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Emerging leaders generate inspiration

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What is Pride? The most serviceable answer, of course, is that Pride is a commemorative event in which the LGBTQ community celebrates our triumph over adversity and the leaders who fought to make the world a more inclusive place. Historically, it was a political statement — a show of visibility and a forum for protest against homophobia.

And since the beginning of President Trump’s tenure, Pride feels political once more. This year’s celebration will pull from the civic engagement of the March for Our Lives and #Resist movements, spotlighting LGBTQ leaders while re-engaging in the community’s fight for social, legal, and political equality.

Much of that work did not begin, and it will likely not end, with the Trump administration. New research has found LGBTQ girls of color are disproportionately over-disciplined in schools, where they also face bullying and are ostracized. These challenges often push them out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system. And now that Betsy DeVos helms the U.S. Department of Education, prospects for many of our community’s most vulnerable youth are even grimmer.

At the same time, this year the country has witnessed the power of young people in bringing change. The young LGBT folks from the Los Angeles area profiled in these pages are speakers, students, advocates and artists. They have each made meaningful contributions in areas including climate change policy, battles against homophobia and transphobia, housing equality, and immigration.

As the LGBTQ community has witnessed and experienced a reversal in progress over the last two years, young leaders have offered hope for a better way forward. Another signal of the direction in which the arc of justice is headed: The decision by Boy Scouts of America to welcome girls into their ranks, and, effective next year, change the organization’s name to Scouts of BSA. Since the 1970s, women’s and LGBTQ advocates have lobbied the Scouts to adopt more inclusive policies. And in those battles, waged in and outside the courtroom, they have been ultimately victorious.

May these stories, challenges and history inspire you. Happy Pride.

(Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Casey Hoke, 21, college student, LGBTQ advocate, artist

Casey Hoke is a fine artist, graphic designer, writer, activist, and advocate who was awarded a prestigious POINT Foundation scholarship to fund his education at California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, where he is now a junior pursuing a B.A. in Graphic/Communications Design with a minor in Art History. His past and present leadership appointments include a Student Media Ambassadorship for GLSEN, where he also holds membership with the National Executive Board.

Drawing from his experiences as a young trans man, Casey has spoken and written about subjects including education policies that concern transgender students, the representation of transgender people in the media, and the relationship between artistic self-expression and self-acceptance. His work has appeared in MTV News, Teenlife Media, and The Huffington Post, where he has blogged since 2014. Casey has delivered speeches at forums including a TEDx conference and Intel Labs’ LGBT Youth Leadership Forum.

Casey attended high school in Louisville, Kentucky. He came out as trans during his sophomore year. While fellow students, for the most part, were accepting of Casey, he explained the school’s Principal Gerald “Jerry” Mayes was a bully. In March, The Louisville Courier-Journal published a timeline of an ongoing investigation by Jefferson County Public Schools into Mayes’ conduct that was initiated in response to his treatment of trans youth, including Casey, as well as racially insensitive comments he made to two African-American students.

During his junior year, Casey was the subject of an article in the school’s newspaper that chronicled his journey and highlighted his advocacy work. In response, Casey explained, Mayes told members of the student newspaper staff that it was “wrong to profile a misfit going through a phase. He said it would be comparable to writing about someone who wanted to shoot up a school.” The following year, in 2015, as the state’s senate introduced a bill that would require transgender students to use restrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates, Casey said Mayes asked a security guard to monitor him in the men’s restroom. The principal then called Casey into his office and began asking invasive questions about his body and genitalia.

“It’s hard to talk about,” Casey said, “but I came out with my story because it needed to be heard, and because his treatment of LGBTQ students in my high school was, and still is, really bad.” Those experiences strengthened Casey’s resolve to advocate for the rights of trans students.

In college, Casey and his trans peers face a variety of administrative challenges. Changing one’s name on student ID cards is a difficult process. Freshmen, who are required to live on campus, must pay more for housing that offers single-stall restrooms (which are safest for transgender students)—a difference in cost that amounts to about $10,000. Administrators outed Casey to other staff and even students, despite his request that they keep information about his gender identity private. Casey has since led petitions that demand equal and affordable housing for trans students, as well as training programs on trans identity for university staff.

“My advocacy did not stop at high school, where I had this mean principal”, he said. “Even though I’ve seen trans folks accepted a bit more, publicly, there are still battles I have to face here in California.”

Casey’s interest in media representation of LGBTQ people and subjects overlaps with his interest in art. A project and educational resource that Casey created and curates, Queer Art History (housed online at queerarthistory.com) showcases a breadth of artwork, from a homoerotic 16th century Roman fresco to a poster produced by ACT UP Los Angeles in 1990. On the project’s website, Casey has written about the cultural and historical significance of each.

This project, he said, allows him to “talk about media representation while educating people of all ages on queer visual history, art, and culture.” Through another program, Art, Identity & YOU, which Casey created and administers in coordination with the Los Angeles LGBT Center, he provides a platform for youth education on identity, art, history, and self-expression.

Must modern queer art be political? Not necessarily, Casey said—it certainly can be, but queer art can also signify something as timeless as self-expression or look as visually diverse as abstract expressionism. Plus, the treatment of queer people as inherently political, Casey said, can be dehumanizing.

At a time in which major American cities have often become canvases for anti-Trump graffiti, contemporary queer art certainly feels political. And much of it borrows from the signage of protest art produced in the 1980s and 90s (A good example: Donald Moffett’s He Kills Me, a 1987 lithograph that features a grid of President Ronald Reagan’s grinning headshot with “THIS GUY KILLS ME.” in bright orange type across his chest.)

Through the POINT Foundation, Casey was connected with a mentor who works for the Walt Disney Company, where he aims to secure a design position post-college. He is optimistic about both his future and the direction in which society is headed, despite the anti-LGBTQ policies of the Trump Administration. “I asked Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, how things are looking for young trans and non-binary folks”, Casey said. Reflecting on the progress that’s been made so far, Keisling responded: “You know what? We’ve gotten here.”

(Photo courtesy of Nunez)

Priscila ‘Pea’ Alegria Nunez, 23, documentarian and cinematographer

“The stories that I’m passionate about sharing and telling are about the Latinx community and LGBTQ community. It’s very important for me to highlight our voices, as immigrants who are fighting back.”

Pea is a documentary filmmaker, an artist whose work reflects their lived experiences as a pansexual non-binary immigrant who, at 15, left Peru with their mother for the professional and educational opportunities available in the United States.

A recent graduate of the acclaimed film program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), this year Pea was awarded a Rising Star Grant from GLAAD to fund their virtual reality (VR) project about the networks that immigrants have built to support and defend their communities. The film is led by a lesbian protagonist who left Honduras for the United States.

“Throughout the US, immigrant families they have this traumatizing event in which they are visited by [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)]”, Pea explained. “Our protagonist is going to college, and she’s using her knowledge and her network to bring an emergency community back to her house. We will see how that event develops because of how many people will show up to help fight back.”

As an immigrant who belongs to the LGBTQ community, Pea is inspired most by the stories of people who occupy both of those identities. “I found that the projects that bring me the most fulfillment are those that find that intersection.”

Pea and their mother had green cards when they left Peru. They landed in Sacramento, where Pea says their high school was nationally recognized for the racial and ethnic diversity of its student body. “It was incredible to be surrounded by so many brown people—by so many inspiring, motivational people.”

At UCLA, Pea’s classes in gender studies opened their eyes to the identities that do not fall into the gender binary, which gave them the space to inhabit gender-neutrality, along with the freedom to dress and use pronouns in non-traditional ways. “It was another coming out for me. I’d already come out as bisexual, but then again as pansexual.” (The latter is defined by the absence of limits with regard to sexual choice in gender or activity.) Coming out to their mother—who understands Pea is attracted to both men and women—as non-binary, Pea said, is something of a work-in-progress, an ongoing journey.

Respective to both their personal life and professional work, Pea focused first on their immigrant identity and the stories of other immigrants more broadly before working to explore how sexual orientation and gender identity come into play.

Night of Cultura, a Latinx club of artists at UCLA, was a forum in which Pea found some of their closest friends and most valuable professional networks. The group creates plays, sketches, spoken word poetry, dances, and films—works that often include LGBTQ subject matter. “It was a space where I really felt like I blossomed.” After screening a 5-minute documentary at a Night of Cultura event, Pea met a UCLA alum in the audience who would later become the screenwriter for their VR project.

As a filmmaker, Pea is moved by the audience’s reaction to their work. “You can hear gasps; you can hear sniffles; you can hear laughter. I think that’s so beautiful because you wonder what’s going on in their hearts. There is a chance of really reaching people. There is hope that your project, that your work, will touch people.”

On the challenges brought forth by attacks on LGBTQ and immigrant communities from the Trump administration, Pea is optimistic about the role of the artist. “It’s important that we creators continue making work, regardless of the political climate. It’s important to keep creating, because who is going to do it, if not us?” Immigrants and LGBTQ folks should tell their own stories, Pea said, because that way the diversity within those communities will be reflected in the broader cultural narrative.

In hindsight, Pea feels they should have explored and expressed their sexual orientation and gender identity earlier in life. “I felt like I needed to be compliant to what my mom wanted—to her expectations. I could have been so much happier, if I had not waited and instead just been myself.” Pea’s message to LGBTQ teenagers: “Come out to your friends first, because there is something to be said for finding your family outside the family you grew up with. Find yourself a queer family. When you do, you’ll be amazed how powerful you’ll be.”

(Photo courtesy of Reyes)

Aris Reyes, 16, high school student, LGBTQ advocate

Aris is a 16-year-old high school student who aspires to a career in politics, business, law, or, perhaps all three.

 Though only a junior, Aris has emerged as a leader at USC East College Prep, a new high school of which his will be the first graduating class. He founded both the student government and the GSA club, where he now serves as president.

 As a young trans Latino man and LGBTQ advocate, Aris has built bridges between his school’s students and staff, as well as between his peers and organizations dedicated to LGBTQ youth education and empowerment.

 He helped to spearhead the LGBTQ School Climate Resolution, a comprehensive survey that collects information about a school’s educational atmosphere respective to LGBTQ issues. Aris was not entirely surprised to learn 80 percent of his classmates had either often or occasionally heard homophobic remarks from other students. On the other hand, only 10 percent of student respondents heard their teachers say something objectionable about LGBTQ people, which is consistent with Aris’s perception that educators at his school are more liberal and tolerant.

 With data from the survey, Aris approached his teachers about ways they could help improve the school’s record on LGBTQ issues. He cited California’s FAIR Education Act, which, among other requirements, obligates teachers to include LGBTQ historical figures in their lesson plans. The law applies only to the state’s public schools, so teachers who work at Aris’s charter school are free to create their own lesson plans—and there, he said, there is room for substantial improvement.

 Aris worked with the Latino Equality Alliance’s (LEA) youth council to coordinate a speaking engagement at his school that featured a representative from the ONE Archives of the University of Southern California (USC). “They talked about LGBT leaders and advocates”, he said, “including some people I’ve never heard of in my life.”

 The organization administered 10 workshops throughout the year, including the Unconditional Love Rally, where Aris spoke about transphobia and his personal journey toward self-acceptance. The program required registrants to get prior approval from their parents, but Aris worked with school administrators who agreed to count the rally toward community service hours—which helped to bolster attendance.

Aris opened up to his mother about his gender identity in eighth grade and the following year came out to friends, teachers, and classmates. Like many transgender youth, Aris struggled with body image issues and depression. Not yet out to his father and living in a body that did not reflect his gender identity, while a freshman Aris was placed in a three-day psychiatric hold. There, he was isolated away from other patients—and told by nurses he could not be placed in units segregated by gender because he is neither male nor female. This, in spite of the fact that Aris explained he is a transgender man.

 Back at school, Aris is sometimes asked probing questions by other students concerning his anatomy. “My school is in Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles”, he explained, “and Hispanic culture is not always that accepting of LGBTQ people.” Teachers, by contrast, have been more welcoming—he only needs to remind them, occasionally, to not mis-gender him.

 Administratively, Aris has met challenges such as the attendance roster and the separation of girls and boys in advisory periods. “It can be isolating”, he said.

 Involvement in advocacy programs and social clubs has allowed Aris to build a sense of community and work on behalf of issues that are important to him. “Even within the LGBT community”, he said, “I feel like trans people are left out a lot.” The separation of gender and sexuality in the discussion of LGBTQ issues, as well as the ways in which we introduce these topics to young people, is important to Aris. The conflation of sexual orientation and gender identity, he said, can cause misunderstanding.

 Aris also hopes the Hispanic/Latino communities will begin to adopt more progressive attitudes toward LGBTQ people. He feels less tolerant attitudes exist primarily among older generations. “Friends have told me”, he explained “‘My mom doesn’t like you because you’re trans.’ It’s just sad—just because of that, like, [they don’t care] about everything else I do, what a good kid I am, my grades or my education.”

 Homophobia and transphobia will always exist, Aris said, and “people are scared of things they don’t now”. Looking to the future, he is more interested in effecting change through policy. “For me, really what matters is the legislation—that’s what changes everything. If you’re a lawyer or a president or lobbyist, you’re in a position to change things.”

 Aris expects to continue working on behalf of LGBTQ causes. “After I graduate”, he said, “I hope to go to college. I want to get really involved in my college.”

(Photo courtesy of Medina)

Alex Medina, 18, student journalist, LGBTQ advocate

Alex Medina is a student journalist who has authored more than 20 articles for his local newspaper, the Boyle Heights Beat, which covers news and feature stories in and around the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood.

He will soon graduate from high school and is eager to begin his freshman year at Hamilton College, a selective liberal arts university in update Clinton, New York. Then, Alex hopes to work toward a career in journalism. And he also has designs to start an organization dedicated to youth and the media.

Much of Alex’s work for Boyle Heights Beat is focused on LGBTQ issues, which he considers especially important because, particularly in decades past, LGBTQ people are often portrayed negatively. He said that spotlighting the work of advocates and activists helps to usher in progressive change while also offering role models for young people. Additionally, Alex has written about subjects important to immigrant communities—such as the census and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—as well as local politics and business.

For two years, Alex has served as president of his school’s GSA club, where he led efforts to curb the use of derogatory language and anti-LGBTQ slurs. In conversations with the student body, Alex and members of the club worked to encourage their peers to be more conscious of the language they use. “I used to get bullied when I was younger. So, it’s important to me that we have these conversations”, he explained, especially for the benefit of young LGBTQ folks.

Beyond the GSA, Alex works on behalf of a variety of causes that reflect the diversity of the subjects he has written about. Through his involvement with the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA), for example, Alex has advocated for policies that would help to curb the school-to-prison pipeline.

Alex credits many of his accomplishments to the unwavering support he’s received at home. His parents, who immigrated to Los Angeles from Mexico, have been involved with organizations like PFLAG—where they engage with other parents, many of them Latino, to facilitate conversations about accepting their children’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

It can be challenging work, he said. LGBTQ identities are often not discussed within Latino communities. “Youth often don’t come out to their parents because they’re afraid how their parents will react,” he explained. “When Latino people [immigrate to the US], there are prejudices—often formed by the things they heard when they were growing up—and they often bring that with them. It’s also generational.”

While young people have overwhelmingly adopted more positive positions on LGBTQ issues, change can also be witnessed in traditionally-conservative milieu, such as the Catholic Church. Just a few weeks ago, Pope Francis told a gay man, “God made you like that.” Alex agreed about the direction in which organized religion seems to be heading, at least concerning Catholicism. “With the Pope being more accepting,” he said, “it’s getting better. At my own church and at the other church I’m involved with, they’re accepting of me and the pastors communicate very positively about it.”

The role played by organizations, like PFLAG, that offer programs and resources for LGBTQ youth and allies is really important, Alex said. “In schools there often isn’t much awareness, even if there is acceptance, so these organizations help to fill in and offer resources—including condoms, and healthcare referrals—that are not available in school. There are a lot of events and opportunities available through those organizations that students wouldn’t otherwise know about. It’s important for parental acceptance as well.”

Alex feels the tremendous progress the LGBTQ community has witnessed over the years would not be possible if advocates and activists were not optimistic about their odds. “We wouldn’t have the movement we have today without people who brought awareness about things like AIDS, DOMA, and [same-sex] marriage”, he said. Beyond the fight for political equality, Alex feels adopting a positive attitude is important for building friendship and community.

Another corollary goal of Alex’s: Increasing the visibility of young people who are working to effect change. “A lot of times”, he said, “youth don’t see themselves represented. It’s important to bring attention to the work young people are doing to build a better future for themselves and for future generations of youth”.

(Photo courtesy of Akbarian)

Rudy Akbarian, 28, trans-Armenian veteran, aspiring barber

Rudy Akbarian is a transgender man, the son of Armenian immigrants, and a veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 2011 to 2016. He has also worked on behalf of LGBTQ youth, specifically homeless youth, and next month will begin studying to become a barber.

Before today, Rudy has spoken out twice about policies concerning the inclusion of openly-trans men and women in the military. In 2016, he praised the historic decision by former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to welcome transgender people into the armed forces. Then, last year, he denounced President Trump’s reversal of that policy but pledged to keep up the fight: “I’ve had too many people supporting me to just give up,” he said. “So, I don’t plan on doing that.”

Today, Rudy responded to reports from Tuesday that 100 members of Congress have submitted a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, urging him to reconsider the Administration’s decision to bar openly trans men and women from military service.

“That’s awesome,” he said. “But I don’t know what [Trump’s] reasoning was for not allowing trans people to serve in the military, other than ‘It would cost a lot of money.’” And this, Rudy pointed out, despite the President’s request for a military parade that The New York Times reported could total $30 million (at a time in which those funds could be better allocated to address homelessness among America’s veterans).

Importantly, Rudy added, the projected medical costs associated with treating the estimated 15,000 trans men and women in the armed services—which, according to a RAND study, would add up to $8 million—are likely even less. “Not every trans person wants to surgically or medically transition,” he explained. “That’s a stereotype we need to break.”

Rudy’s position on the capabilities of trans soldiers?

“After I conquered that battle to become my authentic self—and I did it alone—now, God only knows how many other battles and wars I can win with a team. Trans people are some of the strongest people and some of the most mentally capable people to protect and serve this country.”

Rudy said most of the transphobia he has encountered so far has been in civilian life. The men and women who served alongside him were focused on the demands of the mission before them, and close bonds were born from shared experiences and the close quarters in which they worked and lived.

Restroom and shower accommodations, particularly while Rudy was in the process of transitioning, proved challenging. Without an official gender marker that matched his gender identity he was not allowed to access the men’s facilities. Once, during a five-day range training excursion in the desert, Rudy had to use the women’s showers. And by this time, he had grown a full beard. “It was a super traumatizing experience for me, as well as for them. Because, they’re like, ‘Why is there a guy in the shower?’”

However difficult it was, as a trans man, to navigate the administrative hurdles of military life, Rudy had already weathered a lot of heartache. He came out first as a lesbian and was consequently kicked out of his home. “It was a really hard time in my life,” Rudy said. Like many young people in his position, he abused drugs and alcohol to cope. For more than six years now, Rudy has been sober—and his family eventually reconciled with him.

At first, he explained, the subject of his sexual orientation was off the table, but then Rudy journeyed closer to accepting his gender identity. “It was undeniable when the hormones kicked in,” he explained. “Then, I gave my family the choice to be there for my top surgery, and they showed up.” Rudy said they are now 120 percent supportive.

“One time, I discovered that my mom, who has this heavy Armenian accent and types the way she talks, was responding to these negative comments about me on social media. [Imitating her accent] ‘That’s my son and I love him and he’s very handsome!’ She was totally there in support, doing all of this emotional labor. It was so incredible to see that.”

These days, Rudy is incredulous about the policies introduced and supported by the President, especially those concerning transgender men and women in the armed forces. At the same time, he has witnessed tremendous progress in both his family and community—especially among young people—which, he said, signals movement in the direction of justice and equality.

Through social media, Rudy has comforted other LGBTQ folks, including Armenians who are struggling with coming out to their families. It’s just another form of advocacy, he said—a way to build and strengthen community.

Recently, Rudy was invited, by his former art teacher, to speak before a high school group called Students Advocating Gender Equality (SAGE). “When I was [a student] there,” he said, “there were three students in GSA, and I was one of them. At this event, I was talking to, like, 50 kids. They were all embracing and accepting each other—and it’s students in high school who are creating these clubs and programs.”

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Los Angeles County

LA County Pride lifeguard tower at Will Rogers beach vandalized

The tower had homophobic, racist and antisemitic slurs and symbols spray painted on it and its windows were broken out

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Los Angeles County LGBTQ+ Pride lifeguard tower at Will Rogers State Beach vandalized. (Screenshot/YouTube Fox 11 LA)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County lifeguard tower at Will Rogers State Beach was vandalized Monday evening or early Tuesday morning with homophobic, racist and antisemitic slurs and symbols were spray painted on it and the windows were broken out.

“Hate has no place in Los Angeles County. We will not back down from celebrating and protecting our LGBTQ+, Jewish, and Black communities – among our many diverse communities – across Los Angeles County. This act of hatred reminds us why our continued commitment to solidarity is necessary,”  L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath said in a statement to the Blade. “We are working with our County departmental partners to repaint Lifeguard Tower 18 at the historic and beloved Ginger Rogers Beach.”

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Los Angeles County

LAUSD board votes to ban student cellphone use during school day

Mobile phone apps are often cited as the leading cause among adolescents to suffer from episodes of mental health crisis or being bullied

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LAUSD board votes to ban student cellphone use during school day. (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7 Eyewitness News)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted Tuesday to ban mobile phone use during the school day starting in January of 2025. The ban is a complete prohibition against access and use of mobile phones by students on all LAUSD school campuses, including break periods.

“No matter what we bring to the board in the next four months, it will come with an awareness campaign for all stakeholders including students, but advances also the critical element of pursuing litigation against social media giants for their careless, irresponsible and immoral actions that have put kids across the country in the position they’re in today,” said LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

There was dissension as two school board members opposed the ban citing how difficult it would be for employees of the second largest school district in the country to enforce the ban and stay on top of it, KABC 7 reported.

Nick Melvoin, the LAUSD school board member for District 4, who spearheaded the ban, spoke with KABC 7:

“When I talk to teachers and students and parents… I also hear the same, which is that more and more time is being spent on policing student phone use. There’s not a coherent enforcement and they’re looking for some support from the board and from the district,” Melvoin said Tuesday. “The schools that have gone farther and that have already implemented a phone-free school day report incredible results. Kids are happier, they’re talking to one another, their academics are up.”

Some parents and others are opposed to the ban telling KABC that they wanted to be able to communicate with their children. Others however see the ban as a means to improve learning and lead to less bullying.

On Monday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy wrote an op-ed calling for warning labels for younger users on social media platforms.

With mobile phone apps most often cited as the leading cause among adolescents to suffer from episodes of mental health crisis or being bullied as is a majority of cases for LGBTQ+ youth, especially trans and gender non-conforming youth, limiting school day usage could mitigate a portion of those instances a San Fernando Valley youth mental health crisis counselor, who asked to remain unidentified, told the Blade Tuesday afternoon.

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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

A Food Equity Grant Program funded by LA County and the American Rescue Plan helps community organizations like Alma Backyard Farms create a new food system for County residents.

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.

Celebrating Juneteenth

LA County Celebrates Juneteenth

In celebration of Juneteenth 2024 and as a representation of the County’s commitment to the hard but necessary work of reparations, the County will provide free admission and access on or around June 19, 2024, to participating museums and beaches in Los Angeles County for eligible LA County residents who are lineal descendants of an African-American Chattel enslaved person (descendants of enslaved people who were abducted from their African homelands by force to be enslaved in North America) or of a free African-American person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th Century (“Community of Eligibility Residents”).

To receive free museum admission and beach parking on or around June 19, 2024, as described above, and be considered for eligibility in any future reparations or benefits under the County’s Reparations Initiative or any other applicable local or state program, please click here.

Join LA County in celebrating Juneteeth at Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell’s 4th Annual Juneteeth Celebration and Resource Fair on Friday, June 21, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This event features music, food trucks, live performances, access to County services, resources, fun activities, and more! All residents are welcome to attend this FREE event. We encourage you to register and forward this email to your friends and neighbors! Register here

In Case You Missed It

The Works App

From reporting potholes to finding critical services, it’s LA County at your fingertips.

The Works App empowers you to report:

  • Issues like potholes, graffiti, overgrown trees, and blocked storm drains
  • Property-related concerns and suspected violations
  • Illegal dumping activities affecting our streets and environment
  • Maintenance needs of trails and facilities in County parks

Keep up to date with the County’s latest news on upcoming events. Locate the nearest LA County offices, libraries, shuttle buses, and other services.

Download The Works for iPhone or Android today and transform how you connect with LA County!

At Your Service

Boost Your Business and Elevate a Career

Partner with the LA County Department of Economic Opportunity through Youth at Work Elevate to get your business matched with a highly motivated youth intern.

Potential youth participants between the ages of 17-24 in will receive paid work experience, training, and mentorship to prepare youth for in-demand and diverse career pathways. 100% of the youths’ wages will be covered for up to 400 hours.

Businesses in high-growth or post pandemic emerging sectors including healthcare, infrastructure, trade and logistics, e-commerce, transportation and warehousing, advanced manufacturing, entertainment and creative arts, informational technology, and hospitality are encouraged to apply.

A dedicated representative will be assigned to help eligible businesses through the entire process. Youth eligibility requirements include: Current or former foster youth, justice-impacted, current or previous experience with housing instability/homelessness, and LGBTQ+ youth.

Learn more here

Out and About

Parks After Dark Returns

Parks After Dark is Back for the 2024 Summer Season! Enjoy FREE Activities at 34 LA county parks! Join us for concerts, movie nights, fitness and wellness activities, food, games and more! F Also returning this year is our “Resource Fair Thursday’s”. To learn more, click here.

Photo Finish

Destination Crenshaw – an American Rescue Plan Creative Recovery Grantee.
(Photo: Los Angeles County/Mayra Beltran Vasquez)

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

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West Hollywood

Q Con Queer comic con returns to WeHo

WeHo Mayor John Erickson & Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers attended the event as Erickson, an admitted comic book nerd, stated this was his favorite

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Q Con West Hollywood 2024. (Photo Credit: Mike Pingel/WEHO TIMES)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Over 1000 queer comic book fans hit West Hollywood Plummer Park for the third annual Q Con queer comic book convention this past Saturday, June 15, 2024.

The event was hosted in part by Prism Comics, the nonprofit championing LGBTQ+ visibility, diversity, and inclusion in comics, graphic novels, and popular media. The WeHo Pride event had something for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, including LGBTQ+ books, comics, artists, and meet and greets with authors and cosplay personalities.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

This year, Q Con included special appearances by X-Men ’97 voice-over actors Holly Chou (voice of Jubilee in X-Men ‘97), Christine Uhebe (voice of Nina Da Costa), and JP Karliak (voice of Morph from X-Men ’97, available from 11 am – 1 pm only); Gui Agustini (voice of Sunspot), and Morla Gorrondona (voice of Lilandra). The actors participated in meet and greets and signed autographs.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

There was also a surprise appearance by actor Kevin Caliber, who starred in the movie Surge of Power, which screened at the event. Many may recognize Caliber from his role as Superman in the movie Superman World War. He also appeared in the TV shows Supergirl and Futureman.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

The event was larger than in previous years, with more exhibitors on display at the West Hollywood Recreation Center. The expanded programming included comics creators, cosplayers, panels, gaming, photo opportunities, and comics portfolio reviews by comics professionals for aspiring comics creators.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Creators at the event included David Booher (Killer Queens, Ghostbusters), A.C. Esguerra (Eighty Days), Sina Grace (Superman: The Harvests of Youth), Sam Maggs (Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas), Knave Murdock (Transcat), Josh Trujillo (Blue Beetle), William O. Tyler (We Belong), Shannon Watters (Lumberjanes, Hollow), Kendra Wells (Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas), Qweerty Gamers, and more.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Special guests at the Prism Comics table included Tim Sheridan (DC Pride Through The Years; Superman: Man of Tomorrow), Rex Ogle (Free Lunch, Northranger; Four Eyes), Lee Dawn (We Are Frogs), and animated voice actress Valerie Rose Lohman.

West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson and Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers attended the event to show their support. Mayor Erickson, an admitted comic book nerd, stated that this was his favorite programming in the entire WeHo Pride Arts Festival.

The event concluded with a cosplay costume contest. The Joker took first prize, followed by the Green Lantern and an Anime character.

Q Con West Hollywood – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Prism Comics:

Prism Comics is a nonprofit championing LGBTQ+ visibility, diversity, and inclusion in comic books, graphic novels, and popular media.

Founded in 2003, Prism Comics is “LGBTQ+ Comics Central” at San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon Anaheim, Los Angeles Comic Con, other conventions, and online, providing a safe, welcoming community for LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ friendly comics creators, readers, librarians, educators, and families. Prism has helped foster many comics creators who have become major voices in comics and graphic novels.

For more information, please visit prismcomics.org and @prismcomics.

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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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Orange County

Anaheim neighbors show solidarity after Pride flag vandalism

The man walks over to the Pride flag- he pulls out a knife and slashes through the flag, then rips the flag and pole down

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Screenshot/KABC 7 Eyewitness News

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Neighbors in the Colony Park neighborhood of Anaheim are raising LGBTQ+ Pride flags on their homes in a show of solidarity and allyship after a same-sex couple’s Pride Flag was torn off their house and slashed.

KABC 7 reported that Jake Nolan and his partner Jon had just put the flag up a few days ago. When they say it on the ground at first they thought perhaps the wind had torn it down.

But when they looked at their doorbell camera they saw something much more disturbing.

In the video, two men are walking along Water Street this past Saturday around 2 a.m. when one of them walks over to the Pride flag in front of the couple’s home. He pulls out a knife and slashes through the flag, then rips the flag and pole down.

In an interview with KABC 7 reporter Leanne Suter, describing the incident documented in the doorbell cam: “They used the f word – the slang term – and said not in my hood, not in my neighborhood,” Jake said. “We’ve lived here for years. There are other same-sex couples who have been here for decades. It’s like, no, this is our neighborhood.”

Watch:

NBC News reported that over twenty acts of hate against LGBTQ+ Pride have occurred so far this month nationwide.

related

During Pride month every June, Stonewall National Monument volunteers put up 250 LGBTQ+ Pride Flags on the Black iron decorative picket fence that rings the Christopher Street park.

This year, according to a statement from an New York Police Department spokesperson, 160 of the flags were torn down and damaged between Thursday evening and Friday morning. The NYPD said that no arrests have been made and that the vandals climbed over the Black iron decorative picket fence that rings the Christopher Street park to gain access to the monument.

This is the second year in a row for an vandalism incident on the Stonewall National Monument. In 2023, Park volunteers found at least 70 of those flags torn down and damaged in what the New York Police Department‘s Hate Crimes Task Force investigated as a hate crime and later arrested three men.

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Los Angeles County

LA County Public Health: Mpox cases rise & data privacy breach

Ten new Mpox cases reported in Los Angeles County in past two weeks cause concern as agency reels from a successful phishing attack

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Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Public Health Director, L.A. County (Screenshot/LA County Channel)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is alerting residents and health care providers about a concerning increase in mpox cases, with 10 new cases reported in Los Angeles County in the past two weeks up from an average of less than two cases per week during the preceding several weeks.

Mpox (previously referred to as Monkeypox) is mainly spread through close contact with body fluids, sores, shared bedding or clothing or respiratory droplets (kissing, coughing, sneezing). Symptoms include rash or unusual sores that look like pimples or blisters on the face, body and genitals, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches or swelling of lymph nodes. Early detection, testing and vaccination are vital to controlling the spread of this disease and protecting the health of Los Angeles County residents.

Given the recent increase in cases, Public Health strongly recommends the following actions:

Testing: Anyone who develops symptoms consistent with mpox, such as rash, fever or swollen lymph nodes should seek medical attention and get tested. Health care providers should be aware of the possibility of mpox and promptly report suspected cases to Public Health for appropriate testing and interventions.

Prevention: Vaccination is a safe way to prevent one from getting mpox and may also reduce symptoms. The following can help reduce the risk of getting and spreading mpox:

  • Ask partners if they have mpox symptoms or feel sick. Individuals should not have sex or other intimate contact if they or their partners have a new or unexplained rash or sores or feel sick until they see a health care provider.
  • Reduce the number of partners, especially those whose recent sexual history is unknown.
  • Make a habit of exchanging contact information with any new partner to allow for sexual health follow-up, if needed.
  • Limit going to sex parties, circuit parties and other spaces where people are having sex or other intimate contact with multiple people.
  • Use condoms and gloves:
    • Condoms (latex or polyurethane) may protect the mouth, penis anus or vagina from exposure to mpox; however, condoms alone may not prevent all exposures to mpox since the rash can occur on other parts of the body.
    • Gloves (latex, polyurethane or nitrile) may reduce exposure if inserting fingers or hands into the anus or the vagina. The gloves must cover all exposed skin and be removed carefully to avoid touching the outer surface.
  • Do not share towels, clothing, bedding, fetish gear, sex toys or toothbrushes.
  • Wash hands, fetish gear, towels and bedding. Sex toys should be washed after each use or sex act.

Vaccination: Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of mpox. Jynneos is a two-dose vaccine developed to protect against mpox, and getting both doses provides the best protection against mpox. The vaccine is available to anyone, and individuals who identify with any of the following subgroups are highly encouraged to get vaccinated:

  • Any man or transgender person who has sex with men or transgender persons
  • Persons of any gender or sexual orientation who have sex or intimate physical contact with others in association with a large public event or engage in commercial and/or transactional sex
  • Persons living with HIV, especially persons with uncontrolled or advanced HIV disease
  • Sexual partners of people in any of the above groups

People in high-risk groups are urged to get fully vaccinated with two doses for the best protection. Second doses can be given no matter how long it’s been since the first dose. Residents can choose to receive the mpox vaccine subcutaneously (in the upper arm) or intradermally (under the skin on their arm or back). Vaccine boosters are not recommended at this time.

Public Health is collaborating closely with health care providers, community organizations and other stakeholders to address the mpox resurgence as swiftly and effectively as possible. Enhanced surveillance, contact tracing and outbreak investigations are underway to identify potential sources of the infection and prevent further transmission. Public Health’s mobile vaccination units are providing free vaccination at numerous Pride events this season, Public Health’s sexual health clinics found at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/sexualhealthclinics/ and other walk-up vaccine clinics can be found at https://myturn.ca.gov/.

A collective response is crucial in mitigating the impact of this outbreak. By increasing vaccination rates, the spread of mpox can be minimized within Los Angeles County to protect the health and well-being of its diverse communities.

For the most up-to-date information and resources, please visit ph.lacounty.gov/mpox or contact the Public Health Call Center at 1-833-540-0473.

Public Health Responds to Privacy Breach

Between February 19, 2024, and February 20, 2024, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health experienced a phishing attack in which a hacker was able to gain log-in credentials of 53 Public Health employees through a phishing email, compromising the personal information of more than 200,000 individuals.

Upon discovery of the phishing attack, Public Health disabled the impacted e-mail accounts, reset and re-imaged the user’s device(s), blocked websites that were identified as part of the phishing campaign and quarantined all suspicious incoming e-mails. Additionally, awareness notifications were distributed to all workforce members to remind them to be vigilant when reviewing e-mails, especially those including links or attachments. Law enforcement was notified upon discovery of the phishing attack, and they investigated the incident.

The information identified in the potentially compromised e-mail accounts may have included DPH clients/employees/other individuals’ first and last name, date of birth, diagnosis, prescription, medical record number/patient ID, Medicare/Med-Cal number, health insurance information, Social Security Number, and other financial information.

Affected individuals may have been impacted differently and not all of the elements listed were present for each individual.

Public Health is notifying impacted individuals by mail. For individuals where a mailing address is not available, Public Health is also posting a notice on its website to provide information and resources. Public Health is also notifying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights and other agencies as required by law and/or contract.

In response, Public Health has implemented numerous enhancements to reduce exposure to similar e-mail attacks in the future.

While Public Health cannot confirm whether information has been accessed or misused, individuals are encouraged to review the content and accuracy of the information in their medical record with their medical provider. To help relieve concerns and restore confidence following this incident, we have secured the services of Kroll, a global leader in risk mitigation and response, to provide identity monitoring for one year at no cost to affected clients.

Additionally, affected individuals should review “Steps You Can Take to Protect Against Identity Theft and Fraud,” to help protect their information.

Individuals that would like to inquire if their information was impacted can contact the following established dedicated call center available toll free in the U.S. at 1-866-898-4312, from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time (excluding weekends and major U.S. holidays).

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West Hollywood

Final OUTZone patios removed from WeHo’s Rainbow District

During the most acute stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of West Hollywood responded in a variety of creative ways to community needs

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West Hollywood Rainbow District. (Photo Credit: Paulo Murillo/WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The final four remaining OUTZone outdoor patios in West Hollywood’s Rainbow District were dismantled and removed this past week, marking the end of an era when outdoor patio dining spilled onto Santa Monica Boulevard during the pandemic.

The OUTZone patios were taken down from Beaches WeHo, Tom Tom Restaurant, Fiesta Cantina, and Trunk’s Bar, all located within walking distance of each other.

Beaches WeHo owner Jacob Shaw tells WEHO TIMES that he was able to work out a deal with Koontz Hardware next door and obtained permission to expand their patio area into their property line, so their patio area is wider than before the pandemic. Workers were seen on Wednesday taking the OUTZone apart and making adjustments.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Tom Tom Restaurant had to revert back to their previous patio space. The restaurant was also trying to meet a deadline to have the OUTZone patio removed by Thursday.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Trunks Bar had their seating area removed right after WeHo Pride weekend. The city also had the concrete K-rails removed, and cars are already taking advantage of the extra parking space in a spot where customers enjoyed drinks for these past three years.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Fiesta Cantina removed portions of their OUTZone but still needs to take down the wood paneling as of the posting of this piece.

West Hollywood Rainbow District – WEHO TIMES

Some businesses like La Boheme WeHo had the option to apply to make their OUTZone patios permanent. However, businesses on streets with sidewalks greater than or equal to 19 feet deep were not given this option. Therefore, businesses in the City’s Rainbow District along Santa Monica Boulevard were mandated to revert to pre-COVID-19 sidewalk allowances. They were given an extension to keep the OUTZones past WeHo Pride weekend. Some businesses, like Stache WeHo and Hi Tips, opted to end theirs early at the beginning of the year.

During the most acute stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of West Hollywood responded in a variety of creative ways to community needs as we all navigated the pandemic.

In July 2020, the City began a Temporary Outdoor Expansion Permit (TOEP) program by offering streamlined approval for businesses to use sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and private parking lots as areas to expand operations while protecting health and safety.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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

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West Hollywood

Heart WeHo owners say club will remain open until further notice

It will be business as usual at the former home of Rage Nightclub while the business is in escrow and legal agreements are ironed out

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Heart WeHo/WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Heart WeHo nightclub, located at 8911 Santa Monica Boulevard, is not closing anytime soon, say the owners of Beaches Tropicana, the new restaurant and bar set to take over the space near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard.

It will be business as usual at the former home of Rage Nightclub while the business is in escrow and legal agreements are ironed out.

Beaches WeHo owner Jacob Shaw tells WEHO TIMES that a report stating Heart WeHo was closing after WeHo Pride weekend is false. He said there will be a transition from business to business and that Heart WeHo will remain open through most of it until they may have to close for major renovations.

Partner Paul Nichols added that there will be no disruption to operations and there will not be a farewell party because some partners are staying (Nichols included), and the partners leaving are simply going across the street to Rocco’s WeHo.

In fact, this past Thursday night, Heart WeHo had a busy night with a long line snaking around the corner for an album release party for Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo. There is also a Thank You for Pride Party happening this Saturday.

The Beaches WeHo team has formally announced that a whole new concept called Beaches Tropicana is coming to the former Heart WeHo space in the heart of West Hollywood’s Rainbow District. Renovations are set to kick off after Pride Month celebrations, with the highly anticipated grand reopening slated for Labor Day 2024.

“HEY BEACHES FAM!” reads a post on Beaches WeHo’s social media platforms. “We have some exciting news to share with you all. We’ve officially purchased the venue that is currently Heart WeHo, and Heart’s original partners Lance Bass and Paul Nichols will be joining the Beaches team. Together, we are all excited to transform the space into something truly special. INTRODUCING **BEACHES TROPICANA!”

According to the post, Beaches Tropicana will be their flagship headquarters, combining a full-service Cuban-American restaurant with an entertainment venue where guests can dine, dance, and enjoy top-notch performances, all in one space.

Beaches WeHo at 8928 Santa Monica Boulevard will also be getting a makeover and will be turned into Beaches Baja with a new Tex-Mex menu. According to a press release, the team is in talks with several high-profile chefs and hopes to make an exciting announcement once these plans are finalized.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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

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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

The Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN) is the first community-driven support network serving veterans and their families in the U.S. Led by veterans for veterans, VPAN connects L.A. County Departments, nonprofits, the V.A., and L.A. City Programs to help veterans navigate often complicated systems to connect to resources. VPAN prioritizes hiring veterans as “battle buddies” and systems navigators to connect assist their fellow veterans.

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

Arts Internship Program – Apply Today!

LA County Arts and Culture Internships - Positions now open!

Positions for the 2024 Arts Internship Program are now available! This program will provide 228 university and community college students with paid on-the-job experience in the arts at over 160 nonprofit organizations across the LA region. What’s more, all Arts Internship Program internships provide 400 hours of work experience at $17.28 an hour.

Positions will continue to be posted on a rolling basis through July 2024. Visit the LA County Arts & Culture website to learn more!

At Your Service

The Works App

From reporting potholes to finding critical services, it’s LA County at your fingertips.

The Works App empowers you to report:

  • Issues like potholes, graffiti, overgrown trees, and blocked storm drains
  • Property-related concerns and suspected violations
  • Illegal dumping activities affecting our streets and environment
  • Maintenance needs of trails and facilities in County parks

Keep up to date with the County’s latest news on upcoming events. Locate the nearest LA County offices, libraries, shuttle buses, and other services.

Download The Works for iPhone or Android today and transform how you connect with LA County!

Out and About

Celebrating Juneteenth

Join LA County in celebrating Juneteeth at Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell’s 4th Annual Juneteeth Celebration and Resource Fair on Friday, June 21, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This event features music, food trucks, live performances, access to County services, resources, fun activities, and more! All residents are welcome to attend this FREE event. We encourage you to register and forward this email to your friends and neighbors! Register here

To learn more about Juneteeth and find events and programming in your community, click here.

Photo Finish

Levitated Mass at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Photo: Los Angeles County)

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

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Los Angeles County

Parks make life better month- Culver City’s movies in the park

California’s “Parks Make Life Better!” recognizes the importance of equitable access to parks, recreation, trails, open space, & facilities

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

CULVER CITY, Calif. – July is “Parks Make Life Better!” month and the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department is celebrating with Movies in The Park every Saturday night, all month long! 

Bring your blankets, picnic baskets, and lawn chairs to see:

Gates will open at 7 PM and movies will begin at dusk. Admission is free. 

The California “Parks Make Life Better!” campaign recognizes the importance of equitable access to parks, recreation, trails, open space, and facilities for the positive development of all. Culver City PRCS invites you and your family to celebrate with us. 

PARKS MAKE LIFE BETTER MONTH

MOVIE SCREENINGS

WHEN

Saturday July 6, 13, 20, and 27

7 PM gates open, movie starts at dusk

WHERE

  • Veterans Memorial Park on 7/6
  • Syd Kronenthal Park on 7/13
  • Fox Hills Park on 7/20
  • Culver West Alexander Park on 7/27
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