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Apple CEO Tim Cook among honorees at Los Angeles GLSEN awards

Record fundraising haul for GLSEN

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(L-R) Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tim Cook and GLSEN Executive Director, Eliza Byard pose backstage at the GLSEN Respect Awards Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 25, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
(Photo courtesy GLSEN by Getty Images North America)

If last night’s 2019 Los Angeles GLSEN Respect Awards is any indication, native citizens of Alabama, perhaps the nation’s most socially and politically repressive state, have taken a major lead in the fight for LGBTQIA equality.

Some of the state’s most powerful notables and disruptors, student’s, Academy Award winners and the most successful Captain of industry in global business history, stood on stage at the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills and threw down the gauntlet.

Eliza Byard GLSEN’s Executive Director opened the event by reminding the megawatt celebrity gathering that the threats facing the LGBTQ community have intensified dramatically in just the short span of three years.

“Two weeks ago the Attorney General of the United States of America, William Barr, described LGBTQ rights as ground zero in the secular war on religion,” she said. “He pledged that the Department of Justice would be at the forefront of the fight against our efforts in schools.”

Similar threats are being waged throughout the highest levels of government by the Trump administration, Byard noted. “Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is shredding the policies and programs at the Department of Education that protected LGBTQ youth, youth of color, youth with disabilities and immigrant youth from discrimination and racism and violence in our schools.”

“Last year she (Devos) announced that the Department of Education would no longer investigate claims of anti-transgender discrimination and just last month she proposed to erase the Department’s data on civil right violations in our schools,” Byard said.

Devos, who is widely viewed as one of Donald Trump’s most favored cabinet members recently proclaimed the birth of “education freedom,” a phrase she used in a speech she gave, according to Byard, “to a voucher funded school that teaches that homosexuality is a sin.” The speech reaffirmed the administration’s determined and coordinated drive to elevate the right to discriminate over the rights of those discriminated against.

GLSEN National Student Council member Eric Semelo, who described himself as a “half-white, half-Filipino gay boy from Montgomery, Alabama,” was the first of GLSEN’s remarkable students to take the stage, showcasing a future community leadership that was as cerebral and stellar as it was diverse in every sense.

Semelo and Youtube star Connor Franta presented Riverdale the group’s Game Changer Award to its star Madeline Petsch and producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. “If our show Riverdale offers any of its views a sanctuary, a sense of hope— even if it’s only for one hour a week — nothing could make me happier or prouder,” Aguirre-Sacasa said.

Elle Smith, a high school senior at Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock, Texas, was honored as the 2019 Student Advocate of the Year. She said her award was a “testament to the strength of my generation: when faced with opposition we are going to stand up, we are going to build movements and we are going to fight.”

Judith Light, the Tony and Emmy Award winning actress and LGBTQ activist who stars in Amazon Studio’s Transparent, praised GLSEN’s mission as vital, particularly in “a world that is so fraught with disruption and lies.” She introduced Jennifer Salke, Amazon Studio chief, herself a disruptor who has brought spearheaded a Hollywood revolution in content featuring the LGBTQ community.

Salke gave an impassioned, almost spiritual speech, that proclaimed the power of authenticity. “My team and I believe that everyone should feel authentically represented,” she said. “We believe that representation brings understanding, acceptance, inspiration and transformation.” Salke has notably formed teams for her projects that are comprised of individuals who reflect the storyline.

Salke also called out Elle Smith as someone with exceptional power and a very bright future, calling on other Hollywood power brokers to join her in supporting her future.

“It’s actually simple,” said Octavia Spencer, an Academy Award winning actress and native of Montgomery, Alabama. “Respect is treating someone as you would want to be treated,” she said. In her speech, accepting the Inspiration Award Spencer tearfully said allyship comes easily for her: “I know what it’s like to feel invisible, to be overlooked, to feel less than.”

Jeffrey Katzenberg, himself a major disruptor, now launching a movie platform called Quibi that is set to bring a whole new Hollywood experience to your phone, took to the stage to introduce one of the most influential human beings on earth, Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook.

https://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesBlade/videos/818587841890931/

Cook, a native Alabamian who is gay and who came out in 2014, reminded the audience that “what we learn and what we are told to value as children can define the course of our lives. If a teacher, a parent or an authority figure,” he said, “takes time to show kindness, to represent the great diversity of our humanity and create space for authentic conversation when we are young, it stays in our hearts forever.”

“Unfortunately, we see all too often the consequences of failing our kids. Trans and non-binary young people kicked out of their homes and attacked on our streets; bullying and harassment in our schools and a broader society that still sends the message that when the going gets tough, it’s the least among us who get targeted first.”

Cook, taking up the gauntlet, said “there is so much more we can do to change things.”

He dedicated his Champion Award to a 62 year old man who wrote him a letter that described the burden and collateral consequences of a life lived in shame. “The world is a better place when we have every opportunity to be ourselves.”

It was almost like a celebration of the famous 1984 Apple Computer commercial in which a woman athlete sprints forward with sledge-hammer in hand and throwing it into the face of power, ends it’s grip.

That commercial announced a new era and, presuming Cook takes his award to action, so did last night’s event.

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Events

The Dru Project announces its 5th annual “Gun Violence is a Drag”

The event, held in honor of Pulse victim Drew Leinonen, raises funds for supporting queer youth scholars in college, grad school, and beyond

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The Dru Project/Los Angeles Blade graphic

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Dru Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance, proudly presents the 5th Annual “Gun Violence is a Drag” show. This heartfelt and empowering evening is set to take place at Heart WeHo on February 10, 2024, promising a memorable and impactful experience for attendees. 

The event, held in honor of Pulse victim Drew Leinonen, aims to raise funds for supporting queer youth scholars in college, grad school, and beyond. The Dru Project continues its mission to create positive change and foster a sense of community through this unique and powerful event. 

This year’s “Gun Violence is a Drag” event will embrace a Valentine’s theme, adding a touch of love and solidarity to the drag brunch. Attendees can expect an unforgettable afternoon filled with entertainment, compassion, and a shared commitment to making a difference. 

Key highlights of the event include:

Celebrity Guests: The evening will be graced by the presence of prominent celebrity supporters who share The Dru Project’s vision for a more inclusive and accepting world. Past guests include: Melissa Rivers, Jai Rodriguez, Katie Thurston, Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan, Lana Parrilla, and more. 

Raffles from Entertainment Sponsors: Generous support from entertainment sponsors will provide attendees with the chance to win exciting prizes through raffle drawings, adding an element of excitement to the fundraising efforts. 

Incredible Lineup of Drag Performers: The stage will come alive with an extraordinary lineup of drag performers from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, ensuring a brunch filled with captivating performances that celebrate self-expression and individuality. 

“We are thrilled to announce the 5th Annual ‘Gun Violence is a Drag’ event,” said Sara Grossman, Board President at The Dru Project. “This year’s Valentine’s theme adds a beautiful layer of love to our commitment to creating a safer and more inclusive world for queer youth. We invite everyone to join us for a night of entertainment, empowerment, and fundraising for a cause that truly makes a difference.”

Event Details: 

Date: February 10, 2024 

Location: Heart WeHo 

Theme: Valentine’s 

Time: Doors open at 12pm; Show begins at 1pm 

Individual tickets for the event can be purchased day-of, with all proceeds going directly to The Dru Project’s initiatives supporting queer youth.

The Dru Project is a non-profit organization founded in memory of Drew Leinonen, a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The organization is dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance, with a focus on supporting queer youth through scholarships and GSA materials.

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2024 Best of LGBTQ LA Finalist Voting

Finalist voting is now open until January 7, 2024- Winners will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ LA Party January 26th at Heart WeHo

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – The 2024 Los Angeles Blade Best of LGBTQ LA Awards are here! Finalist voting is now open until January 7, 2024.

Winners will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ LA Party on Friday, January 26th at Heart WeHo. More details about the party will be coming soon.

VOTING IS NOW CLOSED!

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Los Angeles Zoo is proud to announce its upcoming Pride Night

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, including family, friends, and allies, are invited to a night of celebration and unity on Jan. 4, 2024

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Photo courtesy of LAZoo Press

LOS ANGELES –  The Los Angeles Zoo is proud to announce its upcoming Pride Night on Jan. 4, 2024, from 6 – 10 p.m., at L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow, in collaboration with L.A. Pride.

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, including family, friends, and allies, are invited to a night of celebration and unity on Jan. 4, 2024

“The L.A. Zoo is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for all of our communities, including those who visit and work at the Zoo,” said Jess Kohring, Curator of Community Inclusion, L.A. Zoo. “Pride Night is put together as an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ staff, community members, friends, families, and allies to come together in a supportive environment to experience L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow.”

What to Expect at Pride Night at L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow:

  • Dance party for all ages at Treetops Terrace, featuring the musical stylings of DJ Brynn Taylor;
  • Full cocktail bar for adults ages 21+, including two signature Pride Night cocktails — “Pride Punch” and “Taste the Rainbow,” served with a side of Skittles;
  • Fun Pride photo opportunities throughout the L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow event.

L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow is a festive celebration of nature, wildlife, and the winter holiday season and will run through Jan. 7, 2024. This enchanting festival of lights showcases stunning lantern sculptures, vibrant interactive displays, roaming live entertainment, and festive holiday photo opportunities, creating a magical wonderland of lights beneath the stars. All ages are welcome to join in the festivities and experience the magic of L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow in a supportive and inclusive environment. Ticket prices for L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow start at $18 for children and $29 for adults (13+), with free parking included. GLAZA members can enjoy up to a 27 percent discount on nightly tickets.

For more information and ticket details, please visit www.lazoolights.org.  

The Los Angeles Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is dedicated to providing exemplary animal care and wellbeing.  As a trusted leader in local and global conservation efforts, the Los Angeles Zoo is saving wildlife and connecting Angelenos to the natural world by delivering diverse learning opportunities and creating unforgettable experiences. The lush 133-acre campus and its passionate and dedicated team welcomes all to be inspired by the Zoo’s vision to create a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together.

The Zoo is located on Zoo Drive in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $22 for adults and $17 for children ages 2 to 12.

For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo website at www.lazoo.org.



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Jingle & Mingle: Holiday event focused on queer immigrant stories

The Los Angeles Blade partnered with AIDS Healthcare Foundation affinity group The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD)

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Drag star Melissa BeFierce (Photo by Jorge Barragán)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The Los Angeles Blade, partnered with AIDS Healthcare Foundation affinity group The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD), on held December 22, a joyful evening of food, hobnobbing, music, and entertainment at HEART WeHo.

The event attracted a diverse crowd of 150 people from the worlds of politics, entertainment, nightlife, media and community members from around the SoCal area.

The event kicked off with a vibrant performance by Drag star Melissa BeFierce and Veronica, opening the show with a review of Jennifer Lopez’s Spanish language hits, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Como Lo Flor,” “Amor Prohibido” and “I Could Fall in Love.”

Blade publisher Troy Masters welcomed the crowd:

“I have learned from someone very special to me that people who are in this country as an asylum seeker, a DACA recipient or as an Undocumented person, you do not have access to the same legal protections that I do, that most of you do,” he said. “I believe that is one of the many inequalities facing immigrants that needs to be addressed and that’s one of the topics I hope we will discuss tonight,” Masters added.

Masters then introduced Edwin Millán, International President of LOUD, who greeted the many VIPs in attendance and thanking everyone for “giving up their Friday night before Christmas to support this event and the LGBTQ immigration community.”

Edwin Millán, International President of LOUD (Photo by Jorge Barragán)

Millán then presented 4 panelists representing a  diverse immigration experience; Gretta Soto Moreno, a Mexican trans who said that it took her 13 years to obtain asylum, but that during that time she experienced difficult situations, including spending three years in prison; Jesús Paizano, a 22-year-old Venezuelan asylum seeker who explained that after two and a half years, he still has not received a resolution; Hans Vompakerth, a 23-year-old undocumented Colombian gay, said that he has not yet decided to apply for asylum for fear of facing deportation; and Laura Morales García, who arrived in the United States when she was two years old, explained what it was like to get DACA and what this means for her.

Editor’s note: For the original reporting in English regarding the panelists please go to this link: (here)

Aquí están sus historias

Gretta Soto Moreno, Guerrera por los Derechos de los Inmigrantes Trans (Foto de Jorge Barragán)

El viaje de Gretta Soto Moreno es un testimonio de las dificultades que enfrentan los solicitantes de asilo y las luchas dentro del sistema de detención de EE. UU. Gretta, una mujer transgénero que huye de años de tormento, soportando agresiones y amenazas en México, su país de origen, lamentablemente se encontró sufriendo abusos similares al llegar a EE. UU.

Antes de irse, la familia de Gretta desconocía sus luchas, centrándose en lugar en sus propios asuntos. México no solo era violento, sino también aislante y traumatizante. Es un lugar difícil para ser uno mismo auténtico.

Pero hubo momentos felices, como la fiesta navideña de la oficina donde se presentó valientemente como Gretta, sorprendiendo a una colega católica que, según Gretta, no tenía idea. “Se sorprendió porque notó a esta ‘mujer bonita’ organizando la fiesta; yo también me sorprendí porque cuando se dio cuenta de que era yo, estaba extasiada”, dijo Gretta. “Su reacción fue tan inesperada y me hizo sentir especial”.

Las personas transgénero, especialmente en un lugar como México, rara vez encuentran tal aceptación.

Gretta sufrió la pérdida de su mayor defensora cuando su abuela falleció. Ella había sido la fuerza más protectora y solidaria en su vida. “Cuando murió, me sentí tan sola y perdida… Ella siempre supo que era diferente de los demás niños, pero para ella eso me hacía muy especial”. Al darse cuenta de que estaba sola y de que su vida no mejoraría en México, eligió buscar asilo en Estados Unidos. Pero su viaje migratorio estuvo lleno de desafíos.

El arresto y la condena relacionada con el alcohol de Gretta complicaron su solicitud de asilo. Y como persona transgénero que tuvo que abordar su encarcelamiento pasado, las cosas se volvieron muy complicadas, una historia que refleja la situación de muchas personas trans en circunstancias similares. “Mis condenas por alcohol me hicieron muy difícil convencer al juez de inmigración de que mi reclamo de asilo era legítimo; y eso es realmente difícil porque como persona trans, que te crean o que cuestionen tu verdad es realmente traumático”, dijo.

En el Centro de Detención de Eloy, Gretta soportó abusos y la negación de medicamentos esenciales para personas transgénero, repitiendo los mismos horrores de los que huía. Trasladada a una unidad LGBTQ en Santa Ana, las esperanzas de alivio se desvanecieron a medida que los registros invasivos persistieron, ignorando su identidad e infligiendo un trauma mental y físico severo.

La historia de Gretta arroja luz sobre la cruel realidad que enfrentan los inmigrantes, exponiendo el desprecio insensible por la identidad y el abuso sistémico prevalente dentro de los centros de detención. Su narrativa revela el sufrimiento profundo soportado por personas como ella, independientemente de sus antecedentes o luchas.

Gretta es una especie de guerrera por los derechos de los solicitantes de asilo trans y se ve a sí misma como alguien que lucha contra un oponente mucho más grande. “Me encanta la historia de David y Goliat. Lo pienso como una historia de amor gay, en la que el rey Saúl se enamoró de David”, dice. David, al igual que Gretta, luchó contra un oponente mucho más grande, esperando llevar paz y seguridad a una tribu de personas a las que amaba.

“Amo a mis hermanas y hermanos trans y haré lo que sea necesario para hacer del mundo un lugar mejor y para hacer del asilo un lugar seguro y afirmativo”, dice. “Nadie que busque cambiar su situación debería ser castigado y obligado a regresar a ella. Pero los inmigrantes son personas vulnerables que a menudo descubren que defender nuestros derechos resulta en complicaciones que empeoran la situación”, explica. “Juro cambiar eso”.

Jesús Paizano, hablando con micrófono, un solicitante de asilo venezolano de 22 años, defiende la igualdad en inmigración (Foto de Jorge Barragán)

Jesús Paizano es un estudiante que rara vez pasa por alto un detalle y puede enfrentarse a las personas más inteligentes de la habitación, incluso a personas tres veces mayores que él. Entonces, cuando se propone algo, va a por ello con confianza y no hay nada ni nadie en su camino que pueda detenerlo.

Quizás esa sea una cualidad que adquirió después de ver a su padre, un jugador bien conectado en el gobierno de Hugo Chávez, perdiera todo. “Mi papá trabajó con el gobierno de Hugo Chávez y luego con el presidente Nicolás Maduro. Pero tuvo un desacuerdo con Diosdado Cabello, quien también es uno de los más altos diplomáticos de Venezuela. Mi padre se negó a seguir órdenes arbitrarias y, en respuesta a eso, fue políticamente arruinado y destituido”.

Jesús fue testigo de primera mano del impacto que tuvo en su padre y toda su familia, ya que las normas de privilegio, paz, posición, posesiones y su sentido de seguridad les fueron arrebatados. Venezuela desde 2013, cuando Jesús tenía solo 12 años, descendió lentamente a una situación de extrema violencia política y desastre económico que ha resultado en una crisis humanitaria y un éxodo sin precedentes: más de 7 millones de personas han huido.

Desde niño, veía el mundo a través de ese prisma arrugado y, en su adolescencia, se dio cuenta de que sus posibilidades de éxito eran muy limitadas. Añade a eso su realización de que ser gay en una cultura muy cerrada y machista era otro golpe en su contra; de hecho, conoce a muchos jóvenes homosexuales que fueron víctimas de violencia homofóbica, algunos de los cuales se quitaron la vida o simplemente desaparecieron.

Determinado a salvarse a sí mismo, decidió huir. Jesús puso su mirada en Estados Unidos, convirtiéndose en uno de los más de 1 millón de solicitantes de asilo venezolanos del mundo. Por supuesto, eso significó despedirse de la familia y, aunque estuvo lleno de ansiedades no expresadas, la promesa de un futuro más brillante superó el dolor de la separación. Y, además, era joven y “nunca pensé en ello como una despedida”.

El viaje a la frontera de Estados Unidos cerca de San Diego no fue tan aterrador como cruzar realmente a Estados Unidos. Siendo pragmático, cuando vio a la policía, decidió entregarse de inmediato y comenzar a presentar su solicitud de asilo. Durante los siguientes seis meses, fue enviado de centro de detención a centro de detención. “La detención a veces daba miedo y me enfermé mucho y también tuve Covid, pero había algo en ello que era gratificante”, dijo. “Había otras personas gay y algunas personas trans y nos cuidábamos mutuamente”.

Finalmente, se conectó con un patrocinador en Los Ángeles que le envió un boleto a LAX. “Me recogieron y lo primero que hicimos fue ir a The Abbey y luego a la casa. Nunca había sentido un alivio tan grande en mi vida”.

Al establecerse en Estados Unidos, Jesús encontró un panorama muy diferente al de su tierra natal. La apertura de su identidad LGBTQ se destaca en marcado contraste con las limitaciones que enfrentó en casa. “En el camino, sin embargo, ha habido lecciones de civismo que fueron una sorpresa”. Jesús dice que hay una brecha peligrosa en la capacidad de un inmigrante para obtener justicia a través del sistema judicial ordinario. Él dice: “la diferencia entre los derechos que tiene un inmigrante y los de un ciudadano estadounidense crea una brecha que se puede usar para controlar o manipular e incluso explotar a las personas”, dice. “Los inmigrantes dudan en luchar por sus derechos legales cuando han sido agraviados o heridos e incluso cuando han sufrido agresiones o violencia en su contra”, dice. “La gente teme que de alguna manera pueda afectar su caso de inmigración”. Él aboga apasionadamente por una defensa más fuerte y acceso a un sistema que proteja y empodere a todos, independientemente de su estatus de ciudadanía.

“Yo soy un inmigrante, no un extraterrestre”, declara. “Bueno, tal vez soy un extraterrestre, pero no del tipo terrestre”, bromea. “Pero creo en la IGUALDAD”, dice refiriéndose a las diferencias en los derechos de recurso legal que tiene un inmigrante en comparación con un ciudadano estadounidense.

“Amo a este país y cuando me convierta en ciudadano estadounidense, lo honraré como un privilegio otorgado por uno de los pocos países donde la democracia aún sobrevive. Pero tiene que hacerlo mejor para proteger los derechos de los inmigrantes que ya están aquí”, dice. Jesús se niega a ser encasillado por suposiciones sociales. 

Se ve a sí mismo no como un forastero, sino como un contribuyente, listo para enriquecer la vida estadounidense. “Un día espero tener hijos y quiero que tengan una vida libre de las cosas que experimenté en Venezuela”, dijo. Jesús cree en segundas oportunidades y no está limitado por dogmas religiosos ni moralizaciones; en cambio, desafía todo eso. “No creo en el cielo ni en el infierno. Nadie sabe la respuesta sobre si hay una vida después de la muerte”, dice. “Todo lo que sé es que todo tiene un comienzo y un final. Y me gustaría creer que después de que algo termina, hay un nuevo comienzo”.

Hans Vompakerth, hablando con un micrófono, un viaje indocumentado desde Colombia
(Foto de Jorge Barragán)

Hans Vompakerth es un joven gay de 23 años de Medellín, Colombia, y a pesar de ser indocumentado, dice que no tiene miedo de contar su historia.

“Hay miles de personas como yo y no les suceden cosas malas, así que ¿por qué debería guardarlo en secreto?”

Después de todo, no ha hecho nada malo, dado el poco acogedor ojo oficial de las autoridades de inmigración al llegar a los Estados Unidos.

“Hubo dos ocasiones en las que ingresé a los Estados Unidos cerca de Tijuana… La primera vez me devolvieron al lado mexicano de la frontera”, dice. Pasó un año y lo intentó de nuevo.

“Me capturaron y me procesaron como antes, pero esta vez, en lugar de devolverme al lado mexicano, me llevaron, a mí y a un grupo de personas, en un automóvil blanco del gobierno y nos dejaron en medio de la nada en el lado estadounidense. Nos dejaron buscando civilización”.

La determinación de Hans de venir a los Estados Unidos parece provenir de su respeto y admiración duraderos por su trabajadora madre. Son tan cercanos que la única persona que sabía que iba a salir de Colombia era ella. El resto de su familia estaba en la oscuridad hasta que él se instaló de manera segura en los Estados Unidos y su madre los informó.

“Lo hice por ella. Trabajó tan duro para mantener unida a la familia y supongo que, como el hijo mayor, quería hacerle la vida más fácil y proveer para ella, mis 3 hermanas y mi hermano menor”, dice.

Sin embargo, en marzo pasado, la familia sufrió una tragedia. Su hermano menor, de 20 años, dejó el hogar sin avisar. Después de unos días de búsqueda constante y preocupación, la familia fue informada de que su cuerpo había aparecido en una isla cercana.

“Me sentí impotente. No pude regresar ni hacer nada excepto ayudar con todos los gastos”, dijo con dolor. “Tuve que consolarme sabiendo que mis hermanas estaban allí para cuidar de ella mientras ella lloraba”. A pesar de las presiones familiares, en Estados Unidos, Hans dice que tiene un nuevo sentido de la vida que contrasta fuertemente con los oscuros desafíos que enfrentó en su tierra natal.

“Siento que soy mucho más respetado y aceptado por todos. Me siento mucho más resiliente y feliz, y eso me ha permitido superarlo todo. Cuando murió mi hermano, lloré trabajando más duro y usando el dinero para cubrir los gastos del funeral. Todos los días, pasaba horas en WhatsApp con mi mamá y todavía lo hago”.

Entonces, no fue la violencia y la homofobia lo que motivó a Hans a dejar Colombia. “Nunca fui víctima de discriminación o violencia en Colombia”, dice. “Huí de una situación donde había escasez de todo, sin recursos en general, ni siquiera suficiente comida. Vivía en constante tumulto económico, incluso mi propia salud se vio afectada. No había trabajos.

“Y si mi mamá y mi familia iban a sobrevivir”, dijo, “tenía que huir”. “No experimenté violencia ni homofobia hasta que puse un pie en México y tuve contacto con las autoridades de inmigración de Estados Unidos”, dijo. “Fueron horribles conmigo”.

Pero desde que llegó a Los Ángeles, Hans dice que no ha experimentado discriminación ni violencia. Aunque ha requerido persistencia y no ha sido fácil, Hans dice que su viaje de inmigración ha sido lo más importante que ha hecho en su vida. “Fue una decisión que lo cambió todo para mí y mi familia”.

Pero aún no ha logrado lo que llama su sueño americano, obtener estatus legal y vivir en este país sin temor a ser devuelto. Hans tiene una perspectiva muy positiva y una creencia en la bondad innata de las personas, aunque es muy consciente del lado oscuro. “Mudarme a este país”, declara, “ha cambiado mi vida. Vivir en Estados Unidos me ha ayudado a levantarme, a ser disciplinado, a ser sensible, a aprender más, a cuidarme más a mí mismo y a ayudar a todos los que me importan”.

Laura Morales García, hablando con micrófono, nació en Durango, México y llegó a Los Ángeles a la temprana edad de 2 años, donde llegó con su familia indocumentada.
(Foto de Jorge Barragán)

Laura Morales García nació en Durango, México y llegó a Los Ángeles a la temprana edad de 2 años, donde llegó con su familia indocumentada.

Ha pasado toda su vida defendiendo a los beneficiarios de DACA y es una de las principales expertas en el tema y una destacada defensora. Se graduó de Los Angeles High School y fue la primera en su familia en asistir a la universidad, obteniendo su título en Psicología Clínica.

García se dedica al servicio público y trabaja para educar a los estudiantes de secundaria sobre la comunidad LGBTQ+.

Es embajadora de AHF, representante de farmacias y enlace comunitario de AHF para la prevención y atención del VIH.

The event was sponsored by Los Angeles Blade, LOUD, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the office of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, the office of LA County Supervisor Chair Lindsey Horvath and Equality California.

Denounce hate by calling (833) 866-4283 or 833-8-NO-HATE, callers can report anonymously Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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LGBTQ asylum seekers: Journey complicated by restrictive policies

The event, to be held at HEART WeHo on December 22 at 8 PM, will feature an outstanding panel of affected people from the Latino community 

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – The mere fact that LGBTQ people can claim refugee status and seek safe haven in this country based on dangers they face in their home country by anti-LGBTQ forces and laws was a hard fought, massive victory for LGBTQ refugees and one that has only been recently enacted.

In about 70 countries same-sex relations are criminalized and, in six countries, punishable by death. Many LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers have endured years of exclusion, discrimination, and even violence by family, community, and authorities before being forced to flee home.

Many LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers experience trauma inflicted by circumstances which led to them fleeing their nations of origin. That can have long-lasting mental health effects, including a range of mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Obtaining asylum status or permanent residency in the United States can also be a traumatizing experience as the process can take years of uncertainty. 

Pew Research recently noted that since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, his administration has acted on a number of fronts to reverse Trump Administration-era restrictions on immigration to the United States.

The steps included plans to boost refugee admissions, preserving deportation relief for unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and not enforcing the “public charge” rule that denies green cards to immigrants who might use public benefits like Medicaid.

Scripps News journalist John Mone reported that the United Nations World Refugee Agency that by the end of 2022, close to 110 million people were forcibly displaced around the globe due to violence, persecution or human rights violations.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, in its June 2022 report noted:

Only 37 countries formally grant asylum to individuals due to a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI).

Studies show that a main obstacle to seeking asylum appears to be lack of awareness that sexual orientation and gender identity constitute viable grounds for an asylum claim.

  • Research shows that the process of applying for asylum can itself have deleterious effects on LGBTQI+ persons. One recent study found that asylum applicants experience negative mental
    and physical health outcomes and economic insecurity as they wait in a precarious state of uncertainty.
  • A number of studies show how the requirements for a successful asylum claim require that LGBTQI+ migrants “come out” to present themselves as a sexual or gender minority, but do so in a way that is “credible” and “legible” to asylum adjudicators. One study attributed the cause of most denied SOGI claims to “disbelief of sexual orientation” or “lack of credibility,” which are typically predicated on heteronormative and Western conceptions of sexuality and expectations of queer lifestyles often rooted in stereotypes or prejudice.
  • A number of studies point to the challenge posed by adjudicators who may conflate sex with sexuality to the extent that sexual behavior forms a key part of the claimant’s narrative about
    their sexual orientation. Applicants without sexual or romantic histories are therefore routinely discredited.
  • “Proving” one’s identity is particularly challenging for transgender asylum seekers. Adjudicators often rely on outdated medicalized notions of what it means to be transgender in which, to be deemed “valid” and “real,” transgender people must desire and seek out medical intervention.
  • Bisexual claimants are often denied asylum due to understandings of bisexuality based on stereotypes, that is, the notion that bisexual migrants can simply choose partners of the opposite sex.
  • Documentation of country conditions is critical evidence to demonstrate a fear of persecution.
  • The experience of “coming out under the gun” in the course of applying for asylum can be actively retraumatizing for vulnerable migrants.

The changes reportedly under discussion by the Biden administration include placing a cap on asylum seekers, expanding detention and deportation of asylum seekers, creating a Title 42-like policy that would expel those entering the U.S. without the chance to ask for asylum, raising the bar for asylum seekers to prove the danger they are facing, codifying aspects of the asylum ban such as a third-country transit ban for those seeking protection at the border, and restricting asylum based on how asylum seekers enter the country.

These policies will result in many people who could otherwise be eligible for asylum being returned to the very danger they are trying to escape — in direct contradiction of federal and international law.

Then there is also the fiscal reality for LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers. To work legally in the country based on a Pending Asylum Application, asylum seekers are allowed apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) known as a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

However, this can only be done in the time frame of 150 days after the asylum application has been filed. Many asylum seekers arrive with extremely limited funds and in many cases outside of charitable assistance by organizations, churches or private individuals, find themselves supporting themselves illegally, and in the cases of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers, this can include sex work which has the potential to lead to human trafficking.

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The Los Angeles Blade teamed up with The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD) to host a Holiday Party celebrating the journey’s of LGBTQ Asylum Seekers, DACA recipients and undocumented folks. 

The event, to be held at HEART WeHo on December 22 at 8 PM, will feature an outstanding panel of affected people from the Latino community who will share their stories

Gretta Soto Moreno, a Mexican trans woman who is an asylum seeker, seeking safety from the persecution she experienced there. Jesus Paizano is a 22-year-old Venezuelan asylum seeker who is deeply passionate about immigration equality and justice. Hans Vompakerth an undocumented 23-year-old gay man determined to find his American dream. Laura Morales Garcia, a DACA recipient who arrived in this country at 2-years-old and who is fighting to strengthen the rights of people in her category.

Edwin Milan

The panel will be moderated by Edwin Millan, a native of Lima-Peru. Edwin is the International President of The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD), an affinity group of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which addresses the social and health disparities that threaten the Latino Community.

By organizing events like the holiday party, LOUD, an affinity group of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, establishes a worldwide reach and earns recognition as one of the most influential Latino advocacy organizations.

Gretta Soto Moreno’s journey is a testament to the hardships faced by asylum seekers and the struggles within the U.S. detention system. A transgender woman fleeing years of torment—enduring assaults and threats in Mexico, her home country —sadly found herself suffering similar abuses upon reaching the U.S.

Mexico was not only violent, it was isolating and traumatizing. It’s a hard place to be your authentic self.

Gretta Soto Moreno, warrior for transgender immigrant rights

But there were happy moments, like the office Christmas party where she bravely presented herself as Gretta, stunning a Catholic colleague who Moreno says had no idea. “She was shocked because she noticed this ‘pretty woman’ managing the party; I was shocked too because  when she realized it was me, she was ecstatic,” Moreno said. “Her reaction was so unexpected and it made me feel special.” 

She suffered the passing of her biggest champion when her grandmother passed away. She had been the most protective and supportive force in her life.. “When  she died, I felt so alone and lost.. She always knew I was different that the rest of the kids but to her that made me very special.”

Realizing she was alone and that her life would never improve in Mexico, she chose to seek asylum in the U.S.. But, navigating immigration was full of challenges. 

Moreno’s alcohol-related arrest and conviction compounded her plea for asylum. And as a trans person having to address past incarceration, things became very complicated, a story echoing the plight of many trans individuals in similar circumstances. “My alcohol convictions made it very hard to convince the immigration judge that my asylum claim was legitimate; and that is really hard because as a trans person, being believed or having your truth questioned is really traumatizing,” she said.

Jesus Paizano, a 22 year old Venezuelan asylum seeker, takes a stand for immigration equality.

Jesus Paizano is a quick study who rarely misses a detail so, when he sets his sights on something, he confidently goes for it and there’s nothing or no one in his path who can stop him. 

“My dad worked with the government of Hugo Chavez, and later president Nicolas Maduro. But he had a dispute with Diosdado Cabello, who is also one of Venezuela’s highest diplomats. My father refused to follow arbitrary orders and in response to that he was politically ruined and removed from office.”

Paizano witnessed first hand the impact that had on his father and his entire family, as the norms of privilege, peace, position, possessions and their sense of safety were taken from them. 

Venezuela since 2013, when Jesus was only 12-years-old, has slowly descended into extreme political violence and economic disaster that resulted in a humanitarian crisis and unprecedented exodus: more than 7 million people have fled.

In his teenage years, Paizano realized that his chances of success were very limited and the realization that being gay in a very closeted, macho culture was another strike against him. In fact he knows many young gay men who were victims of antigay violence, some of whom took their lives or who simply disappeared. 

Determined to save himself, he became one of the more than 1 million Venezuelan asylum seekers. But the promise of a brighter future outweighed the pain of separation. And, besides, he was young and “never thought of it as goodbye.”

The journey to the U.S. border near San Diego was not as scary as actually crossing into the U.S.. Ever pragmatic, when he saw the police he decided to immediately surrender and begin to make his asylum plea. For the next six months he was routed from detention facility to detention facility. 

“Detention was scary at times and I got very sick and also had Covid, but there was something about it that was rewarding,” he said. “There were other gay people there and some trans people and we watched out for one another.” 

Eventually, he was connected to a sponsor in Los Angeles who sent him a ticket to LAX. “They picked me up and the first thing we did was go to The Abbey and then to the house. I had never felt such relief in my life.”

Paizano encountered a landscape starkly different from his homeland. The open embrace of his LGBTQ identity stands in stark contrast to the limitations he faced back home.  

He says there is a dangerous gap in an immigrant’s ability to get justice through the ordinary court system. He noted “the difference between the rights an immigrant has and those of an American citizen has sets up a gap that can be used to control or manipulate and even exploit people.”

“I love this country and when I become a U.S. citizen, I will honor that as a privilege bestowed by one of the few countries where democracy still survives. But it has to do better to protect the rights of immigrants who are already here,” Paizano said. 

Hans Vompakerth, an undocumented journey out of Colombia.

Hans Vompakerth is a 23-year-old gay man from Medellin, Colombia and despite being undocumented, he says he has no fear telling his story.

“There are thousands of people like me and they do not have bad things happen to them, so why would I have to keep it a secret?”

“There were two occasions in which I entered the US near Tijuana. The first time they returned me to the Mexican side of the border,” he says.  A year passed and he tried again.

”They captured me and processed me like before, but this time, instead of returning me to the Mexican side, they took me and a group of people in a white government car and left us in the middle of nowhere on the American side! We were left to set about looking for civilization.”

Vompakerth’s determination to come to the U.S. seems to come from his abiding respect and admiration he has for his hard working mother. They are so close that the only person who knew he was going to leave Colombia was her.

“I did it for her. She worked so hard to hold the family together and I guess, as the oldest son, I wanted to make life easier for her and provide for her, my 3 sisters and my younger brother,” he says.

Last March, however, the family suffered  tragedy. His younger brother, 20, left home unannounced. After a few days of constant search and worry, the family was informed that his body had washed ashore on a nearby island.

 “I felt powerless. I wasn’t able to return or do anything except help with all the expenses,” he said with heartache. “I had to take some comfort knowing that my sisters were there to take care of her while she grieved.”

Despite family pressures, in the U.S., Vompakerth says he has a newfound sense of life that contrasts starkly with the dark challenges he faced back home. 

“I feel I am much more respected and accepted by everyone. I feel much more resilient and happy and that has made it possible for me to get through everything. When my brother died, I grieved by working harder and using the money to cover funeral expenses. Everyday, I spent hours on WhatsApp with my mom and I still do.”

So, it wasn’t violence and homophobia that motivated Hans to leave Colombia. “I was never a victim of discrimination or violence in Colombia,” he says. “I fled a situation where there was a scarcity of everything, no resources in general- not even enough food. I lived in constant economic turmoil, even my own health was affected. There were no jobs. 

“I didn’t experience violence or homophobia until I set foot in Mexico and had contact with immigration authorities from the U.S.,” he said. “They were awful to me.” 

But since arriving in Los Angeles, Hans says he hasn’t experienced discrimination or violence.

“Moving to this country,” he declares, “has changed my life. “Living in the US has helped me pull myself up, to be disciplined, to be sensitive, to learn more, to care more about myself and to help everyone I care about.”

Laura Morales Garcia, a dreamer and devoted DACA recipient.

Laura Morales Garcia was born in Durango, Mexico and found her way to Los Angeles, CA at the young age of 2 years old, arriving with her undocumented family.

She has spent a lifetime advocating for DACA recipients and is one of the leading experts on the issue and a noted advocate. She graduated from Los Angeles High School and was the first in her family to attend college, obtaining her degree in Clinical-Psychology.

Garcia is devoted to public service and works to educate high school students on the LGBTQ+ community. 

She is an AHF Ambassador and AHF Pharmacy Representative & Community Liaison for prevention and care of HIV.

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Jingle & Mingle holidays event in West Hollywood at Heart

The Los Angeles Blade & Latino Outreach Understanding Division announce a special holiday party at Heart WeHo on December 22, 2023

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Blade and Latino Outreach and Understanding Division are proud to announce a special holiday party at Heart WeHo on December 22, 2023 from 8PM.

We are celebrating the LGBTQ immigration community of Los Angeles: Asylum Seekers, DACA beneficiaries, Undocumented folks and their loved ones and supporters.

We’re hoping you’ll come and bring lots of cheer and a sense of family at this especially important time.

We are grateful for the support we have received from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Latino Outreach and Understanding Division, the office of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Equality California for this special, first of its kind event.

And hope you will help us get the word out! Please share!

Everyone is welcome and we look forward to celebrating their stories and the holidays with you at Heart WeHo on Friday, December 22, 2023 from 8PM.

Celebración navideña para la comunidad LGBTQ de inmigrantes en Los Ángeles

¡Únase a nosotros para una celebración navideña festiva e inclusiva! Estamos emocionados de reunir a la comunidad de inmigrantes LGBTQ de Los Ángeles para un evento alegre en Heart Weho. Ubicado en Santa Monica Boulevard en West Hollywood, CA, EE. UU., este vibrante lugar crea el escenario perfecto para nuestra reunión.

Para muchos miembros de la comunidad LGBTQ que enfrentan problemas de inmigración, Diciembre y la temporada navideña pueden llegar a ser difíciles y solitarios.

Así que, si te encuentras en esa situación, queremos invitarte a ti y a tus seres queridos a unirse a nosotros para una velada especial en la que celebraremos tu valiente viaje a este país.

Esta es una oportunidad única para conocer a otras personas con historias similares a la tuya.

A veces, simplemente poder hablar con otros con situaciones similares sirve de estimulo. Aqui encontraras solicitantes de asilo, beneficiarios de DACA y personas indocumentadas, quienes compartiran sus experiencias y quienes podran brindarte esperanza, aliento y alegría.

Contaremos con una invitada sorpresa que estamos seguros nos llenara de alegria y esplendor.

Esperamos que te unas a nosotros para una noche divertida e informativa con comida, música, entretenimiento, un panel informativo y oportunidades de networking. ¡Nunca sabes a quién podras conocer!

Ofreceremos algo de comida ligera y bebidas, así que solo tienes que presentarte y disfrutar.

Esta es una oportunidad increíble para conectarte con personas como tú y celebrar las festividades con amor.

¡Tu perteneces aquí!

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Queerceañera: Celebrating LAtinx Heritage Month

Queerceañera is an inclusive take on the coming-of-age quinceañera tradition throughout Latin America and the United States

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Queerceañera hosted by RuPaul's Drag Race Season 15 alum, Salina EsTitties. (Photo-Graphic Credit: Los Angeles LGBT Center)

LOS ANGELES – Get Ready, LA! This September, the Center will host its inaugural Latinx Heritage Month commemoration with Queerceañera (queer-seh for short), an inclusive take on the coming-of-age quinceañera tradition throughout Latin America and the United States.

Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 alum, Salina EsTitties, our Queerce is a cultural summit and community cotillion rooted in accessibility and unbridled celebration; quinceañeras are often regarded as out-of-reach status symbols, and our event breaks the gender norms and structures of said celebrations. Both vibrant and bold, Queerce will spotlight LA’s richly diverse queer, Latinx diasporic experiences.

RuPaul’s Drag Race México host Valentina will be honored at the event, kicking off a year-long ambassadorship with the Center to uplift and support outreach within the Latinx community. She will sit down for a keynote conversation with Mexican-Native American entertainer, Miss Benny. The duo will be honored for their trailblazing work in entertainment as breakout, culture-shifting nonbinary and trans artists, respectively.

PROGRAM

● 5:30PM – Doors + Bars Open

● 6:00—7:15PM – Quince-style cocktail reception and a mixer in our courtyard, and then guests will be escorted into our Renberg Theatre.

● 7:15—8:30PM – Emceed by celebrity host Salina EsTitties, the stage program will consist of show stopping performances, special honoree presentation and keynote conversations with influential figures from the LAtinx community.

● 8:30—10:30PM – Tiempo de Vals — the post-program offers more cocktails and surprise live performance elements in the courtyard for guests to enjoy before dancing into the evening.

ASL provided for the program. Event venue is wheelchair accessible.

Date and time

Friday, September 29 · 5:30 – 10:30pm PDT

Location

The Village at Ed Gould Plaza1125 N McCadden Place Los Angeles, CA 90038

More event + special guest announcements coming soon!

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PFLAG Parent Day is Sunday, July 23, presented on ABC stations

“PFLAG Parent Day is a celebration of families & the parenting- all of us can work together to create a world where everyone is celebrated”

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PFLAG Parent Day graphic courtesy of PFLAG

WASHINGTON – This National Parents’ Day, Sunday July 23rd, PFLAG National will highlight the parenting people who lead with love in support of LGBTQ+ people of all ages with a special presentation of PFLAG Parent Day across ABC Owned Television Stations’ platforms and PFLAG National social channels. 

PFLAG Parent Day, now in its third year, is a special event to celebrate LGBTQ+ affirming parents and all the people who fill a parenting role for LGBTQ+ kids of all ages. Follow the stories of families, advocates, educators, artists and communities across the country who show up each day to fight for love and justice in their own backyards.

“PFLAG Parent Day is a celebration of families and the parenting people fighting for a better world,” said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “Ultimately, it’s a reminder: all of us can work together to create a world where everyone is celebrated, empowered and loved.” 

In 2023, LGBTQ+ people and their families have faced an unprecedented volume of attacks—including threats to their lives, livelihoods, and civil rights—in every state across the country. Inspired by the same unconditional love that urged PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford and other parents to get off the curb and march alongside their LGBTQ+ loved ones 50 years ago, parenting people in 2023 are taking action and fighting back.

The PFLAG Parent Day presentation—which will premiere on PFLAG National and ABC Owned Television Station streaming platforms—is produced by PFLAG National with support from the ABC Owned Television Stations. Philip D’Amour (2023 White House Correspondents DinnerThe Grio Awards) serves as Executive Producer.

 

The special event will air on PFLAG National social channels, and as follows across the eight ABC Owned Television Station platforms:

Website links:

PFLAG Parent Day 2023:

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The Original Farmers Market & The Grove will host Pride Night 

NSYNC’s iconic member Lance Bass will kick off the event announcing a pet parade and adoption event hosted by Wags & Walks

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Photo courtesy of The Grove- Where L.A. Comes Together ®

LOS ANGELES – In celebration of Pride Month, The Original Farmers Market and The Grove will host Pride Night on Friday, June 30, presented by Afterpay, bringing together the LGBTQIA+ community for a night of festive bingo, live entertainment, disco dancing under the stars and more.

Beginning at 5PM on Gilmore Lane where The Original Farmers Market and The Grove meet, the street will transform into a sequin-filled disco oasis with Pride-themed décor, a rainbow dance floor, live music and several festive photo moments. 

NSYNC’s iconic member Lance Bass will kick off the event announcing a pet parade and adoption event hosted by Wags & Walks. Guest will enjoy an array of sips and bites from renowned vendors of The Original Farmers Market and The Grove as well as a lemonade stand from Afterpay.

Pop ups include a beer garden and food stand with El Granjero Cantina, and a variety of other food booths from favorite Market merchants including Kaylin + Kaylin Pickles, Fritzi Coop, Friends and Family Pizza, Michelina Bakery and Roxy and Jo’s Seafood.

The Grove’s beloved annual Pride Bingo will begin at 6:30PM. Tickets are $60 per person and include 10 rounds of bingo hosted by LA legend ‘Bingo Boy’ (Jeffrey Bowman), meal and beverage tickets and chances to win special prizes from some of The Grove’s favorite brands like Alo Yoga, Athletic Propulsion Labs, diptyque, Todd Snyder and more. Ticket proceeds will be donated to LA Pride.

As the sun begins to set, DJ Blake Cross will turn up the music for guests to dance the night away under the stars and sparkling lights.

Pride Night is sponsored by “buy now, pay later” service Afterpay. New and existing Afterpay customers who purchase Pride Bingo tickets will be reimbursed at check-in and enjoy complimentary gifting moments and benefits at the event. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit https://thegrovela.com/events/pride-night/.  

WHAT:                 Pride Night at The Original Farmers Market & The Grove, presented by Afterpay

WHEN:                Friday, June 30, 2023

Pet “Paw”rade  & Adoption: 5:00PM – 5:30PM

Food and Drink Pop-up’s from the Original Farmers Market: 5:00 – 9:00PM

Live Music from 80’s Band “Radio Rebel’s”: 5:30PM – 6:30PM

Bingo & Prizes: 6:30PM – 8:00PM

More Live Music, DJ & Dancing: 8:00PM – 9:30PM

WHERE:               Gilmore Lane in between The Original Farmers Market & The Grove

189 The Grove Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90036

ADMISSION:        Event entrance is complimentary and open to the public; food and beverages available for purchase

(1) Pride Bingo Ticket: $60

*Includes 10 rounds of bingo, meal and beverage tickets, swag bag, multiple photo opportunities and chances to win complimentary prizes from The Grove’s stores and restaurants

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LA Pride Parade Grand Marshals named, LA Pride Village returns

When LA Pride Parade returned home to Hollywood Blvd last year after more than 4 decades, it prompted the start of new traditions

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Graphic via Christopher Street West

LOS ANGELES – Christopher Street West Association (CSW) announced its trio of grand marshals to be celebrated at the LA Pride Parade on Sunday, June 11 taking place at its original historic location in Hollywood.

This year’s LA Pride Parade grand marshals include comedian, actor and activist Margaret Cho as the Icon Grand Marshal, an individual who needs no introduction and achieved major milestones within their career and industry; a posthumous tribute to Emmy-winner Leslie Jordan as the Legacy Grand Marshal, a new title this year in honor of Jordan for his everlasting impact on the community; and the ACLU of Southern California, that helped CSW obtain the permit for the first LA Pride parade, as the Community Grand Marshal, which celebrates a group or individual who has had a powerful influence through their work and dedication to and for the LGBTQ community.

“I’m thrilled and incredibly honored to be the Icon Grand Marshal,” said Cho. “We need this Pride more than ever. I have been attending Pride celebrations since 1978 and this time around the need to celebrate as well as unite is more urgent than it has ever been. Our love is greater than their hate. 

“On behalf of Leslie Jordan, we are overjoyed by Christopher Street West’s heartfelt recognition to name Leslie as LA Pride’s Legacy Grand Marshal,” said Jana “Cricket” Jordan. “This honor further solidifies the positive impact he made in the world, but more importantly for the LGBTQ+ community. His spirit continues to bring love and light.”

“For a century, we’ve been on the front lines fighting for people to be their true, authentic selves,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU SoCal. “We’re honored to be the Community Grand Marshal and proud to love, live among, and protect LGBTQ Californians.” 

“Christopher Street West is honored and humbled by this year’s three grand marshals,” said Gerald Garth, president of CSW. “Each have contributed to the LGBTQ+ community in their own unique ways, furthering our fight for acceptance, equality, and justice.” 

LA Pride Parade and Village Details

Graphic via Christopher Street West

The parade, which will feature a special drag performance presented by the ACLU SoCal and staged by Morgan McMichaels to music by 14-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren, will air LIVE on long-time LA Pride broadcasting partner KABC/ABC7 on Sunday, June 11 beginning at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

It will also air nationally on ABC News Live and Hulu, and wherever viewers stream ABC7 including abc7.com and the ABC7LA mobile app.

Anchor Ellen Leyva and reporter Christiane Cordero from ABC7 Eyewitness News will co-host the ABC7 broadcast. The parade route will begin at Sunset Blvd and Highland Ave heading north, then east onto Hollywood Blvd, then south onto Cahuenga Blvd, ending at Sunset Blvd and Cahuenga Blvd. 

This year’s LA Pride Parade partners include: Corona Extra, Corona Hard Seltzer and SVEDKA Vodka: Hero Sponsors: Toyota Mirai, TikTok and H&M; Activist Sponsors: Delta Air Lines – the Official Airline of LA Pride, The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) – Official Transit Partner of LA Pride, Glamazon, Kim Crawford Wines, L.A. Care Health Plan, Los Angeles Tourism, Nordstrom, Optum, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Advocate Sponsors: AEG, including the LA Kings, LA Galaxy, and AEG Presents, Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions, Coca-Cola, Grindr, Honda, LADWP, LVMH, Rare Beauty, UCLA Health, Warner Bros. Discovery and Kenvue CARE WITH PRIDEⓇ; Ally Sponsors: Activision Blizzard, the Dream Hollywood hotel, FOX Pride, Moxy/AC Marriott, NBCUniversal, Target, Tiffany & Co., as well as returning television and digital broadcast partner ABC7, and official radio partner iHeartMedia Los Angeles and PRIDE RADIO on the iHeartRadio app.  

Additionally, The Hollywood Partnership, the non-profit organization that oversees the public realm in the Hollywood Business Improvement District (BID), has once again partnered with LA Pride to bring the LA Pride Village back to Hollywood Blvd.

LA Pride Village is the official place to be after the LA Pride Parade, with festivities taking place from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., just steps from the official parade route.

When the iconic LA Pride Parade returned home to Hollywood Blvd last year after more than four decades, it prompted the start of new traditions and celebrations in Hollywood, including LA Pride Village, a free and open to the public street festival.

The second annual LA Pride Village celebration promises to be even bigger and better, with a new location on Hollywood Blvd, between Vine St. and Gower St., to make room for more booths featuring local vendors and non-profits, an expanded beer garden, delicious food trucks, two performance stages for twice the entertainment, and more comfortable crowd space for dancing. 

All details can be found here: https://lapridevillage.com/do/la-pride-2023

Sponsors of LA Pride Village include Princess Cruises and Royal-bud.com. 

Public transit and ride share services to LA Pride Parade and Village are strongly encouraged. For the Parade, connect to the L.A. Metro B (Red) Line and exit Hollywood/Highland or Hollywood/Vine Station. Metro has many Park & Ride lots servicing the county – parking is just $3.00 per day, payable onsite.

If self-driving to LA Pride Parade and Village, vehicles can access parking and the event site via Vine Street or Gower Street.

For additional information about parking and transportation, please visit https://lapridevillage.com/about/parking-and-transit

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