Connect with us

Opinions

West Coast gets its own Blade

A vibrant voice for the LGBT community

Published

on

Los Angeles Blade, gay news, Washington BladeThe first issue of the Los Angeles Blade is a great opportunity for our sisters and brothers on the West Coast to appreciate all that nearly 50 years of East Coast publishing experience can bring to a community. With this new publication and its online availability the rest of the country will have the opportunity to appreciate the exciting things always happening in the LGBTQIA community in California. After all, we are one nation and we need to be connected and there is no better way to do that than having a Blade on both coasts.

Angelenos reading the Los Angeles Blade’s first edition need to know the history of the LGBT community has been written about and preserved on the pages of the Washington Blade, which is now in the process of being digitized for easy access by all. The New York Times dubbed the Washington Blade the “LGBT paper of record” and now the new Los Angeles Blade will be enhancing that record.

I have been honored to be a columnist for the Washington Blade for many years writing on both local and national issues from D.C. mayoral races, to Congress, presidential elections, to the ‘alternate universe’ we now find ourselves in with the Trump administration. My columns continued to appear even during the short period of time when the previous Blade owners declared bankruptcy. That was a difficult but exciting time at the Blade and for a short period the paper was actually published under the name DC Agenda. But the history and value of the Blade were recognized by the whole community, gay and straight, which supported it in every way including donating money and other resources to keep it alive. With the leadership of the three amazing people who form the current ownership team, the Blade continues to be the paper of record for the LGBT community. Lynne Brown, Kevin Naff and Brian Pitts formed Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, and award-winning journalists like Lou Chibbaro Jr. and Chris Johnson stayed with the Blade because they understood how much the community relied on their reporting.  Together with others they ensured the paper would continue to publish and continue to write about and serve our community.

Today, our community like other minority communities, is again under attack. After eight years when we made incredible advances there are many in power who would like to turn back the clock. If they had their druthers we would go back into the closet and once again disappear. For some reason we frighten them. We face hostile members of state legislatures, governors, members of Congress and a president who says he wants to protect us then rescinds guidance from the Obama administration supporting the transgender community. We have a vice president who once suggested we take money designated to fight HIV/AIDS and shift it to support conversion therapy.

The Los Angeles Blade will afford the opportunity for new voices to be heard and for those of us in the rest of the nation to hear from those on the front lines in California. After all so many ideas and trends that start in California will eventually make their way across the nation. California is the home of 39.5 million Americans and while the Electoral College doesn’t give Californians the clout they should have this new Blade will make sure the LGBT community in California has a strong journalistic voice.

I am on the planning committee for the June 11 Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., and it was exciting to see a FB page hosted by Brian Pendleton and others saying the annual Pride Parade in LA would be turned into a sister protest march with thousands already committed to attend. I look forward to the Los Angeles Blade covering this, and reading about what led up to it and more about it in the pages of the publication. As we meet regularly to plan the details of the national march, excitement is being built and spreading as it did with the Women’s March and sister marches are being planned around the world.

The voice of the LGBTQIA community is strong and vibrant. We will not be stopped until the members of our community, especially those who are more marginalized today, have all their rights and can live openly and safely everywhere in the world.

 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Commentary

Texas Trans girl assaulted over GOP lies about Uvalde shooting

Why was this teen girl assaulted by a grown man she’d never met, harassed by four strangers who could tell she was trans

Published

on

Photo Credit: City of El Paso, Texas

By James Finn | DETROIT – “Oh look, it has a dick,” snarled one of four men last night outside an El Paso library where Tracey had just finished her high school homework before heading to the halfway house where she lives because her parents kicked her out for being transgender.

In a phone interview today, Tracey told me the man grabbed her arm and forced her body around to make her look at him, saying “Yeah, you know they’re perverting kids instead of killing them.”

She had no idea what he meant, but she was scared, like she says she usually is on the streets of El Paso these days. “I’m only 17!” she told the man who grabbed her.

Another man said, “Yeah, you know it was one of your sisters who killed those kids. You’re a mental health freak!”

She twisted away and rushed off on her bicycle, stopping to phone the El Paso Police, who refused to take an assault report. Hours later, during a phone session with a Rainbow Youth Project counselor, Tracey heard about false rumors flying around the Internet — that the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas had been committed by a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.” The rumor was amplified in a big way by Paul Gosar, a dentist and Arizona Republican Congressmember who styles himself a doctor on Twitter.

Nobody is quite sure where that false claim got started, but it spread rapidly, based on photos of a person unrelated to the attack. The 18-year-old man who killed 19 children and 2 adults yesterday is neither transgender nor an illegal immigrant.

Gosar amplifying this scapegoating rumor is not unusual. According to Brody Levesque, writing about the Uvalde shooting in the LA Blade, “Gosar is an anti-immigration, anti-vaxxer, radical right hardliner who routinely cozies up to white nationalists.” He’s typical of the Trump-supporting hard-right faction that now dominates the GOP.

Let’s talk about the school shooting, then come back to Tracey, Gosar, and scapegoating

I’ve felt sick to my stomach since late yesterday when I learned about the horrific mass shooting about 80 miles outside San Antonio. I couldn’t stop crying for the parents of those 19 little children who are never coming home again. I despaired at a staunch, reflexive Republican reaction against even minimal gun regulation. I sat glued to President Biden addressing the nation, and I thrilled to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s impassioned plea for action on gun control.

I had no idea as I was mourning for those children and their devastated parents that a GOP talking point about mental health would soon dominate Fox News and conservative social media. I never could have conceived that the narrative was already twisting itself up with that other GOP mantra, that trans teens are mentally ill and that people who support them are committing child abuse.

But they did come together, in El Paso, with Tracey. So, let’s talk about Tracey.

Tracey is not mentally ill. She’s not dangerous. She’s not hurting anybody. But she spent two months this spring living on the streets because fellow students threatened to out her as trans to her parents. When she tried to get ahead of that by coming out to her parents on her own terms, they told her to get out.

She goes to high school every day watching her back, because students, teachers and other staff are hostile to her. She used to confide in a kind guidance counselor, but she doesn’t anymore because the counselor got in trouble after people falsely claimed she’d encouraged Tracey to “become” trans.

Tracey told me that isn’t true. She started socially transitioning in 9th grade before she met the counselor. She just liked sitting down for a few minutes with a kind adult.

She can’t anymore.

Tracey can’t talk to her counselor at a community clinic anymore either. They shut their doors to trans teens a few weeks ago when the Texas government began investigations based on Texas AG Ken Paxton’s legal finding that supporting transition is child abuse. It doesn’t matter that Tracey just wants to talk and get support. The clinic isn’t taking any chances.

The only people Tracey could turn to for support last night were at the Rainbow Youth Project hundreds of miles away in Indiana. They calmed her down after her assault, listened to her fears, and provided as much emotional support as possible over the phone. Then they called the El Paso Police Department for her, who once again refused to take a report. (The EPPD did not immediately respond my request for comment.)

Rainbow Youth volunteer flew to El Paso from out of state two months ago to advocate for Tracey. They got her off the streets and into a room in a halfway house Tracey calls “nice and comfortable.” She says she calls them when she’s feeling down, and they often check in on her. She sounds a little weepy when she tells me the only kind people she can to talk to now don’t live in Texas. She hopes that changes when she turns 18.

Let’s talk about scapegoating

Tracey doesn’t want to hang up when I’m ready to start writing this article, but I need to focus, to ask myself why this teen girl with a soft Texas accent got assaulted last night by a grown man she’d never met, harrassed by four strangers in their early 20s to late 30s who could tell she was trans and wanted to blame child killings on that.

Look, the U.S. has an epidemic of mass shootings going on. We must confront that together as a nation. So, how about we stop the scapegoating? I don’t know what’s happened to Republican leadership, why they won’t face up to gun violence, but I can see something clearly. They keep demonizing LGBTQ people. Because that’s apparently easier than tackling tough problems.

And last night? That scapegoating terrified a teen girl just trying to ride home on her bike.

How about we knock it off? How about we leave people like Tracey alone? How about we tell Paul Gosar to do his real job instead of stirring up hate? How about we stand up for people who aren’t hurting anyone?

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick over the Uvalde shooting, and I sure would have liked to focus on that today. What’s going on, America? Can we stop bashing trans people, please?

************************

James Finn is a columnist for the LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an “agented” but unpublished novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]

********************

The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading

Viewpoint

Why I’m running: Rick Chavez Zbur

Let me tell you a little more about myself and why I’m running for an Assembly seat to represent Los Angeles AD-51

Published

on

A recent meet & greet with construction crews (Courtesy of Rick Chavez Zbur)

By Rick Chavez Zbur | LOS ANGELES – My name is Rick Chavez Zbur.  You may know me from my time as Executive Director of Equality California, California’s statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, but let me tell you a little more about myself and why I’m running for AD-51.

I grew up in a small farming community in rural New Mexico, the same community where my mother, Linda Chavez Zbur, and her family lived for generations. The community was socially conservative and I didn’t know a single LGBTQ+ person. Any kid who was suspected of being LGBTQ was relentlessly bullied and taunted, and I could not even let myself think about the fact that I might be gay. 

My dad dropped out of high school to help support his family but later used the G.I. bill to go back to high school and college to become a college professor. He taught me the importance of community service. He was a dedicated Democratic activist, and I remember him saying that we needed to support Democrats because that is the party dedicated to improving the lives of working people. My dad and I used campaign candidates together door to door and at the polls. Given my dad’s influence, I always thought I might have a career in public service.

But when I began coming to terms with my sexual orientation while at Harvard Law School in the 1980’s, I decided that a career in government was not possible for me as a gay man. It was a very different time and there were virtually no “out” gay elected officials. So I moved to Los Angeles and became an environmental lawyer, in large part because I had seen how contaminated groundwater had caused so many people in the farm community I grew up in to become ill, including several uncles and cousins. 

Ironically, my lived experience as a gay man that caused me to stay away from government is exactly what brought me back into politics. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, I saw scores of my friends become ill and die, while our elected officials did virtually nothing. The AIDS crisis motivated me to get off the sidelines.  So, I came out at work and became the first “out” lawyer at Latham & Watkins. I began supporting, organizing and fundraising for candidates who were willing to fight AIDS and for the LGBTQ+ community. I also joined the boards of Lambda Legal and Children Affected by AIDS Foundation and supported the work of Equality California. More recently, I joined the board of Planned Parenthood—Los Angeles because abortion rights and LGBTQ+ civil rights are inextricably joined.

I also became deeply engaged in the environmental movement. I have served on the Board of the California Environmental Voters (formerly California League of Conservation Voters) for over 20 years — and as President for six of those years. As board president, I led the organization to prioritize environmental justice and the vulnerable communities that are hardest hit by pollution, as well as sustainable housing and green job programs to address climate change. 

In 2014, I left my law firm to become the Executive Director of Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. At Equality California, I led the organization through a period of significant growth and an expansion of its mission to include advancing civil rights and social justice for the diverse communities to which LGBTQ+ people belong — communities of color, communities of faith, immigrants, women and people living with HIV. I’m very proud of the significant accomplishments during my leadership. With our partners, we passed almost 100 new laws, including a model law to reform our discriminatory HIV criminal laws. We passed laws to protect LGBTQ+ seniors in long term care facilities, transgender and non-binary people who are incarcerated and LGBTQ+ people facing homelessness. We fought for immigration rights, universal healthcare, the $15 minimum wage, gun safety legislation, and criminal justice and anti-racism reform. We banned the use of the gay/trans panic defense in California Courts, and passed laws that allow people to obtain HIV prevention medications (PrEP and PEP) at pharmacies without a prescription. We launched new programs to assure that our schools are safe and supportive for LGBTQ+ and all kids.   

I was urged and inspired to run for the Assembly by my sister, Jackie, who lost her three-year battle with ALS. Watching her fight this truly horrendous disease — both physically and financially, spending her entire life’s savings on her care — broke my heart and devastated my entire family. I saw first-hand that not only is our healthcare system broken, but so is our social safety net — especially for seniors and people with disabilities. 

I know too many families in our community, throughout California and around the world have endured similar pain over the past couple years— and that’s why I decided to run for the California Assembly to fight for real solutions on the critical issues facing us today. For decades, I have worked from the outside and I know how to build consensus to pass cutting edge bills in the Legislature. I have the background, commitment and policy-experience to make real change on our communities’ toughest challenges—housing/homelessness, hate crimes, climate action, LGBTQ civil rights and more. I am proud to be the only candidate endorsed by the California Democratic Party, Planned Parenthood, Equality California, Stonewall Democratic Club, California Environmental Voters, as well as Governor Gavin Newsom, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Congressman Adam Schiff. I would be honored to have your support too!

Continue Reading

Viewpoint

David Hogg demands Congress gets ‘One Thing Done’ on gun safety

Hogg, who co-founded the student and young person led March for Our Lives movement placed the blame on both political parties for the carnage

Published

on

Screenshot/MSNBC

WASHINGTON – Appearing on MSNBC program ‘The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” Tuesday night, David Hogg, a survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that took 17 lives and injured 18 more, called again for action from Congress on gun safety.

Hogg, who co-founded the student and young person led March for Our Lives movement placed the blame on both political parties for the carnage that once again has affected an American community, this time in a small community not far from the U.S. border with Mexico in Southwestern Texas, a shooting that claimed the lives of 18 elementary students and two of their teachers.

David Hogg Demands Congress Gets ‘One Thing Done’ On Gun Safety:

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular