Will AB 5 quietly kill California’s LGBTQ and independent press?
Last September, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 5 into law, a bill intent on reforming the state labor law to deal with the new gig economy. The law, which took effect, Jan. 1, forces businesses and companies to limit the amount of work performed by independent contractors or classify them as employees with a minimum wage and overtime pay, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, healthcare benefits, and the right to form a union.
The state’s Legislative Counsel defined the reclassification: “a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that the person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.”
AB 5 exempts specified occupations such as “licensed insurance agents, certain licensed health care professionals, registered securities broker-dealers or investment advisers, direct sales salespersons, real estate licensees, commercial fishermen, workers providing licensed barber or cosmetology services, and others performing work under a contract for professional services, with another business entity, or pursuant to a subcontract in the construction industry.”
Newsom called AB5 “landmark legislation” to combat worker misclassification. “The hollowing out of our middle class has been 40 years in the making, and the need to create lasting economic security for our workforce demands action,” Newsom wrote in a signing statement.
“Today, we are disrupting the status quo and taking a bold step forward to rebuild our middle class and reshape the future of workers as we know it,” said AB 5 author Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Democrat from San Diego. “As one of the strongest economies in the world, California is now setting the global standard for worker protections for other states and countries to follow.”
While AB 5 targeted such companies as Uber, Lyft, and meal delivery services like DoorDash and Postmates that rely heavily on independent contractors, it soon became clear that thousands of unconsidered professionals would be severely impacted — “some 2 million workers across industries far from the sharing economy and tech sectors, from truck drivers and general contractors to nail salons and strippers,” writes CalMatters.
The California Trucking Association filed suit and received a temporary injunction while a federal court judge considers granting a permanent injunction. The association argued that more than 70,000 independent truckers would suffer irreparable harm by not being able to set their own schedules, among other detrimental impacts.
Not considered, however, was the fate of independent contractors such as freelance journalists, artists, dancers, musicians, photographers, as well as the myriad of freelancers temporarily hired by entertainment-related companies. AB 5 only allows freelancer writer to produce an arbitrary 35 submissions for each company each year.
On Jan. 6, US District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles denied granting a temporary restraining order requested by an attorney from the non-profit Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian public interest law firm, representing The American Society of Journalists & Authors and the National Press Photographers Association, saying the delay in filing for an injunction belied the argument in their Dec. 27 lawsuit that AB 5 created an emergency situation for freelancers, who rely on producing a volume of articles or photos to earn a living.
LA-based LGBTQ leader Steven Blum of California Freelance Writers United tells the Los Angeles Blade:
“The recent ruling denying a temporary exemption to freelance journalists and photographers is disheartening, to say the least. The people who stand to lose are those who are already the most vulnerable in the media world: people of color, women, LGBTQ+ writers, and those who work from home because of a disability.
We’re already seeing the destructive effects of AB5 as giant media companies like Vox pull out of California. But smaller outlets are also cutting back: LAist is limiting freelance photographers, San Diego Tribune is scaling back on freelance submissions and local columnists are losing their jobs. I wonder how LGBTQ+ media, already in a perilous position, will be further impacted by this legislation. Out, the Advocate and many other minority publications rely on armies of freelancers to put together their publications. They all stand to be hobbled by this law. How many important stories will we end up losing?”
Media organizations are informing their stable of freelancer contributors that they will abide by the California law. Forbes.com, for instance, sent out this email:
“Good morning! As you may know, a new law goes into effect in California on January 1 (AB5) that will prevent individuals who write more than 35 articles per year for a news outlet from being classified as independent contractors. While the law is under scrutiny and may end up being successfully challenged at some point next year, after January 1, 2020, individual contributors who reside in California will not be able to post in excess of 35 articles annually on the Forbes platform. We can continue to have California corporations or LLCs whose business is freelance writing and contribute more than 35 articles annually and, of course, California-based individual contributors who write fewer than 35 articles per year on that platform.”
“We are not cutting off California freelancers who might write over 35 pieces a year, as other publications have done, instead we are helping them to get business licenses so they can continue working for us under the B2B [business-to-business] clause,” says Marie Lyn (“Riese”) Bernard, CEO and editor-in-chief of the queer-owned, women-owned autostraddle.com where “people are able to tell their own stories,” That’s why the outlet has “an enormous pool of freelancers, many of whom are based in California, because cities like L.A. and San Francisco are often the only places where LGBTQ people feel safe.”
The Bay Area Reporter was hip to the side-effects of AB5 long before the bill was signed. “In our case, AB 5 would be a crippling blow, as the Bay Area Reporter relies on about 50 freelance reporters, critics, photographers, and delivery drivers,” BAR wrote in a Sept. 4, 2019 editorial. “Small news and media outlets like ours simply cannot hire additional full-time or part-time employees — that’s why we, and many other industries, rely on contract workers.”
The Los Angeles Blade and other LGBTQ outlets became aware of the dire situation after Vox Media abruptly fired more than 200 California freelancers working with its digital sports media company, SB Nation. Though BAR and others have implored state lawmakers such as lesbian Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and gay State Sen. Scott Wiener to intervene and provide an exemption to the newspaper industry as has already been granted to doctors and real estate agents, apparently Gonzalez won’t budge.
“We don’t seek to overturn the entire law. We want the state to lift the submission cap and remove the ban on freelance videography. California cannot violate the First Amendment,” San Diego-based freelancer Randy Dotinga, board member and former president of plaintiffs American Society of Journalists & Authors tells the Los Angeles Blade. “California Freelance Writers United is working on getting an exemption via legislation.”
“AB5 also shuts the door on an entire generation of up-and-coming voices who could provide us with valuable insight. Many folks who are coming up in the industry will simply give up and move on to PR or copywriting. We’ll have a less-informed public because of it. California Freelance Writers United started a few months ago as a Facebook group to challenge AB5,” Blum notes.
Blum is concerned that the law is pitting journalist against journalist:
“It’s been interesting to see who actually cares about our plight. Some journalists in positions of power have abandoned us, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Hitzlick at the L.A. Times. He wrote on Twitter that he sees us as undercutting union jobs — as scabs, essentially. Never mind that we pay taxes and respect picket lines. Considering the volatility of the industry writ large, and the fact that so many journalists cycle through periods of freelancing, it seems shortsighted to make some kind of ethical distinction between those who work out of an office and those who work from home. We all want to inform, inspire and tell stories that matter.
One of the most noxious myths Lorena Gonzalez is pushing is that the media industry will suddenly hire writers because of this law. It seems like Gonzalez and the California Federation are being willfully naive about the economic realities of the media industry and their ability to take on new full-timers.”
“This is not looking good at all. Assembly Bill 5 could permanently alter the journalism landscape in California, and not for the better,” says freelancer writer Joseph Fenity, president of the LA chapter of the National Association of LGBTQ Journalists. “Where are some of these Hollywood-based freelance entertainment reporters going to be based out of? D.C.? Let me know how that works out.”
“I think AB5 is a great law, but I don’t think the people who wrote it had any awareness of how freelance writers operate,” says Bernard. But “there’s no feasible way to hire a full-time staff member to represent every identity we need represented.” AB5 without an exemption for freelancers is “a danger to free speech and freedom of the press, particularly to independent press. There has to be a better way to regulate exploitation in media.”
The American Society of Journalists & Authors and the National Press Photographers Association lawsuit argues not only that AB 5 violates the First Amendment by unconstitutionally restricting free speech but also violates the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, by not treating journalists that same as those working in similar professions. They are seeking a preliminary injunction, which will be heard March 9. Randy Dotinga says he is also seeking amicus briefs from supporting organizations.
In the meantime, the clock is running for freelance contributors to outlets that previously provided a trusted source of income. And there is a move afoot to bring similar pro-labor bills to other states, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives. Known as The Protecting the Right to Organize Act — or the PRO Act — which passed the House labor committee on Sept. 25, The Intercept reports that the PRO Act “would represent the most comprehensive rewrite of U.S. labor law in decades. It would eliminate right-to-work laws, impose new penalties on employers who retaliate against union organizing, crack down on worker misclassification, and establish new rules so that employers cannot delay negotiating collective bargaining contracts.”
But freelancers and the other possible 2 million people impacted in California alone do not have a lobbyist to bring the problems to the attention of lawmakers.
“This is a classic case of unintended consequences,” Capitol Weekly reported freelancer and Discover contributing editor Linda Marsa, a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, as saying. “The thrust of the bill is wonderfully progressive California, but what’s really scary is that people don’t know the implications.”
And one of those unintended consequences is the potentially dire impact AB 5 will have on LGBTQ and other minority media which rely heavily on freelancer contributors.
Photo of man at laptop via Amazon/Nakamela Mouse Pads
LAPD responds to anti-LGBTQ+ protest at valley elementary school
A spokesperson for the LAPD said that the protests were mostly peaceful although acknowledged there was heated rhetoric between the two groups
LOS ANGELES – Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s North Hollywood Community Station responded to an assistance request from the Los Angeles Unified School District’s School Police Department to keep dueling groups of protestors separate at Saticoy Elementary School early Friday morning.
LAPD is at Saticoy Elementary School this morning. We are here to support our LAUSD partners and facilitate a peaceful and lawful exercise of constitutional rights.— LAPD PIO (@LAPDPIO) June 2, 2023
Media staging at Ethel Avenue and Arminta Street. pic.twitter.com/X3iwDUmO1n
The two groups of protestors numbered approximately 120 people, many carrying signs and waving American national flags and LGBTQ+ Pride flags. One group of parents had taken to social media and distribute flyers to protest the scheduled June 2, LGBTQ+ Pride event at the school located at 7850 Ethel Avenue in North Hollywood.
Earlier this week, the LAPD announced that investigators were looking into an incident where a small LGBTQ+ Pride flag located outside of a classroom of a trans teacher at the elementary was destroyed in an act of arson.
At today’s protests, KTLA’s Kimberly Cheng spoke with people advocating for parents of LGBTQ+ kids and their allies as well as those opposed. Cheng also interviews LAUSD Board Member Kelly Gonez who told KTLA that there were only two sentences in a book read out loud at the Pride assembly and that the school district was standing by its LGBTQ students and faculty.
A spokesperson for the LA LGBT Center, Terra Russell-Slavin, said in a statement:
“I am beyond disappointed to read about the events unfolding at Saticoy Elementary School—and not just from where I sit as the Chief Impact Officer of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. To be completely frank, I am more so concerned as a lesbian mother who’s raising a child in Los Angeles County.
The rhetoric we’re seeing from ‘concerned parents’ at Saticoy Elementary mirrors the dangerous misinformation campaigns that have been lodged against our community by far-right activists and religious extremists. For the past few years, they’ve planted seeds in the public imagination that LGBTQ+ people are attempting to ‘indoctrinate’ or ‘sexualize’ children. These outrageous lies have, sadly, taken hold throughout our country; the backlash we’re facing is among the worst chapters in our movement’s history. There are more than 500 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation on the books this year, accompanied by an increase in threats to LGBTQ service providers and schoolteachers, the banning of books that tell our stories and history, and the criminalization of our access to healthcare.
The Pride celebration scheduled at Saticoy Elementary School was meant to celebrate LGBTQ+ community members and families like mine. My wife and I are proudly raising our child to be accepting, welcoming, and loving to everyone—and hope that his education reflects those same values of basic human dignity and decency. The fact that this is somehow a controversial or ‘hot-button issue’ is not just alarming, it’s deeply saddening. Families like mine deserve to be included and represented in our classrooms and our school events. My child should not be educated to be ashamed of his mothers. I am not a threat to anyone by loving my family.
As the Chief Impact Officer of the Center, I know that if this kind of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration is happening here in Los Angeles, this fight is only getting uglier in other parts of our country. That’s why we have to confront ignorance and hatred head-on, and make sure we don’t give it the oxygen to proliferate. We should be leaders of this movement and a safe haven for queer and trans people everywhere—and we should be using our example to help families across the country fight for their rights and their safety.
I hope LAUSD knows they can always rely on the Center to intervene in situations like these—and I hope the parents protesting Pride at Saticoy Elementary can come to an understanding that there is nothing dangerous about LGBTQ+ people. On the contrary: The real danger is the homophobia and transphobia that result in organizations like ours needing to house, feed, educate, and celebrate youth displaced by their families simply based on their identity. If we really care about our youth, we will nurture them with examples of radical love and acceptance—which is exactly what the spirit of Pride is all about.”
A spokesperson for the LAPD said that the protests were mostly peaceful although acknowledged there was heated rhetoric between the two groups.
Dueling protests separated by police ahead of Pride event at North Hollywood elementary school:
Pride flag burned at elementary school where protests continue
“We have a real concern over what is going on. We have three teachers who are LGBTQ at that campus. And two parents are LGBTQ”
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that a small LGBTQ+ Pride flag located outside of a classroom at Saticoy Elementary School was destroyed in an act of arson. The crime is now is being investigated as a possible hate crime, according to an LAPD spokesperson.
First reported by The Daily News, Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton of the LAPD’s Valley Bureau told journalist Steve Scauzillo: “The investigation is ongoing. It is a vandalism hate crime. The hate crime is still significant but it is a misdemeanor,” he said on May 27.
A group of parents have taken to social media and distribute flyers to protest a scheduled June 2, LGBTQ+ Pride event at the school located at 7850 Ethel Avenue in North Hollywood.
The group called for other parents to protest outside of the school on June 2 at the start of the school day. “We respect everyone, but some things are appropriate for children (of) that age, and some things are not,” George Dzhabroyan, who is among the Saticoy parents unhappy with the school, told KTLA 5 on May 24. “Hopefully the message gets across and people understand that parents should be the primary contact of what their children should be exposed to and shouldn’t be exposed to.”
The blackened planter and burned flag were discovered by school personnel on Monday, May 22, at 6:30 a.m., Hamilton said. He did not know when the planter and flag were burned and there are no suspects, he said.
According to The Daily News, a member of the group, Saticoy Elementary Parents, claims that no one from the group was responsible for the act of arson.
Ana, a parent in the group who asked that her last name not be published in the interest of her family’s safety, said she does not believe any member of the group is responsible for the possible hate crime, the Daily News reported.
“None of us parents are aware of who the person might have been who set the flag on fire,” she said. “None of us would jump the fence or set the flag on fire because we don’t want to bring that negativity to the school where our children are.”
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) confirmed that the event being protested by the group will include a book reading by faculty of British author Mary Hoffman titled ‘The Great Big Book of Families. The book covers families of different colors, single parents, grandparents, two mothers, two fathers, and adoptive families. It also addresses family sizes, different homes, different ways to go to school, different ways parents work, the holidays families take, the food people eat, clothes, pets, and hobbies.
The school also has an assembly planned for that day.
The executive director of the San Fernando Valley LGBTQ Center, Renato Lira, expressed concern over this latest incident: “We have a real concern over what is going on. We have three teachers who are LGBTQ at that campus. And two parents are LGBTQ who bring their kids to that school.”
Lira and the Center donated a full size Progress Pride flag for display and told the paper that volunteers from the Center will be present on the event this Friday. He added: “We raised that flag to let them know we are going to be stronger and united,” he said.
Lira pointed out that whoever burned the flag showed disrespect for LGBTQ parents, teachers and the community. “They should not be doing that, whoever they are,” he said.
The Los Angeles Unified School District did not respond to a request by the Blade for comment.
North Hollywood parents protest Pride event at elementary school
According to a statement released by the LAUSD, LGBTQ+ issues are an ongoing conversation within the district
LOS ANGELES – A group of parents have taken to social media and distribute flyers to protest a scheduled June 2 LGBTQ+ Pride event at Saticoy Elementary School on 7850 Ethel Avenue in North Hollywood.
The group called for other parents to protest outside of the school on June 2 at the start of the school day. “We respect everyone, but some things are appropriate for children (of) that age, and some things are not,” George Dzhabroyan, who is among the Saticoy parents unhappy with the school, told KTLA 5. “Hopefully the message gets across and people understand that parents should be the primary contact of what their children should be exposed to and shouldn’t be exposed to.”
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) confirmed that the event will include a book reading by faculty of British author Mary Hoffman titled ‘The Great Big Book of Families. The book covers families of different colors, single parents, grandparents, two mothers, two fathers, and adoptive families. It also addresses family sizes, different homes, different ways to go to school, different ways parents work, the holidays families take, the food people eat, clothes, pets, and hobbies.
The school also has an assembly planned for that day.
According to a statement released by the LAUSD, LGBTQ+ issues are an ongoing conversation within the district:
“As part of our engagement with school communities, our schools regularly discuss the diversity of the families that we serve and the importance of inclusion,” the LAUSD said in a statement. “This remains an active discussion with our school communities and we remain committed to continuing to engage with families about this important topic.”
Erik Adamian, the President of the Board of Directors of GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society in an email to the Blade said:
“Identities are formed at a very young age. It is critical to have expansive and inclusive language within schools that depict how different our identities, family structures and lives can be and how that is okay. LGBTQ+ children face a disproportionate amount of challenges, with amplified feelings of isolation and loneliness during teenage years. The inclusion of LGBTQ+ voices is a matter of saving lives; it is a matter of presenting children with critical support, rather than barriers, toward flourishing into healthy adults.”
Out social media celebrity JoJo Siwa’s Valley home burglarized
Responding officers found a door open and after review of security footage are now looking for at least two burglary suspects
LOS ANGELES – Patrol officers from the LAPD’s West Valley Community Police Station responded to a call for service from an alarm company at around 2:40 a.m. Wednesday to a residence in Tarzana, which is home to 19-year-old dancer, singer, actress and YouTuber JoJo Siwa.
Responding officers found a door open and after review of security footage are now looking for at least two burglary suspects who are seen on the video wearing hooded sweatshirts and masks covering their faces.
Siwa, who is currently on a cruise with family members, shared a screenshot on her Instagram account:
In her Insta post she wrote:
“We were robbed last night at 2:40(ish)AM. It was an armed robbery which is very scary. It was a REALLLLY long night on the phone with my security, family, and LAPD.”
Siwa also noted there was “lots of materialistic damage” as a result of the break-in, but added that “that can all be fixed.”
“I’m just happy that my family and pups are safe. Most important thing to me,” Siwa said continuing: “Do me a favor and hug your people extra tight tonight. Life is SCARY. And you never know when anything could happen.”
An LAPD spokesperson said that the investigation is ongoing.
Rubio bashes LA Dodgers over honoring drag group, Dodgers fold
LA LGBT Center Removes Itself from the Dodgers’ ‘Pride Night,’ To our Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, we say: Thank you
WASHINGTON – Florida Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued a statement Monday that condemned the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball franchise for a scheduled “Community Hero Award” to be given to the LA Chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence drag group during Pride month in June.
The Florida Republican alleges that honoring the group “mock(s) the faith with the motto with “Go forth and sin some more!” Rubio sent a letter to Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred stating that he is questioning whether the League is “inclusive and welcoming” to Christians.
Rubio cited the following:
- “The ‘sisters’ are men who dress in lewd imitation of Roman Catholic nuns. The group’s motto, ‘go and sin some more,’ is a perversion of Jesus’s command to ‘go, and sin no more.’ The group’s ‘Easter’ ceremony features children’s programming followed by a drag show where adult performers dress in blasphemous imitation of Jesus and Mary. The group hosts pub crawls mocking the Stations of the Cross and even the Eucharist, the sacrament that unites more than one billion Catholics around the world.”
- “Do you believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers are being ‘inclusive and welcoming to everyone’ by giving an award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians—and not only Christians, but nuns, who devote their lives to serving others?”
The New York City-based anti-LGBTQ+ Catholic League, headed by Bill Donohue who has a years-long lengthy record of anti-LGBTQ+ animus tweeted:
The Los Angeles Dodgers have besmirched their legacy of combating bigotry by partnering with LA Pride in awarding this year’s Community Hero Award to an obscene anti-Catholic group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.https://t.co/LoR3TtwRAJ pic.twitter.com/n0VQ3NFXAT— Catholic League (@CatholicLeague) May 16, 2023
In his letter to the MLB Commissioner, the Senator writes:
“On June 16, 2023, the Los Angeles Dodgers will host “LGBTQ+ Pride Night” at Dodgers Park. As part of the pre-game ceremony, the Dodgers will give its “Community Hero Award” to the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a self-described “order of queer and trans nuns” that has mocked and degraded Christians, and especially Catholics, since its founding on Easter Sunday in 1979.
The “sisters” are men who dress in lewd imitation of Roman Catholic nuns. The group’s motto, “go and sin some more,” is a perversion of Jesus’s command to “go, and sin no more.” The group’s “Easter” ceremony features children’s programming followed by a drag show where adult performers dress in blasphemous imitation of Jesus and Mary. The group hosts pub crawls mocking the Stations of the Cross and even the Eucharist, the sacrament that unites more than one billion Catholics around the world.”
The Blade has reached out to the Dodgers for comment but as of time of publication the team hasn’t responded. However in a tweet issued by the Dodgers Wednesday, on the globally recognized International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, (IDAHOBIT), the baseball franchise backed away from honoring the drag group.
Tony Hoang, the Executive Director of Equality California, issued a statement on the Dodgers backtracking and caving-in to anti-LGBTQ+ groups and Rubio:
“At a moment in time when drag performers are under attack across the country — including in stage legislatures and in some cases needing armed escorts to protect them from far-right extremists — the Dodgers’ actions are disappointing and let down thousands of LGBTQ+ fans that have supported them throughout the years.
“As longtime community leaders, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have raised millions of dollars for causes including HIV/AIDS healthcare, affordable housing, violence prevention, and drug abuse prevention in addition to offering grants to direct-service organizations and small businesses that support underrepresented communities.
“The anti-LGBTQ+ extremists who advocated for the removal of the Sisters from Pride Night are the very same people who are trying to erase the rights of trans kids and their families, criminalize drag performance and roll back equality for LGBTQ+ people across the country — we cannot and will not let them win.
“We call on the Dodgers to reinstate The Sisters as an honoree for Pride Night and works towards strengthening their commitment to unity.”
Out California State Senator Scott Wiener wrote on Twitter:
Really sad to see the Dodgers cave to pressure & kick drag queens out of a Pride celebration. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence do amazing, life-saving work in the community.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) May 17, 2023
We expect more from our sports teams — even the Dodgers. https://t.co/TFsesI2C7F
Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath tweeted:
If they’re not invited, I’m not going. Celebrating Pride is about inclusion. Do better. https://t.co/Pc3ZRgZf0Y— Lindsey P. Horvath (@LindseyPHorvath) May 17, 2023
Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-51) added his disappointment over the Dodgers decision on Twitter:
LGBTQ+ lives, families, love, & existence have long been characterized as offensive & controversial, but we do not give in to those calls. I urge the Dodgers to reverse this decision & ensure our home team reflects the true Los Angeles values of inclusion & acceptance. (2/2)— Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (@AsmRickZbur) May 17, 2023
“I feel angry and disappointed that the @dodgers have caved into the rising hate and anti-lgbtq rhetoric happening across our Country but driven by an extremist minority in power. Having Pride night while at the same time removing @sfsisters @ladragnuns from the evening is a blatant slap in the face to our community at a time when we need true allies and not performative ones. Los Angeles County has the largest LGBTQ+ community in California and likely the nation and we deserve better. I call on Dodgers to do the right thing. Step up, apologize and reverse course,” City of West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne told the Blade.
The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus released the following statement in response to the Los Angeles Dodgers decision to rescind an invitation to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with its Community Hero Award: pic.twitter.com/RSSq3ceQr2— California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus (@calgbt) May 19, 2023
The City of West Hollywood issued a statement:
“As the City of West Hollywood gets ready to kick-off WeHo Pride on Harvey Milk Day, we’re excitedly looking forward to the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence participating in the WeHo Pride Parade during WeHo Pride Weekend on the first weekend of June.
Pride is deeply rooted in West Hollywood’s history and culture. The City of West Hollywood has advocated for nearly four decades to support LGBTQ people. In our community’s ongoing fight for equality, the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have marched in unity at every step.
To those who draw lines that divide groups within our LGBTQ community, the City of West Hollywood emphatically says: this is not acceptable. We call on the Los Angeles Dodgers to reconsider its decision not to honor the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as part of its Pride Night. Inclusion and acceptance are at the heart of Pride. Pride is for everyone.
We applaud the Sisters for their passionate dedication to the LGBTQ community, for tireless AIDS and HIV activism, for unequivocally crusading for the rights of all people, and for the love, laughter, and flair they inspire.
The City of West Hollywood looks forward to celebrating WeHo Pride with the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and with everyone who celebrates under the diverse and beautiful rainbow of Pride.”
In response to the Dodgers Foundation rescinding their invitation to recognize the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at next month’s Pride Night, Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner issued the following statement:
“We are deeply disappointed that the Dodgers, an organizational partner that has made significant strides towards dismantling anti-LGBTQ+ bias in sports and long-standing supporter of our mission, has decided to revoke their invitation to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at their upcoming Pride Night.
Buckling to pressure from out-of-state, right-wing fundamentalists, the Dodgers caved to a religious minority that is perpetuating a false narrative about LGBTQ+ people. They have been fed lies about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and have therefore contributed to the ongoing, anti-LGBTQ smear campaign happening in this country. In a year where over 400 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation are on the books—many of them targeting freedom of speech, expression, and the bodily autonomy of our community—the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is as critical as ever, and unfortunately the Dodgers chose to bow to the religious right rather than stand with our LGBTQ community.
We at the Center know that the religious right—a minority aligned with white supremacy and attacks on reproductive justice—does not speak for all people of faith, including the many people of faith within the LGBTQ+ community. We know that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have reclaimed religious imagery, garb, and symbolism to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality; through their protests, they have exposed the hypocrisy of the churches that demonized gay people during the AIDS Crisis; challenged faith institutions to stand with queer and trans people; and raised valuable resources for our community as we were turned away from services elsewhere.
We call on the Dodgers to reconsider their decision, honor the Sisters, and bring the true spirit of Pride back to Dodgers Stadium. If the decision is not reversed, we strongly encourage the Dodgers to cancel Pride Night. Any organization that turns its back on LGBTQ+ people at this damning and dangerous inflection point in our nation’s history should not be hoisting a rainbow flag or hosting a ‘Pride Night.’ We want the Dodgers ally ship to be consistent with our experience partnering with them over the past many years. The people of Los Angeles County have consistently and overwhelmingly shown up for LGBTQ+ equality. If one of our most beloved institutions—the Dodgers—refuses to stand by us at this moment, we are terrified of what will come next. Los Angeles is a leader—not a follower. We call on the Dodgers to set an example.
To our Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, we say: Thank you. You will always have a place to be honored at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.”
RuPaul’s DragCon 2023 slays at L.A. Convention Center
There were the booths selling shoes, wigs, clap fans, makeup, jewelry, candles apparel and pretty much anything gay or draggy
By Paulo Murillo | LOS ANGELES – Drag performers and the LGBTQ+ community are facing threats across the country, but that didn’t hold back RuPaul’s DragCon 2023 from making a point that drag is here to slay.
The two-day event drew thousands of drag babies, drag legends and drag fans from all walks of life to the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday and Saturday (with some special events on Thursday evening).
Presented by RuPaul and World of Wonder Productions, RuPaul’s DragCon returned in-person with a fan-clapping convention that brought charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to celebrate drag culture from all over the world. The drag queen convention dates back to 2015 to give the art of drag, queer culture, and self-expression a platform and bring people together.
The Los Angeles Times reported that there were over 70 confirmed international queens coming from as far as the Philippines, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, and France. Ts Madison hosted “Bring Back My Girls,” one of WoW‘s hit shows, live from the convention floor.
This year’s main convention hall featured live events with Bianca Del Rio, two DJ sets by RuPaul himself perched high above the main stage, and of course, countless performances by drag icons like Jaida Essence Hall, the Teletubbies, Baga Chipz, Shea Couleé, Pangina Heals, Alaska, Kylie Sonique Love, Sasha Colby and so more.
One of the biggest gags of the entire weekend was the opening of the pink carpet on Saturday morning. It’s a chance for the queens to make an entrance and work a runway for waiting fans who had to get up pretty early to secure a good space to see it all. The pink carpet runway is also a chance to see all the queens before the bigger names hide inside a booth and are only allowed to be seen for a charge upwards of $30 in merchandise in exchange for a meet and greet and a photo op.
Then there were the booths selling shoes, wigs, clap fans, makeup, jewelry, candles apparel and pretty much anything gay or draggy.
Micky’s WeHo was a main sponsor. They had a double booth near the main entrance offering makeup makeovers, photo ops, music by DJ Paulo, and of course, Go-Go Dancers. Micky’s also hosted drag queens on their booth for meet and greets throughout the event.
Let’s also not forget to mention the local West Hollywood queens that graced Dragcon 2023. We’re talking about Selinas Estities, Morgan McMichaels, Willam, Sasha Colby, Mayhem Miller, Ongina, Kalista Stage, Vivienne Vida, Jordan Jayro, Manila Luzon and Sabbyiana to name a few… in no particular order.
WeHo Times ran into Love Connie who was a guest on the most recent RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15. She was working the pink carpet in her usual Love Connie fashion to promote Cash App, which is one of the sponsors. “I love this event,” she told WEHO TIMES. “I believe I’m allergic to the pink carpet fibers. I have to keep using my prison warden hankie to wipe my sweat off. But I’ll survive.”
Connie said she was not a fan of the children at the convention and she hoped they were acting up and throwing a tantrum wrecking havoc. She also said she was impressed by the Andrew Christian boys where were throwing a beach ball around and twerking the entire day.
“There was one little girl that I really loved,” she added “This little girl looked at me and said, ‘you’re a boy. I can tell you’re a boy, but you’re dressing like a girl. And I know why. I’ve seen Rupaul’s Drag Race. She’s a producer’s daughter and she was so cute the way she was figuring it all out. I just smiled.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race, MTV, and World of Wonder partnered with the ACLU this year and were proud to donate to “The Drag Defense Fund” in support of the ACLU’s LGBTQ+ rights work. The Dragcon website had a page allowing fans to make a tax-deductible gift to this crucial fund.
To donate, visit:
Support The Drag Defense Fund | American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org)
Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.
The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.
“Terminating Hate” Schwarzenegger leads panel on extremism
During the discussion, Schwarzenegger preached collectiveness in the fight against hate, echoing his message of hope
LOS ANGELES – Former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, led a discussion on ending the cycle of extremism Wednesday. The event was hosted by the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Students, journalists, and reporters filled the auditorium for the panel discussion meeting titled “Terminating Hate” – a nod to the actor’s former role as a cyborg assassin in Director James Cameron’s successful ‘Terminator’ film franchise.
The meeting came on the heels of a viral video posted by the former governor on YouTube, outlining his recent trip to Auschwitz. In the video, Schwarzenegger urged extremists to change hateful ways and offered a message of hope that there can, indeed, be a bright future for those who choose a better path.
Speakers and panelists included CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, the Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Willow Bay, Erroll Southers, USC Associate Senior Vice President of Safety and Risk Assurance, USC Shoah Foundation Finci-Viterbi Executive Director, Dr. Robert Williams, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Founder and Senior Rabbi, IKAR, Chuck Leek, Exit Specialist, Life After Hate, John Turtletaub, renowned film director, and Myrieme Nadri-Churchill, Executive Director, Parents for Peace.
“Hate crimes have increased to record levels,” said Dean Bay, opening the discussion with some startling statistics.
Los Angeles reported a total of 643 hate crimes just last year, marking a 13% increase since the year before. Nationally, hate crimes rose 31%, while antisemitic hate crimes rose to their highest levels since the Anti-Defamation League started keeping track in 1979.
The league was founded in 1910 with the mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.
“America is facing a level of extremism arguably unseen since World War II,” said Bay. “The difference between now and World War II is that this is a threat we are facing from within.”
During the discussion, Schwarzenegger preached collectiveness in the fight against hate, echoing his message of hope for those who wish to change the narrative of the hate they have been exposed to.
“I was born to a father who was a Nazi,” said Schwarzenegger, recounting the emotion he felt during his first visit to Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland, “and look where we are one generation later. This is how we can change. I don’t have to copy my father. We can change.”
Leek is a proponent of this change. A former white supremacist for twenty years, he now assists ex-members of radical groups re-acclimate as positive members of society.
Leek’s work is mainly through Life After Hate, an organization committed to helping people leave the violent far-right to connect with humanity and lead compassionate lives. Armed with a team of experts and led by a licensed clinical psychologist, Life After Hate’s vision is a world that allows people to change and contribute to a society without violence Leek noted.
In a separate but related manner, Nadri-Churchill works to empower families, friends, and communities to prevent radicalization, violence, and extremism through the non-governmental public health nonprofit Parents for Peace. The nonprofit provided guidance and early intervention; to raise public awareness among parents who suspect their child is being radicalized.
“No one is going to call the cops on their kids,” said Nadri-Churchill. A psychotherapist with 30 years of experience, she works with families to coach them on the best steps to tackle this issue while maintaining safety as a priority for all involved.
Rabbi Brous later praised Schwarzenegger for his opening, saying, “Standing up here and saying, ‘I am the son of a Nazi,’ was incredibly powerful.” She stressed how shame and isolation were key factors that can lead to extremist mindsets and asked, “How can we own the truth and not be ashamed of it?”
Schwarzenegger has historically been very open about his past and origins. In addition to advocating against hate, the former Republican California Governor continues to be an advocate and activist for children’s education, arts, and societal betterment in general.
During the “Terminating Hate” discussion, he shared that as a celebrity, he feels it is his responsibility to use his platform for good: “I am very much into giving back and not just taking. I thought it was important to talk about this issue.”
Schwarzenegger also stressed the importance of movies for their reach and influence, calling on directors like Turtletaub to use his influence to spread messages against hate.
“Communication is the number one issue here,” said Schwarzenegger. “This is why it was so important for me not to attack the other side. Hate, in the end, never pays off. Often, those who were fueled by hate become the losers.”
Schwarzenegger recounted a story from the eighties when he asked his father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, how he was able to go into enemy Soviet Union territory and negotiate for oil, when the Russians considered him an enemy. Shriver replied telling him, “Well, you have to find some common ground.”
Shriver would spend a day eating and talking but never discussing negotiations or the real reason he was there. He would find common ground in everything from family to fishing so that by the second day of his trip, he was able to secure what he needed from people who hated him when he arrived.
This is the philosophy Schwarzenegger hopes more people adopt when trying to solve the problem of hate, striving to “solve this problem without just accusing the other side.”
Schwarzenegger also said he hoped that more scientists and researchers would get involved in studying the human brain and hate throughout history to get to the bottom of what causes hate in the first place.
“We know the human race has always had prejudice,” said Schwarzenegger. “How does the brain really work? Why is the brain functioning this way?”
Finally, Schwarzenegger reiterated his desire for all people to come together to end hate.
“Even though people say this can never be solved, I say, yes we can!”
The Blade attempted to ask the former governor about his stance on anti-LGBTQ+ hate and transgender rights but was, however, turned away by Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff.
In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls out hate speech:
Mayor Karen Bass delivers her first ‘State of the City’ address
The mayor highlighted key accomplishments made in her first 127 days & efforts to tackle homelessness, crime, & LAPD staffing crisis
LOS ANGELES – In her first State of the City speech, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass addressed her administration’s efforts to tackle homelessness, crime, and the staffing crisis within the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The mayor also highlighted key accomplishments made in her first 127 days in office.
Bass announced a proposed expansion of the city’s Inside Safe initiative, which moves residents off sidewalks and into hotel and motel rooms with a $250 million expenditure as part of a $1.3-billion investment in housing and homelessness programs. Her full spending plan, which still requires City Council approval, will be unveiled Tuesday morning.
Opening her remarks, she thanked Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn, who had introduced her to the audience gathered in the L.A. City Council Chambers, which included other members of the Board of Supervisors, and also former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who served as the 41st Mayor of Los Angeles from 2005 to 2013.
Bass recognized Villaraigosa from the podium.
The mayor addressed her efforts to help SEIU Local 99 — the union representing service workers and support staff including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and teaching assistants negotiate with the Los Angeles Unified School District to come to an agreement to reopen schools, the city’s approach repairing potholes and how the city plans to ensure record rainwater capture after this Spring’s record rainfall.
The staffing crisis at the Los Angeles Police Department prompted the mayor to allocate additional funding for the hiring of new police officers to bring the LAPD up to a force strength of 9,500 officers. The department has lost nearly 1,000 personnel in retirements and resignations, in part exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with KTLA, Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz, Vice President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League said: “It’s a crisis. We definitely need to change. Something needs to change.”
Sandoz and LAPPL say they will support the mayor’s plans to hire more LAPD officers but say more needs to be done to retain officers who are already on the force.
“This needs to happen ASAP,” Sandoz said. “We cannot recruit our way out of this problem. We are losing officers too fast.”
In an interview prior to the mayor’s address, LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Times, the department, which is currently at 9,130 officers, is expected to lose more throughout this next year as retirement and resignation demands are up 20% more than usual, the Chief said.
Mayor Karen Bass gives first State of the City address:
Vice President Kamala Harris joins abortion pill rights rally in DTLA
“We want scientific judgment to prevail, not to have any justice substitute their religious ideology or beliefs that are not scientific”
LOS ANGELES – As hundreds of Angelenos gathered in a rally Saturday at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles to protest a recent ruling by a federal judge in Texas that would ban the abortion medication mifepristone, those in attendance were joined by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The Vice-President, who was in town for the event, spoke for six minutes telling the crowd:
“Around our country, supposed so-called extremist leaders, who would dare to silence the voice of the people, a United States Supreme Court, the highest court in our land, that took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America — we have seen attacks on voting rights, attacks on fundamental rights to love and to marry the people that you love, attacks on the ability of people to be themselves and be proud of the people who they are. And so this is a moment that history will show required each of us, based on our collective love of our country to stand up for, and fight for, to protect our ideals. That’s what this moment is.”
Gloria Allred, a civil rights lawyer known for fighting to protect women’s rights, spoke with KABC 7’s Amy Powell on the importance of maintaining mifepristone, the abortion drug in trouble of being removed from the American market, as an option for women.
“We want scientific judgment to prevail and not to have any justice substitute their religious ideology, or their beliefs that are not scientific,” said Allred. “We don’t want these courts to limit access to women.”
KABC 7 also reported the reproductive rights march featured women – and some men – marching through the streets, chanting and holding signs, before ending at the rally in front of City Hall.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday temporarily suspended orders from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that would have restricted the nationwide sale and distribution of the abortion medication mifepristone.
The move by conservative Justice Samuel Alito will give the High Court until Wednesday April 19 to decide whether those restrictions will be kept in place pending the outcome of litigation over the case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is now on appeal before the 5th Circuit.
Last week, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a stay of the FDA’s approval of mifepristone 23 years ago, effectively barring its sale and distribution nationwide.
Full transcript of the Vice-President’s remarks:
Mayor Bass! (Applause.) L.A.! (Applause.) So, I’m here to thank all the leaders who came out today and — for what you have done for years and years and years, understanding that we can never take anything for granted and that we must show up each and every day if we are to defend our fundamental rights.
Let us center on where we are. Let us center on where we are right now. This is a critical point in our nation’s history. We are seeing, around the country, in a myriad of ways, those who would dare to attack fundamental rights and, by extension, attack our democracy.
Around our country, supposed so-called extremist leaders who would dare to silence the voices of the people.
A United States Supreme Court, the highest court in our land, that took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America.
We have seen attacks on voting rights; attacks on fundamental rights to love and marry the people that you love — (applause); attacks on the ability of people to be themselves and be proud of who they are. (Applause.)
And so, this is a moment that history will show required each of us, based on our collective love of our country, to stand up and fight for and protect our ideals. That’s what this moment is. (Applause.)
This moment, I believe, is the next phase of a movement. And we have all been called to help lead this movement to fight on behalf of all of the people who have so much at stake.
You know, I’ve been traveling around the world as your Vice President. (Applause.) And — thank you. And here’s the thing, though. Here’s the thing. When we, as Americans, walk in those rooms around the world, we have traditionally walked in those rooms, shoulders back, chin up, having some authority to talk about the importance of rule of law, human rights.
But here’s the thing we all know about what it means to be a role model: People watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. (Applause.)
So let us understand that what is happening in our nation right now, by extension, can impact people around the world who dare to say, “I want my country to be like the United States and protect rights.” And those autocrats and those dictators might look at those folks and say, “What are you pointing to as the example?”
There’s so much at stake right now. There is so much at stake right now.
And so, we have been called upon to be the next generation of the people who will help lead and fight in this movement for freedom and liberty based on our love of our country. (Applause.)
And I want to make another point. You know, in traveling around the world, I often — in fact, almost every time when I go to a new country — I’ll meet with women to talk with them about how they’re doing. Because I fundamentally believe that you can gauge the strength of a democracy based on the strength of women in that democracy. (Applause.)
So, when they dare attack the rights of women, understand, for all of you who are watching who walk around wearing those lapel pins, requiring that people look at you with some level of respect: When you attack the rights of women in America, you are attacking America. (Applause.)
All of this is at stake. So, to the young leaders here and around the world, and our men and everyone who is here: Let us know that we are strong when we are together. (Applause.) We are strong when we know the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. We are strong when we stand in unity. We are strong when we build our coalition.
We are strong when we understand that you got to know what you stand for to know what to fight for. And we stand for our democracy. And we stand for foundational and fundamental principles that have everything to do with freedom, liberty, and equality for all people. (Applause.)
Thank you, L.A. (Applause.)
Budweiser brewery in Van Nuys receives bomb threat over trans ad
Anheuser-Busch has faced massive backlash for the advertising partnership with Dylan Mulvaney from conservatives and far right extremists
LOS ANGELES – The fallout over a controversial sponsorship deal between Anheuser-Busch and transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney led to a bomb threat at Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser Van Nuys plant on Thursday.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed that units from the LAPD’s Van Nuys Station, the LAPD bomb squad and other units from the department’s Valley Division responded to the sprawling Anheuser-Busch facility located at 8250 Woodley Ave in Van Nuys.
According to the LAPD, an emailed bomb threat was received at approximately 9 a.m. and after clearing the perimeter then searching the facility, the location was cleared.
According to CBS News there were multiple nationwide bomb threats allegedly made to other Budweiser factories this week tied to the beer giant’s refusal to cut ties with Mulvaney. It was reported Thursday, that a Missouri based Budweiser distributor canceled all planned appearances of the iconic Clydesdale horses, citing threats to its employees. The Clydesdales have long been featured in Budweiser commercials
Anheuser-Busch has faced massive backlash for the advertising partnership with Mulvaney from conservatives and far right extremists. Fox News Channel and Fox has denounced the beer company for its decision to have Mulvaney make a promotional video for Bud Light.
Fox News and the rest of right-wing media have stoked many anti-LGBTQ panics over the years, and the fanatical obsession with Mulvaney is part of a broader campaign to eliminate transgender people from public life altogether that conservative Republicans and the far right are engaged in.
In a statement released Friday by Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch addressing the continuing controversy, Whitworth didn’t mention Mulvaney nor did it include a specific example of the company causing division.
“As the CEO of a company founded in America’s heartland more than 165 years ago, I am responsible for ensuring every consumer feels proud of the beer we brew,” Whitworth wrote. “I care deeply about this country, this company, our brands and our partners.”
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” he said. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Whitworth said he was “focused on building and protecting our remarkable history and heritage.”
“Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation,” he said.
Anheuser-Busch did not respond to requests for comments regarding the series of violent threats.
Mulvaney, a University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alumna, partnered with Bud Light for a promotional contest it ran last month. The transgender actor recently celebrated the 365th day of her “Days of Girlhood” series and said Bud Light sent her a personalized beer can to mark the milestone, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The musical theater grad, who addressed general criticism while appearing on Tuesday’s episode of Rosie O’Donnell’s “Onward” podcast, also partnered with Nike last week for sponsored social media posts. Her partnerships have received positive and negative responses from various celebrities, including Kid Rock, Travis Tritt, Caitlyn Jenner, Paris Hilton and more.
Mulvaney did not specifically address the Bud Light backlash while on O’Donnell’s podcast the Enquirer added.
Musician Kid Rock had published a video showing him shooting two cases of Bud Light with an assault rifle and then turning to face the camera saying “Fuck Bud Light.”
From conservative far-right media outlet Daily Caller YouTube:
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