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Vanguard Awards celebrates a growing LGBT Center and new allies

49 years, stronger and more relevant than ever



Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Vanguard Awards. (Photo by Troy Masters)

Vanguard was the fitting name for an Awards celebration that happened on Saturday night, September 22 for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s annual awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Many of Los Angeles’ most notable and generous LGBTQIA people from around the world came out to make a major philanthropy push for the beginning of the 50th anniversary of the nation’s oldest LGBT non-profit organization.

The gathering, attended by more than 1500 people, may even have retired the underlying mortgage on the now under-construction Anita May Rosenstein campus building, as a result. And that was in no small part made possible by some of the notables the Center honored.

Gigi Gorgeous, Nats Getty, Ariadne Getty and August Getty. (Photo by Getty Images)

The night began with a simple and loving tribute to a mom, but not just any mom. Ariadne Getty, 56, an actress and granddaughter of John Paul Getty, was introduced by her children.

Nats, a 25 year old fashion designer who is set to marry transgender model and pop-star Gigi Gorgeous, portrayed her mother as a vibrant, accepting and engaged woman who she once found holding court after a late night party at their home. “I went downstairs and found mom cooking food and serving drinks for a kitchen full of drag queens.” Her brother August, 24, an internationally known fashion designer who recently opened a boutique in Beverly Hills, August Getty Atelier, said he didn’t have to come out, “I just told her I was going on a date with the room service guy and that was that.”

Ariadne Getty returned the chiding, telling the audience that it was her sons exes who introduced her to the work of the Center. “My office is filled with all of August’s exes.”

However that happened, they opened her eyes. August’s exes took her to a fundraiser for the Center where she met Lorri Jean and Bill McDermott.

“Why didn’t I know this before? How could this have been happening right before my eyes and I didn’t know,” she said, explaining that that event gave her courage to come out of the shadows as a philanthropist and encourage others to be brave and step up their giving. “I encourage everybody to get connected, start being active and don’t be shy like me.”

Ariadne Getty and Lorri Jean. (Photo by Getty Images)

Getty said, “I talked to Lorri all night. I was hooked. I had a maximum amount of money I was going to donate and obviously I went way beyond that. We’re talking, like, shameless. You know, I couldn’t say no.”

Lorri Jean and her wife Gina soon found themselves at the Getty home, frying pan in hand, teaching Ariadne “how to cook a mean steak.”

Getty, who recently donated 1 million dollars to GLAAD’s Media Institute, says she was moved to support the Center because “Los Angeles cannot afford to be without a place (like the Center) where there are so many things for for people of every age category to do, where a staggering 42,000 people walk through the Center’s door every month.” She said she was moved by meeting kids who had been “brutally, emotionlessly left on the streets to fend for themselves.”

Sarah Jones. (Photo by Troy Masters)

Tony Award-winning Bridge & Tunnel creator Sarah Jones, who will bring her latest solo work to the Los Angeles LGBT Center this fall (Sep. 27 to Nov. 4 at the Center’s Renberg Theatre), followed Getty.

Jones broke into one of her famous characters, an elderly Jewish woman, who reprimanded the audience to give and then, reverting back to herself said, “Part of the reason I am so proud to bring my diverse cast of characters to the LGBT Center is that last year they welcomed more than half a million visitors who represent the full diversity of community. They come to the Center for medical care, for counseling, for a place to live while they are experiencing homelessness.”

Jones told the Los Angeles Blade she believes in celebrating intersectionality. “As a woman of color and someone who cares about my LGBTQ family members and friends, I represent someone who looks at all of our human rights as essential.” She says an important part of intersectionality, as a straight ally, is “about looking at all the different ways that our identities help create who we are and how we protect who we are.”

Lorri Jean received a standing ovation and gave a rousing speech, covering the arc of the Center’s history from being rejected by the Los Angeles offices of the IRS for using the word gay in incorporation papers to purchasing the very building in which they had been rejected, “draping it with 8 story rainbow stripes.”

She applauded the donations of people like Anita Mae Rosenstein who helped the Center raise more than 11 million dollars through a matching grant. And of course she praised Getty and other major donors in the room, some who had donated millions, making it possible to help spark a transformation of the area around McAdden Place on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Nick Robinson, who starred in Love Simon, told the story of his brother, who came out while he was filming “Love Simon” and said the experience helped them both.

Greg Berlanti and Robbie Rogers. (Photo by Troy Masters)

He introduced the movie’s director, Greg Berlanti and his husband, Soccer star and author (“Coming out to play”) Robbie Rogers, and made the funniest slip of the tongue of the evening, calling Robbie a “star ass-lete, ah, um athlete.”

The husbands showed great affection on stage for one another, vowing their love and telling stories of parenting their children. “The universe grants Robbie a talent even more pure than his soccer — that’s his skill for fatherhood.” On cue, the audience was awed and Robbie was visibly moved by Berlanti’s words and emotion. “Watching Robbie be called Daddy R, as he’s called in our house, Daddy R and Daddy G,” Berlanti said to even more audible crowd awes. “He’s the favorite Daddy.”

“Watching him with all his patience, tenderness and playful love is the single greatest joy of my life,” Berlanti said, moving closer to and engaging a suddenly very shy Rogers who looked at the crowd and back at Berlanti again with great emotion.

Rogers said he knew Berlanti’s work before they met. “His LGBT storylines had already been a lifeline to me when I was in the closet,” explaining that since he has witnessed Berlanti at work and fighting for diverse representation in his characters.“What good are these heroes if they don’t reflect the world they are saving,” Rogers said, quoting his husband to thunderous applause from the audience.

“Without the LGBT Center and the changes in the world it has helped bring about, all the blessings we would not have been fortunate enough to have the successes we’ve had,” Berlanti said.

And that set the stage for a live auction of several high end items. Two nights in New York, Hawaii, five nights in Paris and a meet and greet with Cher brought more than $125,000 from those lucky enough to be livin’ La Vida Loca.

Ricky Martin, one of the world’s best selling musical artists and recent Emmy nominee for his role in the “Assassination of Gianni Versace” was the recipient of the night’s final award.

When he took to the stage, audience members shouted, “I love you Ricky,” to which he responded, opening his speech with “I love you, too. Love is the key word. That’s amazing. I walked into this room and I was overwhelmed with love.”

Martin remembered the thousands of lives lost one year earlier in the hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico.

He said during his speech that it was a blessing “to be raw, honest open, vulnerable.” And, referring to his family with artist Jwan Yosef, “I think the inspiration comes from my kids because when I held them for the first time in my arms, I said, ‘I can not teach you to lie.’”

Using it as a metaphor for combating homophobia, he said, “Whenever they ask questions, I answer honestly. If they don’t grasp the answer, eventually they will come back with the same question and I make sure I give the same answer again and again. They taught me not to lie.”

Later Martin said “My mission is to go to those little towns in Latin America where the word gay is a curse.”

“We are all blessed, Jwan and I are blessed,” Martin told the Los Angeles Blade. “We are blessed to have a place like the LGBT Center and we are blessed to be able to support it.”

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California Politics

Senator Wiener’s No Tax Exemption for Insurrection Act, passes Senate

Senate Bill SB 834 strips state tax-exempt status from organizations that engage in or incite insurrection



Screenshot/California Legislative TV

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s Senate Bill 834, the No Tax Exemption for Insurrection Act, passed the Senate by a vote of 28-0 Monday. It will now head to the Assembly for policy committee hearings. 

SB 834 is a first-in-the-nation bill that will revoke the California tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations that participate in or incite efforts to overthrow the United States government or any state government. Nonprofit organizations have used the “Big Lie” – the fraudulent notion that the 2020 election was stolen – to fundraise for and funnel money to extremist and anti-democratic initiatives like the January 6 insurrection.

Tax-exempt status is a privilege, not a right, and organizations that engage in or incite insurrection or conspiracy to commit insurrection – both of which are illegal – should not be given this special status to help them fundraise. Moreover, non-California nonprofits should not be able to register to raise money in California if they are engaging in or inciting insurrection. 

“On January 6, 2021, the peaceful transfer of power in our democracy was threatened,” said Wiener. “And for the first time since the Civil War, people died as a result. We cannot and will not let organizations that aid and abet insurrection – that break the law by trying to overthrow the U.S. government – operate with tax-exempt status. The people of California should not be subsidizing insurrection.” 

The January 6, 2021 insurrection took place, when pro-Trump extremists – in response to the false narrative that the Democrats “stole” the 2020 election and incited by then-President Donald Trump – breached the United States Capitol. Five people were killed as a result of this insurrection, and hundreds were injured.

Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi were specific targets of this violent attack on the nation’s democracy. Many nonprofits that supported the insurrection and continue to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election in hopes of overturning the results still operate with tax-exempt status, both at the federal and state level. 

SB 834 clarifies the Franchise Tax Board’s authority to revoke the California tax-exempt status of a nonprofit organization if the California Attorney General determines that the nonprofit has actively engaged in, or incited: treason, misprision of treason, insurrection, seditious conspiracy, advocating overthrow of the government or the government of any State, or advocating mutiny by members of the military or naval forces of the United States (1.)

Under SB 834, if the Attorney General finds that a nonprofit organization has incited, or actively engaged in actions that are directed to or likely to imminently violate one or more of these crimes, they will notify the FTB, which then will have the ability to revoke the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status. 

For out-of-state nonprofits that engage in or incite insurrection, they will be prohibited from registering to raise money in California. 

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the purpose of charitable organizations claiming tax-exempt status “may not be illegal or contrary to public policy.” Trying to overturn elections and violently attacking our legislators fits the bill. SB 834 will ensure that these organizations no longer claim this financial advantage. 

Tax-exempt nonprofits are not required to pay corporate income taxes and may be exempt from other taxes as well. Additionally, donations to many nonprofits are deductible from income taxes, and private foundations and donor-advised funds can only donate to tax-exempt nonprofits. Private foundations and donor-advised funds represent a major funding source for many nonprofits. 

Authoritarian and anti-democratic organizations have increasingly used the “Big Lie” to fundraise, and this narrative has driven millions of dollars in tax-exempt donations. And many new organizations have cropped up in the past year, hoping to ride the coattails of the insurrection and cash in.

These include California nonprofits and nonprofits registered in other states that fundraise in California. These organizations, which are fundamentally undermining our democracy and cheering for the destruction of free and fair elections in America, should not be allowed to operate with advantages like tax-exempt status. 

For example, the leader of the “Oath Keepers,” a national militia movement, was charged with seditious conspiracy. While the Oath Keepers does not have California tax-exempt status, it has an “educational foundation” with federal exempt status and tax-exempt branches in several states. In the words of one expert, “It can only be presumed that [funds contributed to the Oath Keepers], which [donors were] able to deduct from their federal taxes, went to transporting and lodging members of the group slated to participate in the ensuing riots.” (2.) These organizations should not be allowed, under any circumstances, to use tax write-offs to help fund illegal activities. 

There is precedent for making this distinction in California’s tax code. Under federal and California law, for instance, if a nonprofit organization supports terrorism, its tax-exempt status is suspended. The nonprofit organizations that support insurrection should receive the same treatment. 


1. USC §§ 2381-2385, 2387

2. “Dollars against Democracy: Domestic Terrorist Financing in the Aftermath of Insurrection,” Virtual Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy of the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Feb 25, 2021. 

Senators Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), Dave Min (D-Irvine), Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Tom Umberg (D-Orange County), and Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) are co-authors of this bill. Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) are also co-authors of SB 836. Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) is principal co-author.

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California Politics

Assembly passes bill protects patients & providers from anti-choice states

AB 1666 protects patients and providers in California from civil liability judgments for providing reproductive health care to patients



California State Capitol Dome (Blade file photo)

SACRAMENTO — In a two-thirds vote Monday, the Assembly passed AB 1666, sponsored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D – Orinda) which creates a legal shield up for California patients and providers from extremist anti-abortion laws from anti-choice states.

The language of the measure reads: “This bill would declare another state’s law authorizing a civil action against a person or entity that receives or seeks, performs or induces, or aids or abets the performance of an abortion, or who attempts or intends to engage in those actions, to be contrary to the public policy of this state. The bill would prohibit the application of that law to a case or controversy heard in state court, and would prohibit the enforcement or satisfaction of a civil judgment received under that law.”

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California Legislative Director Molly Robson told the Blade in an emailed statement Monday;

“AB 1666 will allow California providers to continue to provide essential and timely health care, like abortion, with decreased risks of potential liability when helping people forced to seek care here in California rather than in their home state due to hostile, extreme, and dangerous restrictions or outright bans. These precautions and protections are necessary given the increased hostility and frequency of abortion bans in other states seeking to target patients and providers. Taking this action now is crucial as we prepare for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade and unleash a flood of hostile bans in more than half the states.”

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California also noted that AB 1666 protects patients and providers in California from civil liability judgments for providing reproductive health care to patients when the claims are based on laws in other states that are hostile to abortion rights and are contrary to the public policy of California.

AB 1666 builds on a recommendation put forth by the California Future of Abortion Council recommendations released in a December report, in which Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California is a member of its “Steering Committee.”

A spokesperson for Equality California, Jorge Reyes Salinas, told the Blade Monday afternoon;

“LGBTQ+ people are directly impacted by laws that undermine abortion care. The LGBTQ+ community overall often lacks access to inclusive and affirming health care, and in particular transgender men and nonbinary people who become pregnant face significant challenges when seeking reproductive care.  In addition, many of the clinics that provide abortions also provide hormones and reduced-cost reproductive care for transgender and nonbinary people, efforts to undermine these clinics directly harm the LGBTQ+ community.

AB 1666 is a critical safeguard against the wave of proposals that will harm the health and well-being of vulnerable populations across the country. To the extent that California can provide a refuge for people seeking critical care, we have a duty to do so.”

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Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Right-wing extremist provocateur threatens to ‘hunt’ LGBT supporters

He has a history of right-wing extremist short videos including a harassment campaign against an Arizona wig shop that serves cancer patients



Ethan Schmidt (Screenshot/Twitter)

PHOENIX – A twenty-four year old right-wing extremist based in the metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona area, Ethan Schmidt, posted a short video of himself accompanied by Kyle Clifton who describes himself as “authoritarian Christian nationalist,” driving in an undisclosed area announcing that he and Clifton will be “hunting ‘LGBT supporters” and people in area Target retail stores.

The video captured by Twitter account Patriot Takes, which describes itself as a group of dedicated researchers monitoring and exposing right-wing extremism and other threats to democracy, first posted the video clip Saturday.

Schmidt has a history of making right-wing extremist short videos including a harassment campaign against an Arizona wig shop that serves cancer patients.

Sunny’s Hair and Wigs, specialize in making wigs for women who have lost hair while getting treated for cancer and the store had implemented coronavirus pandemic protections including strict mask guidelines to ensure safety of their clients who are particularly vulnerable to infection.

Lisa Memberr, the owner of the shop had explained to local media outlets: “My customer base is very diverse,” and she added, “Not only do I have Caucasians, I have Afro-Americans, I have Asians, I have Latin Americans.”

Schmidt, who has ban banned by nearly all social media platforms including Twitter for spreading false and misleading COVID-19 pandemic information had been visiting numerous retail stores in the Phoenix area including Sunny’s Hair and Wigs targeting those businesses that still require customers to wear mask. He invariably creates videos of his encounters which he uploads to right-wing social media and web sites that he hasn’t been banned from.

In addition to his anti-mask campaign he has made videos with extremist conservative lawmakers including one with Arizona U.S. Republican Representative Paul Gosar telling antivaxxers “to stay the course.”

He also filmed a short with Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers who has established herself firmly as an anti-vax, anti-LGBTQ, right wing extremist.

Clifton is a leader of the America First Union, an openly white nationalist, antisemitic, “conservative youth” organization. He also promotes former President Donald Trump’s big lie about the 2020 Presidential election being stolen by Democrats and President Joe Biden. Clifton also participated in the Arizona audit of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County, which state Sen. Rogers, had raised the visibility of her own political profile by insisting that Arizona’s vote was stolen.

Last Fall Schmidt posed with Trump endorsed Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake as he burned a LGBTQ+ Pride flag.

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