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Los Angeles City Hall honors LGBT trailblazers, introduces new initiatives

Kicking off Pride Month at Los Angeles City Hall



Just as the 2017 LGBT Heritage Month kicks off June 1, Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin joined Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin and other members of the City Council at City Hall to honor four trailblazers in the LGBTQ community.

Honorees proceeded into the John Ferraro Council Chamber accompanied by the voices of the Celebration Theater, who accompanied them in a soulful rendition of “This Land is Your Land.”

This 7th annual Heritage Month honored the work of actress Alexandra Billings, known for her role in “Transparent,” Michael Kearns, recognized as Hollywood’s first openly gay actor in the 1970s and a longtime advocate of awareness for those with HIV/AIDS, actress Sara Ramirez, known for her role on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and 80-year-old Alexei Romanoff, a Ukrainian-born immigrant, heralded for his historic civil rights work.

This year’s theme is “The Art of Resistance.”

“Everyone should be free to live their truth, love who they choose, and find acceptance in the place they call home,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said to those gathered.

“LGBTQ Heritage Month is a time to reflect on the long march to justice and tolerance, and to honor those who have devoted themselves to building a world that is free from hatred and safe for all — no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Los Angeles takes pride in the activism and accomplishments of our LGBTQ community, and we will always stand with every Angeleno who is fighting for equality, respect, and dignity for all people.”

Councilman Mike Bonin talked about the LGBTQ community’s need for celebrating its heritage and passing along the rich history to its young people.

“We don’t have a kind of Passover, where we can get together every year and share our stories of what our community has done and how our community has struggled, and survived. So, our younger generations don’t have the benefit of that built in heritage, so young people today don’t know that our brightest times in LGBTQ history proceeded the darkest times – WWII. There are young people today who don’t know the horrors and ravages of the AIDS epidemic or how the lesbian community banded together to save their sick and dying brothers,” Bonin said.

Singer, actress and activist, Sara Ramirez, acknowledged the many in the LGBTQ community those who’ve inspired her and help to keep her steadfast in her fight for equality.

“With our current political climate it’s hard to maintain hope these days. But, sharing space in a way that celebrates my community and all its intersections gives me hope. I’m proud to be a Mexican, Irish American-immigrant, queer and bi-sexual woman. The LGBTQ+ community has never been about just one person, and one experience and identity. Our struggles are shared and our resilience unrelenting,” Ramirez said.

Michael Kearns’ speech was about inclusion, encouraging those in the LGBTQ community to make sure to “shine their lights” into neighborhoods they’ve never gone into, taking paths rarely traversed, and daring “to ruin a pair of shoes.”

“This honor serves as my marching papers,” Kearns said.

Actress Alexandra Billings made the suggestion that the crowd assembled “gather their strength and reach across the aisle and talk to each other.”

“This room is easy. What’s happening here is a room filled with great love and great joy? It’s a safe place, but now we have to go out of the safe place and go to the unsafe place. That’s the real meaning of revolution. When we can gather together and talk to the people who don’t agree with us. Who do want us dead? Who do want us marginalized? Who don’t believe in equal rights. Who believe we should be rounded up like cattle and taken to an island and forget about us. Those are the people who’re ill informed and spiritually bankrupt. We have to help them the best way we can, with education with compassion, kindness, and a revolutionary spirit that bore the LGBTQ community from the beginning of time… this is who we are. It’s in our cells. You would not have art were not for the queer community,” Billings said.

LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice M. Girmala, Director, Office of Special Operations and Department LGBTQ Outreach Program Coordinator talked about bringing a safety initiative to Los Angeles similar to one recently launched  in Seattle.

The “Safe Space Program,” will ask participating businesses, located in Hollywood and East Los Angeles to place decals on their windows and doors, as a way of announcing themselves as a place open to LGBTQ community members in need – aimed at creating a safer community.

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UCLA Fielding School LGBTQ+ research & health center marks first year

“This is the time for academic institutions to bolster progress made by the LGBTQ+ movement, reduce inequities & close health disparity gap”



Photo Credit: UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

LOS ANGELES – Opening the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s newest research center, dedicated to the mission of improving the health and social well-being of sexual and gender minorities, would be a challenging task at any time.

For Dr. Matthew Mimiaga, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of epidemiology, founding, organizing, and leading the new UCLA Center for LGBTQ+ Advocacy, Research & Health (C-LARAH), which officially opened its doors in December of 2020, opening the center in the middle of a global pandemic was just part of the job.

“COVID-19 has definitely made every task we’ve accomplished, in terms of organizing, research, and student and community service, more demanding, but what better time than now?” said Mimiaga, who serves as director of C-LARAH. “This is the time for academic institutions to bolster the progress made by the LGBTQ+ movement; we must bridge health, research, and training measures to reduce inequities and close the health disparity gap … and ‘challenging times’ certainly help focus on what is important.”

By any standard, the team of faculty, staff, and students led by Mimiaga, who also serves as a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has met and exceeded those challenges. In 12 months, even as they worked through the day-to-day needs of organizing the center, the team has:

·         Published 38 new scientific journal publications and five book chapters, which can be reviewed here. The findings were published in journals that include The Lancet, The Lancet Global Health, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, AIDS and Behavior, Journal of the International AIDS Society, Journal of AIDS, and AIDS;

·         Collaborated with 37 UCLA graduate students, affiliated post-doctoral researchers, and staff, along with 20 faculty affiliates;

·         Received nearly $8.6 million in federal research funding from five different U.S. National Institutes of Health entities in FY 2021 (>$50 million for all project years for current grants combined); and

·         Built a website for the new center that spotlights C-LARAH’s research program.

In 2020-21, C-LARAH’s research has focused on improving health disparities and health equity among LGBTQ+ communities, including epidemiological cohort studies; developing and testing interventions to decrease sexual risk in HIV primary and secondary prevention; and biobehavioral interventions to enhance uptake and adherence for both HIV treatment (ART) and prevention (PrEP/PEP).

The team has also researched psychosocial treatments for stimulant use disorder and concurrent HIV risk, and opioid use disorder and adherence to medication-assisted treatment; infectious disease and psychiatric epidemiology; and global health research within several resource constrained countries.

In addition to research in the United States, C-LARAH has ongoing global public health research globally focused on HIV primary and secondary prevention. Currently, these include projects in Brazil, India, Nigeria, and Vietnam; and recently completd projects in Ecuador, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Zambia.

“I’m very proud of the team we’ve assembled, including our UCLA staff, students, and faculty-affilliates and our research partners in the U.S. and globally,” Mimiaga said. “And I am very excited about the impact C-LARAH has had and will continue to have in training future generations of scientists interested in conducting LGBTQ+ public health and clinical research, and ensuring that all sexual and gender minorities can live openly and authentically, and be healthy.”

For more information, see “Promoting Public Health for the LGBTQ Population” from the most recent edition of UCLA Public Health magazine.

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Los Angeles

Out LA City Councilman Bonin says he won’t seek re-election

Wednesday’s announcement came one week after an effort to recall him failed to gather the requisite number of signatures



Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin (Screenshot via YouTube)

MAR VISTA – In an announcement via YouTube and in a series of tweets Wednesday, Out Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin told supporters that he would not be seeking reelection to his seat representing the 11th city council district.

Wednesday’s announcement came one week after an effort to recall him failed to gather the requisite number of signatures.

“Today I announced I’ve decided not to seek reelection to the LA City Council. This is a difficult, deeply personal decision, and I’ve wrestled with it for several days, but I’m confident it is the right choice for the right reasons,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I’ve struggled for years with depression. It’s a constant companion, and often a heavy one. There are times when this job has made that easier, and times when it has made it more challenging. Instead of seeking another term, it’s time for me to focus on health and wellness.” he continued.

“It is hard for me to speak publicly about mental health, but I’ve always been forthcoming about my addiction and recovery, and about my struggles with housing insecurity. I want to be honest here, too. I believe that sharing about our fragility is how we build common strength,” he said.

“To those who are disappointed by my decision, I am sorry. It is very difficult to walk away from a third term, and the work we have been doing together, but I need to listen to my heart. This is the best decision for me and my family.”

Anger and public dissatisfaction over L.A.’s homelessness crisis had fueled the petitioner’s efforts to oust Bonin who represents Council District 11, the Westside neighborhoods of Brentwood, Mar Vista, Venice, Westchester and Playa del Rey and the area around LAX.

“This recall campaign is an extravagant waste of taxpayer money, a thinly disguised attempt to derail my efforts to provide real solutions to our homelessness crisis, and the latest in a series of recall attempts to silence strong progressive voices,” Bonin said in a press release after he was served the recall notice last June.

“Under Mike Bonin’s watch, the humanitarian crisis of the homeless population is growing exponentially. Taxpayer money is squandered. Fires. Struggling local businesses. Crime is rampant and rising. Neighborhoods and schools are unsafe. We feel afraid to visit public beaches and community parks,” the Recall Bonin campaign’s website read.

Bonin said in his statement that the campaign is backed by right-wing forces and constituents who have fought to stop housing, shelter and services in the coastal neighborhoods, “leaving people to die on the streets.”

Bonin was first elected in 2013, after serving as a top aide to former Councilman Bill Rosendahl. He had been facing a major re-election fight — one that would have been dominated by the issues of homelessness and public safety.

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Los Angeles

[email protected] Coalition receives bomb threat, LAPD investigating

Officers, specialists and detectives from the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department responded and swept the building



Los Angeles Blade graphic/photo

LOS ANGELES – A bomb threat was phoned in Wednesday afternoon to the Wilshire Blvd. Koreatown offices of the [email protected] Coalition, Bamby Salcedo, the president and CEO of the non-profit organization told the Blade.

According to Salcedo, an unidentified male caller told the staff person who answered at approximately 3 pm, while delivering the threat said; “you’re all going to die.” The staff immediately evacuated everyone from their offices and then contacted the LAPD for assistance.

Officers, specialists and detectives from the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department responded and swept the building. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that the incident is under active investigation but would make no further comment.

On a Facebook post immediately after the incident the non-profit wrote; “To ensure the safety of our clients and staff members, we ask that you please NOT come to our office.”

In a follow-up post, Salcedo notified the organization and its clientele that the LAPD had given the all-clear and that their offices would resume normal operations Thursday at 9:00 AM. “Thank you for your messages and concern for our staff and community,” Salcedo said.

“No amount of threats can stop us from our commitment to the TGI community,” she added.

The [email protected] Coalition (TLC) was founded in 2009 by a group of Transgender and Gender nonconforming and Intersex (TGI) immigrant women in Los Angeles, California, as a grassroots response to address the specific needs of TGI [email protected] immigrants who live in the United States.

Since then, the agency has become a nationally recognized organization with representation in 10 different states across the U.S. and provides direct services to TGI individuals in Los Angeles.

In 2015, The [email protected] Coalition identified the urgent need to provide direct services to empower TGI people in response to structural, institutional, and interpersonal violence, and the Center for Violence Prevention and Transgender Wellness was born.

Since then, the organization has secured funding from the state and local government sources as well as several private foundations and organizations to provide direct services to all TGI individuals in Los Angeles County (LAC).

TLC’s primary focus is to change the landscape of access to services for TGI people and provide access to comprehensive resource and services that will improve the quality of life of TGI people.

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