Christopher M. Kane

Recent Published Work


Korean LGBTQ experts push for peace
The Los Angeles Blade | June 13, 2018 | Cover Story

 A brief statement signed June 12 by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded a historic summit in Singapore. The agreement was short on details but fodder for explosive speculation.  Trump committed the U.S. to vague “security guarantees” in exchange for a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” with no specific language about verification or a timeline.  Trump also called off “war games,” otherwise known as joint U.S. military exercises with South Korea that has heretofore provided an umbrella of protection for the region. The announcement surprised both South Korea President Moon Jae-in and the Pentagon.  “Our military exercises are defensive in nature,” Frank Jannuzi, CEO of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and former deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the Los Angeles Blade. 

A brief statement signed June 12 by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded a historic summit in Singapore. The agreement was short on details but fodder for explosive speculation.

Trump committed the U.S. to vague “security guarantees” in exchange for a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” with no specific language about verification or a timeline.

Trump also called off “war games,” otherwise known as joint U.S. military exercises with South Korea that has heretofore provided an umbrella of protection for the region. The announcement surprised both South Korea President Moon Jae-in and the Pentagon.

“Our military exercises are defensive in nature,” Frank Jannuzi, CEO of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and former deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the Los Angeles Blade. 

America, how do you sleep at night? 
The Los Angeles Blade | June 8, 2018 | Opinion

 It was intended as a wake up call. The Human Rights Campaign and artist Robin Bell projected LED-illuminated messages onto the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.: “Betsy DeVos, how do you sleep at night when 95 percent of LGBTQ youth struggle to?”  Several projected messages that May 24 evening continued the refrain with statistics pulled from an HRC-University of Connecticut survey released earlier that month: “Betsy DeVos, how do you sleep at night when only 26 percent of LGBTQ youth always feel safe in class?”  It was the second time in a week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came under fire for her record regarding the department’s policies on LGBT youth. Before a House Committee on May 22, DeVos fielded questions from Democrats concerning whether and how the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights will protect LGBT students from harassment and discrimination.  Under President Obama, the Justice and Education Departments issued a guidance that explained transgender students are protected under Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination. The guidance included recommendations for fostering an inclusive, affirming, and supportive environment for young transgender people—including such policies as allowing students to use restrooms/locker rooms that match their gender identity.

It was intended as a wake up call. The Human Rights Campaign and artist Robin Bell projected LED-illuminated messages onto the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.: “Betsy DeVos, how do you sleep at night when 95 percent of LGBTQ youth struggle to?”

Several projected messages that May 24 evening continued the refrain with statistics pulled from an HRC-University of Connecticut survey released earlier that month: “Betsy DeVos, how do you sleep at night when only 26 percent of LGBTQ youth always feel safe in class?”

It was the second time in a week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came under fire for her record regarding the department’s policies on LGBT youth. Before a House Committee on May 22, DeVos fielded questions from Democrats concerning whether and how the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights will protect LGBT students from harassment and discrimination.

Under President Obama, the Justice and Education Departments issued a guidance that explained transgender students are protected under Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination. The guidance included recommendations for fostering an inclusive, affirming, and supportive environment for young transgender people—including such policies as allowing students to use restrooms/locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Generation Next
The Los Angeles Blade | June 7, 2018

 What is Pride? The most serviceable answer, of course, is that Pride is a commemorative event in which the LGBTQ community celebrates our triumph over adversity and the leaders who fought to make the world a more inclusive place. Historically, it was a political statement — a show of visibility and a forum for protest against homophobia.  And since the beginning of President Trump’s tenure, Pride feels political once more. This year’s celebration will pull from the civic engagement of the March for Our Lives and #Resist movements, spotlighting LGBTQ leaders while re-engaging in the community’s fight for social, legal, and political equality.  Much of that work did not begin, and it will likely not end, with the Trump administration. New research has found LGBTQ girls of color are disproportionately over-disciplined in schools, where they also face bullying and are ostracized. These challenges often push them out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system. And now that Betsy DeVos helms the U.S. Department of Education, prospects for many of our community’s most vulnerable youth are even grimmer.  At the same time, this year the country has witnessed the power of young people in bringing change. The young LGBT folks from the Los Angeles area profiled in these pages are speakers, students, advocates and artists. They have each made meaningful contributions in areas including climate change policy, battles against homophobia and transphobia, housing equality, and immigration.

What is Pride? The most serviceable answer, of course, is that Pride is a commemorative event in which the LGBTQ community celebrates our triumph over adversity and the leaders who fought to make the world a more inclusive place. Historically, it was a political statement — a show of visibility and a forum for protest against homophobia.

And since the beginning of President Trump’s tenure, Pride feels political once more. This year’s celebration will pull from the civic engagement of the March for Our Lives and #Resist movements, spotlighting LGBTQ leaders while re-engaging in the community’s fight for social, legal, and political equality.

Much of that work did not begin, and it will likely not end, with the Trump administration. New research has found LGBTQ girls of color are disproportionately over-disciplined in schools, where they also face bullying and are ostracized. These challenges often push them out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system. And now that Betsy DeVos helms the U.S. Department of Education, prospects for many of our community’s most vulnerable youth are even grimmer.

At the same time, this year the country has witnessed the power of young people in bringing change. The young LGBT folks from the Los Angeles area profiled in these pages are speakers, students, advocates and artists. They have each made meaningful contributions in areas including climate change policy, battles against homophobia and transphobia, housing equality, and immigration.

 “Welcome To Adelanto,” reads the sign that greets visitors who reach Adelanto, California, “The City With Unlimited Possibilities.” But anyone who has had the misfortune of being held in or having visited the city’s most famous business — an immigrant detention facility — will tell you life’s possibilities are very limited: the detention center is no different from prison.  Adelanto Detention Center, two hours northeast of Los Angeles, is privately owned. Detainees say they receive minimal, substandard medical care and conditions are so poor there were multiple hunger strikes staged there last year. A Honduran asylum seeker told the Los Angeles Times in August 2017 that everyone has, at some point or another, considered suicide.  It is in this Adelanto facility that a 29-year-old gay Nigerian man named Udoka Nweke has been detained since December 2016. After he was attacked by an anti-gay mob, Nweke fled his native country and made an arduous, traumatic trek through South and Central America before reaching the United States via the San Ysidro port of entry, where he surrendered himself.  “Seeing him there in the orange jumpsuit,” Osaze (pictured above) told the Los Angeles Blade by phone on May 17, “was a staggering reality for me.” He explained Nweke has been detained for fifteen months as a result of actions that he took only in order to survive. “All he’s seen of the United States is a jail cell, a detention facility.”

“Welcome To Adelanto,” reads the sign that greets visitors who reach Adelanto, California, “The City With Unlimited Possibilities.” But anyone who has had the misfortune of being held in or having visited the city’s most famous business — an immigrant detention facility — will tell you life’s possibilities are very limited: the detention center is no different from prison.

Adelanto Detention Center, two hours northeast of Los Angeles, is privately owned. Detainees say they receive minimal, substandard medical care and conditions are so poor there were multiple hunger strikes staged there last year. A Honduran asylum seeker told the Los Angeles Times in August 2017 that everyone has, at some point or another, considered suicide.

It is in this Adelanto facility that a 29-year-old gay Nigerian man named Udoka Nweke has been detained since December 2016. After he was attacked by an anti-gay mob, Nweke fled his native country and made an arduous, traumatic trek through South and Central America before reaching the United States via the San Ysidro port of entry, where he surrendered himself.

“Seeing him there in the orange jumpsuit,” Osaze (pictured above) told the Los Angeles Blade by phone on May 17, “was a staggering reality for me.” He explained Nweke has been detained for fifteen months as a result of actions that he took only in order to survive. “All he’s seen of the United States is a jail cell, a detention facility.”

 Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid underwent surgery May 14 to excise a tumor from his pancreas, which was discovered during a routine screening. The veteran lawmaker’s surgeons are positive about his prognosis, and he will soon receive chemotherapy treatment according to a statement from his family.   The American Cancer Society approximates the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is about seven percent. Of the 55,440 people in the United States who will likely be diagnosed with the disease this year, an estimated 80 percent are expected to die from it. Pancreatic cancer has touched public figures in the world of business (Steve Jobs, who died in 2011), actors in Hollywood (Patrick Swayze, who died in 2009), and scientists (astronaut Sally Ride, who died in 2012).   Senator Reid also finds company in some well-known survivors–including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent surgery in 2009 to remove her pancreatic tumor. The 85-year-old Justice has since received public recognition and admiration for her continued good health and  workout regimen .  Beyond surgery and chemotherapy, is there an effective treatment in the works for the disease that, in the United States, accounts for the fourth-highest number of cancer-related deaths? 

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid underwent surgery May 14 to excise a tumor from his pancreas, which was discovered during a routine screening. The veteran lawmaker’s surgeons are positive about his prognosis, and he will soon receive chemotherapy treatment according to a statement from his family. 

The American Cancer Society approximates the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is about seven percent. Of the 55,440 people in the United States who will likely be diagnosed with the disease this year, an estimated 80 percent are expected to die from it. Pancreatic cancer has touched public figures in the world of business (Steve Jobs, who died in 2011), actors in Hollywood (Patrick Swayze, who died in 2009), and scientists (astronaut Sally Ride, who died in 2012). 

Senator Reid also finds company in some well-known survivors–including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent surgery in 2009 to remove her pancreatic tumor. The 85-year-old Justice has since received public recognition and admiration for her continued good health and workout regimen.

Beyond surgery and chemotherapy, is there an effective treatment in the works for the disease that, in the United States, accounts for the fourth-highest number of cancer-related deaths? 

 For a while, it was easy for my husband and me to justify our food delivery habit. We live in Washington, DC, and given the choice between walking to our local Safeway in the rain or ordering kebabs over lemon rice and lavash, well… it’s only $30, right? (Plus tax and delivery.)  I never understood how other people could spend $4 each morning at Starbucks without thinking twice, until we started ordering through Postmates whenever we woke up hungover, were held up at work until late, or wanted to avoid making a trip to the grocery store in inclement weather.  Confronted with the staggering amount of money we were spending on food delivery, did we resolve to break the habit? Not exactly.  It took a trip to Miami Beach, and a $400 steakhouse dinner, for us to change our thinking on food and finances.  The intersection of Collins Avenue and 1st Street is south of the nightclubs and throngs of young tourists who had gathered to celebrate spring break. Our view of the beach was interrupted by a condominium in which each floor constituted a separate unit. The building was equipped with an elevator that transports residents, along with their rides, to the private garages that adjoin their condos. (Heaven forbid they have to share an elevator or risk a parking lot collision with another quarter-million-dollar sports car.)

For a while, it was easy for my husband and me to justify our food delivery habit. We live in Washington, DC, and given the choice between walking to our local Safeway in the rain or ordering kebabs over lemon rice and lavash, well… it’s only $30, right? (Plus tax and delivery.)

I never understood how other people could spend $4 each morning at Starbucks without thinking twice, until we started ordering through Postmates whenever we woke up hungover, were held up at work until late, or wanted to avoid making a trip to the grocery store in inclement weather.

Confronted with the staggering amount of money we were spending on food delivery, did we resolve to break the habit? Not exactly.

It took a trip to Miami Beach, and a $400 steakhouse dinner, for us to change our thinking on food and finances.

The intersection of Collins Avenue and 1st Street is south of the nightclubs and throngs of young tourists who had gathered to celebrate spring break. Our view of the beach was interrupted by a condominium in which each floor constituted a separate unit. The building was equipped with an elevator that transports residents, along with their rides, to the private garages that adjoin their condos. (Heaven forbid they have to share an elevator or risk a parking lot collision with another quarter-million-dollar sports car.)

Trans asylum seekers finally get interviews
The Los Angeles Blade | May 11, 2018

 The pleas of immigration attorneys such as Nicole Ramos and organizations such as GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) seem to have secured positive movement for transgender women seeking asylum who’ve been stuck on the Mexican border and become victims of violent attacks.  “The eleven women and LGBT youth ultimately were able to process later this week,” immigration attorney Nicole Ramos told the Los Angeles Blade late Friday. “It was a final group of 17, which included five unaccompanied minors. They are detained and the adults are awaiting the credible fear interview of the interview process. ” Ramos, who is based in Tijuana, Mexico, says she is unable to provide more information at this time.  Last Thursday, GLAD issued a strong statement condemning the violent attacks against the transgender women who are seeking entry into the United States and urged U.S. Border Patrol agents to allow them the opportunity to plead their case for asylum. The loosely organized caravan to which they belong is spread from Tijuana to San Ysidro, a district of San Diego that straddles the Mexican border.  The San Diego Union Tribune reported that about two dozen transgender women—who arrived in Tijuana after a long and difficult journey through Mexico—claimed they have been targeted, often violently, “wherever they go.” On Monday, the day after the story appeared, the shelter in which they were housed was set on fire. Advocates claim the building was targeted because trans immigrants were staying there.

The pleas of immigration attorneys such as Nicole Ramos and organizations such as GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) seem to have secured positive movement for transgender women seeking asylum who’ve been stuck on the Mexican border and become victims of violent attacks.

“The eleven women and LGBT youth ultimately were able to process later this week,” immigration attorney Nicole Ramos told the Los Angeles Blade late Friday. “It was a final group of 17, which included five unaccompanied minors. They are detained and the adults are awaiting the credible fear interview of the interview process. ” Ramos, who is based in Tijuana, Mexico, says she is unable to provide more information at this time.

Last Thursday, GLAD issued a strong statement condemning the violent attacks against the transgender women who are seeking entry into the United States and urged U.S. Border Patrol agents to allow them the opportunity to plead their case for asylum. The loosely organized caravan to which they belong is spread from Tijuana to San Ysidro, a district of San Diego that straddles the Mexican border.

The San Diego Union Tribune reported that about two dozen transgender women—who arrived in Tijuana after a long and difficult journey through Mexico—claimed they have been targeted, often violently, “wherever they go.” On Monday, the day after the story appeared, the shelter in which they were housed was set on fire. Advocates claim the building was targeted because trans immigrants were staying there.

 California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced today he will submit a letter to the US Department of Justice opposing the agency’s request to strike questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from the  National Crime Victimization Survey . The Justice Department’s move would allow survey respondents to self-identify as LGBTQ only if they are aged 18 or older.  Becerra led a coalition of 10 Attorneys General in drafting and submitting the letter, which outlines how and why the collection of information concerning crimes committed against LGBTQ teens is essential to combat violence, bullying, and harassment, and other abuse.  “Once again,”Becerra said, “the Trump Administration has put its politics ahead of protecting our people–in this case, our children.”  Roughly 225,000 people above the age of 12 will take the survey. Respondents are asked whether they have been victims of crimes that include robbery, sexual assault, and aggravated assault, along with details about the crime(s) and whether they sought help from law enforcement. The survey asks respondents for information such as age, sex, race, religion, marital status, income, and–as of July 2016–sexual orientation and gender identity.  The latter two questions are included only in surveys distributed to people aged 16 and older–unless the Justice Department has its way, in which case 16 and 17-year-olds would not be able to self identify as LGBTQ.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced today he will submit a letter to the US Department of Justice opposing the agency’s request to strike questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from the National Crime Victimization Survey. The Justice Department’s move would allow survey respondents to self-identify as LGBTQ only if they are aged 18 or older.

Becerra led a coalition of 10 Attorneys General in drafting and submitting the letter, which outlines how and why the collection of information concerning crimes committed against LGBTQ teens is essential to combat violence, bullying, and harassment, and other abuse.

“Once again,”Becerra said, “the Trump Administration has put its politics ahead of protecting our people–in this case, our children.”

Roughly 225,000 people above the age of 12 will take the survey. Respondents are asked whether they have been victims of crimes that include robbery, sexual assault, and aggravated assault, along with details about the crime(s) and whether they sought help from law enforcement. The survey asks respondents for information such as age, sex, race, religion, marital status, income, and–as of July 2016–sexual orientation and gender identity.

The latter two questions are included only in surveys distributed to people aged 16 and older–unless the Justice Department has its way, in which case 16 and 17-year-olds would not be able to self identify as LGBTQ.

 Lawyers for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) filed personal injury and class action suits against Gilead on Tuesday, alleging the company stalled the development of a safer alternative to their highly-profitable HIV drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) for nearly two decades.  The personal injury action was filed on behalf of two Southern California men, both living with HIV, who claim they suffered bone and kidney damage from taking TDF at the doses prescribed. Behind the class action suit are two different Southern California men, who are also living with HIV and claim similar side effects from TDF.  Both complaints allege Gilead salespeople concealed from HIV-positive patients and their physicians information concerning the risks and side effects associated with TDF. They also claim the company declined to disclose the results of its studies, performed as early as 2001, which pointed to the viability and safety of their alternative formulation.Several other widely-prescribed Gilead medications are made with TDF in combination with other HIV drugs. These include Atripla, Stribild, Complera, and Truvada.  In AHF’s class action, the organization’s lawyers seek to represent all California patients (1) who were prescribed Atripla, Truvada, and Viread (the brand name under which TDF was originally sold) from Oct. 26, 2001 through the present and (2) either personally, or via their prescribing physicians, were “exposed to Gilead’s misrepresentations.”  Regarding Truvada, among the claims presented in AHF’s class action is the charge that “Where Gilead did list potential patient concerns [with TDF], it misrepresented the risks as primarily for already-renally impaired or bone-compromised patients.”

Lawyers for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) filed personal injury and class action suits against Gilead on Tuesday, alleging the company stalled the development of a safer alternative to their highly-profitable HIV drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) for nearly two decades.

The personal injury action was filed on behalf of two Southern California men, both living with HIV, who claim they suffered bone and kidney damage from taking TDF at the doses prescribed. Behind the class action suit are two different Southern California men, who are also living with HIV and claim similar side effects from TDF.

Both complaints allege Gilead salespeople concealed from HIV-positive patients and their physicians information concerning the risks and side effects associated with TDF. They also claim the company declined to disclose the results of its studies, performed as early as 2001, which pointed to the viability and safety of their alternative formulation.Several other widely-prescribed Gilead medications are made with TDF in combination with other HIV drugs. These include Atripla, Stribild, Complera, and Truvada.

In AHF’s class action, the organization’s lawyers seek to represent all California patients (1) who were prescribed Atripla, Truvada, and Viread (the brand name under which TDF was originally sold) from Oct. 26, 2001 through the present and (2) either personally, or via their prescribing physicians, were “exposed to Gilead’s misrepresentations.”

Regarding Truvada, among the claims presented in AHF’s class action is the charge that “Where Gilead did list potential patient concerns [with TDF], it misrepresented the risks as primarily for already-renally impaired or bone-compromised patients.”