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Palm Springs elects trans Lisa Middleton to City Council

Middleton is top vote-getter in field of six

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

Exactly one year after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Democrats won big in a clear refutation of what Trump has wrought. And, as if to underscore the point, four transgender candidates were elected in races across the nation, including Lisa Middleton, the top-vote-getter elected to the Palm Springs City Council on Tuesday night. She was joined in victory by bisexual millennial Christy Holstege, who won the second most votes for the two open seats in a field of six candidates. Palm Springs is now America’s first LGB and T-majority run city government.

Middleton made history as the first out trans person elected to a non-judicial office in California. The first trans person elected to any public office in California was Victoria Kolakowski who became the nation’s first trans judge when she was elected in 2010 to the Superior Court in Alameda County.

Lisa Middleton talks to supporters (Photo courtesy Geoff Kors)

“It’s all because of all of you that we are here tonight, celebrating a victory, a historic victory for our city and for our state,” Middleton told supporters after her victory.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent all of the people of Palm Springs,” Middleton told the Los Angeles Blade in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “I truly appreciate the commitment to diversity and inclusion that Palm Springs exemplifies. The future belongs to those who embrace diversity and embrace people of all backgrounds.”

Lisa Middleton and supporters watch returns (Photo courtesy Geoff Kors)

Middleton believes the Nov. 7 elections might be a turning point. “Last November was a stunning disappointment for so many people in our country.  The forces of division won over the forces of inclusion,” Middleton tells the Los Angeles Blade. “What we are witnessing in the campaign in Palm Springs and across the nation in the results yesterday, is that our nation—and my community— want problem-solvers who bring people together, who get things done. And I believe we are going to see over the course of the next few years, a rejection of divisive politics in favor of common sense individuals committed to building a future based on broad strength and diversity of all of the American people.”

Middleton was on point during the campaign, as well. “We [trans people] have been the preferred target of conservative forces,” Middleton told the Mercury News. “If transgender people are being attacked, you need transgender voices to respond to those attacks.”

The paper also reported a moment that captures Middleton’s sense of responsibility to the larger trans community. “At a recent campaign event, she said, she met a shy 7-year-old girl with pigtails who shook her hand and told her, ‘I’m like you — I’m transgender,’” The News reported. “’To be an example for kids like her … that is absolutely a humbling opportunity,’ Middleton said.”

“Lisa was elected because she was the most qualified candidate,” says James Williamson, Middleton’s campaign manager and husband of City Council member Geoff Kors. “Her win, though, is significant as she becomes the first elected out Transgender member of a city council in California.  Shattering another glass ceiling moves us all forward but is especially inspiring for our youth as they see more possibilities for their future.”

Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, Campaign Manager James Williamson, trans candidate Lisa Middleton, Palm Springs City Councilmember Geoff Kors (Photo courtesy Equality California)

“This election sent a powerful message with Palm Springs now having council members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” Kors tells the Los Angeles Blade via email. “The candidates’ sexual orientation and gender identity were not issues in the election. Palm Springs residents simply voted for the two most qualified candidates.  This is the kind of world we as a community have worked so hard to create.”

Equality California endorsed both Middleton and Holstege.

“In light of the repeated attacks on transgender people from the federal government, tonight’s wins by Lisa Middleton in Palm Springs and other transgender candidates in Minneapolis and Virginia are a beacon of hope that voters have embraced values of equality and inclusion,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “By becoming the first out transgender person to be elected to a non-judicial office in California, Lisa is paving the way for others to follow in her footsteps in California and across the nation. Her first place finish out of a field of 6 candidates demonstrates that a glass ceiling for transgender people who want to serve in elected office was not only broken, but was shattered in Palm Springs.

“With the election of Lisa and Christy Holstege, the city of Palm Springs will now be represented by a city council that is 100% LGBTQ,” Zbur continues.  “At Equality California, we know that representation matters. That’s why we endorse and work to elect highly qualified LGBTQ candidates at the local level. One of our top organizational goals is to build the bench of LGBTQ elected officials to prepare them to run for higher office. To achieve that in Palm Springs, we spent thousands of dollars in direct contributions, independent expenditures and member-to-member communications in support of both candidates. In 2018, we hope to build on tonight’s success by electing more LGBTQ candidates and pro-equality allies up and down the ballot across California.”

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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

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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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Palm Springs

LA Gay Chorus member in hospital after altercation in Palm Springs

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

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Graphic via Palm Springs Police Department

PALM SPRINGS – A Glendale marketing and advertising executive remains in critical condition Sunday at Desert Regional Hospital Centre, after suffering severe head and neck injuries as the result of an altercation in the early morning hours of July 9 according to the Palm Springs Police Department (PSPD).

The victim has been identified on social media accounts and a GoFundMe page as Justin Wicker, who is also a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

The PSPD released a statement detailing the incident saying that officers were dispatched to the 400 block of E. Arenas Rd. 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 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.

The victim was transported to a local area hospital and is in critical condition. Because of the physical confrontation and fact that the male was chasing the victim when the victim fell and became injured, officers are investigating this incident as an assault and battery.

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. The investigation is still early and ongoing and investigators are looking for anyone who may have additional information about this incident to come forward and provide us with the additional details.

The suspect is described as a black male adult, approximately 5-08 wearing a light blue button up shirt, white shorts, and was last seen in a black convertible type vehicle. Investigators are looking through video evidence at this time to see if there are any images that can be released to assist identifying the suspect in this case.

If you do have information that would assist investigators, we ask that you call us at 760-327-1441. You can also report information anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.

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Palm Springs

White Party Palm Springs canceled, memorial for founder planned

White Party Palm Springs is scheduled to return in 2022. Anyone who’s purchased tickets for 2021 event will be carried over to the 2022 event.

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Photo via White Party Entertainment

PALM SPRINGS – The entertainment company founded by gay circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker announced that the Fall White Party Palm Springs event scheduled for Halloween weekend this year has been cancelled following the death of its founder.

Sanker, 65, had died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on May 28 with family members in attendance after a long battle with liver cancer.

In an statement released on the company’s social media platforms, Chris Diamond, of Jeffrey Sanker Productions wrote: “It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the passing of beloved White Party founder Jeffrey Sanker. For more than four decades, Jeffrey’s zest for life and love of celebration drove him to create a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community to come together and celebrate our unique individuality and collective magic.”

Diamond told KESQ-TV News Channel 3 that White Party Palm Springs event is scheduled to return in 2022, with proposed dates of April 28 to May 1. Anyone who has purchased tickets for the October event will be carried over to the 2022 event. Anyone with any questions about their tickets should email the company at [email protected]

Diamond added that there will be a small family funeral service for Sanker but the organization is planning a larger celebration of life for him. A date has not been established at this time.

In lieu of flowers, the organization is asking people to make a donation to:

LGBT Center of the Desert
1301 N Palm Canyon Dr. #301
Palm Springs CA 92262
Attention: Debra Pollock

You can also make a donation at: https://thecenterps.org/index.php/donate

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