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Gays Against Guns joins March For Our Lives in LA

From Orlando to Parkland, New York to LA, #Enough

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A Gays Against Guns die-in protest on a sidewalk in Los Angeles in August 2016. (Photo courtesy Gays Against Guns Los Angeles)

As Los Angeles prepares for the national March For Our Lives happening on March 24 in Washington, D.C. and various “sister events” in other cities around the country, the founders of the group Gays Against Guns (GAG) are busy rallying the troops.

Catherine Marino-Thomas is one of the founders of the original GAG group, based in New York City. She told the Los Angeles Blade that after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, she knew she was going to have to do something about gun control. She and some other activists called a meeting and in June of 2016, GAG was born.

Abe Gurko founded a Los Angeles chapter in 2016.

Gurko told the Advocate in 2016 that after reading an article in The New York Times about a Gays Against Guns die-in, he reached out to Kevin Hertzog who started Gays Against Guns in New York City.  Herzog suggested Gurko start a chapter in Los Angeles.

“I woke up on LA Gay Pride 2016 to the news of Orlando. On my corner was the Free Speech assholes that scream in protest of gays, saying the most vile things and knew I had to do something. I read in the New York Times about GAG and offered to help,” Gurko told the Los Angeles Blade.

Abe Gurko (Photo courtesy Gurko)

Today more than 14,000 people follow the national GAG Facebook page, with 600 and counting following the group’s Los Angeles page. There are eight national chapters nationwide.

“The New York chapter has been our primary inspiration,” Graham Kolbeins, Los Angeles GAG organizer and the social media outreach coordinator, told the Los Angeles Blade.

“Kevin Hertzog from GAG NY has been immensely helpful in connecting us with the groups like the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which hosted several meetings in late 2016, to help in coalition-building with other organizations focused on gun control in the LA area,” Kolbeins adds.

But even after 20 children were gunned down in their elementary school in Newtown, Conn., 58 people killed and 851 injured at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, and 49 adult lives were taken at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, it appears that the Feb. 14, mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 were killed, is the sea-change advocates for gun reform have been waiting for – and the charge is being led by high school students.

The passion and dedication of the Parkland High students remains unfazed, despite the size of the opponent they face – the National Rifle Association and its 5 million members.

Emma Gonzalez, 18, a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High shooting, has emerged as a leader in the students’ fight to make assault rifles harder to come by.

Gonzalez, who wears her hair in a buzz cut, refers to herself as a Cuban bisexual. She’s been attacked and vilified by the likes of Maine Republican Leslie Gibson, a lifelong NRA member. He recently took to Twitter to call Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian” and denounced her as a “bald faced liar.”

Since Gibson’s tweet, Democrat Eryn Gilchrist decided to challenge him as the only candidate for the seat, filing her candidacy just before the deadline. Gilchrist has already garnered an enthusiastic backing from Maine’s Democratic Party. And Gibson quickly withdrew from the race in humiliation.

Student journalist and Parkland High activist, David Hogg, spoke on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” about the death threats and right-wing conspiracy theorists (many of whom are assumed NRA members) accusing him of being a “crisis actor.”

“The only time you’re ever [doing] anything that actually matters is when people try stopping you. And that’s what’s going on here,” Hogg said.

The latest push has six Stoneman Douglas High students, all survivors of the shooting, release a video on March 16, lending their voices to the #noNRAmoney campaign, which calls on elected officials and candidates to take a pledge to refuse all donations, endorsements, and support from the National Rifle Association and to pursue common-sense gun legislation. In the video, the students ask their fellow students across the country to take part in the campaign.

Marino-Thomas says it’s important to remember that this is a generation of kids who have been doing lockdown drills since kindergarten.

“I think it’s pretty fair to say that have literally done this since they walked into a school classroom and the idea that all those drills all those years didn’t really help them I think drove them into the spotlight,” Marino-Thomas says.

From school walkouts, leading to nearly a million kids protesting across the country on March 14, to protests on Capitol Hill with a display of 7,000 pairs of shoes honoring all the children killed in America by gun violence, and a looming midterm election year with voting age students primed for change, the momentum for gun control might prove difficult to tamp down.

“After watching the gun control debate in congress stagnate for years (due in large part to politicians in the pocket of the NRA), it’s been beyond inspiring in this past month to watch student activists across the country cut through the gridlock and demand real legislative action. These kids know their own lives are on the line, and they’re singularly focused on creating significant change. It’s powerful to watch their leadership,” Kolbeins says.

He adds, “We’ve also been inspired by the Gays Against Guns activists from New York and around the country who have brought this fight to politicians’ door steps in Washington D.C. and elsewhere, staging die-ins, getting arrested, and employing direct action tactics that hearken back to the time of ACT UP. The gun control movement has never felt more urgent and we are not backing down… When the LGBTQ+ community rises and raises our voices in protest, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish,” Kolbeins says.
The official organizers of the march in Los Angeles have said: “On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Los Angeles to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.

March in Los Angeles or march in your own community. On March 24, the collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard. In Los Angeles, the march begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 24, at 603 S. Spring St. in Los Angeles.

For more information on the March For Our Lives protest in downtown Los Angeles, search eventbright.com listings.

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Jazz Jennings publicly opens up about her binge-eating disorder

“I have gained a substantial amount of weight. I suffer from binge-eating disorder, a disease in which I’m addicted to food”

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Sander and Jazz Jennings (Photo via Facebook)

CORAL SPRINGS, Fl. – In an Instagram post Friday, prominent Trans youth activist, YouTuber and social media influencer Jazz Jennings revealed that she is battling an eating disorder. In a side by side photographic comparison Jennings showed her followers that she has in fact suffered a massive weight gain.

“I’m posting this photo because it’s time for me to address my weight gain and hold myself accountable,” she said, while sharing a picture of herself by the pool, wearing a sports bra and shorts.

Jennings wrote; “As many of you have noticed, over the past few years, I have gained a substantial amount of weight. I suffer from binge-eating disorder, a disease in which I’m not only addicted to food, but I eat it in large quantities.

My binging, along with an increased appetite I experience from some of the meds I’m on, has caused me to gain almost 100 pounds in a little less than 2 years.

I’m ready to change my ways; I’ve been saying I’m ready to turn over a new leaf, but I’m running out of trees now. I’m ready to take the initiative and create positive changes when it comes to my health.”

One of her twin older siblings, brother Sander, showed his unwavering support of his sister by commenting, “You are so resilient and can do anything you put your mind too. [sic] I believe in you and will be by your side every step of the way.” She wrote back, “You’re my teammate.”

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Heat Alert; High Temperatures forecast for parts of LA County & SoCal

It is important that we check on others, in particular those who are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of high temperatures

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Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service

OXNARD – The National Weather Service has issued a heat watch and warning for interior segments of Sothern California including the Mojave Desert areas, Kern County, parts of Ventura and Los Angeles County, Palm Springs and the Inland Empire to the border, as well San Gabriel, San Bernardino, Riverside and the Coachella Valley.

The average daytime temperatures are expected to exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Alert as high temperatures have been forecast for the following areas:

  • East San Gabriel Valley – through Friday, June 18
  • Santa Clarita Valley – through Saturday, June 19
  • Antelope Valley – through Sunday, June 20

Public Health reminds everyone to take precautions to avoid heat-related illness, especially older adults, young children, outdoor workers, athletes, and people with a chronic medical condition who are especially sensitive to negative health impacts from extreme heat. Public Health offers the following recommendations during high temperature days:

  • Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated throughout the day.
  • If you must go out, plan your day to avoid going out during the hottest hours, and wear sunscreen. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes, and wear a hat or use an umbrella.
  • Cars get very hot. Never leave children or pets in cars and call 911 if you see a child or pet in a car alone.
  • Beware of heat-related illness, like heat stroke and call 911 if you see these symptoms: high body temperature, vomiting, and pale and clammy skin.
  • Check on those at risk, like those who are sick, older adults, pregnant women, and children, and those who live alone.
  • If you are wearing a mask, avoid strenuous workouts wearing face coverings or masks not intended for athletic purposes.
  • Visit your power company’s website or contact them by phone to determine if you are scheduled for a rolling power outage.

“While it is very important that everyone take special care of themselves, it is equally important that we reach out and check on others, in particular those who are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of high temperatures, including children, the elderly, and their pets,” said Muntu Davis, MD, Los Angeles County Health Officer. “High temperatures are not just an inconvenience, they can be dangerous and even deadly. But we can protect ourselves, our families, and our neighbors if we take steps to remain cool and hydrated. It is critically important to never leave children, elderly people, or pets unattended in homes with no air conditioning and particularly in vehicles, even if the windows are ‘cracked’ or open, as temperatures inside can quickly rise to life-threatening levels. If you have an elderly or infirm neighbor who is without air conditioning, check on them throughout the day.”

County and City partners have planned ways to safely operate cooling centers during times of high heat. Residents who do not have access to air conditioning are encouraged to take advantage of these free cooling centers.

To find a location near you, visit https://ready.lacounty.gov/heat/ or call 211.

The health and safety of staff and visitors at cooling centers is priority. Public Health notes the following for cooling centers:

  • Staff and visitors are instructed to stay home if they do not feel well. Any person reporting or exhibiting signs of illness is advised to seek appropriate medical care.
  • Staff and visitors are required to wear a face covering at all times, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
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Stage and screen actress Lisa Banes has died after hit and run

The 65 year-old actress was admitted to the ICU at Mount Sinai Morningside hospital in New York with a traumatic brain injury.

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Screen and stage actress Lisa Banes (Screenshot via YouTube E! News)

NEW YORK – Los Angeles resident and critically acclaimed actress Lis Banes died Monday at Mount Sinai Morningside hospital as a result of injuries she suffered stemming from a hit and run accident on June 4, after being struck by an electric scooter, a spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed.

The 65 year-old actress was admitted to the intensive care unit at Mount Sinai Morningside in New York with a traumatic brain injury. According to the NYPD, the actress was crossing Amsterdam Avenue at 64th Street, in a crosswalk near the Juilliard School, at Lincoln Center. The driver left the scene and no arrests have been made.

Banes’s wife, Kathryn Kranhold, a contributing reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, had made a plea “to pray for Lisa” after the accident — and called for anyone with information about the accident to contact police.

“We are heartsick over Lisa’s tragic and senseless passing. She was a woman of great spirit, kindness and generosity and dedicated to her work, whether on stage or in front of a camera and even more so to her wife, family and friends. We were blessed to have had her in our lives,” her manager David Williams said in a statement released Tuesday.

Banes has appeared in numerous television shows and movies, including supporting roles in “Gone Girl” starring Ben Affleck in 2014 and “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise in 1988. On television, she’s had roles on “Nashville,” “Madam Secretary,” “Masters of Sex” and “NCIS.” NBC News Entertainment reported.

Anyone with information about Banes’s death is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via the website or on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.

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