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LA LGBT Center’s ambitious Anita May Rosenstein Campus opens

A new symbol of LGBT triumph

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Anita May Rosenstein Campus across from The Village, with trees in lower left (photo courtesy the Center)

Strong women are emerging as political powerhouses in 2019. In addition to California Sen. Kamala Harris and the five other female presidential hopefuls, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Maxine Waters, Katie Hill, Katie Porter and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rivet the imagination among the 127 outspoken women in Congress.

That’s what we see in Trump’s America, strong women standing up and fighting back in their own fashion. What we may not see are the powerhouses on the ground, the strong women who are creating, funding, building achievements that blow our minds at the ribbon cutting and endure years beyond anyone remembers why that ribbon cutting moment made history.

Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean and philanthropist Anita May Rosenstein are two such strong women whose vision, commitment and determination led to the grand opening of the massive Anita May Rosenstein Campus on Sunday, April 7, marking as monumental a moment in LGBT history as the Stonewall riots did for the gay liberation awakening 50 years ago. There’s nothing like this campus anywhere in the world—and no one else has even imagined it.

LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean and Anita May Rosenstein. (Photo courtesy of LA LGBT Center)

Located at 1118 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood—just blocks down the street from where Center co-founder Morris Kight lived for many years—the two-acre complex on nearly one full city block directly across from the Village at Ed Gould Plaza will provide comprehensive intergenerational services for LGBT seniors and youth with emergency and transitional housing and beds, affordable housing, a new Senior Community Center, Youth Drop-In Center and Youth Academy, and employment programs. Phase II will add more apartments by mid-2020.

Additionally, the Center is moving its headquarters to the AMR Campus, turning the current four-story McDonald/Wright Building into an LGBT health center.

“Without a doubt, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus will change lives,” LA City Council member David Ryu said Sept. 7, 2018 after the council approved his motions for $850,000 in funding. “I firmly believe that when completed, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus will be the pride of Hollywood.”

The idea for the complex grew out of an in-depth planning process that began in late 2006 and culminated in February 2008. The Strategic Planning committee was comprised of Loren Ostrow, LuAnn Boylan, Marki Knox, Eric Shore, Glenn Tan and three staffers—Jean, Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings, and Chief Administrative Officer Kathy Ketchum.   

“We were trying to figure out what would be the future needs of our community,” Jean tells the Los Angeles Blade. 

They came up with five priorities: 1) medical care for the entire community (not just people with HIV); 2) housing, especially for youth and seniors who faced homelessness and discrimination; 3) expand services for seniors; 4) expand services for all youth, not just youth experiencing homelessness; 5) Build a public policy and community building department. (A 6th priority was added in Aug. 2014 to expand substance use prevention and treatment programs.)

“All of this expansion was to be in the context of making our services more geographically accessible, ensuring that we had the managerial capacity to implement plan goals and that new programs and services were financially feasible and sustainable,” says Jean.

“It was a bold vision. But it was such a bold vision, Darrel and I freaked out. We said to the board ‘We’re not sure we’re up for this!’”

Jean and Cummings previously left the Center burned out by years of around-the-clock pressure and upon their return, they promised themselves they’d find more balance in their lives. Wanting to keep the two prized executives, the board offered to change the plan. “No, it’s the right plan,” Jean recalls saying, suggesting that perhaps the two were not the right people for the job.

Jean and Cummings took a few weeks of soul searching, though they finally told the board, “OK, we’re in.”

But Jean was frank. “This is going to mean a capital campaign because the only way we’re going to be able to afford the space to do all of these things that we’ve set our sights on is we’ve got to raise it,” she remembers telling the board. “’And I have my eyes on exactly the property I want – I want that property across the street from the Village, which belongs to the state of California. And I want to get it for free.”

They immediately started working on the state of California and making their rounds, meeting with LA City Council member Eric Garcetti, in whose district is the Center headquarters. They preferred speaking with him rather than Council member Ferraro, in whose district sits the Village.

And then the stock market crashed. “So that delayed everything because nobody knew what was going to happen,” Jean says. “We put many things on hold for about a year. We were still growing in the other program areas, if we had the money to support them—but we weren’t going to launch anything dramatic in light of the crash.”

In addition to the crash, the Center was also in the No on Prop 8 coalition that 2008. Prop 8 passed and Barack Obama was elected as America’s first black president. Meanwhile, the Center kept working.

Lorri Jean, CEO Of the Los Angeles LGBT Center (Blade photo by Karen Ocamb)

“We began to achieve different bits,” Jeans says. “We became a federally qualified health center. We were setting our sights on what we were going to do for youth and what fell in our lap but Life Works. We got into the foster youth business when GLASS folded. And we began to open up other sites—Boyle Heights; last year Korea Town with our Trans Wellness Center; right now doing tenant improvements on a site in South Los Angeles; we did the new clinic in West Hollywood; Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing came to us and that was right, perfectly in the wheelhouse.”

The whole time, “we’re talking to the state of California about how we want that property. And so finally they agree to give it to us for $1. We were getting it for free!,” Jean says. 

And then comes a twist. “We found out that the federal government had equity in the property. And because it was an Employment Development Department building, it was the Department of Labor – headed by Sec. Hilda Solis! So we worked with Hilda and she agreed to let the state give it to us for a dollar,” Jean says.

And then another twist. Hilda Solis steps down to run for the board of supervisors — “before the deal was consummated. Tom Perez stepped in (as Obama’s new Secretary of Labor). He was brand new,” Jean says, “but we had a deadline running with the state that we had to fish or cut bait. And even though we got (Rep.) Adam Schiff’s help, Tom Perez did not have the guts to follow through on Hilda’s deal—and he had toured the Center!

“So I will always be very disappointed in Tom Perez for that decision,” Jean says. “So we had to pay $12.7 million for it.”

But the team was undeterred.

“During this time, we began to define the scope of what this project would be,” though it was a number of years before they were secure in knowing they actually had the two acres, getting help from a number of people, including Assembly Speaker John Perez.

“We pulled in a lot of favors to get that state building without having to go to a public competition,” she says. “Within a year after we bought the building it was appraised for more than $17 million.”

They also knew they had to “over-achieve” in their fundraising.

“We had momentum right out of the gate,” says Jean. “Before this campaign, no living donor had ever had ever made a seven-figure gift or a seven-figure pledge, excluding estate gifts. There have been a few people who’d reached the million-dollar mark in cumulative giving over the decades. But no one had ever said, ‘yeah – here’s a million dollars’ or anything above that. In this campaign, excluding some estate gifts, we have 15 people who gave seven figure gifts. Our biggest gift is $8 million from Anita.”

Jean waxes poetic about one particular night of fundraising. “We were at an amazing party at a board retreat in 2013 at Anita May Rosenstein’s Laguna Beach home,” she says. “She hosted a dinner and that night I announced how much we had raised in the first two months. I think it was almost $4 million. Well, damned if Anita didn’t say, ‘I’ll match it.’ That inspired more gifts. One donor was so inspired, he said,  ‘Maybe I ought to call my wife. What the hell – a million dollars, if Anita will match it.’

“So by the end of that night, we were at $13 million,” Jean recalls. “It was the most incredible, amazing evening of fundraising I have ever experienced in my life! And we were off and running.”

And then came 2016 and the election of Donald Trump as president instead of Hillary Clinton.

“When Trump got elected, people got scared, myself included,” Jean says. “And there were a number of people who came to me from the community, donors, members of my staff who said should we re-think doing this Campus because what if we face all these cuts and we need that money for services and not for bricks and mortar. First of all, I said to them, if we don’t build the building the money goes back. People won’t give it to us for services. That’s how capital campaigns work.” 

More importantly, she said, “we have to do this project now more than ever. We have to show that we will not be stopped, that we cannot be stopped! It’s become to me an even more powerful metaphor. Here we have a president and his team of people who want to build a wall to keep the most vulnerable out. And what do we do? We build a beautiful campus to invite the most vulnerable in.”

And an inspired LGBT community and allies raised money to make it happen. “The estimated total project cost is approximately $141.5 million,” Jean says.  “I say ‘estimated’ because two big pieces of the puzzle haven’t yet been completed, i.e., the affordable housing to be completed in Phase II (senior units and youth micro units).  Our affordable housing development partner, Thomas Safran & Associates, estimates they will cost $63 million; the remainder is for the rest of the campus.”

And powerful women are leading the campaign.

“I like to think of this project as woman powered!,” Jean says. “Two of our top three donors are women—Anita and Ariadne Getty.  And Ariadne has generously named both our Youth Academy and our Senior Housing. Moreover, 5 of the additional fourteen 7-figure gifts are partially or entirely from women.”

The Youth Academy at the new campus will be named The Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy.

For Lorri Jean, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus now symbolizes the triumph of the LGBT community in Los Angeles. 

“This campus is a testament to more than those of us who worked on it. It is a testament to 50 years of Center staff and volunteers toiling. And it is a testament to this community,” Jean says.

“Our community in Los Angeles has had the ability to envision things here that no one else ever did—from the Mattachine Society or Edith Eyde (Lisa Ben) and Vice Versa, or the ONE Institute, or the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Cooper Donuts—the first demonstration against gays in the military in the early 60s. The Metropolitan Community Church. People have had courage and boldness in our community in LA. And this could not have been created anywhere else. Something like this is not even being contemplated anywhere else in the world.

“And that is a testament to this amazing Los Angeles LGBT community and increasingly, with our allies,” says Jean. “And I’m just proud of all of us. Proud of this community. LA doesn’t get its just due in terms of our role in our movement.”

Perhaps until now. 

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we inaccurately noted that the property was appraised for $70 million one year after purchase. It was actually appraised for $17 million. We regret the error. 

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NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony

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Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

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Coronavirus

LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could reach COVID-19 herd immunity among adults and the older teenagers by mid- to late July, public health officials announced Monday. Over the weekend LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that appointments are no longer needed for Angelenos to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city.

Garcetti’s move is intended to give people who don’t have the time or technological resources to navigate online booking platforms a chance to get the shot.

The percentage of the population the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown, however Public Health officials estimate it’s probably around 80%. Currently, 400,000 shots each week are getting into the arms of L.A. County residents, and there are over 2 million more first doses to go before 80% of all L.A. County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.

At this rate, Public Health expects the County will reach this level of community immunity in mid- to late July and that assumes the County continues to at least have 400,000 people vaccinated each week. That would include both first doses that people need as well as their second doses.

This news came as Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced that attendance numbers at all grade levels in the District have been considerably lower than expected as extensive safety measures have failed to lure back the vast majority of families in the final weeks of school.

Only 7% of high school students, about 30% of elementary school children and 12% of middle school students have returned to campuses.

As of May 7, more than 8,492,810 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,146,142 were first doses and 3,346,668 were second doses.

On Monday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 years old and older.

Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Joe Biden the FDA’s decision marked another important step in the nation’s march back to regular life.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said.

Los Angeles County will offer the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms the FDA recommendation, which can happen as early as Wednesday. All adolescents 12-17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people — including children — should continue taking precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keeping their distance from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.

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Health

HHS takes steps to reverse Anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare policy

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule”

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HHS the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (Photo: GSA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning that the Biden-Harris Administration will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule.”

The Trump-era policy undermines the ACA’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping — as well as protections for patients with limited-English proficiency and those living with chronic illnesses, including HIV. Because the issues in BAGLY v. HHS are broader than what the Administration announced today, the Court scheduled a hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss for June 3rd at 2:30 PM EST.

In reaction to the HHS announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday:

“Today, the Biden Administration has taken essential and potentially life-saving action to affirm that all people in America have the right to quality, affordable health care – no matter who they are or whom they love.  During this time of pandemic and always, it is vital that the most vulnerable have access to care, including LGBTQ Americans, who have long suffered injustice and discrimination that has left them dangerously exposed to health risks.
 
“The Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care in the middle of a pandemic was an act of senseless and staggering cruelty, made in blatant defiance of our values and a Supreme Court ruling made just a month prior.  
 
“Congressional Democrats together with the Biden Administration are proud to uphold the equal right of every American to access the care that they need to pursue a life of dignity and health.  We must now build on this progress and enact the House-passed Equality Act to fully ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in our nation.”

In addition to Equality California, co-plaintiffs in BAGLY v. HHS include Darren Lazor, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and Transgender Emergency Fund.

Lazor is a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of Equality California. Plaintiffs are represented by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School and law firm Hogan Lovells.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Notably, it was published on June 19,  just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law. 

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for trans people of color and trans people living in rural regions and the U.S. South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Trump Administration had placed trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused,” he added.

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