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How bi-curious Hugh Hefner and the gays emboldened free speech and the sexual revolution

Hefner’s death reveals ties to gay community

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Hugh Hefner (Photo wikiCommons)

The right of individuals to exercise free speech without fear of government censorship, coercion or crack down has been much in the news recently as President Trump tries to bully NFL owners into firing football players who “take a knee” during the national anthem to protest police shootings of unarmed black men.

The First Amendment is perhaps the most cherished—and most assailed—of constitutional rights, with the interpretation changing with time and administrations. That became abundantly clear on Wednesday as Americans learned that Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner died at age 91.

Marilyn Monroe was a Playboy covergirl several times.

Hefner is widely believed to be one of the instigators of the sexual revolution of the 1950/60s, launching Playboy Magazine in December 1953 featuring a nude centerfold of actress Marilyn Monroe at a time when chaste ultra-conservative conformity and McCarthyism were in full swing. From the beginning, Hefner championed the First Amendment, not only by celebrating female nudity but by serializing such controversial works as Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and in 1955, The year was 1955, science fiction author Charles Beaumont’s futuristic short story “The Crooked Man” in which homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is criminalized.

But perhaps Hefner’s greatest contribution to the sexual revolution and the parallel quiet movement for LGBT equality was the Playboy Forum where wide ranging discussions on taboo topics, including homosexuality, were enthusiastically encouraged.

“What makes Hugh Hefner really important is the combination of his belief in the First Amendment and his Playboy philosophy,” which rebelled against religiously-mandated codes of sexual morality, Charles Francis, president of the Mattachine Society of Washington DC, tells the Los Angeles Blade.
“He was an early supporter of LGBT equality,” says Francis. “Playboy gave a platform where the first serious considerations about homosexuality could take place, well before Stonewall. (Mattachine Society/DC founder) Frank Kameny had serious back-and-forth discussions with psychiatrists and psychologists who thought homosexuality was an illness and a perversion. The Playboy philosophy was basically liberally enlightened about sex and humanistic and empathetic— homosexuals should be treated as human beings, not as perverts or deviants. It wasn’t porn or smut; it was progressive and encouraged open-minded inquiry.”

In fact, Francis says, Frank Kameny introduced his famous slogan “Gay is Good” in the “Playboy Forum” in the March 1969 issue. The forum enabled him to express his outrage at “normal” anti-gay attitudes and policies.

“The Playboy Forum gave Kameny the space to engage in substantive debate, over years, with such psychiatrists David H. Barlow and Gerald Davison about aversion therapy and whether or not homosexuality was a mental illness,” Francis says. “Dr. David Barlow is a past President of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association, and still very much alive.

In the day, Barlow was promoting various therapies at the University of Mississippi, including something called ‘fading,’ in which a patient seeking to be ‘cured’ of homosexuality would be exposed to a series of images, ‘fading’ from a naked young man into a highly sexualized black woman.”
Though the Playboy Forum pushed back on Frank “that homosexuality is a ‘compulsion based on phobic responses to heterosexual stimuli,’” Francis says, “the Forum itself was the only mainstream, popular platform to give him that much space and the ability to write at length about his ideas and reactions to psychiatrists like Davison and Barlow.”

Historian Mark Stein wrote in his 2010 legal accounting of the sexual revolution, Sexual Injustice, that Playboy created “what may have been the country’s most influential forum for public discussion about homosexuality during this period.”

Francis discovered in the Kameny Papers at the Library of Congress that “Playboy Forum Associate Editor Henry Fenwick actually shared with Frank many of the letters (names withheld) Playboy had received on these exchanges–from groups like Texas Advocates for Human Dignity,” Francis says. “Fenwick wrote Kameny on May 7, 1969, just months before the Stonewall riots: “In spite of our differences of opinion I hope we can continue to keep our lines of communication open. I believe the dialogue to be very useful, and we appreciate your continued cooperation.”

It turns out Hefner may have read Kameny’s “Gay is Good” missives, too. In a 1999 interview, Carrie Leigh, who lived with Hefner for five years in the 1980s and filed three lawsuits against him, told the Washington Post that Hefner’s infamous and misogynistic sexual swinging also included men.

The Post reported: “Leigh and other Hefner girlfriends from the 1980s say they were also disturbed by Hefner’s propensity for sexual encounters with men. Leigh says she interrupted Hefner’s liaisons with men a couple of times. The irony that this symbol of heterosexual male virility was involved homosexually was not lost on her. But her real fear was that it indicated Hefner’s only true interest in women was exploitive. ‘It bothered me. It totally flipped me out,’ she says. ‘I tried to accept it. He thought it was all okay.’”

Indeed, in the interview with the Post, Hefner acknowledged having bisexual trysts.

“There was some bisexuality in the heterosexual, swinging part of my life,” Hefner told the Post, adding that Leigh, who also had lesbian dalliances was “obsessed” with gays and her suspicion that he preferred men was only a “projection” on her part.

“I was testing the boundaries, just knocking down walls,” Hefner said. “That period of sexual experimentation is long gone.”

Aside from dabbling in bisexuality and promoting open discussions, Hefner also stood up for civil rights, gay rights, and opened his Playboy Mansion for AIDS fundraisers. When straight readers sent in angry letters about Beaumont’s sci fi depiction of straight people having to sneak into dark barrooms to find someone to love, Hefner was quick to reply. “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society,” he wrote, “then the reverse was wrong, too.”

But the greatest boon to Hefner and his Playboy Enterprises—and hence the goose that jump-started the sexual revolution and the sexual liberation movement was a gay lawsuit that reached the US Supreme Court—ONE Inc. v. Olesen, the landmark lawsuit that the gay publication, ONE Magazine, was not obscene and could therefore be sent through the US Post Office.

“ONE filled a very critical role for gays and lesbians during a very dark time,” BoxTurtleBulletin founder Jim Burroway wrote on January 13th, 2008, the 50th anniversary of the first gay victory at the Supreme Court on January 13, 1958.

Sen. Joe McCarthy and chief deputy Roy Cohen

ONE’s 1953 debut coincided with a major anti-gay push by the federal government, with President Dwight D. Eisenhower siding with communist and gay-hunter, Sen. Joe McCarthy, who framed gays as a subversive national security risk and a threat to the country’s moral fiber. Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450 included a “sexual perversion” clause that prohibited gays and lesbians from federal employment; homosexuality was a crime in every state and considered a mental illness.

J. Edgar Hoover launched a major FBI crackdown on every aspect of homosexuality, from entrapment stings to confiscating and trying to shut down publications such as ONE Magazine, which was sold in gay bars and by subscription. The FBI, Burroway writes, “went so far as to write to the employers of ONE’s editors and writers (they all depended on their day jobs for income), saying that their employees were ‘deviants’ and ‘security risks.’ Fortunately, no one lost their jobs, the FBI decided it wasn’t worth their time, and ONE continued publishing.”

The U.S. Post Office then took up the mantle, with the Los Angeles branch checking each issue before shipping. In August 1953, postal authorities held up the issue on “Homosexual Marriage” for three weeks to check if it violated federal laws. It didn’t and it was released. ONE sniped back in the October issue, saying on the cover “ONE is not grateful”:

“It is true that this decision is historic. Never before has a governmental agency of this size admitted that homosexuals not only have legal rights but might have respectable motives as well. The admission is welcome, but it’s tardy and far from enough. As we sit around quietly like nice little ladies and gentlemen gradually educating the public and the courts at our leisure, thousands of homosexuals are being unjustly arrested, blackmailed, fined, jailed, intimidated, beaten, ruined and murdered.”

The victory was short-lived. Having seen a copy of the March 1954 issue—“The Importance of Being Different”— Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Alexander Wiley (R-WI), wrote a protest letter to U.S. Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield, registering a “vigorous protest against the use of the United States mails to transmit a so-called ‘magazine’ devoted to the advancement of sexual perversions.” Allowing a homosexual magazine to operate, he wrote, “(a) runs utterly contrary to every moral principle, (b) runs utterly contrary to our intentions to safeguard our nation’s youngsters, (c) likewise, it is the very opposite of the entire purpose of our governmental security program…”

ONE tried not to get shut down through government censorship, having their young straight lawyer, Eric Julber, to write rules to avoid conflict. But the October 1954 issue featured a fictional short story entitled “Sappho Remembered,” in which two young lovers touched four times and declared their love—and, most deplorable—the story had a happy, not dire or suicidal ending. The issue also featured a snarky poem about the gay arrests of British notable and two ads postal authorities construed as promoting obscenity.

LA postal officials seized the “You Can’t Print It!” issue and, Burroway reports, “charged the editors with violating the 1873 Comstock Act, which prohibited sending ‘obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious’ material through the mail.”

Broke, ONE’s editors waited a year to sue, with Julber,30, taking the case pro bono. The ACLU, which was still defending anti-sodomy laws at the time, refused to help. Julber flew solo and it didn’t go well as he argued that ONE Magazine was not pornographic but educational. In March 1956, the judge ruled for the Post Office, as did the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February 1957, writing that the magazine “has a primary purpose of exciting lust, lewd and lascivious thoughts and sensual desires in the minds of persons reading it.”

Julber filed his petition with the Supreme Court on June 13, 1957. He argued that lower courts had allowed publications advocating nudism, so why did the 9th Circuit “singled out and discriminated against” ONE because it dealt with homosexuality?

In fact, Hefner’s HMH Publishing Company sued the US Post Office in 1955 because Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield deemed Playboy obscene and prohibited its distribution through the mail. Hefner won and received $100,000 in damages, as well as Playboy being granted a “B” class permit to operate without the risk of government censorship.

In a quirk of fate, the Supreme Court had been dealing with the issue of obscenity in Roth v. the United States. New York book dealer Samuel Roth was appealing his conviction for selling and mailing sexually explicit books, circulars and advertising. The Justices upheld his conviction in a 6-3 decision, but narrowed the definition of obscenity, which is not constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment.

“All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests; but implicit in the history of the First Amendment is the rejection of obscenity as utterly without redeeming social importance,” wrote Justice William J. Brennan, adding that “Sex and obscenity are not synonymous.”

The Court handed down its ruling on June 24, 1957, 11 days after Julber filed his petition. The Court took ONE’s case and rendered a one-sentence ruling in ONE Incorporated vs Olesen on January 13, 1958, reversing the 9th Circuit decision, expanding the First Amendment and limiting the Comstock Act. No longer branded “obscene,” ONE Magazine—and similar magazines—could be sent through the mail without legal action taken by the Post Office.

ONE editors noted this coverage from The New York Times: “The court today reversed a post office ban on a magazine, One, which deals with homosexuality. The petition for review filed by the lawyer, Eric Julber of Los Angeles, had apparently raised only one question: was the magazine ‘obscene’ within the statute banning importation of obscene matter? The court’s order appeared to answer: No.”

Hefner existed in a parallel universe, with Playboy Magazine, like ONE Magazine, also considered “smut” by the moral arbiters at the Post Office. And despite Hefner’s earlier win—and despite ONE Magazine’s win in January, by November 1958, the Post Office was after Hefner again, this time trying to ban the “lewd” Playboy from the mail system entirely. Hefner got a restraining order, which enabled him to keep distributing Playboy, while he continued to challenge the Post Office through the courts. Hefner won his lawsuit at the Supreme court, HMH Publishing vs the US Post Office in 1959.

ONE Magazine writer and editor Jim Kepner said Hefner was always grateful for the legal victory achieved by ONE Magazine at the Supreme Court, which paved the way for his victory—and for the sexual revolution. And gays were grateful, too, for the Playboy Forum that allowed them to see themselves as human beings, not society’s deviants.

Indeed, one can almost say that gays bought Playboy for the articles.

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California

Governor Newsom launches resources website: ready.ca.gov 

With the unofficial start of summer, Newsom today is highlighting how the state is preparing for summer emergencies, extreme heat, and fires

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Governor Newsom with emergency managers at Cal OES. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – With seasonal challenges on the horizon as temperatures increase and Californians head outside, Governor Gavin Newsom visited the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) today to announce ready.ca.gov – a new, one-stop shop for Californians to prepare for emergencies and extreme weather.

The new website is part of Listos California, which is a state effort that connects communities with resources before, during and after emergencies. 

During his visit to Cal OES, the Governor was briefed by emergency managers on the administration’s preparedness for summer and peak wildfire season, including progress made in building forest resilience to catastrophic wildfires, firefighter staffing levels and firefighting fleet readiness, and the administration’s Extreme Temperature Response Plan that was developed to coordinate an all-hands response by government to mitigate the state’s most deadly natural weather event.

“California is prepared for summer and peak wildfire season — with a surge in firefighters and equipment, better forest management, and one of the most tried and tested emergency management systems in the world. Make sure your family is prepared too. Visit ready.ca.gov — a new resource to help keep Californians safe this weekend and all summer long,” said
Governor Newsom.

Combined with a comprehensive suite of translated messaging and materials, Listos California at Cal OES continues to uplift life-saving messages through interactive, community-based tactics, including peer-to-peer phone banking efforts, in-person events, and door-to-door engagements. 

Preparing for Memorial Day weekend & summer

Extreme heat preparation: Listos California recently kicked off its summer season campaign efforts, beginning with its Wildfire Awareness Campaign in rural communities. Community leaders are encouraged to sign up for local emergency alerts and share these resources with family, friends and neighbors to build resiliency and help communities stay safe this summer.

Snowmelt & swift water preparedness: California’s waterways can conceal dangers below the surface. With a melting snowpack, the volume and speed of the water are creating hazardous conditions. Across the Administration, state departments and agencies are promoting swift water safety and drowning prevention messaging in honor of the summer season. Water safety messages in more than a dozen languages can be found at Listos California.

Wildfire & emergency preparedness: CAL FIRE has worked to reduce the risk of fires all year round, including increased fire prevention efforts, better firefighting technology and resources, and community preparedness initiatives. In 2023, there was a 93.87% reduction in structures destroyed compared to 2022. Potential mega-fires were kept small, protecting communities and limiting smoke impacts and CAL FIRE met its 100,000-acre goal for fuel reduction activities for the fourth straight year. Through the Ready for Wildfire initiative, Californians can learn the necessary steps to prepare their homes to be better prepared if a wildfire strikes.

Roadway safety: Heading into Memorial Day, the California Highway Patrol is initiating a statewide Maximum Enforcement Period from Friday to Monday to address the expected surge in holiday travelers on California roads. In 2023 over the holiday weekend, 46 people were killed in crashes and more than 1,100 arrested for driving under the influence throughout the state.

ready.ca.gov

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West Hollywood

WeHo City kicks off WeHo Pride with José Sarria Drag Pageant

The City kicked off WeHo Pride festivities with the annual Harvey Milk Day events celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community

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City of West Hollywood kicks off WeHo Pride with José Sarria Drag Pageant for Harvey Milk Day. (Photo: Mike Pingel/WEHO TIMES)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood kicked off WeHo Pride festivities with the annual Harvey Milk Day events celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.

Organized by the City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle and is co-sponsored by the Imperial Court and by Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, Third District, the second annual José Sarria Drag Pageant took place on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

José Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for office in the United States, helped pave the way for Harvey Milk’s successful run for office, was a well-known drag performer under the name the Window Norton, and founded the International Imperial Court System, which is one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ organizations in the world. The Drag Pageant competition will be hosted by West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle, and several drag icons will be honored. Judges will include Queen Mother Karina Samala and Emperor Eugene Maysky of the Imperial Court, Landon Cider, Anil Patel, Nyx, and Kyra Jete.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Pageant contestants included Queen Angelina, Bilella Fierce, Cruella Brazil, Bych Nastee, and Linda Recessionista. They were judged on presentation, talent and personality.

Pickle announced the winner at the end of the pageantry. And that winner is… Queen Angelina!

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

In addition to the Drag Pageant, the event will include a voter registration table, a Harvey Milk photo opportunity, and typewriter poetry provided by Pride Poets. Pride Poets is a cohort of LGBTQ poets who create custom poetry for the public on typewriters. Pride Poets was founded by former West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace for the City’s LGBTQ Arts Festival in 2019. The participation of Pride Poets in this event is funded by a City of West Hollywood Arts Grant.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

WeHo Pride Weekend will take place from Friday, May 31, 2024 to Sunday, June 2, 2024 and, in addition to the WeHo Pride Parade, will include the free WeHo Pride Street Fair; WeHo Pride Presents Friday Night at OUTLOUD; the OUTLOUD Music Festival; the Women’s Freedom Festival; the Dyke March; and more.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place from Friday, June 14, 2024 to Sunday, June 16, 2024. WeHo Pride celebrations will include a diverse array of LGBTQ community group programming from May 22 to June 30 as part of visibility, expression, and celebration.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival is organized by the City’s Arts Division. The City of West Hollywood is committed to providing accessible arts programming for residents and visitors and the City’s Arts Division delivers a broad array of arts programs including Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Urban Art Program (permanent public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, the WeHo Reads literary series, Free Theatre in the Parks, Arts Grants for Nonprofit Arts Organizations, Library Exhibits and Programming, the City Poet Laureate Program, Drag Laureate, Drag Story Hour, Human Rights Speakers Series and the WeHo Pride Arts Festival Weekend. For additional information, please visit www.weho.org/arts.

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the nation. Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people and allies from around the world traditionally make West Hollywood their regular destination during Pride season.

OUTLOUD Music Festival information is posted at www.weareoutloud.com.

Additional information about WeHo Pride 2024 is posted at www.wehopride.com.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist.

His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Southern California

Triple A: Memorial Day travelers get a break at the pump

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.15, which is nine cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Gas prices continued downward for a fifth straight week, giving some Southern California Memorial Day travelers the chance to fill up for about $4.50 a gallon or even less in a few areas, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.15, which is nine cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.61, which is one cent higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.11 per gallon, which is ten cents less than last week, 27 cents less than last month, and 25 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.13, which is ten cents lower than last week, 23 cents lower than last month, and 29 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.16, which is five cents lower than last week, 17 cents lower than last month, and 30 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.02, which is ten cents lower than last week, 28 cents lower than last month and 25 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.17 average price is five cents less than last week, 15 cents less than last month, and 36 cents higher than a year ago today.

“With an all-time record number of Southern California travelers expected for this Memorial Day getaway weekend, the gas price drops are providing some welcome relief,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Those travelers who are planning out-of-state trips should expect to pay even less when they fuel up for their return, since California continues to be the only U.S. state with a gas price average above $5 a gallon.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on May 23, averages are:

052324 FINAL CHART CA

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

Meet Fabian, an artist, an advocate and Founder/Executive Director of the Homeboy Art Academy. Fabian and his team are bringing hope and healing through art thanks to the support of LA County’s Creative Recovery Grant, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan.

LA County is using $1.9 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to address LA County’s most urgent inequities. Visit LACountyandYou.com to see more stories from people who have received support to help themselves, their families and business get equitably back on their feet.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

LA County Rent Relief Program is Now Open 

Following a successful initial launch, the Los Angeles County Rent Relief Program is set to open for a second round of applications. Landlords affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to receive up to $30,000 per rental unit to cover past-due rent and other eligible expenses incurred since April 1, 2022.

The application window is open through Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at 4:59 p.m. To learn more about the eligibility criteria, and to receive a direct link to the application when it goes live, visit the LA County Rent Relief Program website at lacountyrentrelief.com.

At Your Service

Supporting Young Learners

LA County Library is excited to introduce the new Summer Stars tutoring program, which offers free in-person tutoring for students in grades 1-6. This initiative aims to provide extra support in reading and math to help young learners excel.

The Summer Stars tutoring program features two 4-week sessions:

  • Session 1: Reading, June 18 – July 11, 2024
  • Session 2: Math, July 16 – August 8, 2024

Sessions run from Tuesday to Thursday each week. Appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and space is limited.

For more information and to complete an interest form, visit LACountyLibrary.org/summer-stars.

Out and About

Tribute to Veterans and Military Families

Join Los Angeles County this weekend for a special day in support of those who’ve served. The event includes a ceremony honoring veterans, resource fair, equipment displays, food trucks, live music, and lots of family fun!

Admission and parking are FREE.

Saturday, May 25, 2024 | 10 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Arcadia County Park
405 S Santa Anita Ave, Arcadia, California 91006

Photo Finish

(Photo Credit: Los Angeles County/Mayra Beltran Vasquez)

Join in on all the fun at the LA County Fair. Don’t miss out – this is the final weekend of the 2024 season!

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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California

1,000+ reported acts of hate in first year of Calif. vs hate hotline

This reporting system is 1st of its kind – operating separately from law enforcement & partnering with community organizations across Calif.

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California Civil Rights Department officials and other stakeholders come together for a press conference on May 22, 2023 to launch CA vs Hate. (Photo courtesy of the California Civil Rights Department)

SACRAMENTO – The California Civil Rights Department (CRD), alongside state and community partners, today released new data highlighting the impact of California vs Hate in its first year of operation and announced new and ongoing initiatives to combat hate across the state.

Officially launched a year ago this month by Governor Gavin Newsom, CA vs Hate is the state’s first-ever multilingual statewide hotline and online portal that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts. In the first full year of operation, initial data submitted to CRD shows approximately 1,020 acts of hate reported to the hotline.

“CA vs Hate is about recognizing and protecting the incredible diversity of our state and sending a clear message that hate will never be tolerated,” said Governor Newsom.

“When California was confronted by an alarming increase in hate, we didn’t just sit back and hope it got better,” said CRD Director Kevin Kish. “We came together and launched an array of nation-leading programs to ensure all our communities feel welcome and protected. I’m incredibly proud of our state’s resilience and commitment to a California for all. This work is only just beginning, but it would not be possible without the advocacy of our community partners and the foresight of our state’s Administration and Legislature. With CA vs Hate, we’re doing our part to ensure that when people report they get support.”

Many hate crimes have historically gone unreported due to a variety of factors, including fear of retaliation, lack of culturally competent resources, concern around potential immigration consequences, and distrust of law enforcement. CA vs Hate aims to help address some of these issues by offering people targeted for hate — and their communities — additional resources to report acts of hate through a community-centered approach that does not require engagement with the criminal legal system.

Hotline services are confidential and provided for free, regardless of immigration status. CA vs Hate accepts all reports of hate and is not limited to only receiving reports that are criminal in nature. Whether individuals report to CA vs Hate online or by phone, they are eligible to receive ongoing care coordination to ensure people impacted by hate are able to access resources and support, including legal, financial, mental health, and mediation services.

As part of the effort to make CA vs Hate as inclusive and easy-to-use as possible, individuals who report an act of hate can remain anonymous and, recognizing that hate can target multiple aspects of a person’s identity, may select multiple bias motivations related to the report. To the extent that individuals who report are comfortable doing so, CA vs Hate staff engage extensively with them through initial contacts over the phone or follow up care coordination to better understand the incident and services needed.

In the first full year of operation, initial data submitted to CRD shows approximately 1,020 acts of hate reported to the hotline, across nearly 80% of the state’s counties. 

For a subset of 560 reports where data were further validated by CA vs Hate staff, the most cited bias motivations included:

  • race and ethnicity (35.1%)
  • gender identity (15.1%)
  • sexual orientation (10.8%)

Most common reasons for reporting: 

  • Discriminatory treatment 18.4% 
  • Verbal harassment 16.7% 
  • Derogatory names or slurs 16.7%

Most common locations where incidents occurred: 

  • Residential 29.9% 
  • Workplace 9.7% 

More granular data verified through that process is also included below. While CA vs Hate data serves as an important indicator, the hotline is new, and the data should not be treated as being representative of all acts of hate in California. In all, people who reported to CA vs Hate were directed to more than 100 different forms of resources and support. In the first full year of operation, CA vs Hate:

  • Had 2,118 contacts from members of the public seeking assistance — including non-hate related reports — and directed people to resources, regardless of whether a report was tied to an act of hate. Of those contacts:
  • The most common reasons cited for the reports were discriminatory treatment (18.4%), verbal harassment (16.7%), and derogatory names or slurs (16.7%).
  • The most common location types for where an incident occurred were residential (29.9%), workplace (9.7%), and public facilities (9.1%).
  • Received 1,020 actual reports of hate based on the information provided by the individual reporting the act. Of those reports:
  • Roughly four out of six people agreed to follow up for care coordination services, including direct and ongoing support accessing legal aid or counseling.
  • Nearly 80% of California’s counties were represented, including all 10 of the state’s most populated counties.
  • Further validated bias motivation information for 560 reports through additional CA vs Hate staff review. Of those reports:
  • Race and ethnicity (35.1%), gender identity (15.1%), and sexual orientation (10.8%) were the most cited bias motivations.
  • Anti-Black (26.8%), anti-Latino (15.4%), and anti-Asian (14.3%) bias were the most cited reasons for reports related to race and ethnicity.

As reported hate crimes have risen in recent years, California has led the charge in responding through increased grant funding, innovative programs, and expansive outreach efforts across state government and in collaboration with community-based organizations.

These partnerships — whether through the Stop the Hate Program or Ethnic Media Outreach Grants — are critical to CA vs Hate’s success. As CA vs Hate continues to grow, the program is launching new initiatives and building on existing efforts aimed at strengthening the hotline’s statewide support network and improving access to resources for all of California’s diverse communities. These ongoing or upcoming efforts include:

Outreach Campaigns

  • Kicking off CA vs Hate’s first-ever billboard campaign to support increased awareness of the hotline and available resources across half a dozen cities.
  • Launching targeted outreach materials to support increased access to CA vs Hate resources for historically hard-to-reach and underserved Californians, including new digital assets developed in coordination with tribal partners and members of the AAPI community.
  • Developing new pathways to reach members of the public, including through a digital ad partnership with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and in-person event engagement with California-based sports teams.

Capacity Building

  • Launching a partnership with UC Berkeley’s Possibility Lab to support increased data collection and analysis going forward.
  • Exploring the launch of a text-responsive reporting option to support increased access to the CA vs Hate hotline.
  • Stepping up statewide coordination efforts through ongoing collaboration with United Against Hate Week.

Community Engagement

  • Bolstering community-specific engagement through the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act grant to ensure communities most targeted for hate have access to resources, including a new partnership with California Black Media.
  • Establishing new quarterly meetings with city and county government partners to support increased responsiveness to local communities and build on existing feedback mechanisms in place for community-based organizations.
  • Standing up a coalition of faith-based leaders from a range of backgrounds to better address acts of hate targeting Californians on the basis of religion.

Information about the hotline and online portal:

CA vs Hate is a non-emergency, multilingual hate crime and incident reporting hotline and online portal. Reports can be made anonymously by calling (833) 866-4283, or 833-8-NO-HATE, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT or online at any time.

Hate acts can be reported in 15 different languages through the online portal and in over 200 languages when calling the hotline.

For individuals who want to report a hate crime to law enforcement immediately or who are in imminent danger, please call 911.

For more information on CA vs Hate, please visit CAvsHate.org.

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San Diego

LGBTQ+ clubs targeted in San Diego pellet gun attacks

SDPD are investigating the multiple incidences from Saturday morning & also cannot yet confirm whether this was motivated by anti-LGBTQ hate

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Los Angeles Blade/file photo

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department said that multiple establishments in the Hillcrest and North Park neighborhoods that serve LGBTQ+ patrons were targeted by an unknown suspect or suspects in a dark-colored sedan early Saturday morning.

According to the San Diego Police Dept., they received reports of a pellet gun being fired out of a vehicle just after 1 a.m. Saturday morning. As of Sunday evening, the locations police could confirm were shot by the assailant were Rich’s, The Rail, #1 on Fifth Avenue and PECS in the Hillcrest and North Park neighborhoods.

SDPD confirmed that one of these incidents struck three people outside Rich’s Nightclub and hospitalized one.

Witnesses told San Diego CBS affiliate KFMB-TV8 it appeared to be a BMW, but police have not released an official suspect or vehicle description.  

In an interview with CBS 8, Eddie Reynoso, a host at Rich’s said that he was standing outside and turned when he heard someone yelling expletives at the patrons outside the bar. Reynoso saw what he believed to be an AK-47 and hear myriad rounds being shot off. 

He tried to crouch but it was too late. 

“I get hit directly in the eye,” he said. ” I feel something kinda like explode almost like something popped. And by then I was already falling to the ground. In my mind, I thought I just got shot through the eye and my eye just flew out.”

He said it wasn’t the first time Rich has been the target of a crime like this. And he’s confident it won’t be the last. 

A man named Abel was also hit with at least five pellets at Rich’s. He said he’s glad everyone is safe. 

“It was still scary,” he said. “It was traumatic.” 

At The Rail in Hillcrest, Donny Hurry, a security guard told CBS 8 he saw someone shooting out of the car’s back window. The suspect started shooting at him, and he ducked into the building before he realized it wasn’t a real gun. 

Hurry had been hit in the arms and back multiple times but tried to run back out to get a description of the suspect of the vehicle. 

SDPD are investigating the multiple incidences from Saturday morning, but are not specifying whether the non-lethal rounds were pellets or paintballs.

Police also cannot yet confirm whether this was motivated by anti-LGBTQ hate. 

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Long Beach

41st Annual Long Beach Pride Celebration drew tens of thousands

The parade drew tens of thousands along its route on Ocean Boulevard between Lindero and Alamitos avenues in downtown Long Beach

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Long Beach Police Chief Wally Hebeish & officers march in the 41st Annual Long Beach Pride Parade. (Screenshot/YouTube)

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The 41st Annual Long Beach Pride Celebration & Parade weekend kicked off on Friday with a Teen Pride celebration which was held from 5 p.m. till it ended at 9 p.m.  The theme for Pride this year was Rhythm of the Rainbow.

The Long Beach Pride festival opened at 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday at Rainbow Lagoon, 386 E. Shoreline Drive.

Photo Credit: California Attorney General Rob Bonta

The Pride Festival offers hundreds of arts and crafts vendors, disc jockeys, dancing, drag shows and more. Reggaeton star Ivy Queen will headline Sunday and Valentina of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” TV series will also appear.

Also on Sunday the 41st Annual Long Beach Pride Parade, broadcast by NBC4 and Telemundo 52, drew tens of thousands along the parade route on Ocean Boulevard between Lindero and Alamitos avenues in downtown Long Beach.

Among the celebrants was California Attorney General Rob Bonta who posted on X (formerly Twitter): “Had a great time at the Long Beach Pride parade with Vice Mayor Cindy Allen.   In California, we work tirelessly to protect and defend our LGBTQ+ communities all year long—not just the month of June.”

Watch coverage of the 41st Annual Long Beach Pride Parade from NBC4-LA here: (Link)

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood in brief- City government in action this week

Older Adults Health Fair, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Foster Care Panel Discussion, Kings Street Design Concept Plan plus more

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Photo by Paulo Murillo

Older Adults Health Fair on Tuesday, May 21 at Plummer Park

WEST HOLLYWOOD – To celebrate Older Adults Month, the City of West Hollywood will host its 19th Annual West Hollywood Older Adults Health Fair on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Plummer Park’s Community Center, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. Admission is free; no RSVP is required.

The Older Adults Health Fair is a no-cost event co-sponsored by Cedars-Sinai and Jewish Family Service LA. The event will feature health screenings, information from more than 25 health and social services community partners, vaccinations, a Human Library activity, complimentary lunch while supplies last, giveaways, and more. Local organizations will provide health and social services information, Cedars-Sinai will conduct health screenings, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will administer COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.

Limited free parking is available at the Plummer Park parking lots, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue/ N. Vista Street at the north end of the park. There are also paid parking meters in the surrounding area.

The City of West Hollywood provides free transportation to Plummer Park through its Cityline service. Cityline is a friendly and accessible alternative to the larger bus system and all shuttles are ADA-accessible. Cityline operates Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and shuttles arrive approximately every 30 minutes. For additional information and a detailed route map, visit www.weho.org/cityline — route maps are also available on Cityline shuttles and at West Hollywood City Hall, located at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard.

For more information about the Older Adults Health Fair, please contact Becca Lubin, City of West Hollywood Strategic Initiatives Program Administrator, at (323) 848-6518 or at [email protected]

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The City of West Hollywood joins organizations and mental health advocates across the nation in recognizing the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to work together to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support the millions of people living with mental illness and their families.

In commemoration of the month, from Wednesday May 15, 2024 through Wednesday, May 29, 2024, West Hollywood City Hall will be lit green, the color of recognition for mental health awareness month.

Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 and was started by Mental Health America (MHA). Mental illness affects more than 50 million people in the United States. According to the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five U.S. adults experiences a mental health condition each year. Annually, mental illness affects; 16% of Asian adults; 21% of Black/African American adults; 18% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults; 21% of Hispanic adults; 27% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults; 24% of White adults; 35% of multiracial adults and 50% of LGBTQ adults.

The impacts of mental health challenges are significant among youth. One in six U.S. youth experiences a mental health condition each year, and only half of them receive treatment. Data also shows that mental health treatment, i.e. therapy, medication and selfcare has made recovery a reality for most people from mental illness.  People receiving treatment in a given year are 47% of adults with mental illness, 65% of adults with severe mental illness and 51% of youth (6-17) with a mental health condition. Last year 56% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults with a mental health diagnosis received treatment or counseling.

Mental Health Action Day was founded to shift mental health culture from awareness to action. Now in its fourth year, this global movement is powered by a growing coalition of more than 2,300 nonprofits, leading brands, government agencies, and cultural leaders that spread the message that, just like our physical health, we can take actions to improve our mental health.  This year’s call to action is to dedicate one hour to social connection. For more information about how to participate in Mental Health Action Day go to www.mentalhealthaction.network

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, connect to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24/7 by calling or texting 988 or connect to emergency community services by calling 211. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. 

 Those in need of mental health support or connections should reach out to the following resources for assistance:

  • APLA Health – West Hollywood provides individual and group therapy sessions to assist with a variety of concerns including depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma. Contact (213) 201-1369 or visit https://aplahealth.org/
  • Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services provides counseling, psychiatric services, medication support and substance abuse programs at various sites. Contact the 24/7 Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255 or (888) 807-7259 or visit www.didihirsch.org.
  • Jewish Family Services Comprehensive Service Center provides social services programming for seniors and people with disabilities that includes counseling, psychiatry, and case management. Contact (323) 851-8202
    or visit www.jfsla.org.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) directly operates more than 80 programs and contracts with more than 700 providers who provide a spectrum of mental health services to people of all ages.  Contact the 24/7 Help Line at (800) 854-7771, or text “LA” to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor via text message, or visit https://dmh.lacounty.gov/.
  • Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Mental Health Services team provides counseling, group support, addiction recovery, and psychiatry services for LGBT and non-LGBT individuals for issues including depression, anxiety, domestic violence/intimate partner violence, and substance use. Contact (323) 993-7669 or visit www.lalgbtcenter.org
  • Maple Counseling provides free and low-cost comprehensive mental health services to individuals of all ages, couples, and families. Contact (310) 271-9999 or visit www.maple4counseling.org
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  provides free education, support, and advocacy. The NAMI Westside Los Angeles Chapter can be reached by contacting (310) 889-7200 or visiting www.namila.org
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) website at www.ncadv.org offers comprehensive and inclusive information for all about warning signs of domestic and intimate partner violence and abuse, including psychological abuse, and how to get help. NCADV runs the National Domestic Violence Hotline website at www.thehotline.org, which offers immediate help to everyone  24/7/365 via the “chat now” button on the website or by calling (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or texting LOVEIS to 22522, and for people who are Deaf/hard of hearing: (855) 812-1011 (VP) or (800) 787-3224 (TTY).
  • Saban Community Clinic provides individual therapy and support groups for stress, anxiety, and more to help develop practical coping skills. Contact (323) 653-1990 or visit www.sabancommunityclinic.org.
  • The Trevor Project provides confidential and free crisis counseling, information & support to LGBTQ young people 24/7, all year round. Contact (866) 488-7386, or text 678-678, or via online chat at www.thetrevorproject.org.

The City of West Hollywood’s Human Services Division website area provides information about available local mental health services and resources at https://www.weho.org/services/human-services/mental-health or contact staff at (323) 848-6510. 

The City of West Hollywood’s Recreation Services Division provides information about quality leisure service experiences that promote health and wellness at https://www.weho.org/community/recreation-services including the City’s Be Well WeHo program designed to support physical and mental health at any age.

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, please contact Larissa Fooks, the City of West Hollywood’s Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6413 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood will Host a Foster Care Panel Discussion

The City of West Hollywood will host a free panel discussion that will focus on the effective practices and challenges within the foster care system and the transformative power and compassion of fostering.

The panel discussion will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. It aims to bring further awareness to issues impacting foster youth during May, which is National Foster Care Awareness Month. The panel will bring together diverse perspectives including professionals who work to support the foster youth population in various capacities.  

The discussion will be moderated by Dawn McCoy, a children’s advocate and founder of the Loving Way Foundation. The Loving Way Foundation’s mission is focused on ending child abuse through advocacy, awareness, and visibility while bettering the lives of impacted children.

Panelists will include:

  • Bonnie Sharpe, Director of Programs at Extraordinary Families, whose mission is to help children and youth in foster care to have the childhoods and futures they rightfully deserve.
  • Mario Gonzalez, Academic Services Manager at Foster Love whose mission is to improve the lives of children in foster care by providing essential resources and educational opportunities.
  • Jody Giles, Director of Philanthropy at Catalyst Family Office, an organization that supports philanthropic endeavors to help drive meaningful change. 
  • Nova Bright-Williams, Head of Internal Training, Learning & Development, at The Trevor Project whose mission is to provide lifesaving and life-affirming services to LGBTQ young people.
  • Shiré Wortham, Social Worker at Alliance for Children’s Rights whose mission is to protect the rights of children in poverty and those overcoming abuse and neglect by delivering free legal services, supportive programs, and systemic solutions.

May marks National Foster Care Month, a pivotal time to raise awareness regarding the needs of more than 391,000 children and young individuals within foster care. The month is a time to raise awareness of issues related to foster care and acknowledge the parents, family members, foster parents, child welfare, and related professionals, mentors, policymakers, and other community members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

National Foster Care Month is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the overrepresentation of LGBTQ youth in child welfare, 30% of whom identify as LGBTQ. LGBTQ youth who face family rejection and maltreatment are often forced out of their homes, or will run away, become homeless, or enter the foster care system.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Del Toro, the City of West Hollywood’s Community and Legislative Affairs Supervisor, at (323) 848-6549 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood will Kick Off WeHo Pride Season Beginning on May 22, Harvey Milk Day

Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community by kicking off WeHo Pride season with an annual Harvey Milk Day event.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 6 p.m. Pride Starts Here with the second annual José Sarria Drag Pageant. The event is organized by the City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle and is co-sponsored by the Imperial Court and by Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, Third District. It will take place at the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck, located at 8750 El Tovar Place, adjacent to West Hollywood Library. The event is free to attend; advance RSVPs are requested at https://HarveyMilk2024.eventbrite.com.

José Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for office in the United States, helped pave the way for Harvey Milk’s successful run for office, was a well-known drag performer under the name the Window Norton, and founded the International Imperial Court System, which is one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ organizations in the world. The Drag Pageant competition will be hosted by West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle, and several drag icons will be honored. Judges will include Queen Mother Karina Samala and Emperor Eugene Maysky of the Imperial Court, Landon Cider, Anil Patel, Nyx, and Kyra Jete. 

In addition to the Drag Pageant, the event will include a voter registration table, a Harvey Milk photo opportunity, and typewriter poetry provided by Pride Poets. Pride Poets is a cohort of LGBTQ poets who create custom poetry for the public on typewriters. Pride Poets was founded by former West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace for the City’s LGBTQ Arts Festival in 2019. The participation of Pride Poets in this event is funded by a City of West Hollywood Arts Grant.

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the nation. Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people and allies from around the world traditionally make West Hollywood their regular destination during Pride season.

WeHo Pride Weekend will take place from Friday, May 31, 2024 to Sunday, June 2, 2024 and, in addition to the WeHo Pride Parade, will include the free WeHo Pride Street Fair; WeHo Pride Presents Friday Night at OUTLOUD; the OUTLOUD Music Festival; the Women’s Freedom Festival; the Dyke March; and more. The WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place from Friday, June 14, 2024 to Sunday, June 16, 2024. WeHo Pride celebrations will include a diverse array of LGBTQ community group programming from May 22 to June 30 as part of visibility, expression, and celebration.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival is organized by the City’s Arts Division. The City of West Hollywood is committed to providing accessible arts programming for residents and visitors and the City’s Arts Division delivers a broad array of arts programs including Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Urban Art Program (permanent public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, the WeHo Reads literary series, Free Theatre in the Parks, Arts Grants for Nonprofit Arts Organizations, Library Exhibits and Programming, the City Poet Laureate Program, Drag Laureate, Drag Story Hour, Human Rights Speakers Series and the WeHo Pride Arts Festival Weekend. For additional information, please visit www.weho.org/arts

Additional information about WeHo Pride 2024 is posted at www.wehopride.com. OUTLOUD Music Festival information is posted at www.weareoutloud.com. Follow @wehopride on  Instagram and Facebook and follow @officiallyoutloud on Instagram and Facebook. Sign up for WeHo Pride text updates by texting “Pride” to (323) 848-5000.

Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. No other city of its size has had a greater impact on the national public policy discourse on fairness and inclusiveness for LGBTQ people. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, the City consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation.

More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and four of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay. The City has advocated for nearly 40 years for measures that support LGBTQ individuals and the City is in the vanguard of efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level. #WeHoPride @WeHoCity

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s José Sarria Drag Pageant on Harvey Milk Day or about the WeHo Pride Arts Festival, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator, Mike Che, at (323) 848-6377 or at [email protected] or visit www.wehopride.com/artsfestival.

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

‘Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings Street Design Concept Plan’ Informational Open House at Plummer Park on May 21

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to attend an upcoming Informational Open House to learn more about the Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings Street Design Concept Plan. The purpose of this in-person open house is to provide community members with detailed information regarding the Street Design Concept Plan and share an overview of the project’s steps taken to-date and next steps, moving forward.

The Informational Open House will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at 6 p.m. at the Plummer Park Community Center in Rooms 1 and 2, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. Drop-in; no advance RSVP is needed. Light refreshments will be served. 

The City of West Hollywood’s mobility projects are guided by the adopted Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan, which advocates for comfortable, safe, healthy, and convenient places to walk and bicycle in the context of a balanced, multimodal transportation network serving pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists of all ages and abilities. 

The Street Design Concept Plan was identified as a priority project in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan, and it launched in 2019. The project’s primary objective is to enhance the neighborhood and protect the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists through strategic street improvements across the corridor. This comprehensive streetscape initiative aims to create safer, more accessible routes for walking and biking while effectively reducing cut-through traffic. By transforming Kings Road and Vista/Gardner Streets into key connecting corridors, the Street Design Concept Plan facilitates a seamless link between residential and commercial areas and east-west routes like Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue. This connectivity not only supports a healthier, more active community but also promotes environmental sustainability and enriches local quality of life.

The Street Design Concept Plan is the first project stage in the development of the Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings Street Design Capital Improvement Project. With the recent approval of the Street Design Concept Plan by the West Hollywood City Council, the Plan now moves forward to the Design & Engineering Phase, where concepts will be developed in much more detail. This includes the development and incorporation of detailed engineering plans, specifications, and cost estimates that will serve as the blueprint for project construction. The next stage of the project will determine the feasibility of the conceptual project elements from the Street Design Concept Plan and allow for additional insight into any refinements that may need to be incorporated into the project’s final design. 

The Community Engagement and Plan Development Process to date has included: 

  • The Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings project was identified in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan adopted in 2017, and outreach on the Concept Plan for these streets began with a visioning workshop in Summer 2019. 
  • The project was delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but in August 2022 the City hosted two community virtual workshops. Feedback and survey responses guided recommendations.
  • In 2022, demonstration projects were installed along Willoughby as an alternative way to share ideas and provide community input.
  • In addition to the community workshops, staff also met with residents to share information about the project. City staff attended multiple update meetings with the City of Los Angeles, including Council District 5 and the Mid-City West Neighborhood Council. 
  • As part of the demonstration project and community workshops in 2022, Here LA and the City’s WeHoTV collaborated to put together an engagement video to help community members envision potential street changes and improvements.
  • In April 2023, based on feedback from the community, City staff finalized the report and recommendations to include protected bike lanes along Vista/Gardner, except for the two blocks between Fountain and Lexington, which were excluded due to the potential loss of parking along this segment.
  • Staff presented these recommendations to the Transportation & Mobility Commission in June 2023, and the Commission expressed its support.
  • In November 2023, the West Hollywood City Council directed staff to develop a policy to include protected bike lanes on all roadway projects. Following this directive, staff developed a protected bike lane option for Gardner between Fountain and Lexington.
  • In March 2024, staff presented the Street Design Concept Plan to the West Hollywood City Council with two options for Gardner between Fountain and Lexington, including one with the addition of protected bike lanes.

The City of West Hollywood will be providing additional community outreach opportunities, moving forward, to refine concepts as part of the upcoming Design & Engineering Phase. In particular, the City will be looking for ways to address issues of concern, including minimizing impacts to on-street parking.

For additional information about the Street Design Concept Plan, please visit the Engage WeHo information and feedback page, which is located at https://engage.weho.org/willoughby

For more information, please contact Bob Cheung, City of West Hollywood Senior Transportation Planner, at (323) 848-6346 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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

For up-to-date information about City of West Hollywood news and events, follow @wehocity on social media, sign-up for news updates at www.weho.org/email, and visit the City’s calendar of meetings and events at www.weho.org/calendar.  West Hollywood City Hall is open for walk-in services at public counters or by appointment by visiting www.weho.org/appointments.  City Hall services are accessible by phone at (323) 848-6400 and via website at www.weho.org.  Receive text updates by texting “WeHo” to (323) 848-5000.

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West Hollywood

WeHo will kick off 2024 Pride Season on May 22, Harvey Milk Day

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the nation

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Los Angeles Blade/City of West Hollywood graphic

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community by kicking off WeHo Pride season with an annual Harvey Milk Day event.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 6 p.m. Pride Starts Here with the second annual José Sarria Drag Pageant. The event is organized by the City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle and is co-sponsored by the Imperial Court and by Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, Third District.

It will take place at the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck, located at 8750 El Tovar Place, adjacent to West Hollywood Library. The event is free to attend; advance RSVPs are requested at https://HarveyMilk2024.eventbrite.com.

José Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for office in the United States, helped pave the way for Harvey Milk’s successful run for office, was a well-known drag performer under the name the Window Norton, and founded the International Imperial Court System, which is one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ organizations in the world.

The Drag Pageant competition will be hosted by West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle, and several drag icons will be honored. Judges will include Queen Mother Karina Samala and Emperor Eugene Maysky of the Imperial Court, Landon Cider, Anil Patel, Nyx, and Kyra Jete. 

In addition to the Drag Pageant, the event will include a voter registration table, a Harvey Milk photo opportunity, and typewriter poetry provided by Pride Poets. Pride Poets is a cohort of LGBTQ poets who create custom poetry for the public on typewriters. Pride Poets was founded by former West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace for the City’s LGBTQ Arts Festival in 2019. The participation of Pride Poets in this event is funded by a City of West Hollywood Arts Grant.

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the nation. Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people and allies from around the world traditionally make West Hollywood their regular destination during Pride season.

WeHo Pride Weekend will take place from Friday, May 31, 2024 to Sunday, June 2, 2024 and, in addition to the WeHo Pride Parade, will include the free WeHo Pride Street Fair; WeHo Pride Presents Friday Night at OUTLOUD; the OUTLOUD Music Festival; the Women’s Freedom Festival; the Dyke March; and more.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place from Friday, June 14, 2024 to Sunday, June 16, 2024. WeHo Pride celebrations will include a diverse array of LGBTQ community group programming from May 22 to June 30 as part of visibility, expression, and celebration.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival is organized by the City’s Arts Division. The City of West Hollywood is committed to providing accessible arts programming for residents and visitors and the City’s Arts Division delivers a broad array of arts programs including Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Urban Art Program (permanent public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, the WeHo Reads literary series, Free Theatre in the Parks, Arts Grants for Nonprofit Arts Organizations, Library Exhibits and Programming, the City Poet Laureate Program, Drag Laureate, Drag Story Hour, Human Rights Speakers Series and the WeHo Pride Arts Festival Weekend.

For additional information, please visit www.weho.org/arts

Additional information about WeHo Pride 2024 is posted at www.wehopride.com.

OUTLOUD Music Festival information is posted at www.weareoutloud.com. Follow @wehopride on  Instagram and Facebook and follow @officiallyoutloud on Instagram and Facebook.

Sign up for WeHo Pride text updates by texting “Pride” to (323) 848-5000.

Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. No other city of its size has had a greater impact on the national public policy discourse on fairness and inclusiveness for LGBTQ people. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, the City consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation.

More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and four of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay. The City has advocated for nearly 40 years for measures that support LGBTQ individuals and the City is in the vanguard of efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level. #WeHoPride @WeHoCity

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s José Sarria Drag Pageant on Harvey Milk Day or about the WeHo Pride Arts Festival, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator, Mike Che, at (323) 848-6377 or at [email protected] or visit www.wehopride.com/artsfestival.

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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Los Angeles

RuPaul’s Drag Race Queens hit the Beverly Center

100% of the proceeds from OUTLOUD Presents Pride @ Bev will be donated to OUTWORDS, a LA local nonprofit organization

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OUTLOUD presents Pride @ Bev - Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

By Mike Pingel | LOS ANGELES – The second annual OUTLOUD Presents Pride @ Bev event hit the Beverly Center at 8500 Beverly Boulevard this Saturday for an afternoon of pride experiences with a discussion and special drag performances by Alyssa Edwards, Plane Jane, Laganja Estranja, and Plastique Tiara.

Pride @ Bev offered plenty of freebies, photo ops, and interactive activities like Drag Bingo hosted by Athena Kills, a Beauty Demo hosted by MakeUp Forever, and a Glam Station by Sephora. There were also Photo Moments, a VIP Lounge with bar and bites, and a chance to spin a Beverly Center Wheel for a chance to win VIP passes to the OUTLOUD Music Festival and WeHo Pride. VIP is completely sold out. The only way to get these passes now is to win them.

100% of the proceeds from OUTLOUD Presents Pride @ Bev will be donated to OUTWORDS, a LA local nonprofit organization that captures, preserves, and shares the stories of LGBTQIA2S+ elders to build community and catalyze social change.

OUTLOUD presents Pride @ Bev – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
OUTLOUD presents Pride @ Bev – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

OUTLOUD presents Pride @ Bev – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

OUTLOUD Music Festival, created by Jeff Consoletti, launched in 2020 as a ten-episode series on Facebook in lieu of Pride Celebrations happening in cities across the country due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, quickly becoming one of the first major virtual LGBTQ+ showcases.

Since its debut, OUTLOUD garnered over nearly two billion media impressions and won several industry-topping awards including multiple SHORTY Awards for Best Use of Facebook and Best Use of Twitch, a MARCOM Award & a Cynopsis Digital Award for BEST LGBTQ Series.

Follow @OfficiallyOUTLOUD #WeAreOUTLOUD. http://weareoutloud.com.

The Beverly Center:

Located at the edge of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, Beverly Center features the best in luxury and contemporary retail, along with delectable street level restaurants with everything from modern fresh favorites to fast-casual eateries. Home to over 90 stores, all beneath an impressive skyline, Beverly Center is anchored by Bloomingdale’s & Macy’s and is home to L.A.’s largest collection of luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent, Ferragamo, and trending fashion brands including Mango, Zara and H&M.

For more information, visit beverlycenter.com.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist.

His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.


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