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Huge LA Pride bursting with color, fun, families and trans visibility (photos!)

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department could not provide a guesstimate of how many people participated in the LA Pride parade Sunday, perching from balconies, lining the sidewalks and marching down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. The LASD spokesperson said the helicopter was being used for a car chase and apparently WeHo station isn’t exactly proficient with drones.

But to the casual observer, the parade appeared to be biggest, most colorful, the most crowded with welcomed corporate marchers and the most enjoyed by all types of families. Two outstanding themes: incredible trans visibility and no obvious protests of Donald Trump, though the tens of thousands of happy, dancing, marching, hugging and loving LGBT people and allies was a clear affront to the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies.

In fact, other than the appearance of elected officials and political groups such as Stonewall Democratic Club and Equality California, the only really political statement, per se, was [email protected] Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo wearing an orange jail jump suit, followed by a makeshift jail cell and a large contingent condemning ICE detention centers and highlighting the deaths of trans women who died in ICE custody.

In an important show of political and humanitarian unity, Salcedo also carried a sign calling attention to the epidemic of black trans women who have been murdered. Nine black trans women have been murdered in 2019. 

Advocates for women’s rights – including passage of the long dormant Equal Right Amendment – were also represented and appreciated as the Trump administration continues its assault against reproductive rights.

The two messages reached a larger audience this year. For the first time, the parade was broadcast live on KABC7 Eyewitness News and live streamed for an hour after the station returned to regular programming. ABC is owned by Disney, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community and always one of the largest favorite contingents in the parade.

But old Disney fans were probably shocked to see a live broadcast of gay men representing The Abbey nearly naked but for their revealing speedos. But KABC did not cut away – in fact the women commentators seemed somewhat giddy by the proudly exposed tight abs. Suddenly out came the fans, as the WeHo temperature heated up, seeming hotter than the low 80s at the time.

Fans screamed “Thank you, Adam Schiff” as Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee investigating the Trump-Russia connection, started on the trek through WeHo. The parade, Schiff told the Los Angeles Blade, “is awesome. It’s so nice to be out here to celebrate all the progress that’s been made and all the progress yet to be done.”

At the earlier news conference, Schiff said: “The march towards full equality for all LGBTQ people has been steady, albeit all too slow. We must keep marching forward for the transgender service member whose courage has been called into question, LGBTQ migrants seeking asylum at our borders…and for so many who are counting on us to speak up.”

Out LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell sponsored Jaime Marin and Yolanda Rocha Rito, operators of of Casa Jardín de las Mariposas, a homeless shelter for LGBT individuals in Tijuana, Mexico.

“I invited them here to highlight the fact that the Trump Administration’s policies are hurting this community. Asylum seekers can’t get hearings because he’s so cold-hearted and racist in his policies,” O’Farrell said. “They don’t have the social safety net we have here. The Pride Festival always highlights the fact that there are other places where this community can’t live so authentically and out in the open.”

Jaime Marin works at the Jardín. “Jardín de las Mariposas is a sanctuary shelter for our brothers and sisters in Central America who are fleeing for their countries, afraid for their lives,” said Marin. “We started as a rehab center for the LGBT community, but since the need [for LGBT services] is so big in Tijuana, we had to expand our services.” These services include assistance with the political asylum process, job searching, and acting as a homeless shelter.

Out LA Councilmember Mike Bonin rode on a fire truck, keeping up a tradition started by his late out mentor, LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl. LA Controller Ron Galprin—first out gay elected citywide who called for a boycott of hotels owned by the anti-LGBT Sultan of Brunei—rode with his husband Rabbi Zachary Shapiro. Longtime ally City Attorney Mike Feuer, one of the first on the scene at LAX to help after Trump unexpectedly announced his Muslim Ban.

LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the first out LGBT person elected to the state Assembly in 1994, continues to receive a huge wave of gratitude.

The West Hollywood City Council, which has sponsored CSW since it moved from Hollywood, always receives applause. West Hollywood Human Services Commission member Jimmy Palmieri, Founder of The Tweakers Project, who coordinates the Pride #Sizzle sober party – also carried a sign calling for an end to trans violence.

Equality California’s contingent was so large, they needed three cars. Out Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara was interviewed by KABC and bisexual Rep. Katie Hill posted several tweets about the fun she had.

And while the news out of New York City notes that the NYPD finally apologized for the police raid that resulted in the Stonewall Uprising, and Sacramento Pride had issues with Sacramento Police marching in uniform – LA Pride welcomed the Fire Department and their families and an FBI contingent from the local LA office, led by Dan Lathan.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti marched with LAPD Chief Michel Moore, noting that the police raids against the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake were two years before the Stonewall Rebellion and now the police chief is walking in the Pride parade with the mayor and Police Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa rode with out former Commissioner Rob Saltzman. . Chief Moore not only posed with other officers but donned a Disney Pride sticker, as well.

That provided some jovial competition between the LAPD and the LASD over which department wore Pride better since Sheriff Alex Villanueva authorized – and wore – a special Pride patch that caught the attention of local media.

Lt. Tonia Martinez was interviewed by a FoxLA reporter about the patch, then sincerely thanked the Sheriff for the significant gesture.

But the LASD outreach went beyond the fun patch. Deputies Aston Guasfall and Elizabeth Castro were handing out trans flags and the back of one of the Sheriff’s cars displayed the trans flag, too.

Watching from a place of honor was Metropolitan Community Church Founder Rev. Troy Perry, co-founder of Christopher Street West with the late Gay Liberation Front leader Morris Kight and the late homeless advocate, Rev. Bob Humphries, with his husband and fellow marriage equality advocate Phillip De Blieck.

“Pride means everything to me,” Perry told the Los Angeles Blade. “We were the first gay pride parade in the world. New York had a demonstration, nothing wrong with that – but we sued the city and had a parade.” This year, Perry was delighted at the participation of “young people [who ought] to be a part of the struggle and this fight too.”

He noted that LA insisted on a parade instead of a demonstration in 1970 to commemorate the year anniversary of Stonewall. “We’ve had all kinds of demonstrations,” he said. “We’re gonna have a parade – this is Hollywood!”

The LAPD told Perry, Kight and Humphries that they’d rather have thieves and burglars march down Hollywood Boulevard instead of homosexuals. CSW sued and two judges ruled in their favor.

Metropolitan Community Church founder Reverend Troy Perry is a founder of Christopher Street West. Here he kicks off the first LA Pride in 1970 on Hollywood Boulevard, where he will be when the event returns there with 2017’s #ResistMarch. (Photo courtesy Troy Perry)

“We only had three floats in the parade,” Perry recalled, but an estimated 1,165 people showed up, many with their dogs, including one marcher with his husky and a sign reading, “We don’t all walk poodles!” Others joined in along the parade route. But at the end of the first parade that June 28, Perry, Carol Shepard, head of L.A. chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, and lesbian activist Kelly Longman sat down on the corner of Las Palmas Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, refusing to move until elected officials talked to them about gay rights.

They were soon arrested for “vicious and malicious blocking of a sidewalk with intent to do harm,” Perry recalled in 2017.  The two women were released but Perry spent the night in jail. After his release, Perry held a 10-day hunger strike at the federal building until City Councilmember Robert Stevenson and his wife Peggy spoke to him and Perry broke his fast.

Forty-nine years later, LA Pride’s response to today’s anti-LGBT environment is color, fun, creativity and alliances with a myriad of businesses that support LGBT equal rights for the community and their diverse employees.

In May 2018, after concerted reporting on the dire condition of CSW as an organization, the Los Angeles Blade posed the question: “Can Estevan Montemayor save LA Pride?”

It appears he and his CSW partner Madonna Cacciatore not only “saved” CSW but raised the bar for LA Pride events to come. Presumably they are preparing an After Action Report on what worked and what didn’t work to provide transparency to their successful strategy.

Christopher Street West Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore, Paula Abdul and Christopher Street West President Estevan Montemayor pose on the Red Carpet on day one of LA Pride at West Hollywood Park on June 7, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Chris Tuite)

One major new factor was opening up a free Pride on the Boulevard as part of the Festival that featured numerous organization booths on Santa Monica Boulevard (the Los Angeles Blade booth attracted more than 8,000 people) outside the traditional tickets-needed Festival. Bienestar conducted free HIV tests; GLSEN promoted safe schools and the too-often ignored bisexual community; Cedars-Sinai Hospital sponsored an interactive health awareness mobile clinic with information about PrEP and offered vaccines for Hepatitis A and meningitis at their the Health and Wellness Village on the Boulevard.

Inside the Festival there were a slew of different exhibits and performances from the artistic Trans Galleria to a stunning performance by Todrick Hall and a soaring kick-off concert by Paula Abdul on Friday night, capped by fireworks.

“I would not be anywhere without this community. The love and support you’ve given me leaves me breathless,” Abdul told her fans.

There was also the Dyke March and a screening of the documentary “5B” about the creation of the AIDS Ward at San Francisco General Hospital in 1983 by nurses who broke the rules and touched their incurable and dying patients.

Saturday night also featured major performances by Rupaul’s Drag Race alum Raja on the MAC Park stage, as well as rapper CupcakKe, Brazilian pop star and global drag sensation Pabllo Vittar, capped off by a concert by superstar Megan Trainor, who honored the trans community, the women’s community and reminded the audience about the importance of enjoying life even though “we are clearly under attack.”

On Sunday, a Tongva Two-Spirit leader offered a blessing and the Trans Chorus offered a song before the official LA Pride kick off, as CSW organizers and the West Hollywood City Council held a news conference to introduce elected officials and the event honorees. “Our city is the seat of LGBT pride for the entire country,” proclaimed out West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico.

Celebrity Grand Marshal Ryan O’Connell—a gay man with cerebral palsy who stars in Netflix’s “Special” who cracked everyone up with unending jokes—and Community Grand Marshal Phill Wilson, Founder of the Black AIDS Institute, and Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Organizational Grand Marshal, also shared a few words.

“I am so proud of our community because we strive to include all of us. We’re not perfect, we’ve never been perfect, but that is our aspiration. We understand that we are great when all of us are included, and we are all diminished when we exclude any one of us,” said Wilson.

“It’s so amazing to have disability finally be a part of the conversation. Being gay and disabled, stories like mine don’t often get told so it means a lot to be at the forefront and celebrating with you this year,” said O’Connell.

“We are here to celebrate our pride in our community, our pride in ourselves as individuals. There are those in our land who want to turn back the clock, who want to re-impose discrimination against us. We’re not going back. We’re not going to tolerate that, and we are going to win,” said Jean.

CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore recognized the eight black transgender women murdered this year and led a moment of silence.

“It’s a testament of our progress that today, instead of fighting division, we stand together in unity,” said CSW President Estevan Montemayor. “We only got this far by marching together side by side, and we must continue to march forward until every LGBTQ person is free from fear and oppression.”

And then #JustUnity hit the road. First the Dykes on Bikes roared up the Boulevard, a stirring annual event that evokes cheers of female power paving the way for all the politicos to follow.

Finally, the Los Angeles LGBT Center hit their mark and sent wave after wave of program staff, participants and their families out to celebrate their 50 year anniversary, including a float of Asian drums heralding their arrival—including just returned AIDS LifeCycle riders, veterans, and members of the Trans Wellness Center, featuring Johanna Padilla, 27, in balloon wings.

And while he has formally retired from heading his Black AIDS Institute, Phill Wilson is not far from the LGBT community’s mind.

Perhaps one of the largest contingents was the Disney Company.

Verizon was a major sponsor

MAC was a big sponsor, too.

Several companies had unique approaches such as having Glitteress, 27, and Hydra, 25, walking the mile and a half stretch in high heels, escorted by Kris Rollins, 34, for Delta Airlines.

“Pose” was a huge hit, especially with their stilt-wearing vogue models.

And then there were the young people, including little Jorge, who his family say “is expressing who he is. We are supporting his choices.”

Here are other LA Pride participants and watchers.

  • Austin Mendoza contributed to this story
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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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