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California

Calif. prison system updates policy on trans inmates as scrutiny grows

New guidelines get mixed reviews from transgender advocates

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transgender inmates, gay news, Washington Blade

Michelle Lael-Norsworhy and Shiloh Quine were transgender inmates who sought gender reassignment surgery. (Norsworthy photo courtesy Transgender Law Center; Quine photo courtesy SFINX Publishing: Women of San Quentin)

As scrutiny of the treatment of transgender inmates continues to grow, the California prison system has updated its policy on transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery, although the new guidance is getting mixed reviews at best from transgender advocates.

One transgender advocate said the document “appears to contain some important improvements,” but “there are still a few areas where the policy appears problematic or unclear.” Another said the changes “do nothing to change” access to transition-related care for inmates. In defense of the policy, a spokesperson for the California prison system says the new guidance is “expected to improve access to care.”

The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, which is credited with being the first state prison system to implement any policy granting transgender inmates access to gender reassignment surgery, shared the updated 30-page guidance and a summary with the Blade last week.

The new guidelines, developed by California Correctional Health Care Services, dedicate a full page to specific criteria for granting inmates gender reassignment surgery: Persistent gender dysphoria; being at least 18 years old; having continuously used hormone therapy for 12 months; full-time living in a new gender role and keeping any other medical and mental health conditions well-controlled.

“Individuals may live successfully as transgender persons without surgery,” the guidelines say. “Gender affirming surgery may be considered for those individuals who are diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria and demonstrate significant distress not attributable to conditions of confinement, mental illness or other factors, but are due to lack of reasonable response to available nonsurgical treatments and there are no available, additional treatments other than surgery that are likely to improve or alleviate their symptoms.”

The updated guidelines come after a review period the California prison system announced when the Blade published data — obtained from a request under California’s Public Records Act — revealing few transgender inmates who requested gender reassignment surgery were granted the procedure.

In a letter dated Nov. 8, 2019 to the Blade, the state prison health system reveals 130 inmates requested male-to-female gender reassignment surgery since the policy was announced, but only seven were granted the procedure in the same time period. Meanwhile, 51 inmates requested female-to-male gender reassignment surgery, but only 10 obtained the procedure.

Terry Thornton, a California Department of Corrections spokesperson, told the Blade this week the new policy came out, however, because guidelines “are continually revised to align with community standards and as needed to ensure operational efficiency.”

The California prison system isn’t done. Thornton said a supplement to the transgender inmate guide on requests for gender reassignment surgery is currently undergoing a revision, but it’s unknown when that will be complete.

The previous policy, established in 2015, was brokered by then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris as a result of lawsuits filed by transgender inmates Michelle Lael-Norsworthy, who was serving time for second-degree murder, and Shiloh Quine, who’s serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. Both inmates had obtained medical clearance for gender reassignment surgery and sought the procedure, but were denied.

(In response to the Blade report last year that few inmates were granted gender reassignment surgery despite the deal Harris brokered — and promoted on the campaign trail — the California Democrat’s presidential campaign said the the policy should be reviewed because anti-transgender bias may be in play. Harris’s Senate office didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment on the update.)

Ensuring transgender prisoners have access to gender reassignment surgery, which would come at taxpayer expense, has been a controversial issue and may even soon be adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court as a result of a case percolating up from Idaho.

Transgender advocates, however, have said denying the procedure to inmates is the denial of medical care, which would be cruel and unusual punishment and prohibited under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

But the key difference in the new California policy seems to be hormone therapy, not gender reassignment surgery.

Thornton said the new guidance provides guidelines on hormone therapy for transgender inmates to primary care doctors as opposed to endocrinology specialists, which she said “is expected to improve access to care.”

“The new Transgender Care Guide, which more clearly aligns with WPATH criteria, expands its education to primary care providers and gives a more detailed step-by-step approach to care for transgender men and transgender women,” Thornton said. “This new guide improves education for providers about the terminology and diagnoses related to transgender care.”

Thornton added the guidance updates access to hygiene items and clothing for transgender inmates.

“All of these improvements will enable primary care providers the ability to more effectively meet the needs of the transgender population,” Thornton said. “CCHCS and CDCR will continue to expand education to providers and patients about transgender care.”

Despite the changes, advocates for ensuring transgender inmates have access to gender reassignment surgery were largely unimpressed, saying the guidelines still hamper access to transgender-related care.

Shawn Meerkamper, senior staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, flat-out rejected the changes.

“For years, California’s prisons have had in place a sham policy that serves to deny critical and often life-saving health care to the overwhelming majority of trans people who need it,” Meerkamper said. “Unfortunately, these updates do nothing to change that reality for the hundreds of transgender people in California prisons who desperately need access to medically necessary transition-related surgeries.”

Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality, took a more nuanced approach, saying the new guidance “appears to contain some important improvements,” but at the same time “there are still a few areas where the policy appears problematic or unclear.”

For starters, Tobin took issue with the California prison system housing transgender inmates consistent with their gender identity in sex-based facilities on a case-by-case basis as opposed to implementing a blanket policy ensuring a mismatch won’t happen.

“The new policy says prisoners ‘have traditionally’ been housed based on external genitalia, and ‘may possibly be moved’ following surgery,” Tobin said. “CDCR also says that new state legislation ‘may allow’ placement consistent with gender identity in other cases — but in fact that is already permitted and under federal law it is required to be considered in every case.”

A recent NBC News report from Kate Sosin documents the conditions transgender inmates face across the United States, few are housed consistent with their gender identity, and that mismatch can have dire consequences.

Of the 10 transgender women at a Chino, Calif., facility who spoke to NBC News during a weekend visit last year, nine reported having been sexually assaulted behind bars. Half said they’d sought a transfer to a women’s prison, but were denied.

Other issues transgender inmates face, per the NBC News report, include not being called by the name they prefer.

The federal government is no help. The Bureau of Prisons under the Trump administration, to the consternation of transgender advocates, has issued guidelines allowing facilities to deny transgender inmates housing consistent with their gender identity, calling instead for case-by-case placement.

Tobin also criticized the guidance’s incorporation of self-injurious or suicidal behaviors as factors that could prevent a transgender inmate from obtaining treatment for gender dysphoria, which she said “appears contrary to the standards of care.”

“Nearly 40 percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide at some point, suicidal ideation is even more common, and ‘self-injurious behaviors’ could include attempts at self-surgery among patients facing denials or prolonged delays in care,” Tobin said. “These may be severe symptoms of GD, not contraindications to treatment, and CRDC’s policy should not suggest otherwise without great caution.”

Further, Tobin faulted the guidelines for calling on medical providers to rule out other mental health disorders in inmates that may co-occur or mimic gender dysphoria before providing transition-related care, saying that practice is contrary to standards from the American Psychological Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

“Accepted clinical guidelines for gender dysphoria recognize that co-occurring mental health conditions are common, because gender dysphoria itself can cause depression and anxiety, and because being transgender makes individuals a target for abuse and trauma,” Tobin said.

Thornton, in response to concerns about housing in the updated guidelines, said placement for all inmates, not just transgender inmates, takes many factors into account.

“All inmate housing is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, which includes an inmate’s criminal history, behavior, rehabilitation opportunities, medical and psychiatric needs, program needs as well as their safety and security,” Thornton said.

As an example, Thornton said a transgender man requesting a hysterectomy would not be moved to a male facility following the procedure, while a transgender woman undergoing a vaginoplasty would be moved.

With respect to ruling out other mental health conditions being a requirement before treating gender dysphoria, Thornton said that practice is consistent with medical standards as defined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

“People who engage in self-injurious or suicidal behaviors may have other mental health concerns that, until optimally managed, could possibly preclude medical treatment of gender dysphoria,” Thornton said.

All in all, Thornton said, the updated guidelines demonstrate a commitment from the California prison system to provide adequate treatment and facilities for transgender inmates.

“CDCR is the only prison system routinely approving gender-affirming surgery and is working to build trust with its patients, their families, and community advocates,” Thornton said. “CDCR has policies in place to improve safety, help prevent sexual abuse, create a more respectful environment, improve outcomes for reentry and improve medical care for its incarcerated transgender community and is committed to creating safe and humane environments for all people housed in California prisons.”

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West Hollywood

Heart WeHo owners say club will remain open until further notice

It will be business as usual at the former home of Rage Nightclub while the business is in escrow and legal agreements are ironed out

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Heart WeHo/WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Heart WeHo nightclub, located at 8911 Santa Monica Boulevard, is not closing anytime soon, say the owners of Beaches Tropicana, the new restaurant and bar set to take over the space near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard.

It will be business as usual at the former home of Rage Nightclub while the business is in escrow and legal agreements are ironed out.

Beaches WeHo owner Jacob Shaw tells WEHO TIMES that a report stating Heart WeHo was closing after WeHo Pride weekend is false. He said there will be a transition from business to business and that Heart WeHo will remain open through most of it until they may have to close for major renovations.

Partner Paul Nichols added that there will be no disruption to operations and there will not be a farewell party because some partners are staying (Nichols included), and the partners leaving are simply going across the street to Rocco’s WeHo.

In fact, this past Thursday night, Heart WeHo had a busy night with a long line snaking around the corner for an album release party for Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo. There is also a Thank You for Pride Party happening this Saturday.

The Beaches WeHo team has formally announced that a whole new concept called Beaches Tropicana is coming to the former Heart WeHo space in the heart of West Hollywood’s Rainbow District. Renovations are set to kick off after Pride Month celebrations, with the highly anticipated grand reopening slated for Labor Day 2024.

“HEY BEACHES FAM!” reads a post on Beaches WeHo’s social media platforms. “We have some exciting news to share with you all. We’ve officially purchased the venue that is currently Heart WeHo, and Heart’s original partners Lance Bass and Paul Nichols will be joining the Beaches team. Together, we are all excited to transform the space into something truly special. INTRODUCING **BEACHES TROPICANA!”

According to the post, Beaches Tropicana will be their flagship headquarters, combining a full-service Cuban-American restaurant with an entertainment venue where guests can dine, dance, and enjoy top-notch performances, all in one space.

Beaches WeHo at 8928 Santa Monica Boulevard will also be getting a makeover and will be turned into Beaches Baja with a new Tex-Mex menu. According to a press release, the team is in talks with several high-profile chefs and hopes to make an exciting announcement once these plans are finalized.

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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. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

The Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN) is the first community-driven support network serving veterans and their families in the U.S. Led by veterans for veterans, VPAN connects L.A. County Departments, nonprofits, the V.A., and L.A. City Programs to help veterans navigate often complicated systems to connect to resources. VPAN prioritizes hiring veterans as “battle buddies” and systems navigators to connect assist their fellow veterans.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Arts Internship Program – Apply Today!

LA County Arts and Culture Internships - Positions now open!

Positions for the 2024 Arts Internship Program are now available! This program will provide 228 university and community college students with paid on-the-job experience in the arts at over 160 nonprofit organizations across the LA region. What’s more, all Arts Internship Program internships provide 400 hours of work experience at $17.28 an hour.

Positions will continue to be posted on a rolling basis through July 2024. Visit the LA County Arts & Culture website to learn more!

At Your Service

The Works App

From reporting potholes to finding critical services, it’s LA County at your fingertips.

The Works App empowers you to report:

  • Issues like potholes, graffiti, overgrown trees, and blocked storm drains
  • Property-related concerns and suspected violations
  • Illegal dumping activities affecting our streets and environment
  • Maintenance needs of trails and facilities in County parks

Keep up to date with the County’s latest news on upcoming events. Locate the nearest LA County offices, libraries, shuttle buses, and other services.

Download The Works for iPhone or Android today and transform how you connect with LA County!

Out and About

Celebrating Juneteenth

Join LA County in celebrating Juneteeth at Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell’s 4th Annual Juneteeth Celebration and Resource Fair on Friday, June 21, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This event features music, food trucks, live performances, access to County services, resources, fun activities, and more! All residents are welcome to attend this FREE event. We encourage you to register and forward this email to your friends and neighbors! Register here

To learn more about Juneteeth and find events and programming in your community, click here.

Photo Finish

Levitated Mass at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Photo: Los Angeles County)

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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Los Angeles County

Parks make life better month- Culver City’s movies in the park

California’s “Parks Make Life Better!” recognizes the importance of equitable access to parks, recreation, trails, open space, & facilities

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

CULVER CITY, Calif. – July is “Parks Make Life Better!” month and the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department is celebrating with Movies in The Park every Saturday night, all month long! 

Bring your blankets, picnic baskets, and lawn chairs to see:

Gates will open at 7 PM and movies will begin at dusk. Admission is free. 

The California “Parks Make Life Better!” campaign recognizes the importance of equitable access to parks, recreation, trails, open space, and facilities for the positive development of all. Culver City PRCS invites you and your family to celebrate with us. 

PARKS MAKE LIFE BETTER MONTH

MOVIE SCREENINGS

WHEN

Saturday July 6, 13, 20, and 27

7 PM gates open, movie starts at dusk

WHERE

  • Veterans Memorial Park on 7/6
  • Syd Kronenthal Park on 7/13
  • Fox Hills Park on 7/20
  • Culver West Alexander Park on 7/27
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Los Angeles County

LA Metro: More frequent and reliable bus service

Bus ridership in the San Fernando Valley is growing faster than in any other Metro bus service area & improvements reflect ridership growth

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles/Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)

LOS ANGELES – Effective Sunday, June 23, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced that the agency will offer more frequent and reliable bus service and an improved travel experience on multiple routes based on direct feedback from customers and bus operators, and review of ridership and travel time data. 

Bus service improvements will update travel times so riders will wait less at stops. Added trips at peak travel times will provide extra capacity to move additional riders more efficiently during busy travel periods and some lines will be extended so riders can more easily reach major destinations. Several bus lines will operate more frequently on weekdays as outlined in the NextGen Bus Plan.

Metro is also improving peak hour frequencies weekdays on two San Fernando Valley bus lines as part of the North San Fernando Valley Corridor Transit Improvements project.

Route changes by region are as follows:

San Fernando Valley

Bus ridership in the San Fernando Valley is growing faster than in any other Metro bus service area. Metro is adding capacity on many lines to accommodate this growth in ridership.

As a first step in implementing the Measure M funded North San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Improvements Project, Line 152 on Roscoe Boulevard and Line 166 on Nordhoff Street will begin operating service every 10 minutes during the busiest weekday peak periods both eastbound and westbound. On Line 152, 10-minute service will operate eastbound in the 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. hours and westbound during the 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. hours in the evening. Line 166 will operate 10-minute service westbound in the 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. hours and eastbound in the 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. hours. Each will add new weekday trips to the schedule. Seven new trips on Line 152 and eight on Line 166.

Line 158 will add 25 extra trips between the Southern terminal at Moorpark/Van Nuys and Van Nuys/Woodman to increase weekday frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes on the segment of Line 158 along Woodman Avenue.

Line 165 on Vanowen Street will add two additional eastbound trips during the 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. hours of weekday evening peak.

Line 169 on Saticoy Street will add one additional weekday trip during the 6:00 a.m. hour westbound and an additional eastbound trip during the 4:00 p.m. hour between Hollywood Burbank Airport and West Hills Medical Center for service every 30 minutes.

San Gabriel Valley

Line 76 routing will be modified to achieve faster access to and from Downtown LA and provide new direct connectivity via Alameda Street to the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station (A & E Lines). Line 76 will have new stops along Alameda Street for Union Station and will discontinue stops at Vignes Street at Cesar Chavez behind Union Station. Riders from Union Station will now board the bus on the Alameda Street side of the station.

Line 267 will be extended from Pasadena to Altadena, replacing Line 686 on Colorado Boulevard and Allen Avenue. Operating hours will be extended by an extra hour until 9 p.m. for Line 267 to maintain the same hours of service that Line 686 offers. Frequency will increase for the former Line 686 segment between Pasadena and Altadena on weekdays to every 30 minutes from every 60 minutes. Weekend service will remain at every 60 minutes.

Line 268 will improve bus service to the City of Sierra Madre in response to resident requests, by extending the route to Sierra Madre Boulevard via Baldwin Avenue, Sierra Madre Boulevard, and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue instead of Foothill Boulevard to and from Sierra Madre Villa Station. Metro Micro rideshare service will continue to be available in Sierra Madre. A second route change for Line 268 will improve access to the El Monte Metrolink Station with buses rerouted via Tyler Avenue, Valley Boulevard, and Santa Anita Avenue.

Gateway Cities

Line 265 on Paramount Boulevard will increase service from 60 minutes to 40-45 minutes on weekdays. Service will remain at 60 minutes on the weekends.

South Bay

Line 108 in the City of Commerce on Eastern Avenue will move its terminus location slightly north to Harbor Street due to Eastern Avenue being restored to two traffic lanes in each direction, preventing buses from safely parking at the existing terminus.

Westside/Central LA

Line 81 will relocate the northbound terminal at Eagle Rock Plaza from eastbound on Colorado Boulevard at Eagle Dale Avenue to westbound Colorado Boulevard at Eagle Dale Avenue to accommodate the Line 217 extension to Eagle Rock Plaza at the Colorado and Eagle Dale Terminal. This change will require that two stops relocate near Eagle Rock Plaza. Line 81 will also see two southbound trips added to the afternoon peak schedule weekdays in the 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. hours to accommodate increasing ridership.

Line 217 will extend from Vermont/Hollywood to Eagle Rock via Glendale to allow easier access for riders between Mid-City, Hollywood and Glendale. Lines 180 and 217 will each be scheduled to operate every 12 minutes daytime on weekdays and every 15 minutes daytime on weekends with coordinated schedules to maximize frequency on duplicated segments.

At Westwood, Metro Line 20, 602, and 720 buses will no longer be able to travel through the federal GSA building parking lot between Veteran Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard. As a result, Line 602 will move from the existing terminus on Veteran Avenue to a new terminus location at Kinross Avenue west of Gayley Avenue and will discontinue use of the stop at Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue. Eastbound Line 20 and 720 buses starting trips from Veteran Avenue will instead travel via Veteran Avenue, Santa Monica Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard to reach Wilshire Boulevard.  

Metro will also adjust service levels slightly on many bus lines to better match ridership   levels and to accommodate the above improvements. This includes some changes to the first and last trips on some lines. Also, 49 weekday, 42 Saturday, and 41 Sunday bus lines will have revised schedules to improve their reliability. A complete list of the changes and links to new schedules can be found at metro.net/mybus.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.netfacebook.com/losangelesmetrotwitter.com/metrolosangeles,  twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

Bus & Rail Transit information
323.GO.METRO (323.466.3876)
6:30am – 7pm (Monday – Friday)
8:00am – 4:30pm (Saturday/Sunday)

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Southern California

Triple A: SoCal gas prices continue dropping quickly

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.87, which is 11 cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Gas prices in Southern California have dropped by more than 50 cents a gallon in most areas after two straight months of price declines, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.87, which is 11 cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.46, which is two cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.83 per gallon, which is 10 cents less than last week and 13 cents less than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.85, which is 10 cents lower than last week and eight cents lower than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.97, which is five cents lower than last week and two cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.75, which is 10 cents lower than last week and 10 cents lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $4.96 average price is eight cents less than last week and nine cents higher than a year ago today.

“Oil Price Information Service reports the latest Energy Information Administration data shows that West Coast refinery utilization rates reached their highest production levels of 2024 at the beginning of this month,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “California continues to have the highest gas prices in the U.S., but this week for the first time since March, gas prices in most local areas are lower than at this time a year ago.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on June 13, averages are:

061324

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Los Angeles County

Culver City Pride Ride & Rally

You’re invited to Culver City’s 4th annual Pride celebration. The party will place on Saturday, June 29th, 2024

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Photo Credit: Culver City Government

CULVER CITY, Calif. – The Culver City PRIDE RIDE will start at 4PM on Saturday, June 29th, 2024, from Syd Kronenthal Park and make its way over six miles through the neighborhood streets of Culver City. RSVPs are required for attendees of the PRIDE RIDE. Metro Bikes will be available for those who want to ride and do not have a bicycle.

The Culver City PRIDE RALLY, which is an evening street block party with Drag Performers, local speakers, Live DJs, dancing, a Family Art Experience, and so much more! Located on Main Street in Downtown Culver City from 6PM to 9PM.

In a press release a spokesperson noted: “You’re invited to Culver City’s 4th annual Pride celebration. The party will place on Saturday, June 29th, 2024. This event is known throughout for bringing our community together to celebrate what makes us unique and the values that unite us.”

Consider taking the bus or using other mobility options to attend the event including the City’s Circulator that connects Downtown to the Culver City ELine (Expo) Station! Plan your trip by calling 310-253-6500, visiting the Culver CityBus website, or using the Next CCBus app that provides real time bus locations, trip planning and bus occupancy levels. Learn more about the parking in downtown Culver City and please avoid parking in residential neighborhoods. To take the circulator, look out for “Board Here” signs!

For exact times, use the NextCCBus app or visit CulverCityBus.com.

For more information about the events and to RSVP for the PRIDE RIDE, please visit the Culver City Pride website.

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West Hollywood

WeHo Mayor John Erickson graces cover of THE FIGHT Magazine

This interview delves into his personal narrative, celebrating his identity and the vibrant LGBTQ+ community he now calls home

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Mayor John M Erickson on the cover of THE FIGHT Magazine (Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – West Hollywood Mayor John Erickson has landed on the front page of The Fight Magazine.

In this issue, a shirtless Mayor, being interviewed by editor and publisher of WEHO TIMES, Paulo Murillo, speaks about the gay male experience while growing up in Ripon Wisconsin.

The Q&A is part of an ongoing media partnership between the two news outlets. Space is limited in print, so stay tuned for the full unedited online interview coming soon.

Mayor John M Erickson on the cover of THE FIGHT Magazine (Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times)

West Hollywood Mayor John M. Erickson grew up in the small town of Ripon, Wisconsin where he faced the challenges of understanding his sexuality amidst a backdrop of limited representation and societal expectations.

This interview delves into his personal narrative, celebrating his identity and the vibrant LGBTQ+ community he now calls home as we approach Pride Month in the City of West Hollywood.

How do you identify?

I identify as a very proud gay man. I identify with the historical struggle to come out as a member of what was then the lesbian and gay community or the gay community, and now the full beauty of the rainbow we have today… I’m comfortable in my own body that way, and I fought like hell to be this comfortable and this out with who I am.

When did you know you were gay?

I grew up in a really small town … population like 7,000 people, and I knew I was different at a young age. I want to say middle school. I probably knew I was gay as more versions of LGBTQ identity were coming out on TV. You’re always so fearful of what that is because you’re othered in so many communities. By the time I was in high school, I knew I was gay. And before I went to college, I came out privately to a few close friends. Then when I was a sophomore in college, I came out fully to my family.

How did your family react?

My mother probably took it harder than anyone, but that’s because she grew up at a time when LGBTQ people were further demonized than they are still today. My dad was very stoic and said, “Well, you’re just so good at sports. I don’t understand what’s going on.” He didn’t get it, but I came to be close to them in individual ways. My sisters were extremely supportive in bringing my parents around. Thank God they’re licensed therapists, so they were able to work through it with my mom and my dad. They had a toolbox, and now my parents are some of my biggest supporters. I can’t do what I do without them.

To read the rest of the interview click on the link below:

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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. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Los Angeles

Tens of thousands at LA Pride Parade & Block Party in Hollywood

The parade was hosted by “Good Morning America” weekend co-anchor Gio Benitez and ABC7 anchor Ellen Leyva. ABC7 broadcast the parade live.

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KABC interviews actor George Takei's (seated on trunk lid) husband Brad Takei at LA Pride Parade on Sunday. Takei and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley served as grand marshals of the 2024 LA Pride Parade in Hollywood. (Screenshot/KABC 7)

LOS ANGELES – The 54th annual LA Pride Parade kicked off Sunday morning as tens of thousands of Angelenos and visitors took over the streets of Hollywood, continuing a two-day celebration of Pride Month 2024.

Broadcast live and online by KABC 7, The band Mariachi Arcoiris kicked off the 2024 LA Pride Parade with a rousing performance in Hollywood.

KABC also caught up with grand marshal and “Star Trek” legend George Takei accompanied by his husband Brad Takei.

The parade began at 11 a.m. at Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, then headed north on Highland, east on Hollywood Boulevard, south on Cahuenga Boulevard and back to Sunset.

Takei, who served as the Icon Grand Marshal told KABC: “As someone who has witnessed the struggles and triumphs of our community over the years, I am filled with gratitude for the progress we have made and inspired to continue the fight for full acceptance and equality for all.” 

Takei’s husband Brad compared him to the late Betty White joking about the actor being 87 years old having just had a birthday this past Spring.

KABC noted that Professional wrestler Cassandro, El Exotico served as the Legacy Grand Marshal, while Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley — the agency’s first openly gay chief — was the Community Grand Marshal.

“These individuals epitomize this year’s theme of Power in Pride,’ not just through their own achievements, but through their unwavering commitment to advancing LGBTQ+ rights and visibility,” Gerald Garth, board president of event sponsor Christopher Street West, said in a statement. “As this year’s grand marshals, they embody the essence of empowerment, showing us that our differences are not obstacles but sources of strength. Together, they inspire us to embrace our identities, break barriers.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Blade on Friday, Los Angeles City Fire Department Chief Kristin M. Crowley expressed her excitement about participating in the LA Pride Parade this Sunday.

“This feels like a whole other level, especially being part of the parade as a grand marshal of the Los Angeles Fire Department,” she said. “It’s very humbling. I have been proud to participate in the pride parade over the past few years, but this is extra special—being able to be out front and represent the department and our community as a whole.”

The parade was hosted by “Good Morning America” weekend co-anchor Gio Benitez and ABC7 anchor Ellen Leyva. ABC7 broadcast the parade live.

The LA Pride Block Party followed the parade beginning at noon and continuing until 8 p.m. on Hollywood Boulevard between Vine and Gower streets. The free event included vendor and information booths, a beer garden, food trucks and live entertainment.

Additional reporting by KABC 7 LA

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Los Angeles County

Dive into Summer with LA County Parks & Recreation!

Enjoy free recreational swim, exciting games, fun giveaways, music, delicious food, and so much more! Visit LA County Parks & Recreation today

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Castaic Sports Complex Aquatic Center offers a splash pad, recreational swimming pool, and swim lanes. (Mayra Vasquez/Los Angeles County)

LOS ANGELES – Join us for an epic series of pool parties happening at all our pools to kick-off our summer aquatics programs!  Enjoy free recreational swim, exciting games, fun giveaways, music, delicious food, and so much more!

Check out our website: parks.lacounty.gov/aquatics and find a pool party happening near you!
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Boys & Girls Club of Malibu is raising mental health awareness

The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu (BGCM) members are taking a steps towards addressing youth suicide with the “1 in 5” campaign

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(Photo courtesy of The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu)

MALIBU, Calif. – The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu (BGCM) are taking a steps towards addressing youth suicide with the “1 in 5” campaign, a youth-led initiative to raise awareness about mental health.

In light of research indicating that 20% (one in five) of teens seriously contemplate committing suicide and 9% have attempted it, BGCM members are determined to combat this pressing issue through their new thought-provoking clothing line.

“1 in 5” Campaign

Diego Alvarez, a BGCM member for ten years, along with two friends from the club, started the “1 in 5” clothing line to spread the word and remove the taboo surrounding youth suicide and mental health. Alvares and Violet Way, the Director of Education at BGCM and an alumna of the club, gave The Blade an exclusive interview about their recent efforts. 

The “1 in 5” apparel line, is a series of crewneck sweaters featuring thought-provoking statements like “Tomorrow Needs You.” 

“We want to spread awareness and end the taboo surrounding the topic of suicide,” Alvarez told The Blade. “We wanted it to be something for everyone. We created something that was timeless and that could capture the message,” said Alvarez.

The unique apparel line was unveiled at BGCM’s Third Space storefront last month on May 14, coinciding with National Mental Health Awareness Month. Proceeds from the apparel sales support the BGCM Wellness Center, allowing it to continue to offer no-cost mental health counseling and social support services. 

Alvarez emphasized the importance of the campaign’s message: “We definitely want people to reach out.”

Irina C., a BGCM member and mental health advocate, emphasized the importance of addressing suicide openly: “After everything we have been through, I refuse to let suicide be a taboo topic any longer. The more hidden it is, the more stigma there is around it. I want to help people be comfortable enough to talk about it in order to be able to reach for help without fearing judgment, and ‘1 in 5’ will do exactly that.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu

The BGCM Wellness Center serves as a vital resource for youth, families, and the aging population, providing comprehensive mental health services with a commitment to “no barriers to access.” This means that all students, from kindergarten to 12th grade, can access licensed clinical therapists and social workers every school day, free of charge. The clinical team also collaborates with educators to implement a social-emotional wellness curriculum, empowering students to understand and manage their mental health and recognize when peers may need support.

(Photo courtesy of The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu)

Alvarez, reflecting on his long-term involvement with BGCM, said, “It’s really a place I see as a safe space. You can be yourself.” The club, a nonprofit organization, offers a variety of services, including a completely free wellness center. Although there is a $90 fee for the school year, waivers are available, ensuring that everyone has access to its resources, regardless of whether they attend public school in Malibu.

As a child of immigrant parents, Alvarez acknowledges the gap in understanding the benefits of mental health wellness, particularly regarding suicide. “Parents don’t always know how to communicate with their kids and talk about this stuff,” he said. “I want people to know that even though it is hard to talk about, it is still possible to talk about.”

Way noted the club’s efforts to bridge this gap by providing services and workshops for parents, helping them better understand and support their children’s mental health. She also said she encourages open communication about mental health struggles. “It’s better to have a friend that is mad at you and alive,” she stated, emphasizing the importance of supporting friends who may be contemplating suicide and ensuring they feel safe to share their feelings.

BGCM encouraged community members to participate in National Mental Health Awareness Month by purchasing a “1 in 5” crewneck or making a direct donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Wellness Center.

The Wellness Center, a trauma-informed facility, offers no-cost mental health and wellness services to youth, families, and the aging population. Services include mental health counseling, crisis intervention, trauma-informed case management, social and emotional learning, healthcare assistance, parenting support groups, and student workshops. For more information or to request support services, visit BGCM Wellness Center.

(Photo courtesy of The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu)

For 24 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu has enabled young people to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. With four sites, including a Wellness Center and three Clubhouses, BGCM serves a membership of 700 K-12th graders and 1,700 youth through outreach programs.

The Wellness Center provides free mental health, wellness, and social support services to all Malibu Public Schools and is available to the community at large. Currently, the club services over 200 individuals from over 100 zip codes. BGCM’s programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles, and social and emotional wellness.

To learn more about the “1 in 5” initiative and purchase the apparel online, visit Third Space Malibu at link: (Here).

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Third Space
23357 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

[email protected]
Phone: 310-359-3224

Store Hours:
Tuesday-Friday 11am to 6pm
Saturday 10am to 6pm
Sunday 11am to 5pm

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