Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Mercedes-Benz 350 SLC / 450 SLC Coupe Photo by Lydia Marcus

Photographed November 23, 2008 in South Los Angeles

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


On Sunday I went to another No on 8 protest but what made this one special was that it was organized by the Black LGBT community. The protest began at 11am in Leimert Park, turned into a march at 11:30am that proceeded on the sidewalks along Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvds, then returned to Leimert Park to end. Approximately 200 people were at the protest - mostly from the Black community - with a few White, Asian, Latino, and other supporters. Reverend Freda Lanoix and others spoke to the protesters. She made a point of saying (and I'm paraphrasing) that although it's great to go protest in West Hollywood, it's was important for the Black community to make a stand in their own "hood" too. A nice touch during one of the speeches was that the speaker (sorry I don't know her name) asked that we think of someone who is no longer with us to come support us and walk alongside us at the march. Then she asked us to call out the names. I yelled out Vito Russo - who not only was a huge influence on me for writing the seminal gay film book "The Celluloid Closet" - but who was also a prominent gay activist during the original AIDS crisis as a member of ACT UP. The only Yes on 8 protesters were a Black man and woman who followed alongside the march route in a large RV that had a few Yes On 8 signs in the windows. They never spoke to the crowd, but honked a bunch of times as they passed. The honking didn't really make any sense to me because usually cars that honk as they pass the protesters are honking in support. The protest/march was completely peaceful and it was great to see the fight from the side of Black LGBT since the the Black community has been scapegoated for coming out to the polls and voting Yes on 8 in such large numbers. - Lydia Marcus

My friend Patti and Me.

I love that everyone was gathered around the speakers in an intimate circle. It's the first time I've seen this at any of the protests.



Crossing Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.



For more info about this protest, visit Facebook.

The complete set of images can be viewed on my Flickr page.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Heading out tonight to the Orpheum Theater in Downtown Los Angeles to catch Sandra Bernhard do a 20th Anniversary version of her seminal off Broadway show and film "Without You I'm Nothing." I never got to see that show live so I'm pretty excited to get to see it tonight.

I was hired to shoot Sandra backstage and onstage during her Everything Bad & Beautiful Tour. The shot above is really my favorite digital capture from a New Year's Eve show in 2006. Joe's Pub was extremely dark and the lighting was very dim, but I was lucky to catch a moment where purple stagelights and that iconic mouth convened.

Sandra Bernhard Photo by Lydia Marcus
Photographed December 31, 2006 at Joe's Pub in NYC.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Okay so I've finally put photos up from the Saturday No on 8 protest because it literally took me a couple days to recover! The funny wrap up is that I spent 3 hours protesting and marching and then 3 more hours trying to get back up on my feet, get food, and get back to the car. I wasn't the only one moving in slow motion - everyone was like that after 3 hours protesting and marching in the 90+ heat, plus add in the horrible air quality drifting over from the Sylmar fire.

But here's my more detailed, mini wrap up of the protest:

On Saturday, November 15, 2008 I joined in the nationwide NO ON 8 protest organized by Every major city in America (and some around the world) engaged in simultaneous protests against Proposition 8 and for equality. The Los Angeles protest was held in front of Downtown's City Hall. Speakers included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who delivered his speech first in English and then in Spanish), longtime lesbian activist Tori Osborne, Lorri Jean (Executive Director of L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center), out actor Daryl Stephens (Noah's Arc), Hairspray's Ricky Lake & Marisa Jaret Winoker, and Lucy Lawless. The LAPD estimated there were between 10,000 - 12,000 people at the protest. Of that amount, approx 6 people were Yes on 8 protestors (or really religious zealots who found this to be a perfect time and place to dust off their hate spewing signs). This "minority" among the No on 8 protestors set up their signs in front of City Hall and were pretty much isolated by Police surrounding them in each direction and the crowd of 10,000 - 12,000 No on 8 protesters pretty much ignored their slight presence. As the entire event ultimately convened at the corner of Spring and Temple (where a stage was set up for the speakers), the Yes on 8 people were literally left behind the protest. The speakers began at 10:30am (Villaraigosa was helicoptered in from the Sylmar fire and said he was returning there after his speech) and ended around 12:30. Then the protestors marched on Spring to Los Angeles State Historic Park, complete with full LAPD escort and closed streets.

I was lucky to finally find a shot of myself during the march in Tom Andrews' Flickrstream. I'm the one carrying the "Will Your Rights Be Next" sign. I was marching right behind the front of the line for most of the march!

Because I was in the middle of the crowd, I never actually got to see the full scope of it all - 10,000 - 12,000 protestors. This photo was taken by Barbara Davidson of the Los Angeles Times.

These are my photos:

No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-17

No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-5

No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-4

No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-7

No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-13

Someone briefly unfurled this Rainbow flag outside the City Hall building. Then it disappeared as quickly as it emerged.
No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-9

I briefly spoke with this man before the protest. He surprised me by saying that his Rainbow flag was over 30 years old and that he'd been protesting with it since the early 1970's. He didn't look old enough to have been doing that, but he shared that he was in his 50's. I cannot even imagine how hard the gay rights struggle must have been for him that long ago. He is a true pioneer and hero.
No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08

These few guys here with the HUGE hate signs were the ONLY anti-protestors there! "God Does Not Love You Just The Way You Are" is just the best in Hate spewing.
No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-3

This was the largest assembly of mounted police I've ever seen! They appeared at the end of the march like a scene out of an old movie - the calvary arrives! They were were really handsome on their horses.
No On 8_L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-22

Later in the day, around 4-430pm the sunset was just spectacular due to the Sylmar fire.

Here's City Hall:
L.A. City Hall_11-15-08-16

And the U.S. Post Office Terminal Annex:
USPO Terminal Annex 11-15-08-25

So to wrap up, it was ANOTHER empowering protest, and more and more straight supporters have been joining these rallies.

My only constructive criticism for all future protests/marches:

1) Can we please march in some areas that are actually populated? This was my second Downtown L.A. protest on a weekend and it's literally a ghost town. You never pass through any areas with homes - it's all industrial, and occasionally a few stores. Yes the news crews can see us, but I'd like Los Angelenos to see us on foot too.

2) Can the march route be announced in advance? The reason for me is that I'd like to know in advance how long and how far I'm marching. This affects how much water or food I'll bring, the kind of shoes I'll wear, and just helps my overall mental headspace. It also lets me know in advance if I want to complete the march or drop off before it ends.

3) Can we please march in a square route - that way we will begin and end in the same place - and I think this will help with keeping the energy of the marchers up. It was kind of sad on Saturday to see all the oomph of the march end when we reached our destination at the park. Everyone was breaking off looking for food/water, then crowd kind of limped back to our starting point instead of appearing to have solidarity and size.

Other than that, I want to add that the LAPD have just been GREAT! I really feel like they're out there to protect and serve us all and keep us safe.

A full set of my photos from this protest can be seen on my Flickr page.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Because of NO on 8 and all the protesting and marches, I've been reminiscing about my earlier queer days in college. In my last blog I mentioned SQUISH (Strong Queer United In Stopping Heterosexism), a group I was part of in college. My school had another lesbian and gay group on campus called LAGA, but they were more of a relaxed, social group, while SQUISH was inspired by the activism of Queer Nation and ACT UP and and was formed to shake up the status quo on campus. My SQUISH t-shirt was actually a one of a kind silk screen. I don't remember what color the other people's shirts were, but I know that they were all monotone in color while mine had blue, red, and purple in the design. I wish I could wear the shirt to some of these No On 8 protests but it's just too big on me now - partially because in the early 1990's we wore much more oversized clothing and partially because I lost a lot of weight five years ago. Anyway for nostalgia and historical sake, I thought I better take a photo of it and share it.

I also wanted to make everyone aware of a nationwide No On 8 protest taking place at city halls around the country this Saturday. The one in L.A. is happening Downtown in front of City Hall at 10:30am. This is going to be a BIG event so if you haven't made it to any other protests, this is the one to go to. Check out the site Join The Impact to find out more about it and to find the location for protests in your own city. Facebook also has a page for this event at

SQUISH T-Shirt Photo by Lydia Marcus
Photographed November 13, 2008 in Encino, CA

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Like a lot of Queer Californians, I was really upset the night that YES ON 8 passed and repealed the right for same-sex couples to get married. As much as everyone on the news and around me was talking about progress as our first Black president was being elected, it seemed like gay civil rights was taking a huge leap backwards on the very same ballot.

The entire same-sex marriage issue is a complex one for me. Personally I have never been one of those girls who dream of a fairy tale wedding to either a man or a woman. I've NEVER fantasized about how my wedding dress would look. I'm not really a official paperwork or ceremony kind of person. I don't needed an official document of any kind to feel that I've accomplished something. I remember when I took photography in high school and the first time I turned in what I knew to be an A+ image - I nailed it compositionally, tonally, in every way - but the teacher didn't think so and gave me a lower grade. I still remember thinking he just didn't get it and that he was wrong. I didn't feel any less confident about the photo because it didn't have an A+ written on it. That's pretty much how I've always felt about marriage - I don't need a government or religious sanctioned marriage to one day feel that I am "married" to the right person. We can exchange vows anywhere, any place, anytime to each other to commit to one another and the relationship. But when same-sex marriage first became legal earlier in the year, for the first time, I actually wept seeing longtime partners getting to have the same legal ceremony as their straight counterparts. When lesbian rights pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon finally got to legally marry after 50 years together, how could you not feel the overwhelming joy. Because gay people are so mainstreamed in society now, it never really occurred to me (and a lot of other people) that LGBTQ were lacking basic civil rights as long as we were denied the right to marry. That burns me up. A death row prisoner has the right to get married but I can't marry a partner of the same sex if I choose?! So the day after the election I was getting revved up to go protest. I missed the first major protest in West Hollywood but joined the fight at the protest in front of the Mormon Temple. After feeling incredibly empowered from that protest (and really I had unbelievable adrenalin for days following), this is what I've come to realize:

To anyone that voted Yes on 8 - a BIG THANK YOU - your actions unleashed the sleeping giant and we are not going away. You have brought INTERNATIONAL attention to GAY AND HUMAN RIGHTS. in your shortsighted attempt to quash GAY CIVIL RIGHTS you have only given us more power and VISIBILITY in the long run. The AIDS crisis and the way the government ignored it mobilized gays in the late 1980's and early 1990's and gave them newfound power and visibility and the YES on H8 mongers are doing the same for gay people today. I was angry the day after the election, but today I am EMPOWERED.

I've been aware of gays fighting for their rights since I was a child. My first taste was in the mid 1970's when Anita Bryant was all over the TV saying bad things about gay people and working to get legislation against gay rights. Then there was the Briggs Initiative in 1978 that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. I grew up with many gay men in my life - my Mom was friends with many couples - so as a child I didn't understand why anyone would come after someone negatively for being gay. Gay never had a sexual connotation to me - the gay men I knew were just people I loved, just other couples just like my parents. I know that Anita and her ilk of haters being on TV spurred plenty of conversations between me and my Mom. As I've been protesting, I've seen plenty of Moms driving by with kids in the car, and during the Mormon protest, we even marched past an elementary school just getting out for the day. A lot of these kids will be asking their Moms (and Dads) why are these people protesting and why do people not want gay people to have equal rights. I think this is a great dialogue for parents to be having with kids. I know from personal experience that the younger generation is much more blase about anything gay. I was way ahead of my time in thinking that gay people are like anyone else, but now many of these kids today think the same thing thanks to role models like Ellen DeGeneres, and out friends, families, and neighbors.

I was just beginning high school when the AIDS epidemic came to prominence (mostly because Rock Hudson was public with his illness). I was literally in the very first health classes that discussed safe sex practices. Just as I was getting into college in the late 80's, gay activism was coming to the forefront with groups like Queer Nation and ACT UP protesting to get the Reagan government to have a coordinated national policy to fight the disease and for greater access to experimental AIDS drugs. ACT UP's battle cry was "Silence=Death" and even though this current civil rights fight isn't one of life and limb, the gay community is embracing their voice once again.

My first personal taste of the gay rights movement came as a 21 year old college student. At my school I joined a newly formed group called SQUISH (Strong Queers United In Stopping Heterosexism) and chose the word "queer" as the best way to self-define my sexuality and spirit. I have never fit into any one box and for me queer identified the many shades of grey of both my identity and sexual preferences (I have been aware of my 50/50 attraction to both genders since I was 5 years old). The whole idea behind the word queer taking favor in the early 1990's was that by reclaiming a word that had traditionally been used against gay people it devalued it's negative use by gay haters. Apparently the reclamation worked because a decade and plus later the word has a positive association through TV shows like "Queer As Folk" and "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy." Strictly defined by the dictionary, queer has always meant odd or different, and as someone that has never felt the need or desire to fit in with the status quo, I like the word on that merit as well.

So since the passage of YES ON 8 and with all these protests, I've been reminiscing about my coming of age in a world where queers were mad as hell and not going to take it any longer. I can credit my outness and openness to those days involved with SQUISH and seeing the positive and outspoken role models of Queer Nation and ACT UP who were literally fighting for not only their rights but also their lives. Gays are mainstream now because of those gay soldiers (and the ones that battled before them). We may not have total civil rights YET but we have the mainstream acceptance we always wanted. The official piece of paper can come later. In the meantime, I will keep going to the protests and making my voice heard and my photos seen.

-Lydia Marcus

So many websites and facebook pages are springing up with details regarding new protests. I haven't yet found one ultimate source for all the information so these are the places I've been checking daily. If you'd like to get involved, check out these sites:

And last but not least, there will be a nationwide protest at city halls around the country this Saturday, 11/15/08. The one in L.A. is happening in front of City Hall. This is going to be a BIG event so if you haven't made it to any other protests, this is the one to go to.

more info about this at and facebook also has a page for this event.

I also recommend reading My Battle Cry by Corey Scholibo, by the Advocate's arts and entertainment editor. The teaser paragraph for this story states, "Formerly a cynic when it came to the marriage fight, Scholibo now sees this moment as the first time his complacent generation got a real taste of the fight for our rights and thinks it may have been just what they needed." Scholibo didn't grow up with the desperate need for gay activism the way I did, so it's interesting to see how a younger gay person, someone who's used to having mainstream power and visibility deals with having to fight for his rights for the very first time.

I've become active on Flickr this year and I posted a bunch of shots from the Mormon Protest and have gotten a really incredible support from people in the group - mostly straight too. If you'd like to read the full thread and also check out cool events the group has planned for the rest of the year go to Flickr Los Angeles.

Here are some photos from the last protest/march I participated in on Sunday at the Los Angeles Cathedral (Our Lady of The Angels) to Lincoln Park. A group called Roots Of Equality organized this No on 8 Protest. The march started and ended in Lincoln Park - a 6 mile round trip journey on foot. I joined the protest halfway when it was in front of the Church and followed the marchers back to Lincoln Park.

S & Me at the end of the march. I copied my "Will Your Rights Be Next" sign from one I saw at the Mormon Temple protest last week. I've seen some amazing signs and sentiments, but this one means the most to me personally and I think no matter what walk of life you come from, the sign packs a punch.





We got a lot of honks when the marchers crossed a bridge over the 101 Freeway




No happy feet for me - my soles took the brunt of the No On 8 protest - these are my battle scars.
Battle Scars

The entire set of photos from this protest are on my Flickr page.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center organized a news conference in front of the Los Angeles Mormon Temple in response to the Mormon church’s leading role in the deceptive advertising campaign for Prop 8. At the urging of church President Thomas Monson, Mormons contributed more than $15 million to fund the initiative that would repeal the right of same-sex couples to marry. It is unacceptable for the Utah-based Mormon Church, or any religious organization, to attempt to change the constitution of California to deny civil rights to any group of people. The event began as a news conference but turned into a full on rally/protest.

I attended this event as both a protester and photographer. It felt very empowering to be part of the protest. Even in my own family, the hate (and ignorance) on this issue has a place, as my own Dad voted Yes on 8.

Separate is not equal. Domestic Partnership is not the same as marriage. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people are NOT second class citizens!

Here are some of my photos from the protest:

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-61

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-65

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-24

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-16

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-50

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-46

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-93

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-92

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-69

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-59

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-53

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-43

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-36

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-42

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-37

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-29

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-25

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-2

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-13

Janice Dickinson showed up too - surprisingly solo without any camera crews or entourage - GO JANICE!
No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-5

No On 8 Protest 11-6-08-17

For a full set of images from this protest visit my Flickr page.

To keep up to date with protests sponsored by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center go to

The Center has launched a new website,, where you can support efforts to invalidate the measure—and send a message to the Mormon church, which played a leading role in funding the Yes on 8 campaign of lies and distortions.

No On 8 Protest photos by Lydia Marcus
Photographed November 6, 2008 in Westwood, CA