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Williams Institute: Culture, not PrEP, linked to spike in STIs

Author says ‘quiet sexual revolution’ happening



Only a small minority of eligible patients are taking Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention, according to a recent study.

Rates of HIV screening are alarmingly low in some populations of gay and bisexual men in the United States and only a small minority of eligible patients are taking Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, according to a recent study by the Williams Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all sexually active men who have sex with men (MSM) test annually for HIV and include PrEP in their HIV prevention methods. With a probability sample, the first that offers nationwide estimates, researchers found only 4% of MSMs are using PrEP and as many as 25% of young gay and bisexual men have never been tested for HIV—while fewer than half are screened at least once per year.

“Our findings suggest that health education efforts are not adequately reaching sizable groups of men at risk for HIV infection,” the study’s principal investigator, Ilan H. Meyer, Distinguished Senior Public Policy Scholar at the Williams Institute, said in a press release. “It is alarming that high- risk populations of men who are sexually active with same-sex partners are not being tested or taking advantage of treatment advances to prevent the spread of HIV.”

Nationwide, the number of new HIV infections has decreased year-over-year since 2010, a public health achievement that still does not mitigate the potential risks associated with low rates of HIV screening and PrEP use. Meanwhile, the spike in sexually transmitted infections (STI) like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis among MSM has been partially attributed to riskier behaviors among men who use PrEP. That conclusion, which is fueled in part by peer- reviewed research—and also, perhaps, by some sexual shaming or stigma—is challenged by the findings reported in the Williams Institute paper.

Lead study author Phillip Hammack, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told the Los Angeles Blade: “Our data don’t support the idea that we can attribute the rise in STIs to PrEP use, at least not in a direct manner. I personally don’t think that’s what’s happening.” More responsible are a constellation of different cultural factors, from the availability of easy sex via hook-up apps to decreased anxiety about HIV/AIDS, Hammack explained. “I would speculate it has more to do with a culture shift about sex. More people are having sex today. We’re in sort of a quiet sexual revolution when it comes to new identities, new labels, and sexual behavior.”

To an extent, Hammack said, low rates of HIV testing and PrEP use can be explained in the same way, along with various other factors, including stigma, which often prevents gay and bisexual men from discussing their sexual behaviors or identities with healthcare providers and non-LGBT-specific clinics are not always familiar with the full spectrum of diverse sexual identities and behaviors. Additionally, limited access to medications and financial barriers are in large part responsible for the low numbers of eligible patients using PrEP.

Hammack told the Los Angeles Blade that HIV prevention efforts must focus on better educating healthcare providers, especially in more rural areas. “A really encouraging finding of ours was that if folks had access to LGBT-specific resources and were out to their providers, they were much more likely to be tested and to be on PrEP,” he said. Physicians and healthcare providers must talk with men in sensitive, non-stigmatizing ways in order to really understand patients’ sexual risk profiles. For example, some MSMs may identify as straight and disavow membership in the LGBT community.

Such a shift in approach is likely to result in an increased number of men who choose to take PrEP, the Williams Institute study suggests. Hammack explained that prior research, with samples of gay/bisexual men in urban areas, found only moderately- higher numbers of PrEP users, typically between five and 10%—still well below the rates recommended by the CDC and World Health Organization.

More of the factors that can explain the low number of PrEP users, both nationwide and in large metropolitan areas, will be borne out in a forthcoming study that will include in-depth interviews of gay and bisexual men. Despite public campaigns about the safety and efficacy of PrEP, Hammack explained, “In this [forthcoming] study, what we’ve seen is, frankly, a lot of misinformation about PrEP.” Along with undue fears about side effects, Hammack and his team discovered “a fair amount of sexual shame. ‘Well, I don’t want to be considered a PrEP whore’—that kind of language.”

Some of the findings in the Williams Institute study are cause for celebration, however. HIV testing rates among black MSMs are higher than rates among white men. “What our findings on that suggest is that the testing campaigns that have targeted African-American men are paying off,” Hammack said. Still, while rates of new HIV infections have decreased in the general population, there has been an increase in new diagnoses among black gay and bisexual men. “I think we’re in a transitional moment in which we’re starting to see the effects of the aggressive efforts to reduce the impact of HIV on communities of color,” Hammack explained. “And it’s going to take some time before we see the actual infection rate numbers go down.”


West Hollywood

West Hollywood celebrates ACT UP LA’s 35th anniversary

In December 1987, ACT UP Los Angeles became one of the first chapters established in the world regularly meeting at Plummer Park in WeHo



ACT UP LA 35th Anniversary in West Hollywood - Photo by Catherine Eng for WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood hosted the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) LA’s 35th anniversary with a tribute event at Plummer Park’s Great Hall/Long Hall, on Saturday, December 2, 2023.

The event also paid tribute to the memories of ACT UP LA activists Mary Lucey and Nancy Jean MacNeil, who died in early 2023 and raised awareness of ACT UP LA’s history surrounding World AIDS Day by highlighting ACT UP LA’s decade of brave and deeply influential HIV/AIDS activism. And it all originated in West Hollywood.

West Hollywood council members Lauren Meister and Chelsea Byers attended the event, which turned out a packed house paying tribute and celebrating 35 years of AIDS activism following World AIDS Day the previous day. Community members were also joined by City Staff, City Commissioners and Board Members.

ACT UP LA 35th Anniversary in West Hollywood – Photo by Catherine Eng for WEHO TIMES
ACT UP LA 35th Anniversary in West Hollywood – Photo by Catherine Eng for WEHO TIMES

ACT UP is a diverse, nonpartisan group of individuals, united in anger, and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. ACT UP was founded in 1987 in response to the Reagan administration’s blatant refusal to acknowledge the growing AIDS crisis.

In December 1987, ACT UP Los Angeles became one of the first chapters established in the world. Regularly meeting at Plummer Park in West Hollywood, ACT UP LA stood out from other chapters with its focus on compassionate release for prisoners with AIDS, fight for clean needle exchange, and taking a national leadership role in the ACT UP Network Coalition for Universal Healthcare.

ACT UP LA 35th Anniversary in West Hollywood – Photo by Catherine Eng for WEHO TIMES

Mary Lucey and Nancy Jean MacNeil were together for more than 30 years. They eventually married when it became legal to do so. Lucey and MacNeil, along with fellow AIDS activists Jordan Peimer, Helene Schpak, and Judy Ornelas Sisneros, launched the ACT UP LA Oral History Project on World AIDS Day 2021 with the goal of documenting HIV activism in the Los Angeles area from 1987 to 1997, with a notable focus on the work of ACT UP LA.

ACT UP LA 35th Anniversary in West Hollywood – Photo by Catherine Eng for WEHO TIMES

Mary Lucey and Nancy Jean MacNeil both joined ACT UP LA after they attended the first Women’s Caucus meeting in June 1990. Lucey was among the first HIV-positive women in Los Angeles to be out about her status. Fueled by a sense of outrage at AIDSphobia, she fought for several years in ACT UP to expand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s definition of AIDS to include women’s opportunistic infections and for health care for incarcerated women with AIDS. MacNeil became the founding Executive Director of Women Alive, an organization by and for HIV-positive women with a membership of more than 500 people. She established a treatment-focused newsletter and the first national women’s AIDS hotline.

ACT UP LA 35th Anniversary in West Hollywood – Photo by Catherine Eng for WEHO TIMES

The ACT UP LA Oral History Project is committed to giving a voice to the activists who constructed regional and national history during the AIDS pandemic. Focused on the lifespan of ACT UP LA from 1987-1997, the intent of this project is to capture the experiences of those individuals whose participation in ACT UP LA led to successes in the community that saved lives, changed the way society thought about people with AIDS, and challenged and changed the institutional biases that allowed the AIDS crisis to explode to such a devastating level.


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.


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

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Northern California

Gaining a new foothold in Redding, the only gay bar’s renaissance

“It’s just not good for everybody to not have a place to be that’s explicitly open to them being who they want to be”



The Vault bills itself as Redding California's Gayest Bar & Nightclub. (Photo Credit: The Vault/Facebook)

REDDING, Calif. – For nearly 27 years in this Northern California city the only refuge for Shasta County’s queer community was the 501 bar and club in downtown Redding. Then last year during Pride Month the owners alerted their customers and the community the bar was closing permanently.

The club was given a rousing farewell which on its Facebook page it was dubbed the “Last Dance.” Featuring music, a candlelight vigil, the community gathered to say their final goodbye to a place that always accepted them for who they are.

This week Redding’s ABC News affiliate KRCR 7 interviewed Brad Thompson, the new owner of the bar now called ‘The Vault’ that sits on the corner of Center and Division Street, telling KRCR it [the 501] felt like home when he moved to the city in 2015.

(Photo Credit: The Vault/Facebook)

“This was really the only bar that I found to be home and where I felt comfortable in being who I wanted to be,” Thompson says. “Hanging out with other people who had the same values of just being authentic and being in the moment and being here.”

Thompson explained the sense of loss when the 501 shut down in 2022.

“The community got really fractured,” he says. “And it’s just not good for everybody to not have a place to be that’s explicitly open to them being who they want to be.”

According to ABC 7, Thompson was eager to acquire the property and get it re-established as a safe space place for LGBTQ+ people to be themselves.

“I’m just trying to improve on it or, at least, create my vision of what I want to see here,” he shares. “Which is more relationships formed, more people connecting and creating good vibes, and that expanding out into the community.“

Although the bar has been reopened since October, it has gained a loyal following and continues to make its mark in Redding and Shasta County.

You can find more information about The Vault’s hours and events on their site.

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood in brief- City government in action this week

Nominations for its 2024 Rainbow Key Awards, 34th Annual Toy and Food Drive, 2024 Arts Grant Program Grant Recipients and more



Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood/Jon Viscott

City of West Hollywood opens nominations for its 2024 Rainbow Key Awards

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood is gathering nominations for its 2024 Rainbow Key Awards. The City’s Rainbow Key Awards recognize people who have made outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ+ community.

Nominations may be submitted electronically through the City’s website at Nomination forms are due by 11:59 p.m. PST on Wednesday, January 31, 2024. The newly formed LGBTQ+ Commission will review nominations and present recommendations to the West Hollywood City Council. The awards presentations for 2024 Rainbow Key Awards nominees are anticipated to take place during the second half of 2024.

Since 1993, the City of West Hollywood has presented Rainbow Key Awards to individuals and groups that have gone above and beyond in their service to the LGBTQ+ community. Contributions have come in many forms, including the arts, community service, humanitarian action, sports, medicine, armed services, leadership potential, benefit to the global LGBTQ+ community, and more. Past honorees have included activists, artists, civic leaders, educators, community organizations, and many others.

The City of West Hollywood will be hosting an event for its 2023 Rainbow Key Awards presentation, which is anticipated to take place in early 2024. Additional details will be made available when the date is confirmed. Stay informed by visiting the City’s website calendar at and opt-in to news updates and calendar e-notifications by signing up at

For more information, please contact Moya Márquez, City of West Hollywood Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6574 or at [email protected].

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

West Hollywood is Informing Dog Owners about LA County Public Health Announcement Regarding Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (aCIRD)

The City of West Hollywood is getting the word out about a recent announcement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that it has received multiple reports of dogs experiencing a sudden respiratory illness of unknown origin. Symptoms for dogs include cough, nasal discharge, sneezing, and lethargy.

Related to this, the Vanderpump Dog Foundation cancelled its World Dog Day 2023 event, which had been scheduled to take place in West Hollywood Park on Saturday, December 2, 2023. The cancellation was made to ensure all necessary precautions are taken to safeguard the health and wellness of dogs. The event is anticipated to be rescheduled in 2024.

Currently, LA County Public Health is in case-finding mode to determine if and to what extent there is a new respiratory illness impacting dogs in Los Angeles County and is communicating with federal and state entities to ensure efforts are coordinated.

According to LA County Public Health, the respiratory illness impacting dogs is currently known as Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (aCIRD). Cases are currently defined as having a negative canine respiratory PCR test panel, which tests for common viruses and bacteria identified in dogs with similar symptoms, plus one of the following clinical scenarios:

  • Chronic mild to moderate respiratory infection that lasts more than six weeks that is minimally or not responsive to antibiotics;
  • Chronic pneumonia that is minimally or not responsive to antibiotics; or
  • Acute pneumonia that rapidly becomes severe and often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24 to 36 hours.

Given the lack of knowledge about the cause of this disease, LA County Public Health is advising dog owners to look out for symptoms such as cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, and lethargy in their dogs. If a dog is experiencing these symptoms, owners should take the following steps:

1. Contact their pet’s veterinarian so the pet may be evaluated, and, if indicated, the appropriate tests and medications may be provided.

2. Isolate sick dogs at home for a minimum of 28 days past the first day of the onset of illness. Dogs exposed to the sick dog should quarantine at home and away from other dogs for 14 days to monitor them for signs and symptoms of illness.

3. Clean regularly and disinfect surfaces, doorknobs, keyboards, and animal equipment. To disinfect, use an EPA-registered disinfecting product or a stronger bleach solution.

4. Keep the dog home and away from day care, boarding kennels, grooming facilities, and dog parks.

5. If a dog becomes ill after being boarded or being in a facility, owners should take it to a veterinarian for evaluation and they should also notify the facility about the illness.

At this time, the City of West Hollywood will maintain regular operations and cleaning for William S. Hart Dog Park and Dog Parks at West Hollywood Park, keeping them open. Advisory information about Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (aCIRD) will be posted in these park areas. The City will maintain close contact with LA County Public Health on this topic in the event that local officials deem additional steps should be taken.

For more information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, please contact [email protected] or (213) 240-8144.

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call the City of West Hollywood’s TTY line (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood to Host Winter Wonderland at West Hollywood Park

The City of West Hollywood will host its second-annual Winter Wonderland event on Saturday, December 16, 2023 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at West Hollywood Park, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard. 

The highlight of this event is the transformation of West Hollywood Park into a picturesque Winter Wonderland with 20 tons of snow on the Great Lawn, which is snow laughing matter! The City has doubled the size of its snow zone play area, so get ready to frolic and play in a space that’s twice as grand, making this year’s event truly snow-tastic!

Two snow zones will be in place, one for ages five-and-under, and another for ages six and up. Bundle up and don your gay apparel, sweaters, gloves, and boots, hop on your sleigh and point it toward West Hollywood Park for a sweet and festive adventure full of fun and cheer! Yule be sorry if you miss it!

Additional event festivities include, crafts, holiday décor, hot cocoa and snacks, performances by community groups, a DJ spinning holiday classics, plenty of opportunities to take elfies and remember, no resting Grinch face. In case of rain, the event will move to the gymnasium inside the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center, located at 8750 El Tovar Place, directly adjacent to the West Hollywood Park grounds. 

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s Winter Wonderland event, please contact the City’s Recreation Services Division at (323) 848-6534 or at [email protected].

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

City of West Hollywood Says Loud-and-Clear:  ‘Don’t Drink (or Use) and Drive’

The City of West Hollywood, its City Council, and its Public Safety Commission join the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, local Fire Stations 7 and 8, and Block by Block Security Ambassadors in reminding community members about an important safety message during the holidays: do not drink (or use) and drive. Driving under the influence of cannabis carries the same DUI designation as alcohol.

This critical message will be the theme of an upcoming community reception Celebrating 10 Years of the City of West Hollywood’s free weekend trolley The PickUp. Launched in 2013, The PickUp is the City’s fun, flirtatious, (and free!) trolley that runs along Santa Monica Boulevard on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on certain holidays. The PickUp carries people safely to and from bars, clubs, restaurants, and entertainment venues in and around the City’s Rainbow District and Center City and Eastside areas.

The PickUp Celebrating 10 Years community reception will take place on Monday, December 4, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. in the motor court adjacent to the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. It is free and open to the public. The reception will precede the regular meeting of the West Hollywood City Council, which will begin at 6 p.m. 

Irreverent and lighthearted, The PickUp provides more than 100,000 passenger trips each year and connects people to the places in West Hollywood they want to go. When it was launched a decade ago, The PickUp was illustrated with a bright yellow palette of graphic pop-art characters. It has evolved to feature photo-based images with new typefaces, logos, and designs. Everyone enjoys a ride on The PickUp. Most importantly, it reduces driving while intoxicated and eases parking and traffic congestion. Details:

The City’s Cityline service offers an additional way to get around West Hollywood and to connect to the Hollywood/Highland station from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays for Los Angeles Metro Rail B Line (red line) service. Details: Visit for additional information about City of West Hollywood transit programs. 

There are sobering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about the dangers of DUI. Every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver; more than one-million drivers are arrested yearly for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics; and, marijuana users were approximately 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use.

The City of West Hollywood works year-round to raise awareness about safe driving, distractions, and pedestrian safety. The City’s Drive Mindfully campaign reminds community members to embrace a mindful approach to driving. When we Drive Mindfully, we all do our part to help encourage safety in the community whether we’re driving, bicycling, or walking.

The City of West Hollywood has many bars, restaurants, lounges, nightclubs, and venues that serve alcohol. The City’s Imbibe Intelligently campaign promotes safety tips and messages regarding alcohol consumption and encourages responsibility as the City works to maintain safe establishments that are free from overconsumption of alcohol.  

As the holiday season approaches, the West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has issued the following safety tips:

  • Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk — or worse, the risk of having a crash while driving.
  • If you will be drinking or using marijuana, do not plan on driving. Plan ahead; designate a sober driver before the party begins – a designated driver is someone who hasn’t had any alcohol or marijuana, not just the person who drank or smoked the least. 
  • If you have been drinking or using marijuana, do not drive. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, use a ride share service or public transportation, or call one of your local sober ride home programs.
  • Be responsible. If someone you know is impaired, do not let that person get behind the wheel, and do not accept a ride with an impaired person.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station’s Community Impact Team (CIT) actively patrols bars, nightclubs, and hotels. Deputies are proactive in addressing impacts from entertainment establishments and special events. The Sheriff’s Station’s Entertainment Policing Team (EPT) focuses on entertainment- and alcohol-related law enforcement issues. Together, the Sheriff’s Station and the City’s Code Compliance Division work with the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to educate businesses and work collaboratively on alcohol-related issues. 

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s efforts for community members not to drink (or use) and drive, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Community Safety Department at (323) 848-6414 or at [email protected].

For more information about The PickUp Celebrating 10 Years or about the City of West Hollywood’s transit programs, please contact Douglas Bear Nguyen, City of West Hollywood Transportation Program Administrator, at (323) 848-6370 or at [email protected].

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

City of West Hollywood Announces 2024 Arts Grant Program Grant Recipients

The City of West Hollywood has announced the recipients for its 2024-2025 Arts Grant Program, totaling $217,800 awarded to 23 new grantees and 10 multi-year grantees who are all Los Angeles County-based non-profit arts organizations and artists. 

The City of West Hollywood, through its Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, has maintained an Arts Grant Program since 1997. The Program provides funding support to eligible artists and nonprofit arts organizations for the production, performance, or presentation of arts projects that take place in the City of West Hollywood and that serve the West Hollywood community.

The Arts Grant Program is considered a central component to arts and cultural programs and services provided by the City of West Hollywood. Arts grants offer subsidized funding to artists and organizations so that ticket prices are free or low cost for the public. In other cases, art grants provide opportunities for artistic development, allowing space for stimulating creativity and deepening cross-cultural understanding, while contributing to the quality-of-life residents and visitors can enjoy in West Hollywood. The funding provided through the vehicle of a grant ensures a fair and equitable review process and results in the reflection of the diversity contained among our residents.

The City received a total of 53 applications representing a variety of arts disciplines and a wide array of projects. Following a peer panel review and the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission funding recommendations, the West Hollywood City Council approved the below recommendations at its regular meeting on Monday, October 16, 2023.

The Arts Project Grant category supports the production, performance, or presentation of art projects that take place in the City of West Hollywood and that serve the West Hollywood community. It is a two-year grant. The following non-profit arts organizations are grant recipients for 2024-2025: Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Greenway Arts Alliance, Inc., Helix Collective, Kol Sephardic Choir (ROSE), No Easy Props, Inc., ONE Archives Foundation, Prism Comics, Inc., Rogue Artists Ensemble, and Vox Femina Los Angeles.

The Transgender Arts Initiative Grant category supports and enhances the presentation of artworks in West Hollywood by transgender artists, artist collectives or groups, and non-profit organizations with a history of supporting transgender artists. First initiated in 2013, this grant category is the first to support artwork by, for, and about the transgender community. The 2024 grant recipients in this category are: Celebration Theatre, Andre Keichian, Chanel Lumiere, Maddox Pennington, and Yozmit The DogStar.

The Community Arts Grant intends to support non-profit arts organizations with a history of supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities and/or female artists and audiences. The grant recipients in this category include: Arts Bridging the Gap, Entertainment Community Fund, Wokelicious LLC, and Women Who Submit.

In addition to these new grant awardees, the City continues to support its multi-year grantees in their second or third year of programming. The multi-year grantees are: Brockus Project Dance Company, Grand Performances, International Eye Los Angeles, MashUp Contemporary Dance Company, Oasis Players, Pieter, Pride Poets, and Saturday Night Bath Concert Fund.

The WeHo Artist Grant aims to nurture and support the long-term development of an artist’s ideas by providing funds that increase the capacity for artists to realize work, advance the conditions of creation, and navigate the complexities of both making art and making a career. The West Hollywood resident artist grant recipients for 2024 are: Kat Evasco, Yvann Filipczak, Peter Fitzgerald, Caroline Nagy, Zach Oren, and Christopher Youmans. 

Join the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division to celebrate the recipients of the 2023 WeHo Artist Grant – Ignacio Darnaude, Sharmin Rahman, and Steven Reigns – on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 6 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. These accomplished artists will discuss their 2023 projects, will show short films demonstrating their work, and will answer audience questions about their creative processes. This 2023 WeHo Artist Grant event is free; RSVP is requested at

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

For additional information about the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Grant Program, please visit

For more information, please contact Eva Angeloff, Grants Coordinator in the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division, at (323) 848-6354 or at [email protected].

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

City of West Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays with 34th Annual Toy and Food Drive

The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station are partnering to help give back to those in need this holiday season. The 34th Annual West Hollywood Toy and Food Drive will be accepting monetary donations until Friday, December 15, 2023, with the goal of providing as many families as possible with toys and holiday gift cards. Donations may be made online at New users must create an account and click on the Donations tab to contribute; existing users may simply log in to start the donation process.

The cost to help one family is $95; up to 10 families can be helped with $950. New unwrapped toys are also needed and gift cards in $25 denominations to retailers such as Pavilions, Ralphs, Trader Joe’s, or Target will help families through the holiday season. Toy collection bins are now available at the West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center (2nd floor lobby), Plummer Park, West Hollywood City Hall, West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, and West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. 

The following West Hollywood hotels will also have collection bins: Andaz West Hollywood, The London West Hollywood, 1 Hotel, and Ramada Plaza West Hollywood, as well as the Chateau Marmont in LA on the Sunset Strip just outside of the City’s municipal border.

For more information, please contact City of West Hollywood  Recreation Leaders Natalie Mignon at [email protected] or at (323) 848-6321 or Jennifer Baram at [email protected] or at (323) 848-6534.

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


For up-to-date information about City of West Hollywood news and events, follow @wehocity on social media, sign-up for news updates at, and visit the City’s calendar of meetings and events at

West Hollywood City Hall is open for walk-in services at public counters or by appointment by visiting City Hall services are accessible by phone at (323) 848-6400 and via website at

Receive text updates by texting “WeHo” to (323) 848-5000.

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Los Angeles County

El Segundo News – December Edition

Watch El Segundo Media “on demand” providing replays of a City Council meeting, and original programming including cultural events



A home in El Segundo decorated for the holiday season. (Photo Credit: City of El Segundo)

Citywide News

Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting, Thursday, December 7th

The Recreation, Parks, and Library Department proudly presents our annual Joy Around the World: Festival of Holidays and Tree Lighting event on Thursday, December 7th, 2023, from 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. The event takes place at City Hall Plaza and the 300 block of Main Street. This free, family-friendly outdoor event combines El Segundo’s Christmas Tree Lighting tradition with the celebration of winter holidays from around the world, including Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Nochebuena, and Ōmisoka.

Guests attending the event will enjoy live music and cultural dance performances, Christmas tree lighting, a visit with Santa Claus and gift giveaway, kids’ train ride, food trucks offering multicultural cuisines, craft-making stations, handmade jewelry and crafts for purchase, and more! This event is free to the public. For more information, please click here or call 310-524-2700.

Virtual Town Hall with AQMD, Wednesday, December 6th  at 6:00 p.m.

Tanks a Hyperion with words "City of El Segundo Town Hall Meeting with AQMD"

On Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. the City of El Segundo is hosting a virtual town hall with representatives from South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and elected officials representing El Segundo and L.A. County with the goal of addressing community concerns regarding the air quality and odor issues related to the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant.

The meeting will feature:

  • Status of Hyperion’s compliance with AQMD’s Orders of Abatement
  • Information about AB 1216 requiring testing for pollutants of concern at Hyperion
  • Opportunity for the public to ask questions of AQMD and elected officials

For more information about the meeting and the zoom link to attend, please click here

Candy Cane Lane, Saturday, December 9th – December 23rd

House on Candy Cane Lane covered in Christmas Lights with a California theme

Candy Cane Lane is back in El Segundo! Celebrated every year since 1949, except for 2020 due to the pandemic, Santa Claus will kick off this highly anticipated event on December 9th at 7:00 p.m. He will bring his magic down the 1200 block of East Acacia Avenue, lighting up decked-out houses and festive holiday displays as he goes!  Santa will then head back up to the North Pole but the light show continues nightly from 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. until December 23rd. Please note, there will be nightly street closures at Center Street and East Acacia Avenue and at East Walnut Avenue and California Street to allow for safety precautions.

Santa’s Mailbox through December 9th

Cartoon of child writing a letter to Santa Claus

Children are invited to write letters to Santa! Santa’s Mailbox is open through Saturday, December 9th during library hours. Please be sure to include a return address so that Santa can send you his reply! The mailbox is located in the Youth Library downstairs. This program is in partnership with the El Segundo Woman’s Club.

Santa’s Sleigh Ride Starts Monday, December 11th

Santa with woman and child in a sleigh, smiling and waving.

Santa is coming to town, and he wants to meet you!  As always, the Police Officers Association is partnering with the Kiwanis Club to bring Santa to the streets of El Segundo. The dates for the sleigh will be December 11th through December 14th, and again on the following week, December 18th. The Head Elf will be tracking Santa at approximately 5:00 p.m. – 8::30 p.m. each day. Be sure to listen for the sirens, when you hear them, come visit Santa Claus and get a candy cane!

Menorah Lighting – Thursday, December 14th

Menorah Lighting 2019

El Segundo’s annual menorah lighting ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 14th at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall Plaza. All are welcome to celebrate the festival of lights with potato latkes, jelly donuts, gifts for kids, and Hanukkah music and dancing.

Community Christmas Eve Dinner – December 24th

Christmas Dinner Joselyn Center

Enjoy a free and delicious holiday meal at the Recreation, Parks, and Library Department’s annual community Christmas Eve dinner on December 24th, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Joslyn Center. This event is open to the public and is available by free delivery. Please RSVP before December 20th in-person or by calling the Joslyn Center at (310) 524-2705.

Toys for Tots Toy Drive through December 10th

Toys for Tots Logo

This holiday season the El Segundo Police Department is partnering with the United States Marine Corps to collect new, unwrapped toys and distribute those toys to less fortunate children at Christmas.

The Marine Toys for Tots Program was started by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to help bring the joy of Christmas and to send a message of hope through the gift of a new toy. Starting today, November 21st until Sunday, December 10th we will have 3 locations where you can donate in person. For details about the drive and donation locations, click here.

Spark of Love Toy Drive through December 14th

Words "Spark of Love Toy Drive" with a fire helmet

The Spark of Love toy drive, the largest community toy drive in the nation, returns to El Segundo. This special community campaign collects new, unwrapped toys and sports equipment for under-served children. Donations are being accepted now through Thursday, December 14th at Fire Station #1 or you can donate online. More details and info available here

El Segundo News – December Edition

ES News

El Segundo News is a monthly news show that can be watched on the City’s website, Channel 3, and the City’s social media channels. The show focuses on city-related issues and events.

Check out the December episode with all the latest happenings, news, and business spotlights HERE

City Council Recap for November 7th Meeting

City Council Recap

The City Council Recap provides highlights and a quick overview of business discussed during the Tuesday, November 7th City Council meeting. To watch the full City Council meeting, click here.

Winter 2024 Recreation Activity Guide

Winter 2024 Brochure Flyer with QR code

The Winter Recreation Activity Guide is now available! Click here to view the guide and see all the classes, activities, and events we have coming up in the new year!

Registration for El Segundo residents opens on Monday, December 4th at 9:00 a.m. and non-resident registration opens on Monday, December 11th at 9:00 a.m. To register for these classes and activities, visit and click on the “Winter 2024” tab. In-person registration is also available at the Checkout Building, Clubhouse, Joslyn Center, and Aquatics Center.

Please call 310-524-2362 or email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Housing Element Implementation Community Meeting
Thursday, December 14th at 5:30 p.m.

Cartoon of street with houses, benches, lights and words "Housing Element"

On December 14, 2023, at 5:30 p.m., the City will hold a community meeting regarding the implementation of the City’s 2021-2029 Housing Element.  The community meeting will take place during the regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting.  During the meeting, staff will provide an update on the 2021-2029 Housing Element implementation, answer questions, and receive input on housing-related topics. 

For more information on the Housing Element and to get the latest updates, please visit the Housing Element webpage at

The public is invited to attend the meeting in person at City Hall Council Chambers – 350 Main Street, El Segundo.

Sign Up for the Community Police Academy

ESPD Officers in action and words "Community Police Academy"

The El Segundo Police Department is now accepting applications for our FREE January 2024 Community Police Academy. Classes start Wednesday, January 10th!

The course is intended for those interested in learning more about how the El Segundo Police Department functions and operates. The goal of the program is to open the lines of communication and encourage interaction between our officers and the community.

The FREE 10 week course is held on Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Dinner is provided and topics include K9, School Resource, Motors, SWAT, Dispatch, Investigations, DUI and more. 

To register click the link: Community Police Academy Application or email Officer Josh Gilberts at [email protected] to secure your seat and we’ll see you in January!

Construction Activity Around Town

Snack Bar and Restroom building at Brett Field

Brett Field Restroom Improvements Project construction will begin on Monday, December 4, 2023. GEM Construction will begin an interior renovation of the George Brett Field Restroom Building within Recreation Park to improve building accessibility. These restrooms will be closed during the estimated 1 ½ month duration of the project. Work hours will be Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information about the project, please click here.

El Segundo Boulevard Improvement Project construction is underway and is expected to continue through early 2024.

The project rehabilitates existing pavement along El Segundo Boulevard (between Illinois Street and Isis Avenue) and Nash Street (between El Segundo Boulevard and Imperial Highway). Additional improvements include installation of curb ramps and bike lanes, traffic signal modifications, drainage modifications, and landscaping.

More information and the project location map can be found here.

Funding provided by Metro, a partner in our community.

Hyperion Update

Below are the most recent updates on the situation with the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, which is owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles:On December 6th, at 6:00 p.m., the City is hosting a virtual town hall with AQMD via Zoom. Click here for full event details and the zoom link.

Hyperion has agreed to host the next Hyperion Citizens forum in person on January 18th at the El Segundo Public Library. Information about the event will be shared on the City’s website once all of the details are finalized.Hyperion continues the replacement of tank covers for Batteries C and B which is expected to be completed in December of 2023.Additional details and documents continue to be shared on and at future City Council meetings. 

Sign up to receive the latest Hyperion news and updates from the City of El Segundo directly to your inbox.

December 2023 City Hall Closure Dates

El Segundo City Hall will be closed in December for:

  • Christmas – Monday, December 25th & Tuesday, December 26th
  • New Year – Monday, January 1st & Tuesday, January 2nd

City Hall’s regular operating hours are
Monday – Thursday, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Holiday Parade
Sunday, December 10, 2023

The El Segundo Chamber of Commerce’s 59th Annual Holiday Parade will take place on Main Street on Sunday, December 10th from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. This year’s theme is “A Home Run for the Holiday” and will feature our hometown Little League champions, marching bands, performers, floats, antique cars, and a visit from Ol’ Saint Nick himself to delight spectators from all over the South Bay! To learn more about the event go to El Segundo’s Chamber of Commerce website.

Missed a meeting or event? Check out El Segundo Media…

Watch El Segundo Media “on demand” providing original local programming since 2009. Check out replays of a City Council meeting, and original programming including cultural events, community awareness issues, spotlights on local businesses, healthy living, local sports highlights and more!

Watch Here

City of El Segundo 

350 Main Street, El Segundo, CA 90245

310-524-2300  |  Website

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West Hollywood

Meet the “CEO of Everything Gay” who just bought the Abbey

The Los Angeles Blade spoke to Schukraft at The Abbey during its annual tree-lighting fundraiser for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation



Tristan Schukraft with equine friend at the Varian Stable in Newmarket, United Kingdom 2019 (Photo Credit: Schukraft/Facebook)

By Rob Salerno | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Tristan Schukraft laughs when I suggest he’s building a gay empire, but he doesn’t deny it. 

When it was announced last month that the owner of the Abbey and Chapel nightclubs had entered into an agreement to sell the business to Schukraft, it seemed like a strange move for the jet-setting tech CEO. 

But the portfolio he’s building up – founder and owner of the telemedicine app for gay men Mistr, owner of the queer nightclub Circo and Tryst Hotel in Puerto Rico – appears to be bent towards hoovering up ever more pink dollars by getting involved in an ever wider section of gay life.

The Los Angeles Blade spoke to Schukraft at The Abbey during its annual tree-lighting fundraiser for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation about what he plans to do with the storied nightclub, and how he became one of America’s most visible gay moguls.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Blade: Why the Abbey? 

Schukraft: Well, I wanted to make sure it stayed in the hands of the gay community. You know, it’s an institution. It’s a cornerstone of West Hollywood gay life, but more importantly, it’s I think it’s a cornerstone of the gay community far beyond West Hollywood, right? 

Looking at your background in tech companies, your recent turn into the nightclub and hospitality industry seems like a bit of a left turn.

You know, I’ve been drinking here for a long time. So now, after all that investment, I’m actually gonna start getting money back. I basically bought it so I can get free drinks. 

You know, at the end of the day, I’m an operations guy. I’m a technology guy. I own hotels. With hotels, you have bars and restaurants, so it’s not too far of the track. It’s a little off track. Why not? Right? 

You know, after watching The Birdcage, I always wanted my own hotel [like Robin Williams’ character in the 1996 film] and somebody shattered my dreams the other day by telling me it was a nightclub. I’m like, what? It was a nightclub? And then I watched it, and it’s true, it was a nightclub. So, now I have a nightclub. Yeah, so it all started with The Birdcage

You’re known for being a disrupter of the things that you invest in. Is there a disruption plan for the Abbey, or for Weho? Are you planning to change things here? 

Not a major disruption here at The Abbey. I-You know, I’m gonna put my touches on it. But yeah, it’s a pretty well-oiled machine. We’re definitely gonna focus on our values of being LGBTQ. I got some ideas for new nights and I definitely want to make it an epicenter of the gay community. And I think there’s opportunities to take it beyond West Hollywood.

David Cooley, the founder of The Abbey (L) with Mistr CEO Tristan Schukraft, Dec. 1, 2023.
(Photo by Rob Salerno)

Can you give any kind of sneak peek at what you’re thinking? 

East Coast. That’s your sneak peek right now. East Coast. 

I think you’ll see in a couple months what I’m gonna do with the Abbey. But you know as far as taking it outside of West Hollywood, I see there’s opportunities on the East Coast right now. 

I think that’s where David [Cooley, the founder and current owner of The Abbey] and I really we both appreciate the value of The Abbey brand. I think it’s world famous, right? It’s the biggest gay bar. It’s one of the longest lasting. Obviously you have the Stonewalls of the world. But this is like a bar where people go on a regular night versus a tourist attraction. Maybe for some it’s a tourist attraction, but I mean, it really is an institution. It’s a community gathering point. It’s a name that people recognize that we can bring into other communities. 

Do you have any plans to put a hotel somewhere here? 

[Laughs] People are like, “Are you gonna paint it blue for Mistr?” Or, “You’re gonna make it a hotel?” But no, we’re not building a hotel here. That would be terrible to build. I mean build a hotel and Abbey would be out. I don’t think the Abbey’s ever closed in 33 years, besides COVID. Minus that, it’s never closed for construction. You know, when David did his expansion, it was always open. 

I was looking at those old photos and I’m like, oh my God, I remember the wall of candles. I’ve been coming here a very long time. 

So you’re more or less like keeping the same sort of operation going here, keeping the team in place?

The team, I mean, I think that’s what kind of really makes The Abbey unique. It’s like a place where everybody knows your name. 

When I bought the hotel in Puerto Rico, obviously I don’t know anyone. Buying here. I’m like, oh, yeah. I know Todd. I know everybody, right? Not everybody, but a majority of people. And I think that’s why people come here. Because it’s their staple. They go every Sunday. They know they have their favorite bartender. So, you know, everybody will be kept in place, no changes to personnel. 

You gave an interview to Authority Magazine where you said you promised your partner that you wouldn’t be starting up any new businesses. How did you get him on board with jumping into becoming Weho nightlife impresario?

I broke that promise two or three times since I said that. I mean, no, I just buy him gifts to make him happy.

I work long hours, right? And he’s like, I don’t know why. 

You’ve created and run several tech companies. How did you get started in that business? Where did that money come from? 

I started my very first company was 21 with a $10,000 loan. I was living in Hong Kong at the time. I think my father really wanted me to come back [to California]. My dad’s a corporate guy, not a big risk taker, but he’s like, ‘I’ll give you 10,000 dollars to start your company.’ It wasn’t enough to start the company, so I imported 437 Razor scooters and I thought I was gonna sell out in two weeks. It was very popular at the time – this is like 23 years ago. It took me six and a half weeks. I was selling them out of my truck. I went to every swap meet in Southern California. Sold the last six on Christmas Eve and learned a couple lessons in business from that. But with the money I made from selling those scooters combined with the loan, I started my first company, which was like an Expedia for airline personnel.

And then I got into e-ticketing, and at that time, I didn’t know how to turn on the computer. So, I really surround myself with people that know what they’re doing, that are experts. So, do I know how to run a bar? No, but I’m an operations guy and I hire the talent to make it happen. That’s how I got started and I built that company and others along the way. 

Other than that first $10,000 loan from your parents, you’re basically self-made then? 

Yeah. You know, I looked for investment. I did end up raising $18 million for my second company, but I put in a lot of money. I mean at 25, my first company was going really well, and there was this e-ticketing mandate and I said, oh there’s a real opportunity here. And I had a home and was doing good for a 25-year-old, and I kind of leveraged it all. And I thought, “Oh my God, what did I do? I just fucked up my whole life. Why did I do this?” Anyways, I got that first investor, got that first client, and it just kind of took off from there. 

And now with Mistr, The Abbey, your Puerto Rico clubs, are you starting a gay empire? 

The CEO of Everything Gay, yes. I have a few more things. You know, all the businesses are very complementary, right? So, you come to The Abbey, then you go to the Tryst Hotel or Circo in Puerto Rico, and obviously all of the people that come here or the Tryst, they’re all perfect candidates for Mistr. So yeah, so it looks a little weird. But it is very complementary to our various business units.


Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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West Hollywood

LASD seeks help in locating Jack Basil Cooper last seen in WeHo

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Missing Persons Unit at (323) 890-5500



Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Missing Persons Unit

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Missing Persons Unit’s investigators are asking for the public’s help in locating missing person, Jack Basil Cooper, a 23 year-old White male who was last seen in West Hollywood.

A bulletin released on Friday states that Cooper was last heard from on October 23, 2023, near the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente Boulevard, only steps away from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station.

Cooper is described as 5’09” tall, 125 lbs., straight brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a black shirt and black hat.

His family is concerned for his well-being and is asking for the public’s help.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Missing Persons Unit at (323) 890-5500.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store.

If you see something, say something. Anyone with information can also drop a tip at

Your identity is always encrypted and anonymous. No personal information, phone number, e-mail, IP address or location is ever requested, saved, traced, tracked or monitored. Period.

West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station polices the City of West Hollywood and the unincorporated communities of Franklin Canyon, Universal City (which includes Universal Theme Park, Studios, and Citywalk), and the Federal Enclave in West Los Angeles.


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.


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

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Los Angeles

LA officials: Suspect in homeless murders is in custody

LAPD Chief Moore identified the suspect as Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, of Los Angeles. Powell is alleged to be the gunman



LA County Sheriff Robert Luna, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, and LA Mayor Karen Bass announce arrest of suspect in homeless killings. (Screenshot/KABC 7 Live)

LOS ANGELES – At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Mayor Karen Bass and LAPD Chief Michel Moore along with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón and LA County Sheriff Robert Luna announced the arrest of the suspect in the murders of three homeless individuals across the city.

LAPD Chief Moore identified the suspect as Jerrid Joseph Powell, 33, of Los Angeles. Powell is alleged to be the gunman behind the murders of homeless men across Los Angeles from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29.

After a multiple agency cooperative investigation triggered by the follow-home murder of Nicholas Simbolon of San Dimas on Tuesday night by LASD homicide investigators, a car and weapon in that case was identified by the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Simbolon was a tenured L.A. County employee, who worked for the chief executive officer as a project manager in the IT department.  

“He was key in developing applications, software that helped to propel the office forward, and also helped us to meet our mission to deliver services to citizens and residents of L.A. County,” Sheriff Robert Luna said at Thursday’s press conference.  


On Thursday morning, the suspect, Powell, was spotted in Beverly Hills driving the same vehicle and taken into custody.  

“When you get to a scene, you just start playing it backwards,” Sheriff Luna said while announcing the arrest [Thursday]. “They start looking at every avenue.”  

During the arrest, deputies recovered a gun that appeared to match the description of the weapon used to commit the crime, authorities added.

“Over the course of the investigation of our murders, we were able to identify the vehicle we believe is connected to our three homicides as being the same vehicle that Mr. Powell used in the murder of Mr. Simbolon,” Moore said at Saturday’s press conference. “[We learned] that it was being held in custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as evidence of their murder.”  

According to Chief Moore, that vehicle was the same being sought in the killings of the three homeless persons and the gun seized was the weapon used in the killings.

Press Conference Live:

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West Hollywood

The Abbey raises $10,000 for Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

Schukraft took the opportunity to reassure the crowd that he intends to uphold The Abbey’s central place in the West Hollywood community



Trans Choir of LA (Photo by Rob Salerno)

By Rob Salerno | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The Abbey raised more than $10,000 for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation at its annual World AIDS Day tree-lighting ceremony Friday evening, an event that featured Sutton Stracke of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles.

The ceremony was the last to be hosted by David Cooley, the founder of The Abbey who recently sold his business to Mistr CEO Tristan Schukraft. Cooley was visibly emotional when he told the crowd how his friendship with Elizabeth Taylor – struck up over drinks at the Abbey – inspired him to start the annual tradition.

“What this woman has done for our community and continues to do for our community – she wouldn’t even mention how many people she has taken care of and continues to take care of,” Cooley said. “It means a lot that we do this in her honor, for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.”

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation works to fight the ongoing HIV epidemic through direct care, prevention, advocacy, and education.

The moment clearly felt bittersweet for Cooley as he went off-script to talk about how he’d founded The Abbey 33 years ago.

“I had a dream coming from college that I wanted to open a gay bar in southern California and be open and proud and not behind closed doors. I started across the street there as a coffee house and expanded into this,” he said. “When we give donations, it’s not the Abbey, it’s not David Cooley – it’s all of us here. You have supported The Abbey and David Cooley for thirty years. Thank you very much.”

David Cooley, the founder of The Abbey (L) with Mistr CEO Tristan Schukraft
(Photo by Rob Salerno)

Cooley then became wry and wistful as he described his decision to walk away from the bar he built.

“It was a decision that was hard to make. I decided that maybe I should take a little time for myself. I’ve been very selfish with the business. I took time for the business always, and maybe not my friends, my family, building a relationship – that never worked out,” he said to laughs from the crowd. 

“I went back and forth seeing the offers and opportunities I had. I made a clear decision and the right decision on who I decided to pass the torch on to. He’s part of our community,” Cooley said of Schukraft. “It was a very tough decision but a very easy decision at the very end.”

Schukraft took the opportunity to reassure the crowd that he intends to uphold The Abbey’s central place in the West Hollywood community.

“I’m very excited. I know I have some big shoes to fill to continue your legacy, making sure that the Abbey and Chapel continue to be the cornerstone of the gay community here and beyond. These events make it even more special,” Schukraft said.

“David’s not going anywhere. He’s going to be here. The only thing is he’s not going to be asking for free drinks,” Schukraft said to laughs from the crowd, and joking protests from Cooley that there’s language about that in their contract.

When Sutton Stracke took the stage, she spoke about the toll that AIDS has continued to take on the community.

“AIDS does still exist. I know I have lost many friends to AIDS, as I know many of you have to, so this is very special to me,” she said.

David Cooley, Sutton Stracke & Tristan Schukraft. (Photo by Rob Salerno)

The crowd was then treated to a performance by the Trans Choir of Los Angeles, who sang “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” as a reminder to the crowd that many in our community – especially the trans community – do not have families that welcome them home for the holidays.

A $10,000 check was then presented to the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation by Tito’s Vodka, which was sponsoring the event, on behalf of the Abbey.

Stracke then announced she would write a check to the foundation herself after the ceremony, then began the countdown to the lighting of the enormous tree on the Abbey’s front patio.

Lyle Anthony (Photo by Rob Salerno)

The event closed out with a performance by South African pop singer Lyle Anthony.


Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Los Angeles

LAPD asking for public’s help with murders of homeless persons

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, Homicide Special Section



Los Angeles Chief of Police Michel Moore, held a news conference Friday where he announced that three homeless people had been fatally shot while they slept within the past week. (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – Flanked by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, LA Mayor Mayor Karen Bass and Martin Estrada, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, Los Angeles Chief of Police Michel Moore, held a news conference Friday where he announced that three homeless people had been fatally shot while they slept within the past week.

Moore added that authorities believe one suspect is responsible for all three murders.

Detectives from the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division are investigating three separate murders that occurred between November 26, 2023, and November 29, 2023. In each case, the victims were experiencing homelessness.

While some similarities have been identified, detectives are working to determine if these murders are related.  A community alert bulletin has been issued to make the region’s unhoused population and the community stakeholders aware of these recent murders.

Possible Suspect Vehicle

The suspect in these homicides is described only as male. The suspect was seen in a dark-colored sedan. It is unknown if he was alone or there were any additional suspects.

Police have spotted who they believe the shooter is on surveillance footage — Moore said they believe it’s a man in a hoodie — and they also have images of the suspect’s vehicle, though Moore would not describe it in an effort to avoid misinformation.

“People will see different types of cars, different types of models,” he said. “I don’t want someone to say ‘You called this a Kia and it turns out to be a BMW or Mercedes,” he said.

“A single individual approached each one and shot and killed each one as they slept,” Moore said, though he avoided use of the term “serial killer.”

“The Los Angeles Police Department is employing all available resources  to bring justice to these murder victims.  I am thankful for our City partners who are working with us closely to ensure the safety of this vulnerable population as we pursue the criminal investigation,” said Moore.

“I want to be very clear about what we’re facing today: This is a killer who is preying on the unhoused,” Mayor Bass said, adding that homeless people should not sleep alone.

“As we always do in the face of a challenge or crisis, our region is mobilizing to respond to this issue. We will work tirelessly to find the individual responsible, arrest them, and hold them accountable. I have met with our partners at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Housing Department and we are moving immediately to get the word out to our unhoused neighbors in housing networks. Our message to our unhoused community is clear – try not to be alone tonight. We will do all we can to make shelter and services available. To the many Angelenos who have friends or family who are unhoused, please let them know the danger that exists. We must stay safe. We will work diligently to bring those responsible to justice,” the Mayor said.

“To the person responsible: We will find you, we will catch you and you will be held accountable,” Bass said.

“I commend the LAPD for creating a dedicated task force to uncover the identity of a potential serial killer preying on the most vulnerable in our community. I’ve assigned our Major Crimes Division, Bureau of Victim Services and our Bureau of Investigation to assist with these efforts. Today, we demonstrate our collective resolve and stand united in our pursuit of justice, unwavering against the darkness that preys on the most defenseless among us,” said LA District Attorney George Gascón.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, Homicide Special Section, at (213) 486-6890. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). 

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to 

Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.

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San Diego

‘Christmas Bags of Hope’ event to support homeless kids

“Christmas Bags of Hope” – These bags will be filled with essential items including toys, hygiene kits, books, and food items



Sports for Kid founder & CEO Arden Pala with S4K volunteer Daniela Lara (Photo Credit: Sports4Kids/Zeynep Ilgaz)

SAN DIEGO – The 14-year-old founder and CEO of San Diego-based non-profit Sports4kids, Arden Pala and his volunteers are kicking off this holiday season to support and make a difference in the lives of homeless kids with the annual 1000 “Christmas Bags of Hope” campaign.

The volunteers will be assembled for area local homeless kids. These bags will be filled with essential items including toys, hygiene kits, books, and food items. More than 10,000 people in San Diego are facing homelessness- 20 percent being kids. According to a study published by Point-in-Time Count homelessness in our region increased by at least 14% this year and kids are especially vulnerable. 

Event Details:

·       Date: Saturday, December 9th

·       Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

·       Location: Perkins Elementary School, 1770 Main St, San Diego, CA 92113

Hundreds of volunteers (both youth and adults) will be assembling “Christmas Bags of Hope” for low income and homeless families in San Diego. Volunteers will decorate and then fill bags with essentials to include nutrition items, toys, books, and goodies. 

Sports4Kids was founded by Arden Pala 3 years ago and is a San Diego-based nonprofit that supports individuals and youth who are facing homelessness. The organization does this by providing volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages.

Over the past three years, the organization has raised over $140,000 to help over 7500 needy people. Its youth volunteers have spent a combined amount of 6500 volunteer hours serving our homeless population. 

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