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GLAAD glitters with the stars at Beverly Hills gala

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Tatiana Maslan and Paris Jackson present an award to the cast of Transparent. Photo courtesy GLAAD via Twitter.

The 28th annual GLAAD Media Awards were handed out Saturday night in Beverly Hills, and if there had been a theme, it would  have been that the days of the invisible LGBTQ community are gone and if one person or group in the community is under attack,  everyone is under attack.

As Hollywood’s elite sauntered down the red carpet, words like “resist,” and “stand down,” and “our stories are worth telling” reverberated.

Actress Patricia Arquette was honored with the Vanguard Award.

In her acceptance speech Arquette thanked CEO of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, and the organization for honoring her and for their work helping LGBTQ illuminate acceptance worldwide and for helping LGBTQ kids “see that they belong and they are loved and that there’s nothing wrong with them; because visibility matters and trans visibility really matters.”

Arquette spoke about the many transgender women who’ve been murdered, and the push to force Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the murders as hate crimes. “The response from Sessions was silence,” she said. “But LGBTQ people and allies don’t do silence.”

When a woman in the audience cheered, Arquette answered with, “We’re not going anywhere. We will not be erased from your census.” 

The 48-year-old Academy Award winner paid tribute to her late sister, Alexis, known as one of the first transgender activists in Hollywood, who died at 47 last September from complications related to HIV/AIDS.

Tarell Alvin McCraney, Mary J. Blige, Sarah Kate Ellis and Trevante Rhodes. Photo courtesy GLAAD via Twitter.

Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award-winning coming of age film, “Moonlight,” took home the big prize for Outstanding Film in wide release.

The film’s writer, Tarell Alvin McCraney and actor Trevante Rhodes were on hand to accept the award from R&B singer, Mary J. Blige.

“We win when we give our children, the ones who are going missing in the night, or wondering how much they matter to us, to each other, to the law… give them the courage, the tools and resources to scatter their light across the cinema walls and make the face of heaven so fine,” McCraney said in his impassioned acceptance speech. “We won for ‘Moonlight’ today, but how are we winning tomorrow?”

The ceremony was held at the swanky Beverly Hilton hotel and was presented by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, in honor of the 2016 season.

Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito. Photo courtesy GLAAD via Twitter.

The event was hosted by comedian, Cameron Esposito, known for her role on Buzzfeed’s series “Ask A Lesbian,” and the popular “Put Your Hands Together” stand-up podcast taped live at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater in Los Angeles.

A tribute to the lives lost in the Orlando Pulse nightclub attack by Jussie Smollett and a powerful performance of ‘Imagine’ by Cynthia Erivo brought a hushed quiet to the room.

Surprise guest Carly Rae Jepsen joined legendary songwriter and GLAAD Board Member Justin Tranter to present singer-songwriter Troye Sivan with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which honors LGBTQ media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.

In his acceptance speech, Sivan called attention to enormous challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, including violence against transgender women of color and rates of youth homelessness. He concluded with a message of hope of empowerment, saying, “Don’t let anyone strip you of your truth and your love, because those are the foundations of who we are as a community.” He added, “In a time where it might be tempting to retreat into the shadows, I ask you to be louder – keep holding hands, keep finding pride in your identity, keep standing up for those in our community who are most vulnerable, keep love in your heart, and share it with the world.”

Music icon Mary J. Blige presented the award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release to Moonlight. Tarell Alvin McCraney accepted the award on the film’s behalf, and was joined onstage by Trevante Rhodes and producer Jeremy Kleiner.

The GLAAD awards recognize media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Attendees wore blue “&” pins to mark the organization’s “Together” movement, which aims to address immigration, racial justice and women’s rights issues.

Also in attendance was Paris Jackson. Jackson and Emmy winning actress from “Orphan Black,” Tatiana Maslany, co-presented the award for Outstanding Comedy Series to the cast of “Transparent.” Including the star of the show, Jeffrey Tambor, creator of the show Jill Soloway, and cast members, Judith Light, Alexandra Grey, Jay Duplass, and members of the creative team all joined together on stage to accept the award.

The cast of Transparent. Photo Courtesy GLAAD via Twitter.

Amazon’s “Transparent” won Outstanding Comedy Series – having won previously in their category in 2015 and 2016.

Shadowhunters’ Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario. Photo courtesy GLAAD via Twitter.

Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” won for Outstanding Drama Series. Actors Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario accepted the award for the series.

Vertical Entertainment’s “Other People” won for Outstanding Film in Limited Release.

In Outstanding Individual Episode, “San Junipero” won from the Netflix show, “Black Mirror,” and in Outstanding Daily Drama, CBS’ “The Bold and The Beautiful” won.

In Outstanding Comic Book, James Tynion IV won for “The Woods” for Boom! Studios.

The GLAAD Media Awards will air exclusively on Logo, April 6 at 10 PM ET.  

— By Rebekah Sager

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Los Angeles

Black AIDS Institute appoints Toni Newman as interim CEO

As Toni Newman steps into her new role at BAI, she will be one of only a few Black Trans women to head a non-profit in the nation

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Toni Newman (Blade file photo)

LOS ANGELES – The Board of Directors of the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) announced the appointment of Toni Newman as its Interim Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Kemal M. Atkins as Managing Director this past week.

Newman is currently the Interim Executive Director at LYRIC – a non-profit in San Francisco, California that focuses on advancing the community and creating social change for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth through education, career training and health advocacy. 

Dr. Atkins has been engaged to help further build infrastructure and management processes at BAI. Dr. Atkins, who will serve as a consultant on a temporary basis, has an extensive background in higher education and non-profit leadership where his expertise in crisis management, such as leading institutional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and expertise in building national wellness health models will provide much-needed program direction for BAI.

Founded in 1999, the mission of BAI is to stop the AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals to confront HIV. In its mission statement, the organization states that “BAI envisions a world where all Black people are free and flourishing without HIV and AIDS, free of stigma and shame, where Black health and well-being are paramount. With a foundation in advocacy and policy work, BAI works towards improving the health and wellness of Black people through research, community efforts, and clinical work.

As she steps into her new role at BAI, she will be one of only a few Black Trans women to head a non-profit in the nation.

Ms. Newman is a distinguished Faculty Member at the Transgender Strategy Center in Los Angeles, where she advises non-profit organizations on engagement with transgender and nonconforming communities. In addition, she is the Chair of the Board of Directors for TransCanWork based in Los Angeles.

“Ms. Newman has a wealth of knowledge in non-profit management, budget and finance, and human resources and operations,” BAI stated in its statement. “We’re excited that she has agreed to serve as our Interim CEO as we continue implementing our transition plan to find a permanent, innovative executive staff leader.”

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LGBTQ+ ally City Councilman Kevin de León announces run for mayor

De León currently represents Council District 14 that takes in the predominantly Latino neighborhoods of Boyle Heights and El Sereno

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Kevin de León from campaign advert (Screenshot via YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – Standing in front of a group of enthusiastic supporters Tuesday at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León announced that he was joining the mayor’s race for next year’s city elections.

Councilman de León, a Democrat, is the third city elected official to announce his intention to seek the mayor’s chair after current Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was elected for a four-year term in 2013 and again in 2017- who’s limited to serving no more than two terms, was picked by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. ambassador to India on July 9, 2021.

Born in Los Angeles of Guatemalan and Mexican descent, raised by a loving, hard-working single mother, de León, 51, got an education and spent 12 years in Sacramento, rising to become the President Pro Tem of the California Senate, authoring and passing legislation and making history. It was his bill that then Governor jerry Brown signed into law making California a “sanctuary state”—a law that was upheld by a federal appeals court.

In an August 2018 interview with former Los Angeles Blade Editor Karen Ocamb, he reflected on his relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’ve always been very close to the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) community even before I even knew all the initials that keep growing,” de León says with a laugh during an extensive phone interview with the Los Angeles Blade. “It’s always been my core set of values that every human being deserves a real opportunity to succeed, regardless of who they love and regardless of the hue of their skin and regardless of their legal status. That is embedded in my DNA.”

De León learned to care about LGBT people as a child from his mother and aunt around the kitchen table.

“My mother got a third grade education and my aunt even less,” he says. “I was very young and they were talking about a gay friend, a colleague of theirs. I didn’t understand. Obviously, they didn’t understand themselves. But they spoke with such affection, such tenderness. And here were two immigrant women with limited formal education and the way they spoke so lovingly, tenderly, beautifully about their gay friend. I could deduce the person they were talking about was gay—they kind of spoke in code around me when I was just sitting there listening to them at the kitchen table. And it transcended ethnicity and legal status and poverty—that we’re all human beings and we deserve dignity and respect. That had an ‘Ah Ha’ impact.”

De León’s LGBT education continued as he picked his mother up from her work as a housekeeper at convalescent homes. “She had quite a few gay colleagues with her and I just remember they were just so beautifully nice with my mother and my mother with them and that had a huge impression on me of the universal values of treating everybody with dignity and with respect. So when there is a discriminatory blow against anyone in the LGBTQIA community, I feel that blow equally.” 

De León, 54, is by far the most prominent Latino running. Fluent in Spanish, he represents a district that takes in the predominantly Latino neighborhoods of Boyle Heights and El Sereno, as well as much of downtown, where a development boom has fueled huge growth over the past decade, KTLA reported.

Two other candidates — Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Atty. Mike Feuer — have been campaigning for several months. The race also features two business leaders: Jessica Lall, who heads the downtown-based Central City Assn., and real estate broker Mel Wilson, who has been involved with several San Fernando Valley business groups.

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Los Angeles

Hermosa Beach Pride Lifeguard Tower is here to stay

“The rainbow tower is beautiful and has become a symbol of this community’s love and support for LGBTQ rights,” said Supervisor Hahn

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

Hermosa Beach — Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is announcing that the Pride Tower in Hermosa Beach is here to stay.  The 13th street Los Angeles County Lifeguard Tower, which was painted rainbow in June, was originally meant to be repainted its original blue color at the end of summer.  The rainbow paintjob will now be permanent. 

“The rainbow tower is beautiful and has become a symbol of this community’s love and support for LGBTQ rights,” said Supervisor Hahn, whose support paved the way for the project. “None of us wanted to see it painted over and I am proud to announce that the Pride Tower is here to stay.”

The idea to paint the tower originally came from lzzy Bacallao, a local non-binary teen. Izzy, who uses the pronouns they and them, was responding to the burning of rainbow-painted Pride lifeguard tower in Long Beach in March. The rainbow-painted tower was unveiled at the Hermosa Beach Pride event June 26, 2021.

The new Pride Tower’s rainbow paintjob will be maintained by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors which maintains all LA County Lifeguard Towers.   The Department of Beaches and Harbors also maintains another permanent Pride tower in Venice. 

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles
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