Broadway composer Andrew Lippa on I am Harvey Milk

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Courtesy of Denver Gay Men's Chorus
Denver Gay Men's Chorus rehearses for Andrew Lippa's I Am Harvey Milk.
California's first openly gay elected politician, Harvey Milk, was a feisty camera-shop owner turned political activist. He fought homophobia, commanded LGBTQ people to "come out," and struggled to build coalitions between oppressed communities. When fellow San Francisco city supervisor Dan White gunned him down in 1978, Milk became a martyr for the gay-rights movement. In advance of the Denver Gay Men's Chorus' performance of I Am Harvey Milk on June 8 in Fort Collins and June 12 in Denver, Westword spoke with critically acclaimed composer Andrew Lippa about the piece.

See also: Mike McNamara on quilting, AIDS and imperfection

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Yoruba Richen talks about the black church, civil rights and gay marriage

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The New Black
Yoruba Richen's The New Black chronicles conversations about gay marriage equality in the African American community.
In 2008, The Advocate published "Is Gay the New Black?," an article comparing the gay rights struggle to the civil rights movement. The story unleashed a fury of critique: How could people compare the fight for gay marriage to the abolition of Jim Crow and segregation? But as a string of marriage-equality initiatives failed, many white, mainstream LGBT activists blamed the black community, erasing the experiences of LGBT African-American activists. Yoruba Richen experienced these conflicts on the front lines of the marriage-equality debate, which led her to direct the documentary The New Black, which will be screening Tuesday night at the SIE FilmCenter. In advance of that showing, Westword spoke with Richen about her film.

See also: The New Black and other docs ask, "Why has black been made the face of homophobia?"


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Cheesman Park: Haunted by fun (and angry ghosts, probably)

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Our cover story this week, Alan Prendergast's "Party in the Park," looks at how Denver's park rangers are gearing up for a busy summer season. In response, Westword writers are weighing in with appraisals of their own favorite Denver parks, continuing with Byron Graham's tribute to Cheesman Park.

Denver's park-going residents have long enjoyed wiling away temperate afternoons sunning themselves on the gently sloping hills of Cheesman Park. Whether you're strolling through the park's neoclassical pavilion, enjoying the view of the distant cityscape over the treetops, or happening upon an especially festive Quinceañera, you'll always find good times in Cheesman Park -- along with the occasional human skull.

See also: City Park: A stroll in the heart of Denver

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Jordan Wieleba on stealing a copy of War of the Worlds and coming out transgender

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Crystal Allen Photography
Reading is about more than following a narrative or learning facts; it can also be a profound shared experience that culminates in a better understanding of ourselves and each other. In that spirit, welcome to the Westword Book Club, a bi-weekly feature celebrating the books that inspire Denver artists.

Jordan Wieleba is a comedian, musician, illustrator, GLBTQ advocate, cornerstone of Denver's comedy community and Best of Denver winner. Recently seen gracing the cover of Out Front Colorado, she also provided the illustrations for the book Sharing the Good News: A Positive Model for Coming Out as Transgender. Westword recently caught up with Wieleba to discuss helpful books for people struggling with gender identity, prescient sci-fi authors and her beloved stolen copy of War of the Worlds.

See also: Andy Thomas on Hell is in New Jersey, Etgar Keret and Shel Silverstein

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Mike McNamara on quilting, AIDS and imperfection

Categories: Crafts, GLBTQ

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Mike McNamara
Quilter Mike "Mac" McNamara prides himself on his emotionally evocative and often asymmetrical quilts.
The modern quilt world's obsession with straight lines and symmetry rubs quilter Mike "Mac" McNamara the wrong way; he never cared for prescribed patterns. His emotionally evocative quilts reflect on life's biggest issues: desire, grief, politics and childlike wonder. Often as humorous as they are critical, his quilts are gifts of love for another person. McNamara's cartoonish, homoerotic quilt "Stand Back--He's Mine!" is currently on display at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum; Westword recently spoke with McNamara about his life as a quilter.

See also: David Charity addresses hunger, human trafficking and other social issues through quilts

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Photos: The Gayest Oscar Party Ever

Categories: GLBTQ, Photos

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All photos by Brandon Marshall
Hollywood's elite weren't the only ones all dolled up last night. Guests got plenty gussied up for the "Gayest Oscar Party Ever," held at Hamburger Mary's during the Academy Awards ceremony. The event benefited Off-Center, and featured a rainbow carpet, a gown contest and more. And photographer Brandon Marshall was there to capture all the action.

See also: Photos: People of Animeland Wasabi 2014

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Johnny Minotaur restored: Queer cinema, censorship and Denver Film Society's bravery

Categories: Film and TV, GLBTQ

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Filmmaker MM Serra is executive director of the New American Cinema Group.
Johnny Minotaur, surrealist poet and artist Charles Henri Ford's 1971 film, is a lyrical explosion of taboos: Incest, man-boy love and power dynamics, pansexuality and autoeroticism are just a few of the issues he grapples with. After the film was lost for two decades, the New American Cinema Group worked to restore Johnny Minotaur and resuscitated this classic piece of forgotten, queer cinema that belongs next to the films of Kenneth Anger, Derek Jarman and Jean Genet. When the Denver Film Society boldly opted to premiere the restored print this month at the Sie FilmCenter, the organization took a curatorial risk that New York's art world had shied away from, says MM Serra, executive director of the New American Cinema Group. And in the process, DFS's programming team set an important precedent that helped encourage Anthology Film Archives to host the New York City premiere of the restored version of this historically significant, yet forgotten film. Westword recently spoke with Serra about the screening at the SIE FilmCenter, censorship and the future of Johnny Minotaur.

See also: MM Serra on whether Johnny Minotaur is art or obscene teen-exploitation


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MM Serra on whether Johnny Minotaur is art or obscene teen-exploitation

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MM Serra
MM Serra is struggling to find a New York City venue bold enough to exhibit Charles Henri Ford's 1971 surrealist memoir film, Johnny Minotaur. Nobody wants to bite. This experimental classic examines teen sexuality with explicit homoerotic imagery. Several institutions refuse to show it because curators believe the performers look like minors and that the film violates basic standards of decency, she says.

Serra, executive director of The Film-Makers Cooperative, will be at the Sie FilmCenter this Saturday night to present a new print of this controversial film as part of the Denver Film Society's four-day Sex Shop Cinema series. She speaks with Westword about her programming work, 21st century censorship and why Denver has been friendlier to Johnny Minotaur than New York's art establishment.

See also: Sex Shop Cinema: Puppet porn, butter-for-lube and more (NSFW)

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Sex Shop Cinema: Puppet porn, butter-for-lube and more (NSFW)

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Whether you are a raincoat-wearing heavy-breather, an academic seeking fodder for educational frottage or a run-of-the-mill cineaste, beware: You had better be of age and hope the city authorities do not bust up this festival. The Denver Film Society has curated a lineup of erotic films sure to fan your flames of desire and debate -- so grab your favorite lube and check out our handy guide to the eleven films in the DFS Sex Shop Cinema.

See also: The best BDSM movies: Five more options for your viewing pleasure (Iimages are NSFW)

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Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine director Michele Josue talks about her friend's legacy

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Courtesy of Michele Josue.
Matthew Shepard's brutal murder fifteen years ago in Laramie, Wyoming, has become a major symbol of the struggle for civil rights for the LGBTQ community around the globe. Now, thanks to the diligent work of Shepard friend and filmmaker Michele Josue, the world gets to see so much more of his story in Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, debuting in Denver this Friday, October 11.

A friend of Shepard from his boarding-school days in Switzerland, Josue goes beyond the conventional depiction of her classmate and confidant, filling in the gaps with in-depth interviews and never-before-seen photographs and home movies from those who knew Matt best. The result is a deeply personal film about who Matt Shepard really was, and the legacy created by his death.

Westword caught up with Josue, who will be at the screening Friday night, to talk about how and why the documentary came together.

See also: PJ Raval discusses his new documentary on aging in the LGBTQ community

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