CVIndependent

Fri11272020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

So, uh, hello there. Let’s start off today by looking at the numbers … the COVID-19 numbers, that is.

The state today released its weekly county-by-county tier stats—delayed a day due to Election Day—and, alas, Riverside County is headed in the wrong direction.

While our positivity rate (5.9 percent) and health-equity quartile positivity rate (a measure of the rate in underserved populations; 7.8 percent) would qualify Riverside County to be in the less-restrictive “substantial” tier, our 11.5 cases per 100,000 are well above the allowed 7 per 100,000.

However, the news is not all bad. For the first time, the state did not adjust the county’s case-per-100,000 number upward—meaning we’re finally doing a state-average amount of testing. Also, on a local level, according to this week’s District 4 report, the Coachella Valley’s positivity rate is 5.6 percent—up a wee bit from last week’s 5.2 percent, but still the second-best number we’ve had here in months. Meanwhile, the valley’s hospitalization numbers remain steady—but two of our neighbors lost their lives due to COVID-19 during the week ending Nov. 1.

What does all this all mean? We are, thank goodness, thus far avoiding the huge spikes being seen almost everywhere else in the country. However, it also means that indoor dining, gyms and movie theaters won’t be happening again here for quite some time.

Today’s links:

• As for the national election stuff … it’s a debacle, and we really have nothing to add—except to say there are bits of good news to be found: More LGBTQ candidates ran for office in 2020 than ever beforeand some have earned some historic wins

• On the local level: More than 400,000 ballots have yet to be counted in Riverside County, with the next batch of results coming at 6 p.m. tonight (Wednesday). However:

— Independent Chad Mayes has a substantial lead over Republican challenger Andrew Kotyuk in Assembly District 42.

— Democrat Eduardo Garcia is way ahead of Republican America Figueroa in Assembly District 56.

— While a lot of votes in Cathedral City have yet to be counted, Rita Lamb has a large lead over Alan Carvalho in District 1, while Nancy Ross has more than twice the number of votes as JR Corrales in District 2.

— The races in Coachella are too close to call. Incumbent Steven Hernandez has 2,835 votes to Lesly Figueroa’s 2,430 in the mayoral race, while Denise Delgado (2,473) and Emmanuel Martinez (1,946) are in the lead for two City Council seats over Neftali Galarza (1,897) and Philip “Felipe” Bautista (955).

Scott Matas has a large lead (2,208 to 1,217) over Adam Sanchez in the DHS mayoral race, while Russell Betts has a commanding lead over the field for one of two City Council seats; the second seat remains very much up in the air.

— Incumbents Glenn Miller and Lupe Ramos Amith have large leads in their respective Indio City Council races.

Karina Quintanilla (932) leads incumbent Susan Marie Weber (589) in the brand-new Palm Desert City Council District 1 race, while incumbents Gina Nestande and Kathleen Kelly lead in District 2.

— Incumbent Christy Holstege (1,812) has a big lead over Mike McCulloch (915) and Dian Torres (380) in the Palm Springs City Council District 4 contest.

For up to date results, and for results on other contests in the county, go to the county results website.

• Our partners at CalMatters have all the details on the statewide ballot questions. The big news: Prop 22 passed, meaning drivers for Lyft, Uber and the other apps will remain independent contractors.

• Late on Monday, a judge issued a preliminary ruling that Gov. Gavin Newsom has been overstepping his bounds with COVID-19 orders. According to The Associated Press via SFGate: “Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman tentatively ruled that one of the dozens of executive orders Newsom has issued overstepped his authority and was ‘an unconstitutional exercise of legislative power.’ She more broadly barred him ‘from exercising any power under the California Emergency Services Act which amends, alters, or changes existing statutory law or makes new statutory law or legislative policy.’” The effects of this ruling remain to be seen—but could be substantial.

• In other court news: The U.S. Supreme Court—including newest member Amy Coney Barrett—heard a big LGBT rights case today. According to The New York Times: “In an argument marked by sharp exchanges on the sweep of its 2015 decision establishing a right to same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court on Wednesday considered whether Philadelphia may bar a Catholic agency that refuses to work with same-sex couples from screening potential foster parents.”

• Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, joined the growing chorus of voices pleading with the Trump administration to take action as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket. She said, according to The Washington Post: “We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality. This is not about lockdowns—it hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.

• The New York Times looks at the kick-ass job college newspapers are doing at covering coronavirus outbreaks on campuses all across the country.

• Finally, if you have an extra $2.25 million sitting around, you can buy Jerry Lewis’ old Palm Springs digs.

Given the news overload most of us have endured over the last 24 hours … I think that’s enough for the day. Please consider clicking here to become a Supporter of the Independent; we offer our local journalism free to all, but it costs a lot to produce. As always, thanks for reading—and please stay safe.

Published in Daily Digest

Nov. 3—a day most of us have long been looking forward to, with a mixture of anticipation and dread—is just hours away.

I have been an anxious mess, I will admit, all day—in large part because no matter what happens, a whole lot of people are going to be angry.

As for tomorrow: The Independent won’t be covering the results as they come in, as we don’t have the proper staffing to do that well—and we don’t do things we can’t do well. We’ll have PLENTY of coverage post-election on what everything means, but for Election Day and the immediate aftermath, here are the sources I recommend.

For local results: Follow the county’s election page here. This is where you can see the city and other local results as they come in.

For state results: I recommend following the fantastic coverage of our partners at CalMatters. You can also view the live results as they come in at the secretary of state’s page. Finally, the Los Angeles Times is the closest thing the state has to a newspaper of record, so it’s worth a watch.

For national results: Well, take your pick of all the big media sources. I recommend a big-newspaper website like The New York Times or The Washington Post, or one of the original four (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS) networks’ news sites over any of the cable-news sites. Also, if you want an interesting foreign perspective, BBC News is worth a look.

Take a deep breath. Stay calm. And hang in there.

News from the day, much of it related, as you’d expect:

• The Associated Press has published a lengthy explainer on how the organization “calls” each race. Find that here.

• Remember that on the national level, there is not just one election; there are actually 50 separate elections taking place, all of which are done a little differently—and that’s REALLY important to remember this year. In some states, all of the early/received mail-in votes will be counted and released first (and those, according to polling, may tend to favor Biden); in other states, it’s the exact opposite. The New York Times has published a fantastic chart explaining when we can expect each state to report what results here.

Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight, says Trump has about a 10 percent chance of winning—and 10 percent is NOT nothing. His piece, “I’m Here To Remind You That Trump Can Still Win,” is worth a read, to better understand the vagaries of polling and whatnot.

• Sigh. The president today signed an executive order creating a “1776 Commission.” According to Politico, the goal of the commission is “to promote ‘patriotic education’ and counter lessons that he says divide Americans on race and slavery and teach students to ‘hate their own country.’” This is some scary stuff.

• Meanwhile, the White House is being surrounded by “non-scalable” fencing in anticipation of protests.

• Aaand in some states, last-minute attack ads with a decidedly anti-LGBTQ slant are popping up. According to NBC News, an example: “Omar Leos, a candidate for the San Antonio School Board, has been happily married to his husband since 2013, but he did not expect his relationship to be an issue in the campaign. However, Texas Family Action, a political action committee affiliated with the conservative San Antonio Family Association, sent a mailer to voters in Leos’ district describing him as being ‘“married” to same-sex man’ and noting he has ‘no children’ in the school district.” 

• Now for some good news: A federal judge—known for a conservative bent—rejected an attempt by Republicans to get 127,000 votes thrown out in Texasbecause they were cast via drive-through voting. Thank goodness.

• The big local news of the day: The 2021 Palm Springs International Film Festival has been cancelled. While not surprising at all, it is very sad. A quote from the news release: “As we reach the end of the year, it is clear that we will not be able to present the film festival the way we have over the past 31 years. This is not an easy choice but we have made the decision to skip the 2021 edition. Rest assured we plan to be back in 2022 when we can hopefully be together safely again in theaters. We are still planning to celebrate and honor the best in cinema with our Film Awards Presentation on February 25, 2021 and plans for our annual short film festival scheduled for June 22-28, 2021 remain intact.”

• Back to national news: Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Washington Post that the status of the pandemic in the United States is dire: He said: “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

• You can probably guess what happened next, but anyway: This assessment really ticked off the president and his supporters—so much so that Trump told a crowd that he might fire Fauci after the election.

• Sort of related: Dr. Scott Atlas, the man who apparently has Trump’s ear over Fauci these days regarding the coronavirus, doesn’t know what RT is. According to The New York Times: “Dr. Scott W. Atlas, the White House coronavirus adviser, apologized on Sunday for appearing on a Russian state-sponsored news show that has been instrumental in an effort by the Russian government to spread false health information during the pandemic. Dr. Atlas did not, however, apologize for the content of the interview, where he continued a pattern as Mr. Trump’s adviser of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as asserting without evidence that lockdown measures used to contain the virus are ‘killing people.’

• Our partners at CalMatters created a map/chart showing where donations to the two main presidential candidates came from in California, broken down by zip code. By that measure, some parts of the Coachella Valley prefer Biden; others prefer Trump.

The conclusions of a recent Stanford study: “We investigate the effects of large group meetings on the spread of COVID-19 by studying the impact of 18 Trump campaign rallies. … We conclude that these 18 rallies ultimately resulted in more than 30,000 incremental confirmed cases of COVID-19. Applying county-specific post-event death rates, we conclude that the rallies likely led to more than 700 deaths (not necessarily among attendees).”

• Related, I fear, is this headline from Slate: “Trump Plans to Hold an Election Night Party Inside White House With 400 Guests.”

• OK, and now a little more good news: A small study out of the U.K. shows that people who had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 cases still had cellular immunity six months later, “suggesting they might have some level of protection for at least that time.”

• Also good: A judge has told the U.S. Postal Service to get its crap together: “The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) must remind senior managers they must follow its ‘extraordinary measures’ policy and use its Express Mail Network to expedite ballots ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election, under an order signed by a U.S. judge.”

• Finally, there’s a word in Mexico, “zozobra,” that defines a concept that heretofore was unfamiliar to many Americans: “The word ‘zozobra’ is an ordinary Spanish term for ‘anxiety’ but with connotations that call to mind the wobbling of a ship about to capsize. The term emerged as a key concept among Mexican intellectuals in the early 20th century to describe the sense of having no stable ground and feeling out of place in the world.” Read more, from The Conversation, on how to handle zozobra—something many of us are experiencing right now.

Well, here we go. Stay safe, and go vote if you have not done so already. The Daily Digest will be back on Wednesday, the good Lord willing.

Published in Daily Digest

I first met Terre York in 1996 when she drove her van, fully outfitted as a mobile chiropractic “office,” into my driveway.

“There was an idea floating around at that time for mobile chiropractic services,” York says. “One of my patients had become a truck driver, and I realized we had truck stops all around our area, and drivers could use the services. But truck-stop legal counsel said they were concerned it would be seen as a prostitution service. I said, ‘If I were a 6-foot-tall guy, would you still think that?’”

York was born in Wisconsin 72 years ago, the eldest of four, before her family moved west; she was raised in Canoga Park, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. “My mom had come from northern Minnesota and was part Ojibwa (the Native American tribe with the fifth-largest population in the United States). As a child, she had been called a ‘dirty little Indian,’ and she wasn’t allowed to go to the same school with the other kids. She attended junior college, and met my dad and got married. She was a stay-at-home mom all the years we were growing up.

“My mom was always very political, particularly regarding anything related to segregation or civil rights. She said, ‘People are just people.’ She also always said, ‘Whatever you want to do, you can do it.’”

York’s father was, in her words, “the quiet one. He was an aerospace engineer who worked on the stealth bomber. My dad could fix anything and build anything. He handmade my first stroller, and it looked like something from outer space! I learned how to build and fix things from him. I was definitely not a princess—I was his sidekick.

“My dad stayed healthy up until he was 97, and my mom made it to 89. I come from good genes.”

York began working after school when she was 16, in the office of her medical doctor. “I did intake of patients, and later went to medical-assistant school and worked in several medical offices,” she says.

York attended Santa Monica College, studying biology. “I met a woman who was doing cellulite massage for movie stars,” York recalls, “who decided she wanted to study opera. I worked with her (also doing massage) for six months, and she gave me her entire clientele—names like Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Raquel Welch and Britt Ekland. I had my hands on some of the most gorgeous people in the world!”

At 28, York entered chiropractic school; four years later, she’d completed her degree and training.

“I thought … the medical community would adopt us,” York says about the chiropractic profession. “Sadly, even now, that isn’t happening. When I first started practicing, we could send patients to a hospital if they needed traction, or for things like MRI tests. It went the opposite way: It’s very restrictive based on insurance companies, big pharma, and the American Medical Association. I had always worked with doctors in Los Angeles, but when I came to the Coachella Valley, it was very difficult.”

York has done a lot of work with sports injuries, including working onsite at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Her philosophy explains why her patients keep coming back.

“Originally,” she says, “the founders used just a bench and hands. Today, they’re known as ‘straights.’ In the 1920s and 1930s, a lot of experimentation began with electrical mechanisms, hydrotherapy and mineral baths. In chiropractics, they’re known as ‘mixers,’ who use X-ray, physical therapy, ultrasound, lasers and tissue healing. I was trained in those methods and comfortable with it all based on my previous experience.

“My attitude is that the body is designed to take care of itself, with a kind of innate intelligence. If you keep the body in alignment, it’s then free to carry out its purpose. What I do is not just reduce pain. My goal is to see patients improve and do better, with a sense of physical wellness, and using fewer drugs. They don’t have to take opiates. I’m not anti-medicine but believe in both sides of the equation. Anything I can do to make someone feel better and heal is good. My job is to keep people at their lowest state of discomfort.”

During the pandemic, York is keeping shorter office hours, because she needs to help her two children, ages 10 and 13, with online learning. York and her partner, Alisa, have now been married for four years.

“She wanted children,” says York, “and I really hadn’t thought about it. We started with an infant foster child who soon went back to her mother, and then another infant who also returned to the birth mother. It was so hard handing them off; we couldn’t keep doing that. The social worker finally said, ‘I’ve got two kids available. Would you like to meet them?’ We fell in love. We adopted them in 2014.”

York says she at first didn’t know for sure that she was gay, although she remembers having attachments to some of her female teachers and friends.

“When the other girls were doing hair at sleepovers, I wanted to play baseball and football with the boys,” she says. “My mom later said that when I was about 5, I told her that when I grew up, I wanted to be a boy! I finally knew at about 25—I had a crush that was reciprocated, and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s what it’s all about.’ My mom said she was wondering when I’d figure it out, and my dad was OK with it. It was just not a problem; my whole family was just so normal about it.”

York was raised Catholic, but began questioning portions of her faith around age 16.

“I saw the pope and the trappings of the church as kind of frivolous,” she says. “After all, Jesus wore a robe and sandals. I started breaking away from the church, and now I consider myself a spiritual being. I was ordained as a minister of the Church of Religious Science, and even performed a marriage for some friends from the U.K.”

Ask Terre York what her biggest mistake in life has been, and she quickly says it was not going to medical school. “I would have made a very good surgeon,” she says.

But when I ask her about her best decision, she immediately responds: “Going to chiropractic school.”

One of these days, Terre York says she will make it to see the Terracotta Army and the Great Wall of China, even though she doesn’t like long flights. But for now, she is content guiding her children through the pandemic and helping her clients live better, healthier lives.

No matter what, Terre York will continue to be her own person.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

In November 2016, Mike Thompson, the CEO of the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, joined his staff and the organization’s board of directors to officially welcome the public to the Center’s new home—the McDonald/Wright Building, located at 1301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs.

“The Center has a big vision to truly be a community center for LGBT people living in the Coachella Valley,” Thompson told the Independent in 2015, when the purchase of the building on behalf of the Center, by John McDonald and Rob Wright, was announced. “We’ve already outgrown the space we’re in.”

In the years that followed, the Center and its supporters spent millions of dollars turning the building into a true community hub for the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ residents—so much so that the Center needed to recently embark on more construction, to expand the usable spaces within the building.

Then came COVID-19. Four years after that triumphant ribbon-cutting, the Center’s doors have now been closed to the public for more than seven months.

I recently spoke to Thompson about the sudden and shocking conversion he and his staff had to make from operating a physical community center, to running a largely virtual, online community center. We also talked about the building’s ongoing construction; preparations to eventually reopen; and the Center’s efforts to bolster its offerings to LGBTQ residents valley-wide—especially in the eastern Coachella Valley.

The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert has put a lot of time and effort, justifiably so, into this big, beautiful building. However, since March, you’ve had this big, beautiful building that people can’t go into. Talk to me about the task of taking the Center from physical to virtual.

We like to say that while our doors are closed, our hearts are open. We understand that we have a responsibility in caring for our community, and we will be slow in reopening our physical doors. So we’re taking this time when our doors are closed to prepare the space for when it can be reopened.

What does that actually mean? We’re fitting all our community rooms to be able to accommodate both in-person participants and virtual participants. In every community room, there will be two monitors. One monitor is on the facilitator, and then other is projecting back the in-person participants. So anyone that joins remotely can feel that he, she or they is part of the physical space.

We’re reallocating how the space is used, because we are moving our Behavioral Health Clinic from 750 square feet to 2,800 square feet on our second floor. It’s going from four therapy offices to 10 therapy offices, plus two group-therapy spaces. That frees up a space on our third floor that will be a conference room. … We found ourselves competing with our own programming for space use, because everybody was using the Center—which is what it was designed for. … We’re making sure we’re able to accommodate people, both in person and virtually, because we know when we do reopen, there will be reduced capacity.

We’re undergoing an extensive construction project where people couldn’t even access the building if they wanted to. So, actually, if there’s any silver lining in this downtime, it’s that it has allowed us to really focus on all the construction without the interference of risking the safety of our staff or guests with our doors being open.

How much of this was planned before COVID, and how much of this has been planned since COVID?

The entire reconstruction was planned pre-COVID. In fact, we were beginning about the time that the shutdown began. Now, how we plan for the future—that’s all a result of COVID. We’re putting UV lighting in our (heating and cooling) system, to make sure the air that is circulated through the Center is as clean and healthy as possible, so that when people come here, their risk is mitigated. We’re trying to eliminate as many touchpoints as possible. Urinals and water fountains—all that stuff is going to be new and touchless. We’re even going to a QR code. … When you come in, you scan your QR code that lets us know that you’re here, but only after you’ve come up to a body-temperature kiosk.

So, let’s say you want to come to this Eisenhower presentation on a Wednesday night (after we reopen). We’re only going to let X number of people into the space, so we’ll ask you to go online and fill out a form; it will reserve your spot. Once we’ve identified that the physical spaces are allocated, we’ll then direct people to sign up for the virtual participation. … So, after people come in and use their QR code, if something were to happen during your time here, we can now track everybody that’s been here during a particular time of day.

So that could be used for COVID-19 contact tracing, for example?

Exactly.

When do you anticipate the construction being completed?

We’re saying the end of January, but actually, in the second-floor clinic, they’re painting the baseboards, so the second-floor project is almost done. … New elevators are going in at the beginning of the year as well.

Let’s say Feb. 1 is the date that construction is done. Do you anticipate being able to open your doors by then? I know I’m asking you to predict the future.

Given that the majority of our members and clients are in groups that are most vulnerable (to COVID-19), we want to make sure that we’re not too quick out of the gate. We’re going to follow our health-care professionals and city officials about when they believe it is safe to reopen. … We talk about how there’s our physical well-being that we need to care for—and follow protocols and precautions—and then there’s also our mental health and well-being. What’s the balance? How do we meaningfully create opportunities for people to connect?

Do you worry that the formalities—the temperature-check kiosk, the QR codes, the distancing, the fact that fewer people might be able to come to the Center for that Eisenhower lecture on a Wednesday night—could hinder the “community” part of the community center?

I hope not. I’m encouraged because on these virtual programs that we have going, people are able to join us from any number of places. We’ve got people from Seattle, and Chicago, and Wisconsin, and Northern California who are joining. I was on one last week with a small group of people, and one of the gentlemen was older, and he said, “I’ve been able to do more since the pandemic than I was prior, because my physical condition just didn’t allow me to do so many things. Now, I feel more connected than I did before, because I can sit in on a new number of things virtually.” So I think we have to be mindful that “connection” means different things to different people.

So how do we create the most meaningful opportunities possible? The thing that I’ve heard people miss the most is the monthly Center Social. … You can’t re-create that virtually. I don’t know that there is a replacement for that.

Let’s talk about the financial aspect of this. Your two big fundraising events this year, Red Dress/Dress Red and Center Stage, have been cancelled. First, are they going to come back? Are they going to be different? Second, talk about the financial impact the cancellations have had.

The only event that we are going to do virtually is our Wreath Auction. We didn’t want to do Center Stage in a virtual format, because we wanted to maintain the integrity of that event for when we bring it back. Certainly, we want to do the same with the Red Dress Party, because you can’t replicate that in a different format. … So rather than think about events in the short term, we’re focusing on individual philanthropy. We’ve got a broad and deep donor base, and the majority of our fundraising right now is all targeted individual fundraising. We’ve got our Ocotillo Club, which is our annual and monthly sustaining donor group. They have been consistently generous and faithful, which has been great. In fact, we’ve had a number of new Ocotillo Club donors step in. We’ve also had Ocotillo Club donors increase their level of giving because they had the capacity to do so.

As a community center, we wanted to be really careful. We’ve not publicly had our hand out since the pandemic, because we wanted to make sure that people feel safe and secure first. Now we will be asking for money at points along the way, but we’re going to be doing it differently. Certainly, programs like our Community Food Bank have gotten a big increase in support, (and we’ve gotten) gifts targeted or earmarked for our Behavioral Health Clinic, because those are two things that people know there’s a demand for during this time.

So financially, the Center is doing OK?

We’re in a good, stable place. Even with this construction project, it was paid for before we even started the project. I don’t feel vulnerable at this point. We don’t know what the future is going to hold, but today, I’m comfortable with the decisions that we’ve made, how we’re doing fundraising, and how the community responded.

Tell me about some of the lessons you’ve learned from this pandemic, and how those lessons might lead to better things in the future.

We have said all along that our work has to be relationship-focused … and we’re constantly reminding each other that nobody’s more important than the person in front of us right now. We made a format change in our weekly newsletter; we’re looking at that as an opportunity to engage people just by the questions that we’re asking. At one point early in the pandemic, we were asking people: Do they have access to food? If they said no, then we made sure that they became a client at our Food Bank if they could benefit from that. If they needed people to bring them food—if they couldn’t get to the grocery store for whatever reason—we would make sure that people could get it to them.

The one question that we asked that broke my heart was: Do you have somebody to talk to everyday? The people who responded “no”—that auto-generated an email that said, “Would you like somebody to call you?” So those people who then said “yes,” I personally called. My shortest phone call was probably 25 minutes. They averaged 40 to 45 minutes.

That’s awesome and heartbreaking at the same time.

It is. I still get emotional. … We already had this program ready to launch before the pandemic; we’d been kind of massaging it, but the pandemic accelerated our … buddy program.

That whole idea is: How do we get personal with people? These 7,000-plus people that get our newsletter every week—how do we talk to them in a way where it feels personal, that whatever their need is, they feel they can reach out to us and ask us for help? So that’s, I think, our biggest lesson here—not to get distracted by a building project. We need to be innovative in the way we do programs and to remember that, at the core, it is about relationships.

I know the Center in recent years has been making an effort to reach out further into the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ community—especially in the east valley. What steps has the Center has made to keep reaching out to the east valley?

We’ll be making more announcements about that soon, but I can say this for now: We recently announced our domain name has changed to TheCenterCV.org to better represent the scope of our work across the Coachella Valley; before, it had been TheCenterPS.org. Not only is that representative of our current work, but our future work, because we’ve got our eye across the valley to make sure that queer people, wherever they are in the Coachella Valley, have access to our programs and services.

Published in Features

In 2013, there were approximately 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants in the United States, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

We were unable to find more-recent data on this community—and were also unable to determine the number of LGBTQ detainees held currently in the 211 detention centers operating in the United States, privately owned or under the aegis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. However, there is anecdotal evidence that sizeable numbers undocumented LGBT immigrants are, in fact, being held in abusive conditions throughout our country.

This reality first caught the attention of Ubaldo Boido and his partner, Craig Scott, when they were living comfortably in Los Angeles with their dog, Twink. They moved to Palm Springs in September of last year.

“We got involved with the Los Angeles chapter of Democratic Socialists of America,” Boido said during a recent phone interview. “They have an immigration-justice committee that wanted to go down to Tijuana to visit shelters because of the immigrant caravans at that time. So, I went along, (and while there), we visited an LGBTQ shelter I’d heard about in Tijuana. That’s when we realized that this was something that really hit close to home for us. This was our LGBTQ community coming to this border-crossing point seeking refuge from persecution. We met Jamaican women, people from Honduras and someone from Brazil. We listened to these horror stories about the violence that people go through in other countries just for being queer. It was something that lit a fire in both of us, and we said, ‘How can we help? We’ve got to help.’ So we did that for a year, and then we moved here and decided to continue doing the same work.”

So it was that Desert Support for Asylum Seekers (DSFAS) came to be.

“We wanted to help people understand the process (of seeking asylum) so that they could then figure out ways to support (these undocumented immigrants),” Boido said. “We discovered there was an immigration detention facility in Calexico (the Imperial Regional Detention Center), and we decided we would begin by supporting people there. Now that’s what Desert Support for Asylum Seekers does. It’s about pen pals, visitation coordination and then helping people when they get released with transportation, shelter and food. We’ve enrolled several people at College of the Desert for ESL (English as a second language) classes, and kind of helped them get acclimated to the community here.”

Other, more-established nonprofits like the TODEC Legal Center provide important assistance in our region, while DSFAS has focused attention on other real-world assistance. However, it didn’t take long for Boido and Scott to realize this challenge required more attention and outreach than just the two of them could manage.

“We wanted to create this volunteer group,” Boido said. “Let’s be honest: Most people are interested in helping children in these circumstances. Now, that’s not a bad thing, and I’m not suggesting it is. I’m simply saying that children light a fire under straight people. … But for us, it’s always been about this LGBTQ thing—but we didn’t want to limit (the reach) of DSFAS, because we wanted to see how big of a volunteer group we could create. Since then, the group has really championed people from all walks of life, and we love that. Still, Craig’s and my calling has been about helping LGBTQ migrants.”

Once volunteers began joining in, DSFAS started to fulfill its core missions more demonstrably.

“My partner, Craig, went down to Calexico with a group,” Boido said. “They scheduled a visitation, met several of the detainees there and started a pen-pal visitation coordinator group. Our name started to spread like wildfire (within the detention center), and word of our efforts spread. We started to get lots of pen pals, and we got a lot of people reaching out and asking how they could support us. So right now, we have a list of about 60 to 80 volunteers who are actively writing letters to people in Imperial Regional.”

Still, the most-challenging support scenarios had yet to surface.

“The detention center was dropping people at the downtown Calexico Greyhound station,” Boido said. “Even after the station was closed, (Border Patrol was) leaving them to fend for themselves. So we started this coordinator group to pick up people and get them on a bus, or get them here to Palm Springs where we could get them on a flight.

“One night, we got a call about a guy from Honduras who was gay and had just won the status called ‘withholding of removal.’ But he didn’t have anywhere to go to live. They asked us if we would be willing to house him, and we agreed to let him stay on our couch for a while. It was supposed to be for two weeks, but he stayed for almost seven months. It was both a challenging and an amazing experience. Since then, he’s moved to Los Angeles, gotten his work papers and has started his life. That experience changed our whole perspective. The truth is, when you’re LGBTQ, you come here with nobody, and you’re (often) actually fleeing your family, because they’re usually the ones persecuting you and helping the police come after you.”

Boido and Scott have realized they need to obtain a bigger home where they can house LGBTQ immigrants in need of assistance.

“Since the guy from Honduras, we’ve housed a transgender woman from Russia who moved to New York City, and another person who is still living in the Palm Springs area,” Boido said. “So this migrant home we want to create, that we call The House, is a safe space for our queer family coming from all over the world. We want to focus the energies that we’ve generated through DSFAS and create a little niche for the LGBTQ folks who we love and want to support on their journeys.

“We decided to launch this (GoFundMe) campaign. … We’ve had offers for homes, and we just want to push forward to raise more funds and create this space. Ideally, we’re interested in making it a safe house so that people can come, short-term or long-term, and have a place while they go through their immigration process. We’re just really excited about it.”

As the first year of DSFAS’ work draws to a close, how are the founders coping with the demands of dealing with the U.S. government while trying to help victims of persecution start new and happier lives?

“Being honest,” Boido said, “this is hard work, and it’s emotionally draining. There are days when I ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ It’s not like there’s a huge payoff, and we’re getting a big check. But watching that transgender woman come here and seeing her try on a dress and wear makeup for the first time, and really own her transwoman self, it changes you. It really changes you—and I can’t go back. I can’t un-see how we helped somebody, and how we’ve listened to the stories of where they’ve come from and what they’ve been through.

“The GoFundMe campaign is about getting a bigger house, so that we can house more people,” Boido said. “And, hopefully, from there, we can form into a nonprofit officially. But the urgency is now. What we’ve noticed is that, yes, we can house somebody, but for that one person, there are 40 or 100 more still imprisoned in a horrible, horrible place. They’re treated like criminals, stripped of their belongings, and they have to wear a blue jumpsuit all the time. They eat rotten food. You can’t believe the horror stories that we’ve heard. They are unimaginable. You wouldn’t believe that this is what the ‘land of the free’ is doing to people who are trying to get here.”

For more information on Desert Support for Asylum Seekers, visit www.facebook.com/DSforAsylumSeekers. For more information on the GoFundMe campaign for The House, visit www.gofundme.com/f/247ckfculc.

Published in Local Issues

Steve Stockton says that his best decision in life was getting married and having a family. However, his work as an optician—which allows him to change people’s lives by giving them the ability to see clearly—is just as important.

Stockton, 59 and a Palm Desert resident for the past year, works for OneSight, a nonprofit organization “committed to eradicating the global vision care crisis in our lifetime.” According to the organization’s website, OneSight has helped more than 9 million people in 46 countries since 1998.

“I was in Costa Rica,” Stockton says, “and went back there after 10 years for the anniversary of our OneSight program there. I saw a woman I had helped on that earlier trip, and she still had the same pair of glasses that had transformed her ability to see. For a little boy from Ogden, Utah, to be able to make that difference, around the world, is the proudest accomplishment in my life.”

Stockton was raised in Ogden and Kaysville, Utah. “My mom was the light of our family,” Stockton says. “She was an incredible woman, the person who brought our family together. I was always able to go to her and tell her anything. She would just hug and love us, no matter what. Her message was, ‘There’s no one better than you are.’

“Mom was a third-generation Mexican American, whose father was a very religious man. He would sit down and preach the gospel to us in Spanish. I do believe in a higher being, and what I hope for is one day to be able to see my mother again.

“Mom and my birth father got divorced. She remarried when I was about 10, and my ‘dad’ adopted my older brother and myself. (Stockton also has a younger brother and a sister.) He was a really good role model for us. He, my mom and dad all had a friendly relationship.”

After graduating from high school, Stockton attended college in Ogden, but then moved to Colorado to study to become an optician—a professional who measures patients’ eyes for vision aids, makes eyeglass adjustments, and educates patients about eyewear. He was licensed by the time he was 23.

“I had originally intended to major in psychology, but I had a friend who was studying nursing and encouraged me to consider becoming an optician,” he says. “Funny, I had always loved drawing eyes. Once I completed my studies, I fell in love with the job—working directly with people and helping them see better.”

Stockton’s first job was with an optical company in Denver, and he is still in contact with friends he made during that time. Stockton later began working with LensCrafters and soon became a general manager. In 1988, the company started collecting used eyeglasses with the idea of giving them to children who couldn’t afford them. That ultimately led to the formation of OneSight, which is now an independent nonprofit.

In 1997, mobile eye clinics were being put together, and Stockton became a clinic manager, leading the expansion of clinics around the world.

“I originally drove a van around the U.S., Canada and Mexico,” he says. “To help people be able to see, cook, sew and read—it’s wonderful to have had that opportunity. In 2018, I became program manager with OneSight.”

The organization’s mission is to bring eye exams and glasses to people who lack access to vision care. They see more than 3,500 patients every week, at mobile clinics all over the world.

“We do comprehensive eye exams at the clinics,” Stockton says. “We have up to 15 optometrists, and a team of about 50 from all over the world. We do eye exams and make glasses right onsite.”

What brought Stockton to Palm Desert? “My husband, Danny, is a teacher. We had been living in Arizona, but salaries for teachers are much higher in California, and we liked the desert. My job is mobile, so I just need to be near an airport.

“We have an incredible daughter, Kylie, 26, from Danny’s first marriage, who is engaged to be married next year. Kylie was 5 when Danny and I got together, and we raised her up until her high school graduation. I’m looking forward to being a grandfather one of these days!”

What’s something others might not know about him? “One thing I really love to do is draw—animals, people, eyeballs,” he says with a laugh. “I work in colored pencils and charcoal, and I’m always doodling.”

Stockton loves to travel, and obviously travels a lot for his job. “Danny and I went to Thailand along with his mother, and I was able to give them the experience I’d had when I was doing clinics,” he says. “They got to see what I’ve seen—meeting people and forming relationships.

“We do clinics through the Fresh Air Fund at summer camps and see about 2,600 kids in four weeks.”

The people who work for OneSight believe that when the world sees better, the world lives better—and Steve Stockton has definitely made the world a better place by helping other people see clearly.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs on IHubRadio. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

I’m a cis male in my late 20s. I’ve recently become consumed by a specific fantasy that I fear is unattainable—a fear that has been made worse by several failed attempts to research it.

A little background: Except for a couple of dates and make-out sessions with other men, my sex life has always been exclusively with women. I’ve had male crushes and often thought I might be bi or pan, despite never masturbating to thoughts of men or gay porn. (Don’t worry, Dan: I’m not going to ask if I’m gay. I promise.) In general, I’ve led a privileged sex life. I’ve never been broken up with, and it’s rare for me to experience any form of rejection. But in early 2020, my libido vanished. I stopped masturbating and only orgasmed once or twice a month, when my now ex-girlfriend would insist that we have sex. But then a couple of weeks ago, I began imagining being one half of a loving gay couple that replaced all MM penetrative sex with MMF sex: My sex life with my male partner would revolve around the two of us going out and finding submissive women for kinky threesomes.

Since then, I’ve been masturbating to this fantasy daily, and I’m excited at the possibility of finding a new lifestyle that brings me a lot of joy. However, I’ve grown concerned that nothing else seems to turn me on at all. Equally as concerning, even minor adjustments to this fantasy ruins the whole thing. And to fulfill it, I’d need a man who’s at least all of the following:

1. Sensitive, giving, easy-going and an all-around good guy.

2. Very physically attractive.

3. Into cuddling and general affection, some make-out sessions, and occasional hand jobs and blow jobs—but absolutely no penetrative sex or anal play.

4. Into picking up submissive women for MMF threesomes.

5. Into penetrative sex with said women.

6. Into using roleplay and D/s to take out our kinks on said women.

7. Into giving me the more dominant role.

Now for my questions: Does anyone like this actually exist? Is there a name for the fetish I’m describing? Does it have a community? Is it similar to any more accessible fetishes out there? Does my loss of libido and this specific fantasy say something about me that I’m too close to see?

Can Anyone Tell Me Anything Now

First and most importantly, CATMAN: Kinks aren’t things you “take out” on other people. They’re things you share and enjoy with other people. Perhaps that “take out on” was a slip of the tongue or a little premature dirty talk; lots of people into D/s get off on talking about their kinks—BB or TT or CBT—as if they’re things a sadistic Dom gets off on doing to a helpless sub. That’s the fantasy, CATMAN, but in reality, the Dom and sub discuss their desires in advance, identify areas of overlap, and set limits. (Not just bottoms; tops have limits, too.) However brutal things may look to someone who wasn’t a part of those negotiations, and however degrading things might sound, kink play is consensual and mutually pleasurable—and if it’s not consensual and mutually pleasurable, CATMAN, then it’s not kink play. It’s sexual assault.

Again, maybe it was a slip of the tongue, and I’m being a dick; you did mention a desire to find submissive women, CATMAN, which most likely means you were planning to seek out women who wanna be “used and abused” by two hot bi guys in love. And you’re in luck: There are definitely women out there who would be into this scenario—some readers probably went all WAP reading your question—but you’re unlikely to meet those women on a night out. Meaning: You shouldn’t be thinking about casually picking women up, CATMAN, but rather cultivating connections online or at kink events with submissive women who would get into subbing for you and your imaginary boyfriend.

Finding a guy who meets your long list of particulars is a taller order. It frankly doesn’t sound like you’re looking for a partner, i.e., someone whose needs you want to meet, but rather a guy you can plug into your masturbatory fantasies. He’s gotta be bi but not into butt stuff, a good guy, a hot guy, a sub where you’re concerned, and a Dom where women are concerned … and any deviation from that long list disqualifies him from consideration for your life partner-in-crime, making each and every item on that long list a deal-breaker.

Relationships require compromise, CATMAN; no one gets everything they want, and a long list of deal-breakers makes for even longer odds. If you can’t budge on any of the items on your list … well, then you might wanna think about getting yourself a sex doll or two. You also might wanna give some thought not just about your long and rigid list of deal-breakers, but about why that list is so long and rigid that you’re unlikely—as you suspect—to ever find someone.

Zooming out …

You say your libido tanked in early 2020, CATMAN, and studies show you’re not alone. The twin pandemics—the COVID-19 pandemic and the stupidity pandemic—have tanked a lot of people’s libidos. So if this fantasy is working for you right now, I think you should lean into it. It may be a tall order—it may be so unrealistic as to be unachievable—but indulging in this very specific fantasy has cracked your libido open, and continuing to beat off about this fantasy might blow your libido wide open.

I don’t like to pathologize people’s kinks or attach meaning to what are usually arbitrary, random and inexplicable sexual interests. But the taller the order, the less likely it can be filled, CATMAN, and it’s possible you may not want it filled at all—at least subconsciously, at least right now. Sometimes when sex is scary, we obsess about fantasies that are impossible to realize or partners who’re impossible to find, because it allows us to avoid partnered sex. I know at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I was obsessed with a guy I couldn’t have, because it got me off the hook. My list of deal-breakers at that time was ironically pretty short: He had to be Tommy. If he wasn’t Tommy, I wasn’t interested. Tommy was amazing—totally obsession-worthy—and I did love him. But I know now that I threw myself into my obsession with Tommy to protect myself from a terrifying epidemic.

Maybe you’re doing something similar, CATMAN. But if I’m wrong—if this is what you want—there are cities out there with kink communities large enough for two partnered bi guys to find a steady stream of submissive women who wanna sub for them. But your list of deal-breakers is going to have to shrink if you ever hope to find a guy who’s close to what you want. And that’s all any of us ever gets, CATMAN—something close.


I’m a 39-year-old gay man living in Chicago. A good friend of mine recently got engaged to a wonderful man from Gambia in West Africa. She’s planning a ceremony there next summer and has invited me to attend. After doing a little research, I found out that being LGBT is a crime in that country, and the punishment is execution.

Should I go to the wedding and stay in the closet the whole time? In general, what do you think about gays traveling to countries that murder our LGBT brothers and sisters?

Intensely Nervous Venturing Into This Event

I wouldn’t go, INVITE, and if I were a straight girl, I wouldn’t expect my gay friends to risk their lives in order to attend my wedding.

While a quick search didn’t bring up news about any gay Westerners being executed in Gambia in recent history, gay tourists have been arrested, imprisoned and fined. So instead of attending your friend’s wedding next summer—which may not even happen, due to the pandemic—make a donation in her name to Initiative Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest (www.ISDAO.org), an organization working to improve the lives and legal position of LGBT people in Gambia and other West African nations.

On this week’s Savage Lovecast, learn all about cuckolding: www.savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @FakeDanSavage on Twitter.

Published in Savage Love

An American couple in Italy investigates the suicide of a cleric in the picturesque city of Orvieto—and finds themselves plunged into a conspiracy that may destroy the Catholic Church in the new thriller Upon This Rock (Pace Press, publication Sept. 1, 2020) by David Eugene Perry.

San Francisco business executive Lee Maury and his husband, Adriano, come to the historic and beautiful Italian city of Orvieto following the death of a close friend. Lee and Adriano immediately fall in love with Orvieto’s beauty, history and tight-knit community—but Lee becomes fascinated by a local tragedy.

One year earlier, Deacon Andrea, a much-loved candidate for the priesthood, was denied ordination and committed suicide by flinging himself off the cliffs of Orvieto. Lee is struck by the parallels between his life and Andrea’s—both are the same age; both were candidates for the priesthood; and both attempted suicide. Growing obsessed with learning the truth about Andrea’s life and death, Lee can’t resist playing amateur detective.


Chapter IX – Andrea

Sunday, December 1, early afternoon, Orvieto

Cari! Ciao!

Peg was already waiting for them at “her” table at Café Volsini. Kisses exchanged, the trio sat down just as a tray of wine and nibbles descended.

“I took the liberty of ordering for you. Grazie mille, Signora Volsini!”

La Madrina nailed them with a look and slipped the bill underneath the stem of Peg’s wine glass.

“I don’t think she likes us,” Adriano grimaced.

“She doesn’t like anyone. She doesn’t need to,” Peg smiled while popping a pizzetta into her mouth. “She just is. So, how was your first full day in Orvieto? Isn’t it a treasure!”

For the next 20 minutes or so, Adriano and Lee shared their impressions and Peg nodded, smiled, and tacked on recommendations for day trips to each of their revelations and queries.

Somewhere between “You simply must do the walk to Bolsena” and “Don’t miss the Etruscan necropolis,” Lee noticed La Madrina Volsini walking quietly behind the counter of the antique bar to light a small, white candle—definitely not electric or battery powered—in front a faded Polaroid photo of what looked to be a young, almost boyish, priest. She said nothing as she did so, but Lee noticed that as she struck the match, the other three bar staffers stopped what they were doing, bowed ever so slightly, and said nothing while the elderly café owner lit the votive. Delicately, she let her wrinkled fingers caress the photo. Crossing herself, she turned abruptly, once again all business. As if momentarily in suspended animation, the café staff quickly returned to life, pretending not to have noticed the almost-sacred machinations of their boss.

“Who’s that?” Lee asked quietly, nodding towards the mini-memorial behind the bar.

Peg looked to where Signora Volsini had just lit the candle. Her smile cracked, and her face froze. “Oh dear, yes. The Feast of Saint Andrea. It’s been a year. Let’s go outside. Arrivederci, Signora!” and Peg was up and out the door with astonishing speed, as if wanting to be anywhere but inside Café Volsini. Lee didn’t know a dress with that many pleats could move so fast or dexterously.

Outside, Peg hustled them down the pavement half a block before she spoke. “Deacon Andrea. Bernardone. She found his body, last year, after he jumped from the cliffs here in Orvieto.”

Lee’s face went ashen.

“Oh my God,” Adriano said, squeezing Lee’s hand and looking at him for a reaction. Lee barely felt it and avoided Adriano’s eyes, avoided his own thoughts.

Suicide. Adriano squeezed harder. Lee came back to the present.

“Yes. It was quite the scandal, let me tell you! A week before he was to be ordained fully into the priesthood, the bishop got a letter directly from the Vatican in Rome saying that Andrea was ‘unfit’ or some such excuse. The rumor was that Andrea was gay and that an embarrassing secret was about to bust loose. It was all highly unusual. They told him by fax, if you can believe it. Anyway, poor Andrea just broke down. He jumped from the cliffs right after Mass—on his birthday! Signora Volsini found him the next morning while she was out for her morning walk along the Rupe in front of Floriano’s altar.”

“The Rupe. What’s that?” Lee asked.

“The Anello della Rupe—the Ring of the Rock. It’s the walking path that circles the entire city at the foot of the cliff. It’s quite a drop. Horrible. His body and face were terribly mangled. Probably died right away. One certainly hopes at least. His body fell right in front of the Chiesa del Crocifisso.”

“The Church of the Crucifix,” Adriano translated.

“Exactly. Evidently it was one of Andrea’s favorite spots. He always helped with the annual Mass in honor of Floriano. So tragic, and ironic, that he should die there.”

“I don’t recall a St. Floriano,” said Lee, searching for historic information, but only as a mask for his own darkening memories.

“He wasn’t a saint. He may have been no one at all,” said Peg. “His legend is one of Orvieto’s most treasured tales. Supposedly, Floriano was a Roman soldier stationed here in the sixth century. Orvieto has always been somewhat rebellious of Roman authority, then and now. Anyway, Floriano, who was Christian, was falsely accused by his fellow soldiers of some horrible crime—murder, theft, adultery, the accounts differ on what was the trumped-up charge. Whatever it was, the stories all have the same ending. Overcome with hopelessness, Floriano threw himself from the cliff before his comrades could do the same.”

Lee listened without really hearing. Next door, a ballerina in a mechanical jewelry box popped up while a shop owner finalized a sale to two tourists. Lee’s mother had one just like that. He pushed away the thought.

“And the Chiesa del Crocifisso is where he was buried,” Adriano stated with none of his usual irony when discussing Catholic shrines.

“Oh no,” said Peg with a dramatic holding up of her palms. “He didn’t die. As he fell, the story goes, Floriano clutched a crucifix he was wearing around his neck and landed completely uninjured. In gratitude, he immediately carved a cross into the soft tufa, volcanic rock … with his hands.” With that Peg put down her arms.

“Is it still there?” Lee asked.

“Yes, if you believe that sort of stuff. I mean, really. There’s a little chapel there now, and every year, around the middle of September as I recall, there’s a small service. For the last few years, Andrea was quite in charge of it.”

“So,” Adriano ventured, “Andrea was popular in Orvieto.”

“Popular is the understatement of the decade,” said Peg, with none of what Adriano and Lee had already come to expect as her signature theatricality. “Everyone in town just loved him. If there was a good deed to be done, Andrea was doing it, quietly. He didn’t call attention to himself. He just moved through the town helping people. It was his birthday the night that he jumped. He killed himself right after Mass at Sant’Andrea. His funeral two days later was immense.”

That must explain the scuffle during Mass last night, Lee thought. The two young men must have been friends of Andrea, come to pay their respects exactly a year after his death. Was one of the boys Andrea’s lover? Both, perhaps? Was La Madrina trying to shoo them out of the church because they were gay?

“Wow. Two days after he celebrated his birthday, he was buried from the same altar,” Lee stated quietly. Adriano squeezed his hand again. This time he felt it, and was grateful.

“Oh my God no.” Peg grabbed her bosom and threw back her head, once again the drama queen holding court. “No. He was buried from Il Duomo, the Cathedral! Sant’Andrea isn’t big enough to hold all the people that came to Deacon Andrea’s funeral, let me tell you. There was even a cardinal who came from Rome. The press was all over, but the bishop refused to let them inside. I, of course, was an exception.”

“You went?” Peg didn’t strike Lee as the church-going type.

Everyone went, the whole town. I did a special blog post all about it,” Peg said, releasing her chest and drawing her scarf closer to her neck. “It was the biggest thing to hit Orvieto since the town was liberated from the Germans in World War II—and no, I wasn’t around for that.”

“His name was Andrea, and he was born and died on the feast of his namesake,” Lee said quietly, more of a statement than a question.

“Hmmm, yes, I hadn’t thought of that.” Peg frowned a bit and stopped walking. “That would have been a good angle into the story. Can’t believe I didn’t use it. Oh well, I can always update the blog, but, maybe not. I wouldn’t want people to think I was trying to promote myself using Andrea’s memory.”

I can’t imagine that would stop you, Lee thought. Fear of pissing off La Madrina was more like it.

“How old was he?” Adria asked.

“Twenty-nine when he jumped. Yesterday would have been his thirtieth birthday.”

“My age,” Lee said. “To the day.”


The trio walked on in silence for a few minutes. Then, Peg started up again with a list of sights for Adriano and Lee to visit. “ … And you simply must take in the British war cemetery just outside of town and the site of the Camorena massacre, kind of a locals’ WWII fetish if you ask me. And you must not miss Civita di Bagnoregio, like a mini-Orvieto and just a few miles away. It’s another one of Umbria’s delicious mountaintop villages and practically deserted. Less than a dozen people live there full-time. It’s totally isolated from the outside world and only connected by a tiny little pedestrian bridge that looks for anything like an Italian Great Wall of China. No, thank you …”

The same street vendor they had encountered briefly yesterday afternoon ambled up to them.

“How ’bout you, signor? CDs. Music for the soul.”

“No, thanks,” said Lee as he turned away.

“It’s great music. Why don’t you give it a listen, man? Please?”

“I told you no already,” snarled Peg with her hand uncurling like a fern in dismissal. “Now leave us alone!”

“You don’t have to yell at me.” The dark-skinned peddler shuffled away, dejected, like a puppy caught peeing on the rug. The two Chinese kids from Mass last night turned the corner, and the hawker perked up, in hot pursuit.

“CDs. Music for the soul.” The street merchant continued his plaintive and futile query.

“God, he drives me crazy,” Peg harrumphed, shoving her gloved hands into her coat. “I never take his crap and still he asks. I don’t know why the carbinieri let these people roam around like that. It didn’t used to be that way. Most of them are just drug dealers, pimps, and hookers from Africa. We’re getting overrun by immigrati!” She spit out the word, then instantly retreated into a practiced serenity. “Ah, here we are. My street. You can drop me here. Ciao!” And Peg was gone in a swirl of fabric and arm gestures.

“I guess she doesn’t like music,” Lee said.

“Yeah, so much for Ms. Nicey-Nice.”

As they started to make their way back to their apartment, Lee glanced over his shoulder. Head down, and backpack heavy with his wares, the huckster wandered down the street. It was pretty clear this guy was not Italian, likely illegal, probably from somewhere in North Africa. The papers were full of the exploding refugee crisis. Syria. Morocco. Libya. Every day seemed to bring another story of some ship, hideously crammed, crashing ashore on the southern coast of Italy. Or, worse yet, sinking with hundreds of petrified people aboard.

Lee could hear Brian’s voice now: “Everyone’s a refugee from somewhere and someone. Remember, our number one job here on earth is to make more love in the world.”

Even on his deathbed, Brian had been a priest. Sermonizing to the end. Suddenly Lee missed his best friend very much.

As the peddler wandered out of sight, Lee couldn’t help but wonder about the youthful deacon who had jumped to his death last year on the Feast of St. Andrew. November 30—both their birthdays. Thirty years ago. That day, two mothers labored to bring a child into the world, one in Italy, one in Virginia. Only one of those children remained. At some point, both had wanted to become priests. A strange coldness came over Lee, one that had nothing to do with the Italian winter.

Everyone’s a refugee from somewhere and someone. Remember, our number one job here on earth is to make more love in the world.

“Earth to Lee, come in Lee.” Adriano was waving his hands.

“Oh, sorry. My mind was somewhere else. What did you say?”

“I said, we’d better be getting home, or you’ll be bartering for black market CDs.” Adriano motioned with a nod of his head down the Corso.

The would-be music man was headed their way again, having terrified the Chinese couple into practically running into a nearby gelato stand. Lee didn’t want to be rude, but neither did he want to be pinned down for a sale.

“CDs. Music for the soul …”

Poor guy, Lee thought, looking at the immigrant as they quickened their pace and headed to their apartment. Must be rough having everyone treat you like a walking radioactive isotope. He certainly didn’t look like someone surrounded by a lot of love.

Love. According to Peg, the young deacon Andrea had been surrounded by the love of all of Orvieto, and still that hadn’t been enough to keep him from stepping off a cliff. Andrea must have felt terribly alone; terribly rejected; terribly afraid. Lee knew all about that.

“CDs. Music for the soul …”

Hand in hand, they walked homeward, leaving the peddler behind.

David Eugene Perry is the founder and CEO of the public-relations firm David Perry and Associates, Inc. For 10 years, he was the host and creator of 10 Percent TV, the longest running LGBTQ TV show in California history. He has written for such publications as The Advocate, San Francisco Examiner, Omni, The Desert Sun and The Utne Reader and hosts an online interview show, Ahoy! He and his husband, Alfredo Casuso (pictured below), live in Palm Springs with frequent trips to San Francisco, and when possible, Orvieto and Spain.

Published in Literature

Happy Monday, everyone. We have more than 20 story links today, so let’s get right to ’em:

• It was a big news day for the U.S. Supreme Court. In a landmark 6-3 ruling, the court ruled that gay, lesbian and transgender workers are protected by federal civil-rights lawsand Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch (!) wrote the majority opinion. The court also more or less upheld California’s sanctuary law by declining to hear a challenge to it.

• This just in, from the city of Palm Springs: “In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, continue to flatten the curve and keep residents and visitors safe, the city of Palm Springs would like to notify the community that this year’s Fourth of July fireworks spectacular has been CANCELLED. ‘Due to the fact that the state of California is prohibiting large gatherings there will be no fireworks this year,’ said Cynthia Alvarado-Crawford, director of Palm Springs Parks and Recreation. ‘We thank our Palm Springs residents for their understanding.’”

T-Mobile—and possibly other wireless services—suffered a major outage today. Details are unclear on what exactly happened as of this writing.

• OK, now this is weird: The mayor of Indio apparently told KESQ News Channel 3 that even though Coachella and Stagecoach have been cancelled, Goldenvoice is still considering putting on a large, Desert Trip-style festival in October. We have no idea how such a large gathering would be possible, but as we’ve repeatedly said in this space, nothing makes sense anymore, so who knows.

• Despite rising case numbers, California is still doing OK as a whole in terms of COVID-19 metrics, Gov. Newsom said today.

• Yet again, the president has made a baffling remark regarding COVID-19: “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.” Sigh …

• The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the reopening debate taking place in Imperial County, which borders Riverside County to the southeast, and has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the state. Despite the high rates, some people there want to start the reopening process anyway.

• Hmm. Three large California police unions announced a plan yesterday—via full-page advertisements in some large daily newspapers—to root out racists and reform police departments. While some will scoff at this, the fact that police unions are suggesting such reforms is nothing short of stunning.

• Also stunning: A major Federal Reserve official said yesterday that systemic racism is holding back the U.S. economy.

• Sign No. 435,045 that we know very little about the disease: At first, scientists feared common hypertension drugs could make COVID-19 worse in people who took them. Fortunately, now they’ve changed their minds.

• Sign No. 435,046 that we know very little about the disease: Scientists from UCSF and Stanford say that “super antibodies,” found in less than 5 percent of COVID-19 patients, could be used to treat others battling the disease—and may help in the development of a vaccine. That’s the good news. The bad news, according to Dr. George Rutherford, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle: “Between 10 percent and 20 percent of patients with COVID-19 show no antibodies in serological tests, Rutherford said. The remaining 75 percent or more of coronavirus patients develop antibodies, he said, but they aren’t the neutralizing kind, indicating immunity to the disease might not last long in most people.

• The FDA has revoked the emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine, aka the president’s COVID-19 drug of choice.

Tesla—and other companies—refuse to disclose coronavirus stats at their workplaces. Neither will county health departments. Why? They’re citing federal health-privacy laws as a reason—even though that’s not necessarily how federal health-privacy laws work.

• Writing for The Conversation, a professor of music explains why for some churches, the inability to sing is a really big deal.

• Also from The Conversation, and also religion-related: Indian leaders are using Hindu goddesses in the fight against the coronavirusand it’s not the first time they’ve used deities to battle disease.

• The Riverside Press-Enterprise writes about local public-health officials, people who normally work fairly anonymously, but who have now been thrust into the limelight—and a large degree of public scrutiny, often undeserved—thanks to the pandemic.

• The Legislature is in the process of passing a budget today—even though they’re still negotiating things with Gov. Newsom. Why the urgency? Well, they have to pass a budget by today if they want to continue being paid. In any case, there’s disagreement on how to deal with a $54 billion deficit caused by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

The 2021 Academy Awards are being delayed two months due to the fact that most movie theaters remain closed, and most movie productions have been suspended because of, well, you know.

• This column from The Washington Post may leave you beating your head against the wall: “Are Americans hard-wired to spread the coronavirus?

• The pandemic has led some companies to institute the four-day work week. NBC News looks at the pluses and minuses—and finds mostly pluses.

China’s embassy and consulates have been engaging in displays of kindness—like free lunches and donations of medical supplies—in U.S. communities where they’re needed. NBC News looks into this interesting tidbit.

That’s the day’s news. Wash your hands. Please, please PLEASE wear a mask whenever you’re around other people. Fight injustice. Be kind. If you value honest, local journalism, please consider becoming a Supporter of the Independent. The Daily Digest will be back tomorrow.

Published in Daily Digest

I was raised in a religious home and didn’t lose my virginity until the embarrassing age of 26. I was told by the church to save it for marriage, and I was a virgin until I met the woman who would become my wife at a party. I said to hell with it; we had a one-night stand; and we’ve been together now for eight years.

I’m tall and slim, and my wife is short and heavy. Like an idiot, I believed it’s what’s on the inside that matters. My wife is the sweetest, most thoughtful person I’ve ever met. I love spending time with her, but I have absolutely no sexual attraction to her. As a result, I’ve all but stopped initiating sex, and on the rare occasion when we do make love, I make her come twice while I’m struggling just to get off.

I know it’s shallow, and I know beauty is only skin deep, but what am I supposed to do when seeing my wife naked sends me into an anxiety attack? When I’m helping out with laundry, I get bummed, because there’s nothing in her wardrobe I find attractive on her. Even when I look at old pictures of us together, I get extremely depressed, because I know this is the best she’s ever going to look. It doesn’t help that she finds me handsome and regularly tells me so.

It’s gotten to the point where I find any woman who isn’t my wife desirable. (Including, but not limited to, her family and friends.) I should also mention that she has no interest in having an open relationship or a threesome, because she prefers having me “all to herself.” I don’t want to ask her to change, because she’s perfectly happy with herself, but I’m becoming increasingly resentful.

What do I do? How do I tell her? And is there any way I can come out of this a good husband?

In The Shallows

I was so relieved to get all the way to the end of your letter without learning you had kids. Because that means I can advise you—with a clear conscience—to file for divorce, and move the fuck out just as soon as it’s possible to do so. Not for your own sake, ITS, but for your wife’s sake. She deserves better.

You say you’re growing increasingly resentful. I hope your resentment is directed at all of the people who victimized you. Your wife isn’t one of them. It’s your parents you should resent, ITS, as well as all the sex-phobic bullshit artists out there masquerading as “faith leaders.”

You should be angry with yourself, too. While I know from personal experience how a religious upbringing can put the zap on a kid’s head, you were a grown-ass man when you met your wife at that party. You couldn’t have slept with her that night—you couldn’t have lost your virginity in a one-night stand—if you hadn’t already rejected nearly everything you’d been taught about sex. If you were capable of having premarital sex, you were capable of refraining from marrying the first person you slept with.

Your wife is gonna want to know why you’re leaving her—of course she is—but you’re not going to tell her the real reason. You’re going to make something up. You want kids, and she doesn’t (or vice-versa); you married too young (which is true); you have unresolved childhood issues (and don’t we all). While you won’t be able to spare your wife the pain of a breakup, ITS, you can spare her the pain of learning the person she’s been sleeping with for eight years is repulsed by her body. You can’t be a good husband to her, ITS, but you can be decent ex-husband. And to do that—to be her decent and loving and supportive ex—you can’t set her self-esteem on fire on your way out the door.

And your wife’s body isn’t repulsive. She’s not someone you’re attracted to, ITS, and you’re not obligated to find short and round women sexually appealing. But while “tall and slim” are more closely associated with conventional concepts of attractiveness, ITS, not everyone’s into tall and slim. There are people who are into short and round, and people out there who are attracted to all body types, and people who are utterly indifferent to bodies. Your wife deserves the chance to find someone who’s sincerely attracted to her. Even being alone would be better than spending decades with someone who recoils from her touch.

For the record: What’s on the inside does count. It matters. If you met a woman who was more conventionally attractive—if you were with someone who was your idea of hot—and over time, she revealed herself to be an asshole (if she was rude to waiters, if she was emotionally abusive, if she was a Trump supporter, etc.), your attraction to her would wither away. What you want—not what you’ll get, ITS, but the best you can hope for—is some combo of hot on the outside (subjective and personal) and good on the inside. And the longer you’re with someone, ITS, the more important good on the inside becomes. Time is a motherfucking meat grinder, and it makes hamburger out of us all. If you prioritize your idea of hot over all other qualities, you run the very real risk of spending decades with a person who has aged out of hot and was never nice.

Longtime reader asking for advice. I’m a med student. I came to the U.S. when I was 18 in order to go to college, and I’m still in the U.S. I’m 25 now, and I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about three years now. We’re somewhat monogamous and have been living together for two years. I’m out as a gay man where we live, but my parents and family back in Brazil have zero idea. As you may know, Brazil has a weird relationship with sexuality. We’re seen and for the most part are very open, but our culture is also very homophobic. My BF has been pressuring me to come out, but I’ve been apprehensive, considering how important family is to me.

Fears A Massive Implosion Likely, Yet …

Gay men don't come out to our families because they’re unimportant to us. We come out to our families because they’re important to us.

Family is important to you, and you’re worried you might lose yours if you come out to them. But you’re definitely gonna lose them if you don’t. Because to keep your life a secret from them—to hide your boyfriend from them—you’re going to have to cut them out of your life. It'll be little things at first, FAMILY, but over time, the amount of things you have to keep from them grows. Lies pile up on top of lies, and the distance between you and your family grows. Before you know it, they don’t know you at all anymore, and you don’t know them—because you can’t risk letting them know you. So to avoid their possible rejection, you will have rejected them. You will have lost your family.

I know, I know: It’s scary. I came out to my very Catholic family when I was a teenager. I was scared to death. But if they couldn’t accept me for who I am—if I couldn’t rely on their love and support—what was the point of having them in my life at all?

By the way: No one likes being someone’s dirty little secret. It hurts your boyfriend to see the person who claims to love him prioritize his family’s presumed bigotry (it’s possible they’ll react more positively than you think) over his feelings and dignity. By not coming out, FAMILY, you will lose the family you were born into—and the one you’ve created with your boyfriend, too.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @FakeDanSavage on Twitter.

Published in Savage Love

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