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DTLA Proud gala raises LGBT community visibility downtown

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Oliver Alpuche, DTLA Proud Founder and Executive Director. (Photos by Samson Amore)

“You’re here to look fabulous, donate some money, and have a really good time,” shouted emcee and drag performer Ryan Ong Paolo, more popularly known as Ongina, as she implored all the guests to take out their phones and text in donations.

The August 5 DTLA Proud Gala brought 300 people to the Otium in Downtown Los Angeles, selling out for the first time. This year’s gala was not just a general fundraiser, it also helped raise funds for a new LGBTQ community center located Downtown.

As guests mingled and enjoyed photo shoots on the pink carpet next to the Broad Museum, the DTLA Proud staff worked to court some of the city’s movers and shakers and to gain support for its ambitious plans for downtown.

DTLA Proud President Oliver Alpuche grew up in Highland Park and envisions downtown becoming similar to West Hollywood, where inner-city youth and the queer community can come together to celebrate their diversity without traveling far from their neighborhoods.

Alpuche knew West Hollywood was considered a queer mecca, but said that “as a kid, it would have taken me two and a half hours on a bus to get there. That’s why it’s so important that Downtown has a community center; it is accessible to everyone, it has the Metro, it’s the melting pot of all of Los Angeles and we as a queer community need to have a presence here,” he said.

Humble Beginnings

DTLA Proud began in 2016 when Alpuche and his co-founders held the first annual DTLA Proud Festival in Pershing Square.

What started as lighthearted community-building event proved to be a stepping stone for change, and has been held every year since along with a fundraising gala.

“What happened was we realized there was a lot of people who needed a voice, there were a lot of organizations that weren’t even heard,” Alpuche said.

The organization is assisted by various sponsors, including Fifth Generation Inc., doing business as Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which offered to match up to $10,000 in donations this year. General gala tickets contributed $150 per guest this year.

At DTLA Proud’s first fundraising gala in 2017, the board of directors envisioned establishing its headquarters at a downtown-based community center. Alpuche said the organization is currently in negotiations with construction providers and leasing agents for an unspecified location downtown.

The proposed space would contain, when completed, a lounge area and library stocked with LGBTQ literature, a queer artists gallery and a non-profit incubator for queer-run companies.  It will also contain up to 20 coworking office spaces, outposts for LGBTQ service providers, and an informational space to “help people discover services offered in L.A.”

Alpuche said, “we have been fundraising for the past year but still have a long way to go,” adding that DTLA Proud will need “roughly $1 million to support the opening, construction, and program support.” DTLA Proud is still tallying the total donations from the gala but Alpuche said it was overall a success.

Officially Backed 

Numerous city officials have given Alpuche and his team the green light to construct the new center and continue their work.

Ron Galperin. (Photo by Samson Amore)

L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin spoke at Monday’s gala, expressing his support and saying, “I want to thank DTLA Proud for making a big difference in the City of Los Angeles, and for having great plans to make this a place (where) everybody can feel welcome.”

Galperin pointed to the “crisis of homelessness in L.A., particularly downtown,” and noted that “way too many” of L.A.’s homeless are LGBTQ-identified youth.

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, estimated 49,521 people were unsheltered as of this month, and roughly 2,210 of those people were under 18.

The Human Rights Campaign estimates 40 percent of homeless youth nationwide identify as LGBTQ, and most experience homelessness after being rejected by their families because of their identities.

California ranks among the most progressive of states when it comes to handling LGBTQ affairs, but still experiences high rates of homelessness, particularly among its queer residents.

LA City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. (Photo by Samson Amore)

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell represents LA.’s 13th district and is one of two openly gay LA City Councilmembers and also voiced his support for the project.

“How about that, only four years and look how incredibly fast Oliver and his board and volunteers are making this happen,” O’Farrell said of the community center project. “I love this organization, my office supports it.”

O’Farrell also said that many of LA’s key industries are fueled by the creative force of queer employees, a further reason for the city to support them. “This community has something really special to offer the world. Can you imagine Los Angeles and the entertainment industry and arts and culture without the LGBT community,” O’Farrell asked, “because I can’t!”

Forward Looking 

As the event wound down, guests bid on a silent auction featuring various prizes from winery tours to pocket squares, and Alpuche was constantly thronged by supporters of DTLA Proud’s mission.

DTLA Proud hopes to start construction on the new center by 2020, Alpuche said.

“We worked day and night in order for this to happen, and also created a newly formed DTLA Proud advisory board,” said Alpuche. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. This is a real, live space downtown and it’s going to take a lot of funds and a lot of tools.”

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Pansexual Visibility Day 2022 is May 24

Days like Pansexuality Visibility Day are perfect for educating people about the various ways people experience sexual & romantic attraction

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Graphic via Project MORE

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project is honoring Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness and Visibility Day on May 24, noting that it is a day to celebrate the pansexual and panromantic community and educate others on the community.

As part of creating awareness for the pansexual community, The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, captured important data related to the experiences of pansexual youth, who made up 20% of the survey sample.

2022 National Survey Data on Pansexual Youth

  • 53% of pansexual youth reported that they seriously considered suicide and 21% reported they attempted suicide in the past year.
  • 66% of pansexual youth reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and 79% reported experiencing symptoms of depression.
  • 36% of pansexual youth reported that they have been physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation.
  • 69% of pansexual youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

The Project MORE Foundation, a leading nonprofit service and support provider to the Northern California Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ+) and Ally community explains what it means to be Pansexual:

One common misconception that even members of the LGBTQ+ community have is that pansexuality and bisexuality are the same. Bisexuality can loosely be defined as attraction to more than one gender, but many define it with the more narrow definition of attraction to both genders, i.e,: men and women.

Pansexuality differs in that it includes sexual attraction inclusive of ALL gender identities, which means that people can also be drawn to those who are gender fluid or genderqueer. It is similar for people who are panromantic. When a person identifies as panromantic, it means that they can feel romantically towards anyone of any gender identity. 

When people come out as pansexual, headlines often emphasize that it’s different than being bi, and while that’s true, somebody who is bi may also identify as pan and vice versa. The bisexuality umbrella term includes those who feel attracted to two or more gender identities. Pansexuality refers to people who feel sexual attraction to any gender identity, but because their preference includes two or more genders, they could also consider themself bi. Being pan doesn’t mean that a person is going to be attracted towards everyone, but simply that gender identity doesn’t play a role in that attraction. 

There are many people who identify as pansexual or panromantic, such as Jazz Jennings, the famous 20-something LGBTQ+ rights advocate who came out as trans as a child. Authors Dana Mele and Caitlin Ricci identify as panromantic. Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monáe, and Brendon Urie are also among famous celebrities who identify as pansexual. 

It is quite common that people who are pansexual go on a journey of self-discovery to figure out their true sexuality. Some, like Bella Thorne, initially identified as bisexual, but then grew to realize that gender plays little to no role in their attraction, so her definition of her sexuality changed to reflect that. 

Miley Cyrus, who came out in 2015 as pansexual, is among one of those who went down the path to self-discovery when it came to her sexuality. In an interview with Variety, she said that an interaction with a non-binary individual helped her understand that she felt attraction towards them regardless of how they expressed their gender. In that moment, she didn’t feel gay, straight, or bi, because she wasn’t.

Because definitions can be held loosely, one of the most important takeaways is that how a person identifies their sexual or romantic attraction can differ from one day to the next, but celebrating and respecting a person for who they are is what matters most. Days like Pansexuality and Panromantic Visibility Day are perfect for educating people about the various ways people experience sexual and romantic attraction.

About the 2022 National Survey

This survey is one of the largest and only surveys of its kind, representing the experiences of nearly 34,000 LGBTQ young people ages 13-24 across the U.S. It’s also one of the most diverse surveys of LGBTQ youth ever conducted – with 45% of respondents being youth of color and 48% being trans or nonbinary.

Lastly, The Trevor Project has a guide, “How to Support Bisexual Youth: Ways to Care for Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, and Queer Youth Who are Attracted to More than One Gender” that offers best practices for those looking to support the youth who are attracted to more than one gender in their lives.

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The universe comes out to jazz and violins and you’re invited

LA prides itself as home of the stars. Don’t limit yourself to the mere mortal stars of Hollywood, when the universe is opening its doors

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Past Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome (2018) Photo credit: Irina Logra

LOS ANGELES COUNTY – Starlight, starbright: Bathing yourself in the magnificent skies has returned to Los Angeles as the historic Mount Wilson Observatory announces… shall we say it… a heavenly lineup for its 2022 program.

The program offers something for everybody: From the universe-fascinated who want to observe and soak up astronomical knowledge to the bright light and musically discerning who are there just for the mind-blowing beauty alone. 

Since its founding in 1904 by astronomer and visionary George Ellery Hale, Mount Wilson Observatory has played host to some of the most important discoveries in modern astronomy. Located on Mount Wilson, a 5710-foot (1740-meter) peak in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest, Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) features the Snow Solar Telescope (largest in the world from 1905-1908 and the mountain’s first installation), a 60-inch telescope (the world’s largest operational telescope from 1908-1917), and the 100-inch Hooker telescope (which featured the world’s largest aperture from 1917-1949). Mount Wilson Institute has independently operated and maintained the Mount Wilson Observatory since 1989 under a long-term agreement with the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The observatory offers a series of tours throughout the season for the scientific tourist in you. For the mechanically inclined, you can take an engineering tour of the huge telescopes and understand how they have enabled historic discoveries. For the stargazers, there are public and private tours to actually use the telescopes and peep in on our nearest planetary and constellation neighbors. For the gazers who want to keep things even closer to home, take a look right into our own Sun with the Lunt Telescope.

There is no better way to observe the universe than to do it wrapped in gorgeous music. The observatory steps up and takes advantage of the dome’s sensational acoustics by presenting Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome. Top jazz, violinist, brass talents and more will perform in events at 3:00pm and 5:00pm May 22- October 21. The season aesthetics are capped off with [email protected] Observatory in the later summer months which explores sound art in the dome, plein-air painting and sculpting.

It would be a shame to visit the observatory for its visual and auditory sensual offerings alone, however. For those who want to deepen their mind, the season also offers an incredible roster for the astronomy intellect. Lectures from the top experts include discoveries of the deep space mission, women scientists at the observatory, the work of George Ellery Hale, and more.

The gates to Mount Wilson’s acreage opens at 10:00am every day and close at 5:30. Visitors can hike the grounds, gaze at the telescope domes that dot the landscape, and browse through the Historic Museum in the Lecture Hall.  Members from the Los Angeles Astronomical Society will gather around the grounds during each of the events during the season and set up specialty telescopes for a view of various night sky objects while attendees await their turn to look through the grand telescopes in the domes.

Los Angeles prides itself as home of the stars. Don’t limit yourself to the mere mortal stars of Hollywood, when the universe is opening its doors to experience stellar wonders that will really blow your heart and your mind. We hope to see you at the observatory to experience magnificence together.

For more information:  

Concerts: https://www.mtwilson.edu/concerts 

Engineering Tours: www.mtwilson.edu/engineering-tour

Public Ticket Nights:  mtwilson.edu/public-ticket-nights

Private Telescope Reservations: mtwilson.edu/observe

Solar Viewing: mtwilson.edu/solar-observing

Tours: mtwilson.edu/weekend-docent-tours

Mt. Wilson Observatory: https://www.mtwilson.edu 

MWO Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WilsonObs 

MWO Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mtwilsonobs MWO Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtwilsonobservatory

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Padilla joins women’s march rally in LA to advocate for abortion rights

“We’re coming together this weekend with a powerful message to those who wish to control our bodies & our futures”

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Graphic via Planned Parenthood

LOS ANGELESU.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will join the Women’s March Foundation along with local and national leaders for a National Day of Action, the ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ Reproductive Rights Rally. Padilla will deliver remarks on the importance of defending access to safe, legal abortion at the federal level.

Senator Padilla joins leaders in Los Angeles for this day of action following a leaked draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade and roll back abortion access protections for millions of women across the country.

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif. (Screenshot C-SPAN2)

Earlier this week, Padilla voted in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law, and spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to pass the bill. 

The “Bans Off Our Bodies” daylong event is organized by groups including Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, UltraViolet, MoveOn, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

“We’re coming together this weekend with a powerful message to those who wish to control our bodies and our futures: Keep your bans off our bodies,” said Planned Parenthood national organizing director Brianna Twofoot.

WHEN:TOMORROW, Saturday, May 14 at 10:00am PT
WHO:Women’s March Foundation
WHERE:Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
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