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Rep. Maxine Waters galvanizes Equality California Palm Springs gala 

Black-tie dinner turns into political rally



Maxine Waters, Equality California, Palm Springs

Rep. Maxine Waters (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

The party atmosphere at the Riviera Palm Springs for the Equality Awards on Oct 7 shifted subtly into more of a political rally as the almost sold-out crowd bubbled with enthusiasm waiting for kick-ass Democratic Congress member Maxine Waters to rile the crowd into action.

Palm Springs City Council member Ginny Foat was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which her longtime friend Waters emphasized Foat deserved. The two knew each other from back in the day, working with Bayard Rustin on the iconic March on Washington and pushing Bella Abzug to the fore when they were marching for women’s rights. Foat, Waters said, “has given her life to service.”

Greeted by shouts of “we love you!,” Foat talked about working on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in the summer of 1963. “How could I have known at the time that working along side Bayard Rustin in the New York organizing committee would make an impression that lasted throughout my lifetime and impacted the lives of so many others,” she said. “I’ve been so fortunate to stand at times in our history that have made a difference in all of our lives.”

She worked on a number of marches, including the Oct. 11, 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights (see video excerpt here) and subsequently, with “our dearly departed icon Jean O’Leary and Rob Eichberg to help plan the first National Coming Out Day,” Foat said. “Something I inherently always understood was that one has only as much freedom as has been given to everyone else.”

Palm Springs City Councilmember Ginny Foat with Assembly Member Evan Low (Photo Karen Ocamb)

Foat, who has announced she is not seeking re-election, urged the crowd to get politically involved, especially now with “this violent pretender in the White House.”

“No matter how small or insignificant you think a decision is that you make, you take a stand and fight for what you think is right, do it because only you can change the world,” Foat said. “I will not stand by as my transgender brothers and sisters are discriminated against” or as Trump takes away a woman’s right to make reproductive choices.

“So when you get that call from Equality California – answer it. Or picket or march or phone bank. Do it,” she said. “Know that now, more than ever, we cannot allow these right wing bigots running our country to take away the freedoms that we have worked so hard to achieve.”

Palm Springs City Councilmember Geoff Kors, former executive director of Equality California, and current executive director Rick Zbur, and Kors’ husband James Williamson, member of the Palm Springs School Board hosted the evening, along with event co-chairs Jacqueline Lopez, District Director for State Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Elizabeth F. Romero. Member of the Riverside County Board of Education.

Rep. Mark Takano, EQCA’s Valerie Ploumpis, congressional candidate Katie Porter (Photo Karen Ocamb)

Among the elected officials at the event were Rep. Mark Takano and several members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus,  including Caucus chair Assemblymember Evan Low, State Sen. Scott Wiener and Cathleen Galgiani.

Principal Bernie Marez (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Raymond Cree Middle School was also honored with the Equality For All Award for its anti-bullying programs.  Principal Bernie Marez accepted and some of the students joined several members of the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus for a song.

Gay Men’s Chorus performs at Equality California event in Palm Springs. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Both Kors and Zbur announced the good news that, thanks to a progressive Democratic-controlled State Legislature, and the stunning work of State Sen. Scott Wiener, in particular, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed 15 EQCA-sponsored bills, including controversial bills decriminalizing HIV,  and reforming the sex offender registry to take off gays arrested years ago for simply holding hands in the park. Brown also signed SB 219, a “Bill of Rights” for LGBT seniors who now no longer have to worry about being placed by a long term care facility in a room with a homophobe or transphobe.

Trump’s election, Zbur said, underscores the old adage that “elections matter,” as evidenced by the fact that LGBTs are “now in the fight of our lives.”

Geoff Kors, Dr. Raul Ruiz, Rick Zbur. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Indeed, the national Democratic Party is looking to unseat at least seven Republican incumbents to take back the House while Republicans are trying to unset Democrats they believe are vulnerable, including Rep. Raul Ruiz. Kors described Ruiz as “a champion for our causes.” On Thursday, Trump supporter and soap opera actress Kimberlin Brown announced she is challenging Ruiz.

Also on hand was Katie Porter who is challenging the vulnerable GOP Rep. Mimi Walters. “She is a supporter of Trump’s hateful agenda. She is anti-woman, anti-family and anti-environment,” Porter tells the LA Blade about Walters. “I have spent my whole career fighting for families. I’m a single working mom myself. I understand how hard it is for families to make ends meet and to get along and to take care of each other.”

Though the Palm Springs/Riverside County area has long been considered a conservative/moderate Republican stronghold, some districts are trending Democratic. The commonality of being constantly under threat of having civil rights ignored or taken away may be one reason the room felt almost intimate, as if folks were at a family gathering. It may also explain, along with Equality California’s strong commitment to interesectionality, why so many people of color were so welcomed by the predominately white crowd.

Rick Zbur, Maxine Waters, Scott Wiener, Geoff Kors. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

And then there was Maxine Waters. While enthusiastic or politely attentive for every comment and honoree, the underground pulse of the room was building up to the black-tie and gown rally awaiting “Auntie Maxine.” Besieged LGBT politicos needed a cheerleader and Waters stoked their burning embers.

Waters has been an LGBT ally for decades and her comfort with the crowd felt like a family reunion with long-lost kin. In remarks upon receiving the Geoff Kors Leadership Award, she joked and cajoled and inspired in a fashion also intended to be supportive of a minority community under siege by the Trump administration. “I reclaim my time” became an anthem, as she and the mostly older audience laughed at how Waters did not take any guff from former Hollywood producer Sec. Steve Mnuchin who tried to stall until her time ran out during a House Financial Services committee hearing in July. She was trying to find out why he hadn’t responded to a May letter asking him about financial connections to Russia by President Trump.

Waters mentioned the encounter, then said to uproarious applause: “You haven’t seen anything yet until I get Ben Carson before me. And Betsy DeVoss and Wilbur Ross. I have never seen so many incompetent folks in a cabinet of any president before in my entire life and career. And we’re about to get rid of all of them.”

Waters also noted how important the dramatic shift from an historically pro-LGBT administration to one that is trying to block “patriotic” transgender servicemembers from serving in the Armed Forces must be a shock.

“You have wonderful leaders. You should be extremely proud. You have fought a tremendous battle. You have changed America. Do you realize what you have done?,” she asked. “We know there is still work to be done. But you know, I’m convinced that we can win. There are evenings when I go to bed and I feel quite disgusted in Washington DC, faced with what we’re faced with now. But one good night’s sleep and I’m ready to go at it again.”

She reminded the crowd that early on “I called for impeachment of the President of the United States of America. Not only did I call for it, I’m going to work every day until it gets done,” Waters said. “Countries around the world are looking at us and saying what happened in America? How can it be that Donald Trump is President of the United States of America? And I think many of you wake up every morning saying the same thing. How could it be?”

Using a term that was applauded by Democrats but got Trump opponent Hillary Clinton in trouble, Waters said Trump is “the most deplorable, most despicable human being I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never seen anything like it and I am determined to make sure that this Congress moves aggressively toward impeachment.”

She noted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is gathering more and more information each day “connecting the dots” and “tracking down more and more” about Trump’s connections to Russia, and what Waters believes is “collusion” between Trump and Russian officials to orchestrate the outcome of the 2016 election.

Maxine Waters addresses the crowd at EQCA event in Palm Springs. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

“I am so offended by this president,” Waters said, talking about his vile attitudes towards women during the campaign and how he tried to intimidate Clinton during the debate in St. Louis. She was so offended, “I was determined that I would have nothing to do with him—that I would not try and pretend that somehow he was going to become ‘presidential.’ That will never happen.”

But offense is now deep concern, watching how  Trump is reacting to spats with anyone who disagrees with him. “We cannot help but be concerned about the danger that he is presenting to all of us and to this nation,” she said, referring to his threatening North Korea. “And that will only get us into confrontation and war. And I believe we all have to stand up and speak out, tweet, go on Facebook, do everything that you possibly can to discourage that kind of bluffing.”

Water also spoke directly to the LGBT struggle. “Many of you have paid a terrible price for freedom,” she said, “for being able to live a decent quality of life. Many of you have believed in this democracy, despite the fact that democracy didn’t treat you too well. Many of you woke up every morning not knowing what was going to happen to you in the workplace. And many of you have had to go to bed at night with tears in your eyes because of he lack of equality.”

Water’s message: don’t give up. “Some Democrats says it’s too soon (to talk impeachment). It’s never too soon for justice and equality,” she said. “I honor you and the work you’re doing. Let’s keep up the fight. Let’s stay in it. Let’s understand that we all owe it to ourselves to make sure that America lives up to its promises.”


Palm Springs

Top five events during Palm Springs Pride Week Nov. 2-5

Tickets are not required but a great way to give back by donating to the local nonprofit Pride organization



(Photo Credit: Palm Springs Pride 2023)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Following are the top five events happening during Palm Springs Pride Week Nov 2-5. Make plans now! There’s something for everyone.

Kylie Sonique Love, Nov 5 | 1:50PM

Hornitos Stage

Iconic singer, actress, model, and showgirl Kylie Sonique Love headlines Palm Springs Pride.

Kylie Sonique, Love, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6 Winner and the first transgender person to ever come out on any reality TV show, and the first trans person to win RuPaul’s Drag Race in America, is coming to Palm Springs Pride. Kylie will be on the biggest stage in the biggest venue, headlining Sunday, Nov 5, on the Hornitos Stage at 1:50 p.m.

Other headliners in the lineup include Idina Menzel, Sat, Nov 4 |8PM, 10,000 Maniacs, Sun, Nov 5 |3PM, Lisa Lisa Sat, Nov 4 | 7PM


Featuring White Party Global DJs

Arenas Road between Indian Canyon Drive and Calle Encilia, Palm Springs 

Presented by KGAY 106.5, Gay Desert Guide and White Party Global 

Desert Dry Heat    12:00 PM 
JAE FUSZ   4:00 PM

This block party is a signature event focused on the heart of the Palm Springs gayborhood … a celebration of Pride as well as the symbolic embrace of Arenas Road. LGBTQ+ bars and local businesses pack to the rafters and spill onto the streets for the biggest free LGBTQ+ street party in Palm Springs. The Official Party of Pride features White Party Global DJs DJ JAE FUSZ, and DJ MOHAMMAD. Join Pride revelers and dancers at the open-air beverage lounge. The block party invites residents and visitors to discover all that the Arenas District has to offer. 

Sunday, Nov 5 | 8:30AM

La Crema Wines Pride Parade Stage

Kick off your day with ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor Jase Nagaia in a special workout that’ll get your blood flowing and energy soaring. Groove to good music while enjoying a low impact workout, setting the perfect tone for an unforgettable parade day! 

Embrace the true spirit of pride as we come together in celebration of diversity and inclusion. This event is more than just a workout – it’s a chance to foster unity among all backgrounds and orientations, building connections that go beyond the workout mat.

Create a vibrant tapestry of voices, experiences, and stories, all while breaking a sweat and having a blast. Let’s celebrate pride together with a morning of movement, joy, and community. 

Hornitos Stage Special Performances Saturday, Nov 4

 Los Angeles-based pop-rock sensation Transviolet 4:10 PM
Sarah Green the founder and front person Spare Parts for Broken Hearts takes the stage at 2 PM
MaMa Silver 3:45 PM

Palm Springs Pride Parade

SUNDAY, NOV. 5 |  10 A.M.-12:30 P.M

Palm Canyon Drive between Tachevah Drive and E Amado Road, Palm Springs Known for its skies and year-round sunshine, the city of Palm Springs comes alive during the annual Pride celebration. Thousands of spectators gather along palm tree-lined streets to cheer and support local organizations, activists, and themed floats along historic Palm Canyon Drive.  

Enjoy emcee commentary as parade contingents pass by official reviewing stands.

The La Crema Wines Parade Stage, located at E Granvia Valmonte and N Palm Canyon Drive, is hosted by television personality Manny dela Rosa and guests. 

Broadcast Reviewing Stand is located at Thompson Palm Springs, 400 North Palm Canyon Drive. Host and Emcee Nicholas Snow. 

The Deaf Pride reviewing stand is north of E Amado Road at N Palm Canyon Drive and features sign language Interpretation. Seating is available for the Deaf community on a first-come-first-served basis. 

Palm Springs Pride 2023

Nov 2-5, 2023

37th Anniversary Celebration

Nov 2 – Latin Pride in the Arenas District 5 pm-10 pm

Nov 3 – Arenas District Block Party – 6 pm – 11 pm

Nov 4 – Festival Marketplace and Entertainment 11 am -11:30 pm

Nov 5 – Festival Marketplace and Entertainment 11 am – 6 pm 

Nov 5 – Parade 10 am – Palm Canyon Dr from Tachevah to Amado  (click here for parade details)

Get Tickets

Tickets are not required but a great way to give back by donating to the local nonprofit Pride organization. Donations help keep Pride free and accessible to everyone.

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Palm Springs

Proposed HIV sculpture slammed over its resemblance to body part

After negative public input including several uncharitable contributions on social media comparing it to a human anus- a new design planned



(Screenshot/YouTube KESQ News Channel 3)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The proposed nine-foot sculpture to memorialize the victims of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, with an expected cost of approximately $500,000 designed by Southern California’s Coachella Valley-based artist Phillip K. Smith III, has generated considerable ill-will regarding its concept design.

After initial design approval by the Palm Springs city council, the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force which was tasked with fundraising to erect the sculpture, has been met with pushback by residents and others who have taken exception to the design of resembling a donut with ridges on it.

A local news station KESQ-TV 3 reported that in addition to concerns about the abstract nature of the sculpture, some residents have raised eyebrows over its perceived resemblance to a certain body part.

“The backside of the proposed memorial looks like a graphic depiction of the backside of a human being,” Gene Brake a local resident and founder of the Jose Sarria Foundation said.

After negative public statements regarding the design including several uncharitable contributions on social media comparing it to a human anus, the Memorial Task Force, wrote in a letter to local residents, “Please know that we’ve heard the concerns… and a revised design is in process.” According to the its letter, the Memorial Task Force will reveal the new design later this year.

AIDS memorial sculpture sparks debate in Palm Springs:

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs police investigating attack on trans woman

Police said: “We are actively investigating that incident as an alleged hate crime,” but currently no suspects have been identified



Skyy Perez, trans woman assaulted outside Palm Springs bar. (Screenshot/YouTube KESQ-TV)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Police are looking into a violent incident involving a trans woman that took place last weekend at The Village in Palm Springs, a restaurant, nightclub, sports bar & grill located in the heart of the city’s downtown area.

PSPD spokesperson Lieutenant Gustavo M. Araiza told the Blade; “We are actively investigating that incident as an alleged hate crime.” Araiza said that currently no suspects have been identified.

Skyy Perez, accompanied by her friends Saturday night, discovered that her mobile phone had gone missing and as she attempted to search a bag belonging to another female patron, a scuffle broke out and Perez was ejected from the club by a security officer.

Part of what occurred next was caught on a mobile phone video which has been since widely shared on social media platforms. In an interview with Jake Ingrassia, a local reporter from KESQ-TV News Channel 3, Perez says she was attacked by another woman and her two companions. During the attack Perez was partially violently disrobed, stripped to her underwear by the group.

“She hit me with a sandal in the back of my head, and I fell to the floor, I kind of lost consciousness. And then the other two girls that were with her came and they were like basically jumping me and tore my clothes,” Perez told KESQ. “I was in disbelief and a rage that I got hit for simply existing.”

Perez said she attempted to spit at the woman, and that’s when she got sucker-punched to the ground by an unidentified man.

In the mobile phone video, her narrative is documented. Perez told the station she believes that she was targeted simply for being transgender.

News Channel 3 obtained security video from a nearby business which reveals a more extended dispute involving multiple people. During the altercation, a woman can be seen throwing Perez’s wig onto the second story of a parking structure.

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs police arrest gay dating app predator

“Hakan Iski is a sociopathic sexual predator. The community is safer with him behind bars,” one of the victims told the Blade



Los Angeles Blade/PSPD graphic

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Police announced the arrest of Hakan Isik on Wednesday as a result of an ongoing criminal investigation into the sexual assault of multiple men he had met via online dating apps by Palm Springs Police Department (PSPD) detectives.

Isik, 56, a resident of Desert Hot Springs and the primary suspect in the case, was taken into custody by PSPD and later transferred to the Riverside County Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, Calif.

Detectives established probable cause to arrest Isik and he was charged with PC 289(a)(1)(A) – Penetration with a foreign object; PC 286(a) – Sodomy; PC 368(b)(1) – Elder Abuse; PC 236 – False Imprisonment; and PC 222 – Administer a drug to commit a felony.

Hakan Isik (DOB: 02/11/67) Arrested 17.05.2023
(Booking photo credit: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department)

The case had been opened in January after PSPD investigators received initial sexual assault information from one of the victims, Rand Snell, who was hospitalized after his online hookup with Isik, who he said allegedly anally injected him with methamphetamine without his consent and then violently sexually assaulted him.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Blade, Snell said: “We started making out and that didn’t go on for very long. He turned me away from him and I felt the rush of drugs going into me; It only took a few minutes for me to lose control.” According to Snell, he remembered going in and out of consciousness and that he was raped, burned, beat, bitten and kicked.

He was later taken to the Desert Regional Medical Center on North Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Snell told the Blade that 2 days after being attacked, he posted images about his story on his personal Facebook page and was immediately contacted by two others who had also been attacked.

Lieutenant Gustavo M. Araiza, a spokesperson for the PSPD, told the Blade Wednesday that during the investigation, detectives spoke with other individuals who shared similar experiences as mentioned by the victim. Their encounters did not rise to a level of criminality but supported the initial investigation. 

Araiza also told the Blade that investigating sexual assault cases can take time “as it requires the meticulous examination of evidence, collection of witness statements, medical records, and collaboration with various parties involved. Investigators have pursued available leads and conducted multiple interviews with individuals who came forward in response to the victim’s online account.”

There had been some mounting frustration within the Palm Springs gay community over what was perceived as a slow response by law enforcement to the ongoing alleged criminal sexual activities by the suspect.

A member of a Palm Springs gay men’s Facebook community who has spoken out about the attacks told the Blade that while some victims are willing to step up, others see inaction from the PSPD as a disincentive on telling their story and coming forward.

“I’ve talked to many of them and there’s one common factor in all their cases,” he said. “It takes weeks to recover from their physical injuries and even longer to process the shock of what happened to them. Feelings of shame and embarrassment naturally go along with trauma.”

“It’s not unlike the MeToo stories,” he told the Blade.

“With the risks associated with app dating in mind, the Palm Springs Police Department is updating the public regarding this ongoing sexual assault investigation,” Lieutenant Araiza said. “The initial sexual assault case, brought to our attention in January, continues to be investigated as additional people and information become available. The primary goal of this investigative process is to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation while ensuring the integrity of the case,” he added.

A recent study by researchers of online dating apps at Brigham Young University reported that 14% of 1,968 cases resulted in sexual assaults. In a third of those cases, the victims were strangled and suffered more injury than other sexual assault victims. The assaults tended to occur on the first in-person meeting. (App Dating)

According to the Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN) every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. In a recent National Crime Victims Survey, the results indicated that police agencies realize many sexual assaults go unreported. 

“Let’s be clear; no means no! Regardless of the type or length of the relationship or sexual orientation, all activities must stop immediately when a person says stop. If a person cannot say no, then the answer is still no,” Lieutenant Araiza said. “Using illegal substances, overtly or covertly, to victimize an individual is inexcusable, and police will do all within their power to bring justice to those who victimize others through intoxication.”

In an email to the Blade Wednesday afternoon, Rand Snell said:

“I’m glad that Palm Springs is a safer place tonight, although I’m sorry for the others Hakan Isik victimized before and after my assault. I hope that in the next few days others will be more willing to come forward.”

“I talked today with someone victimized a month ago, who just reached out to the police today. He is the sixth person I am aware of, who were victimized by Isik.”

“Although this took much longer than I had hoped, the arrest does show it’s worth it to report sexual and physical assaults. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, what you might have been doing. No one deserves to be raped and beat up.”

“You can withdraw consent. And once you do, anything after that is sexual assault.”

“Hakan Iski is a sociopathic sexual predator. The community is safer with him behind bars.”

Lieutenant Araiza noted that the investigation is ongoing telling the Blade: “In order to safeguard the integrity of the case and uphold the rights of all parties involved, we are unable to disclose further details related to the case.”

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Palm Springs

Longtime LGBTQ+ journalist & editor Thomas Senzee dies at 54

Thomas Senzee was a California native whose award winning career spanned nearly thirty years in media with focus on the LGBTQ+ community



Thomas Senzee at San Diego Pride in 2012 (Thomas Senzee/Facebook)

PALM SPRINGS – The former Editor-In-Chief of the San Diego LGBT Weekly webzine and frequent contributor to The San Diego Reader, an alternative press newspaper, has died at age 54.

Thomas Senzee, a California native whose award winning career spanned nearly thirty years in media, writing for outlets including The Huffington Post, The Advocate/OUT, The Fight Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Los Angeles Business Journal and other publications, was found deceased on Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Palm Springs.

The Coroner’s Bureau of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has listed his death as undetermined pending further investigation by the Coroner’s office.

Senzee served on the board of directors of the San Diego Press Club, and was that organization’s Professional Development Committee chair. He was also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Los Angeles Press Club and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party and a Civil Service Commissioner with the County of San Diego government paid tribute to Senzee;

“I am saddened to hear about the passing of Thom Senzee the former editor-in-chief of LGBT Weekly. I met Thom a little over a decade ago and worked as one of his reporters and social media director. I learned a lot from him as he took me under his wing and educated me. He was kind, thorough, dedicated to the truth, and he always challenged me to do my best on every story,” Rodriguez-Kennedy said adding;

“He was an award winning veteran journalist with over 30 years of experience writing and editing for a number of news organizations and served on the board of directors of the San Diego Press Club. He would check in with me from time to time as the years went on. Rest In Peace, my friend.”

Veteran LGBTQ+ correspondent and former editor of The Los Angeles Blade, Karen Ocamb, marked Senzee’s passage writing:

“Thom Senzee was indefatigable. He loved the news. He loved journalists reporting the news. And he especially loved LGBTQ reporters and media personalities putting their spin on news about LGBTQ people and the ongoing issue of AIDS. Several times he invited me to sit on panels he created in conjunction with the Los Angeles Press Club. As host, Thom would throw out a question like: ‘Have sexual orientation and gender identity become non-issues?’ and then let actors Jason Stuart and the late Alexis Arquette and me vie for ‘air time’ in response. It was a hoot – and informative. And family. We need more folks like Thom Senzee. He will be missed.” 

Senzee is survived by a brother and two sisters. The family has started a GoFundMe page to defray funeral expenses and would appreciate any donations to help with his funeral/memorial costs

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Trans Palm Springs Mayor responds to anti-LGBTQ+ Texas Governor

“I am in awe of the transgender children and their parents that I meet. Spend 10 minutes with them and you will be as well”



Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege (Courtesy of Lisa Middleton)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Mayor Lisa Middleton of the City of Palm Springs delivered a powerful rebuke to Texas Governor Greg Abbott Thursday evening, just two days after the governor issued a dangerous directive to state agencies to begin investigating and prosecuting parents of transgender children for “child abuse.”

Middleton made history in 2017, when she became the first openly transgender person elected to political office in California, and again in December 2021, when she was sworn in as the Golden State’s first openly transgender mayor.

Mayor Middleton’s moving remarks, were delivered at the beginning of tonight’s Palm Springs City Council meeting, are available for download here, in addition to the following transcript:

I am very proud to be the Mayor of the City of Palm Springs. We are an imperfect, but unique city, and for generations we have been a place of refuge and renewal. It is in that spirit of our city and our history that I must say something this evening.

On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a directive to state agencies to investigate and prosecute the parents of transgender children and their healthcare givers. He has labeled the parents of transgender children — who support their children on their journey to be the best and whole person that they can be — to be child abusers.

Texas district attorneys are uncertain or of mixed opinions on what new directives mean. But there are reports of parents already, who are supportive of their transgender children, who are fearful that they could have their children removed from their homes and placed in foster care. The University Transgender Health Center in metropolitan Dallas has closed.

Please try to understand what it means to be the parent of a transgender child. Please imagine the tears throughout the family as your child told you their truth — their most difficult, essential and personal truth. A truth unlike anything you had ever known. You had a choice — can I and do I stand with my child? You made the choice to stand up for your child, to give your child the best opportunity to be the best person they could be.

And the governor of the State of Texas wants to prosecute you for standing up for your child. The governor of the State of Texas wants to turn your neighbors into his enforcement arm.

Please try to imagine what it is like for the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents of a transgender child tonight in the State of Texas. Can you imagine the heartache, the questions of what can we do, what should we do, what will the State of Texas do, and where do we go? Now, try to imagine the transgender child in that family and what their heart is telling them as they watch every person they love in agony and anger.

Family comes first. It is not an idle statement. It is what we all know — when no matter what else is before us, if we have to choose, we choose family. Well, if not in Texas, in Palm Springs, we stand with transgender children and their families.

I know all of the stories. I know all of the explanations. I have lived this life. We are who we are. You cannot change a child into someone they are not. But what you can do, and what this will do, is break their spirit.

I know. I am today a transgender woman. But while I have always been and will always be transgender, I have never had the opportunity to be a transgender child. Because I wasn’t brave enough to come out. I wasn’t brave like the transgender children in Texas, or Florida or South Dakota or Missouri — or like those here in California.

They and their parents have shown bravery and courage that is unimaginable to me when I was their age — and they’ve done so in the face of dangerous and discriminatory attacks.

I am in awe of the transgender children and their parents that I meet. Spend 10 minutes with them — any one of them — and you will be as well.

I have, from the City of Palm Springs, a message to transgender children and their families everywhere:

You are loved. You are supported. You are respected. And you will always have a home in the City of Palm Springs. You will always have a home in California. Thank you.

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Palm Springs

Historic swearing in of Lisa Middleton as Palm Springs Mayor

Middleton will become the first out transgender mayor in California and just the third out transgender mayor in U.S. history



Palm Springs City Councilmembers Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege (Photo courtesy Equality California)

PALM SPRINGS –  City Councilwoman Lisa Middleton will be sworn-in as Palm Springs mayor on Thursday. Middleton will become the first out transgender mayor in California and just the third out transgender mayor in U.S. history. The mayor’s office in Palm Springs rotates among councilmembers who serve one-year terms.

Middleton – who became the the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial position in California in 2017 with the support of Equality California and Victory Fund – is also running for the state senate in 2022 and is endorsed by both organizations. She will be the first out transgender state legislator in California history if she wins.

LGBTQ Victory Fund and Equality California jointly praised the news Wednesday.

“Lisa’s elevation to mayor is a milestone moment for California, but also for trans people across the nation who want to make positive change through public service,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “While hateful politicians attempt to vilify trans people for their own perceived political gain, Lisa is the model of a true public servant – one who lifts people up and focuses on issues that actually improve people’s lives. Lisa is a trailblazer who will be a fantastic mayor and we are excited for her to shatter another lavender ceiling with a state senate win in 2022.”

“Lisa Middleton has been a transformational trailblazer, and we’re proud to be by her side as she makes history again — this time as California’s first out transgender mayor,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Just as important as the powerful representation she’s provided, Lisa has been a champion for bold solutions to the big challenges Palm Springs faces — housing affordability, access to affordable healthcare, support for our elders, the climate crisis and more. We know that Lisa will continue to be champion for the Coachella Valley and all Californians when she is elected to the California Senate next year.”

Currently there are just 42 out trans people serving in the entire country and only six are in California. There are no currently serving out trans mayors, however Stu Rasmussen previously served as mayor of Silverton, Oregon, and Jess Herbst as mayor of New Hope, Texas. Only one out trans person has ever been elected to a state senate in the U.S. – Sarah McBride of Delaware.

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Everything you need to know about Palm Springs Pride this weekend

Be sure to stop by the Los Angeles Blade booth for a photo opportunity (Hint: We’re nearly under Marilyn’s skirt!)



Palm Springs Pride 2021

PALM SPRINGS — Palm Springs Pride is finally here! While you enjoy festivities, be sure to stop by the Los Angeles Blade booth for a photo opportunity, ticket giveaways and a copy of our latest issue!

We will also be giving away prizes like tickets to Immersive Van Gogh and shows at Broadways on Hollywood, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse and more. We will be at booth #19 on Museum Way between Museum Drive and Palm Canyon on Sunday, November 7th, from 11–4:30 p.m.

As for the rest of the weekend, there will be something for everyone, including live entertainment, art, history and much more! 

Don’t forget to tune into KGAY 106.5 Palm Springs to hear Ross Mathews — as seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Drew Barrymore Show — host a special Pride month morning show starting Saturday at 10:00 a.m. It will air every Saturday for the rest of November. 

Remember that though facial coverings are not required to be worn outdoors at Palm Springs Pride, the city still requires either proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within the last 72 hours to dine in restaurants or bars. Face coverings will also be required within businesses. More information can be found here.

Here is a guide for the rest of the weekend: 


Palm Springs Pride Coming Out Celebration

  • When? 5:00–10:00 p.m.
  • Where? Effen Vodka Main stage 
  • What? It will include performances from Jody Watley, Shannon, Jeanie Tracy, and more!
  • More information here.

Sharing Our Desert’s LGBTQ+ History: An Inaugural Exhibition  

  • When? 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m. 
  • Where? Welwood Murray Memorial Library
  • What? Learn about Palm Springs’ LGBTQ+ history.
  • Additional dates: Saturday 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday 12:00–5:30 p.m.
  • More information here.

Interfaith Pride Kabbalat Shabbat

  • When? 6:30 p.m.
  • Where? United Methodist Church or Facebook Live
  • What? A pluralistic prayer service with a core of Jewish liturgy open to people of all faith communities and beliefs.
  • More information here.


FrontRunners Pride 5K Run & Walk

  • When? 8:00 a.m.
  • Where? Old Las Palmas 
  • What? Run or walk through amidst homes of celebrities like Liberace, Mary Martin, Alan Ladd, William Powell, George Randolph Hearst, Kirk Douglas, Lily Tomlin and more.
  • Registration? $40 with same-day registration will be available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.
  • More information here.

Palm Springs Pride Street Festival

  • When? 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
  • Where? Downtown Palm Springs 
  • What? Enjoy food, beverages and a diverse array of entertainers.
  • Saturday performers: Third Eye Blind, Jody Watley, A Flock of Seagulls, The Robyn Party and Shannon. Full line-up here
  • Additional dates: Sunday 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
  • More information here.

Art of Pride Exhibition

  • When? 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Where? Belardo Road and Museum Way 
  • What? An exhibit showcasing works by local LGBTQ artists.
  • More information here.

Girlz Skate Jam

  • When? 5:00–7:00 p.m.
  • Where? Palm Springs Skate Park
  • What? Watch fabulous skaters including Brianna King, Brooklinn Khoury, Eunice Lee, Erin Wolfkiel, Juli Penelope and Allysha Bergado. 
  • Tickets: $15
  • More information here.

Drag-O-Rama at the Palm Springs Cultural Center

  • When? 5:00 p.m.
  • Where? Palm Springs Cultural Center 
  • What? Enjoy a drag extravaganza starring Rosemary Galore.
  • Tickets: $15 – $25
  • More information here.


Palm Springs Pride Parade

  • When? 10:00 a.m.
  • Where? Uptown Design District at Tachevah and Palm Canyon Dr.
  • What? Cheer on local organizations, activists, marching groups, and themed floats.

More information here.

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Palm Springs

The LGBTQ Center of the Desert reopens in Palm Springs

The community came out with an overwhelming show of force Sunday to celebrate a moment 20 years in the making



The newly remodeled McDonald/Wright building (Courtesy of The Center)

PALM SPRINGS – The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, widely referred to as ‘The Center,’ has reopened after an extensive remodel and rehabilitation of the 10,000 square foot McDonald/Wright building along North Palm Canyon Drive.

After opening remarks and a ceremonial ribbon cutting by staff and leadership of The Center, who were joined by city officials, audience members were invited on tours of the newly remodeled facilities, which now consist of the entire building. Construction was started in April 2020. The first clients will be welcomed next month, the Palm Springs Post reported.

Graphic courtesy of The Center.

The Palm Springs Post has pictures of the event here.

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs police release suspect’s photos in gay executive’s attack

At this time, there is no reported information or evidence to suggest a hate crime occurred Palm Springs Police said



Palm Springs Police Department Patrol Unit (Photo Credit: City of Palm Springs, California)

PALM SPRINGS – Investigators have released photos of two suspects wanted for questioning in the altercation that left a Glendale marketing and advertising executive in critical condition at the Desert Regional Hospital Centre.

The Palm Springs Police Department also acknowledged that because the victim identified on social media as Justin Wicker is gay, this caused rumors to spread that this was a hate crime attack, however, PSPD detectives do not believe at this time that it is a hate crime.

“We have seen social media rumors indicating this incident was a targeted hate crime. At this time, there is no reported information or evidence to suggest a hate crime occurred,” PSPD officials said in a media statement.

Patrol units were dispatched to the 400 block of E. Arenas Rd. on Friday, July 9 at approximately 1:42 a.m regarding a victim of a battery. Officers learned that the victim and a friend were walking from a local bar on E. Arenas Rd. and engaged in conversation with another male.

The victim told the male, who was black, that he resembled the actor “Eddie Murphy.” It was reported that the male became angry at this comment and a physical confrontation occurred. The male began chasing the victim. While running away, the victim slipped and struck his head on the ground. The subject chasing the victim left the area with another man. The two suspects were seen fleeing the scene in a black convertible type vehicle.

Photo: Palm Springs Police Department

One of the suspects is described as a black male adult, approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall. He was wearing a light blue button up shirt, and white shorts.

Photo: Palm Springs Police Department

Investigators are working to identify the two men involved in the attack.

Police are asking for anyone who may have more information, knows either of the two men involved, or may have taken pictures of the men as they fled the area to immediately call Detective Escallada at 760-323-8129 or report any information you have anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.

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