman my wife,” Page wrote as the caption. Page first announced her relationship with Portner in September 2017.

Page recently garnered headlines for a lengthy Facebook post she made accusing Brett Ratner of outing her as a lesbian on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand. In the post, she also blasted Hollywood’s treatment of women.

Image via Getty

Eric Trump Thinks Ellen Degeneres Is a Secret Agent in an Anti-Trump Shadow Government

The First Family loves conspiracy theories, but the Trump clan may have just cooked up its most ludicrous claim yet.

Eric Trump, the middle child of Birther-in-Chief Donald Trump, tweeted on Tuesday that talk show host Ellen Degeneres is a co-conspirator in a United States shadow government. He posted a screenshot of Degeneres after the lesbian media maven appeared on a list of suggested Twitter users to follow. She was listed alongside Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

His alarm bells immediately went off.

“Shocking,” he wrote to his 1.7 million Twitter followers. “[O]nce again, here are the @Twitter ‘suggestions’ of who I should follow. #deepstate”

The self-proclaimed businessman has previously called out what he believes is liberal bias in Twitter’s algorithms. On Dec. 29, Trump took the microblogging platform to task for suggesting he follow Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-Ill.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. All have been critical of his father’s presidency.

Suggesting his Twitter account is being targeted by shady left-wing algorithms should have been enough, but Trump’s mention of the “deep state” particularly raised the collective eyebrows of social media.

That term refers to a conspiracy theory first peddled by alt-right fake news sites like InfoWars and Breitbart, which was subsequently embraced by President Trump himself. These websites allege there exists a network of influential officials within the government seeking to delegitimize the current administration, known as the “deep state.”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a right-wing extremist, famously told the New York Times in a March 2017 interview that President Obama is a central figure in the operation. He advised the Commander-in-Chief to “purge the leftists within the administration that are holdovers from the Obama administration, because it appears that they are undermining his administration and his chances of success.”

While once considered a fringe theory, the extremely unfounded idea of a “deep state” has also been peddled by Republicans like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly.

“Of course, the deep state exists,” he told the Associated Press last year.

Statistics show a surprising number of Americans agree with Gingrich: 48 percent of respondents in a 2017 survey released by The Washington Post and ABC News claimed to believe in the existence of a secret organization inside the government.

But even if Degeneres happened to be part of a nonexistent government conspiracy, no one in the Trump family would have the chance to ask her about it.

The biggest name in daytime TV has banned the president from her talk show.

“I’m not going to change his mind,” DeGeneres said in a May 2017 broadcast. “He’s against everything that I stand for. We need to look at someone else who looks different than us and believes in something that we don’t believe in and still accept them and still let them have their rights.”

Donald Trump Didn’t Want Donald Trump To Be President, Either, Report Says

Donald Trump has at least one thing in common with the over 65 million people who voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton for president in November 2016: he didn’t want himself to win the presidency.

According to an article in New York Magazine, an excerpt from the upcoming book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, Trump had no expectation of winning his presidential bid. His eventual surprise victory was a worst-case scenario for the Don, and led to an unhappy White House life.

Here are a few big takeaways from the story.

Trump didn’t understand why people would give his failing campaign cash.

Trump understood “how crappy” his own campaign was and “how everybody involved in it was a loser.” That’s why he was unsure why billionaire Robert Mercer would offer his campaign $5 million, which he ended up taking. He told Mercer of his campaign: “This thing is so fucked up.”

Someone was sent in to teach Trump about the Constitution.

Our current POTUS knows alarmingly little about the US Constitution. Early in the campaign, Republican analyst Sam Nunberg was sent in to teach Trump about the US Constitution.

“I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” Nunberg said, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

Trump didn’t know who John Boehner, speaker of the house, was.

When looking to fill the role of chief of staff, Roger Ailes suggested Trump hire former house speaker John Boehner.

Trump’s response: “Who’s that?”

Ann Coulter had to be Trump’s voice of reason!

Sad and single Ann Coulter acted as Trump’s voice of reason when it came to whether or not to hire married couple Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

“Nobody is apparently telling you this,” Coulter told him. “But you can’t. You just can’t hire your children.”

Murdoch called Trump a “fucking idiot.”

Trump tried to recall a meeting with Silicon Valley honchos to media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

“These guys really need my help,” Trump told Murdoch. “Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

“Donald,” Murdoch responded, “for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

After Trump contradicted his own anti-immigration stance by advocating for more H-1B visas, Murdoch called him a “fucking idiot.”

Steve Bannon doesn’t think Trump is smart, either.

When asked whether Trump gets that he’s a figurehead for an anti-immigrant movement, Bannon said, “He gets what he gets.”

Trump hated his inauguration, too.

According to Wolff, Trump “did not enjoy his own inauguration.”

“He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”

Ivanka wants to run for president.

The Trump family may be looking to make a political dynasty. According to Wolff, Ivanka Trump took the job as an adviser in a White House, along with her husband Jared Kushner, to position herself for a future presidential run.

“If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president,” Wolff wrote. “The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”

Trump’s Nuclear Masculinity Issues Will Destroy Us All

Wow! Cool! Donald Trump is totally fine with killing us all as long as we agree his dick is super huge!

Earlier this week, North Korean head of state Kim Jong Un claimed that the United States is within range of his nation’s nuclear weapons, adding that “a nuclear button [??] is always on the desk of my office.”

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to Kim with some threats of his own on Tuesday night, Reuters reports, tweeting that his penisI mean nuclear button was definitely way bigger, like a lot bigger, you guys.

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,’” Trump tweeted. “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Love to give men power. Love to have men in charge.

So, how are you gonna spend your remaining days on the planet? I think I’m gonna watch Carol with my friend Tyler. We try to do it every December because Carol’s technically a Christmas movie, but we ran out of time this year. Maybe I’ll go to the MoMA? I did just get a membership gifted to me by my bosses at my part-time job. That was really nice of them, much nicer than being collateral damage to an unqualified world leader’s penile fury.

12 Visionary LA Creatives to Watch in 2018

2017 was an amazing year for queer visibility in arts and entertainment, but there’s still much work to be done. With that in mind, we had photographer Jamie Luca shoot 12 emerging LA artists and entertainers who are pushing for more queer visibility in the new year. Get a jump on 2018 with his portraits and interviews below.

Adam Rippon


Occupation
I am a competitive Figure Skater.

What does being creative mean to you?
Creativity means having the freedom to express yourself. I think creativity comes from the power to be confident in your own ideas.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
I don’t know if this applies to all young people, but when I was young the biggest hurdle I ran into was that I was trying to create things that I THOUGHT people wanted to see. I wasn’t doing what I was passionate about. When I let go of trying to impress others and focus on putting something together that gave ME joy, I felt my most creative.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Producing art in the Trump age is more important than ever. As an LGBT person there are times when you really don’t feel welcome or represented by this administration. I think now it is so important to be a voice for young kids and let them know that there are role models out there and it’s okay to be yourself.

Instagram
@adaripp

Tristan Lahoz


Occupation
Fashion Designer.

Tell us about yourself?
I was born in the south west of France from an Argentinian father and French mother. I grew up in art and creativity, as my parents and older brothers are all artists. When I was 16 years old I decided to be a fashion designer and graduated few years later from fashion school (ENSAD) in Paris.

I got an internship at Balenciaga when I was 22 and then started working for Balmain in the embroidery studio. Then I became freelance and started working for Chanel Haute Fantasy jewelry, and at the same time got an offer at Saint Laurent. After three years at YSL studio in Paris, I moved to LA and became one of Hedi Slimane’s assistants. Hedi left YSL and so did I to start my freelance designer life in LA.

Today I work for different American brands doing consulting, styling for shootings, shopping, designing, and also working on my own projects. I love LA and feel home here since I touched the ground of the city.

What does being creative mean to you?
For me being creative is showing a singular point of view, being surprising to others and even to yourself.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
I guess the biggest barrier young people face is probably this gap between our fantasy and the real world.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
For me Trump is the craziest mistake in American political history, but at the same time LA has this weird thing that makes you feel in a different world, somewhere far from him and his administration…but this is maybe because I am not American and still new in California.

TwoTom


Occupation
Artist, illustrating my fantasy boys.

Tell us about yourself?
Born in Japan, based in LA since 2015, used to live in Paris for 18 years working in fashion.

What does being creative mean to you?
Romantic and innocent.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
To find your own specific land.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Just focus more what you like and are inspired by.

Instagram
@twotomland

Niko Karamyan


Occupation
Actor, photographer & director.

Tell us about yourself?
First generation Armenian queer born and raised in LA.

What does being creative mean to you?
To me it means being playful with my friends.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
Sexism, racism, ageism, elitism, and nepotism.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Producing art in this day and age is a privilege.

Instagram
@nikotheikon

Symone


Occupation
Female impersonator.

Tell us about yourself?
Ah well, my government name is Reggie. I’m 22 years old and I am from Little Rock, Arkansas. I first started dabbling in drag when i was 16 and have been performing for four years now. Drag has definitely saved my life and changed it in ways I couldn’t have imagined at 16. Currently I do drag and go to school in Little Rock, but I’m looking to branch out to LA in the near future.

What does being creative mean to you?
I think being creative is being able to take an original or imaginative idea and provoke thinking and emotions in other people.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
I think that young people have the barrier of perception to deal with in a way we haven’t before. We have always had to deal with others thinking art isn’t as important as the maths and sciences, but it seems to be more prevalent nowadays.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Right now I feel like artists, along with journalists, are basically the front lines in the resistance against this man. As far as how it feels, I feel honored to be a proud gay black man from the South spreading love and beauty through the art form of drag. It’s SO important to be even louder and more visible with who we are and make it known we aren’t going anywhere, baby.

Michael Verdegaal


Occupation
Artist.

Tell us about yourself?
I am a queer activist focused on the prosperity of queer youth in a heteronormative society that actively stunts our growth.

What does being ‘creative mean to you?
Being creative is simply the will to be different. We as queer people have one of the strongest perspectives in culture.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
Our greatest barrier is our own inherited self-doubt. Once we conquer that we can do anything.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Producing art in an age that tells us were accepted yet obviously aren’t is like an act of inner war. Just accomplishing a piece of our own is a victory. Being different will always be our greatest strength.

Instagram
@scarletstarlet84

Marko Monroe


Occupation
Freelance designer/maker.

Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in a conservative family with three brothers in central Arkansas, so carrying around my Ariel Barbie at the local water park wasn’t celebrated. I found ways to cope and was active in school participating in drama, set building, soccer, art, clubs, etc. I started to explore art more after a knee injury my final year of high school. In college my focus was strictly on the creative, which led me to a BFA degree in Sculpture. I found my tribe – The House of Avalon – soon after returning home from an internship in NYC.

What does being creative mean to you?
I think being creative means having patience while working to understand the balance of play and problem solving. It also means having the freedom to make decisions and adjusting to the consequences. This relationship is important because it allows the artist/maker to discover what they love.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
This may be a cliché, but the biggest barrier that young people face in the creative arts is themselves. With the over-saturated internet and social media, it is easy to get wrapped up in a voice outside of one’s own.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Producing art in the age of Trump has reignited a sense of purpose. Everything produced outside of his fantasy is now an act of protest. Even though at times it can be difficult to navigate the mixed energies of such an insane reality, it’s all worth it. In times like this, it is one of the most important jobs of an artist to push through and shed light on issues poetically.

Instagram
@marko_monroe

Lisa Renée


Occupation
Actor and Producer.

Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in the Amazon jungle before coming to study in the US and UK. While working as an actor in London, I was delighted to discover the collaborative nature of filmmaking and started focusing on film work. After producing the award-winning feature, Coma Girl: The State of Grace, I moved to Los Angeles, with appearances including the upcoming Laboratory Conditions with Marisa Tomei and Minnie Driver. Through my production company Humdiddlee, I’m developing several projects, including a feature film and an international TV show.

What does being creative mean to you?
It’s hard to describe something limitless, but I feel that it has something to do with allowing, with an opennesswhether that is allowing some form of expression out, or having the courage to open yourself and let something or someone affect you. It’s working from a place where risk and vulnerability encounter power and freedom.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
Technology gives us access to the work of inspiring artists at the top of their fields all over the world. While that can be exciting, it can also skew our perspectives, leading us to believe that without the recognition of thousands of strangers, our art doesn’t have value. We need to hold space for creativity and the individual experience, outside the arena of mass approval.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Making and sharing art is vital right now. When truth, mutual respect, and the common good are being sold off to the highest bidder, we can powerfully respond by connecting heart to heart and through our imagination. It’s time to signal boost the voices of resistance. Raw honesty and devastating beauty are our water and oxygen.

Instagram
@bylisarenee

Tzef Montana


Occupation
Model, Artist, Performer.

Tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Greece by a Belgian mother and a Ethiopian-Greek father. I’m a gender nonconforming model who has been featured on the cover of “PEOPLE Magazine Greece” with a 6-page cover story and interview, opening a discussion about sexuality and identity in my home country. Prior to full-time modeling I got my Bachelors of Arts from London Metropolitan University before receiving a Master’s degree in entertainment studies from UCLA a few years ago. Only recently did I leave job at Interscope Records managing some of the biggest metal bands in the world including Slayer and Mastodon.

I currently split my time between L.A. and New York as a model, dancer, and queer activist. I’m passionate about representing gender non-binary and queer people in mainstream entertainment. I’ve walked in fashion shows for designers including Eckhaus Latta, Barragan, and Hardeman, and have been photographed by famous fashion photographers like David LaChapelle and Ryan McGingley. I’ve also appeared in numerous editorials for publications including Luomo Vogue, ID, and Purple Magazine.

What does being creative mean to you?
It means using your efforts and creative mind to create something your own. For example, I find dressing up an amazing outlet to be creative. I have a pile of clothes at my house and I invite friends, we listen to music, we dance and we constantly change looks and moods. The only rule is that when Uber gets here and it’s time to go, we have to exit the house in whatever we’re wearing. I feel creative doing this.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
Capitalism. Serving a client, having to be aware of the markets and all the restrictions the industry might set. We push boundaries in a game where the norms and rules have already been set by others. This forces us to develop excellent marketing and branding skills, which as creative as it can be, is not the essence of what creating art should be about. Moving within these limits and having to cope with an anachronistic perception of how life should look makes it challenging to be truly innovative or progressive.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Extreme and political. It has affected everything because when someone is pushing from one side, you need to push harder from the other. It’s definitely giving me another reason to do what I do.

Instagram
@tzefmontana

LaRayia


Occupation
Creative Director/Designer/Event Curator/Lunch On Me Founder.

Tell us about yourself?
I’m Afro-Latina, based in Los Angeles. I spend time creating and feeding the homeless six days a week on Skid Row.

What does being creative mean to you?
Creativity is channeling your most authentic self. Understanding your essence and sharing all that you’ve channeled from different spaces and times.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
I think often in our youth we forget we are whole and perfect in our true selves. There’s a pressure to be what’s relevant & trending. We have to learn to dig deep and find our truth. And share that. The world wants something raw and real. But often we believe that’s the opposite of what others seek

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
During the Trump error it’s important that people of color unify. When life tries to keep you from your voice, that’s when you shout. Trump brings a darkness that us light workers are forced to shine brighter. We must focus on what’s most important: our light. Bringing more love and peace. Kindness, understanding. Those are the toughest ways for us to show our strength. This error is a challenge to refine ourselves and grow past our circumstances

Instagram
@larayia

West Buchanan


Occupation
TV Production Assistant & Model.

Tell us about yourself?
I’m a Texas native who just moved to Los Angeles in September. I love improv. Lately I’ve been eating too much pasta because I found this seasonal sauce from Trader Hoe’s that I am obsessed with.

What does being creative mean to you?
Creativity to me is the way you interpret life day to day. Seeing humor and beauty in things that aren’t normally considered funny or beautiful. Creativity to me is also the ability to evoke emotion. Day to day I think if you have stimulated someone’s brain enough to make them feel something, then you have been creative. That’s why I feel the most creative doing improv; creating humor on the spot and hearing a crowd’s reaction immediately is so rewarding.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
I believe young artists today face oversaturation. Everyone has a popular Insta page, a YouTube channel, a short film they made, a theater they perform at. To me there are so many talented artists out there, but the challenge is finding a way to be seen in a sea of other creatives.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
God, if I didn’t see artists expressing how we all feel, if I wasn’t able to make people laugh … I think I would go crazy. Art is important in times like these to keep the creatives out there from only seeing darkness in the world.

Instagram
@westbuchanan

Horace Gold


Occupation
Singer.

Tell us about yourself?
I’m a Christian LA native who’s happy and driven.

What does being creative mean to you?
Creative means being able to live boldly and acknowledge all of life’s beauties and rarities.

What’s the biggest barrier young people face in the creative arts?
The biggest barriers are comparisons, self-deprecation, and fear.

What’s it like to producing art in the age of Trump?
Producing art in the age of Trump has required that all artists become activists. The age of the internet is too transparent for artists to not to voice their resistance or allegiance to the tyranny.

Instagram
@hisnameishorace

Sipping Tea From the Poetry of D.A. Powell

“I’ve been uncomfortable with heterosexuality my entire life,” poet D.A. Powell says with a laugh during our happy hour soiree on a brisk San Franciscan day. “The fact that classmates and professors were uncomfortable with my poems secretly made me very happy…it kept me up at night working.”

As tech bros, suits, and glittered street performers hustle by the open door of our tavern, Powell elucidates his graduate school education from the early ‘90s. Location: the celebrated Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Object: a legal pad of paperturned sideways. Subject: Doug Powell, early 30s, scribbled two lines: “the goodbye to nasty habits annual ball” and “scott smoking and drinking.”

“I loved those two lines on their own, but I wanted them to be one long line,” the poet tells me, beers resting chilly in our hands. He runs his right index finger through the air as if he is reading one of those long lines, his point traces into the forevers of our happy hour: a warm little pub hidden in the chasms of a foggy downtown.

After mashing the lines together, the then-graduate student finished the poem in the daring form. His lines were long and full of syllables, up to 20 or more. They were the type of lines that would make publishers and bookmakers quake in their clogs. Powell then wrote a few more poems in the same form to complement their elongated sibling and turned them in to be workshopped by his professor and peers.

“They provoked a lot of discussion. In fact, most people were very against those poems and their structure, and so I thought, ‘I’m going to keep going with this.’” Powell’s smile is surrounded by neat white scruff on his cheeks. “I’ve always been a try everything kind of guy. I never felt like I was committed to any one way of form. What I love about poetry is that you can have it any way you want to have it,” in a nano-pause he sets up his joke, “much like sex.”

The long-lined stanzas eventually turned into his first collection of poetry Tea (1998) which many critics consider a paramount account of the AIDS epidemic, but Powell, openly HIV+, remains stalwart in the introduction of the work: “This is not a book about AIDS…I do not deny this disease its impact. But I deny its dominion.”

Powell and the late disco singer Sylvester (early 1980s)

The opening poems are paradoxes, wistful celebrations of life in death, and complex elegies for brothers buried. “nicholas the ridiculous: you will always be 27 and impossible. no more expectations.” It is filled too with emotional, relationship tragics: “we rubbed each other out: a pair of erasers.”

Tea was succeeded by Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004) to complete a classic trilogy of writing still largely unknown by the larger queer community. My favorite Lunch line: “my father and me in hollywood: fading and rising starlets.” My favorite Cocktail embellishment: “we need a little glamour and glamour arrives: plenty of chipped ice.”

During the years that followed, Powell began the poet/professor tract and lectured at Columbia, Sonoma State, Harvard, and San Francisco State and still managed to win The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for Chronic (2009), a rural, funny, heart dismantling and assembling collection of poetry about the terminus of a long-term relationship. Its golden goose eggs: “corydon and alexis” & “corydon and alexis, redux.” A line permanently remembered: “but together we found an old-growth stand of redwood/we gouged each other’s chests instead of wood: pledges that faded/he was not cruel nor I unwitting. but what endures beyond any thicket?”

“Many people are terrified of being alone,” Powell tells me, “whereas I get home and I’m like, ahhh, it’s so nice to be by myself, not have anyone yapping at me.” He is genuine and is snuggling into the couch across from me. “Don’t get me wrongsex is fun, I’m pro-sex. But it’s like if you go to an ice cream shop for a long time, after a while you get tired of ice cream. And the thing is, I spent most of my younger adult life in an ice cream shop. And now it’s like: I don’t know if I want ice cream.”

Powell is the master of erotics. His sexual imagery seduces and excites, handcuffs E.E. Cummings comparably vanilla wrists to the headboard. He slows down the action, zooms in on the specifics, and like his long lines of verse, draws out the reveals.

“The timing of poetry is where eros gets most potent because you know that you could show a little, wait a minute, show a little. I pretend I’m speaking only to myself but knowing from time to time that someone is listening.”

“Boonies” a poem from 2012’s Useless Landscapes: or A Guide For Boys (Powell liked both titles so much, he naturally combined them into one long title) describes outdoor romps. “We’d keep together, he and I/ and we’d gain meaning from our boyage; we’d pursue/ each other through the crush of darkling rifts./Climb into each other’s precipitous coombes.” The poem is hilarious, featuring so many queer words it recalls Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky.” But the poem’s adventure is set in the boondocks outside of Yuba City, California, the town where Powell spent much of his early life.

“Most of the time we would hang out outside of town, because if we hung out in town we’d get our asses kicked, so we would go to the river bottoms, to the cemetery, the dirt road, bring booze and speakers, we had a whole gay community that was used to meeting totally off the grid.”

Powell and novelist Andrew Sean Greer roadtripping around Iowa a few years ago.

There is no surprise of the landscapes that later emerged in Powell’s work, his earlier collections more urban poems, his more recent work venturing into the rurals, into the wilds. Specific grasses and flowers growing their way onto his pages, red-winged blackbirds perching on the typeface.

And underneath it all, a didactic voice. The one Powell yearned for as a confused Yuba City boy. The voice permeates throughout Useless Landscapes: or A Guide for Boys and offers sage advice, lustful warnings, and, of course, cruising tactics, all healthily taken with a grain of Himalayan pink salt.

“A lot of my poems are addressed to a younger version of myself, but I don’t mean me, I mean someone else around that age having the same experiences that I was having,” Powell says. “You have to write about what you know, but you don’t necessarily have to tell what you know in the way you know it. Poetry allows you to move things around.”

The best advice from the collection: “the world is full of lovely but tragic boys,” “You should have stayed wild in some valley town if that’s the life you wanted,” “You’ve got to put on the outfit that says: I don’t want to fuck you. I just want to dance. But also: meet me in the parking lot with some blow,” and lastly, “Don’t meet those eyes.”

“When I was growing up I would have loved if there was literature that was reflecting the life I was living. There was a narrative of queer teenage life but it was all urban and tragic and I didn’t want to be either of those things.”

Now, at 54, nearly 20 years since graduating from graduate school and the publishing of Tea, Powell swoops in like his red-winged blackbirds returning as a guest professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to teach a poetry workshop course for a semester.

“Part of the reason I like teaching there, or anywhere is because they don’t have a lot of gay professors. And there are so many gay, lesbian, and trans students who get into workshops and don’t have any queer professors, so I go there for them,” he says. “I remember part of the drama of submitting early works of Tea was going into a workshop asking myself how much should I reveal?”

New work is coming together at the right pace for Powell, but “quite slowly in the eyes of my publisher” he says. “I always wanted to publish my own book, but I did that (five times). Now primarily, I write for my own pleasurewhich is sometimes awfulbut I’m okay with that. I feel I’m finally writing the book for young people that I’ve been wanting to do, but it’s also kind of dirty at the same time? So I’m uncomfortable with that, but oh well.”

Before parting, Powell reads me a few of his new poems. I am laughing my ass off at a smutty line about a very dirty mother, and I see an ever-evolving poet uncomfortable with stagnation with new works nothing like the old.

My laughter reminds me where I amsharing an I.P.A. with D.A. Powell while the cold San Francisco winds rocket the narrow streets. Our laughter reminds me of the last lines of the introduction to Tea: “This is not about being queer and dying. It is about being human and living.”