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Trump and the right-wing media made the epidemic inevitable (Opinion)

Center’s for Disease Control has attempted to warn the public since early January 2020 against administration wishes

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“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” H.L. Mencken, The Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

The consequences of science-hostile policies rarely have an immediate impact. It will take decades for climate change to create the “dystopian hellscape” forecast by experts on the subject. If we stop providing public education, it will take decades for the country decades to run out of educated workers. If the EPA stops doing its job entirely, large numbers of people won’t drop dead from hexavalent chromium poisoning next week, next month, or even next year. Thus, it is unusual for hostility to science and expertise to have consequences that can be immediately traced back to the people still in office.

This is why coronavirus, or COVID-19, brings an entirely new dimension to the conservative war on science and expertise. Conservatives have worked for decades to discredit scientists, and the administration has been actively gagging or eliminating experts in federal service that are inconvenient. Now, as a result, the failures of the Trump administration in containing, preventing, and quarantining the spread of the infection have the potential to be felt within months, and well before the 2020 election.

Trump was never one to listen to experts, scientists, or boring details, and he’s nearly incapable of accepting information he doesn’t want to hear. Briefers have been told not to present him with information that contradicts something he has said in public. Trump has been called a “fucking moron”, “dope”, “moron”, “fucking idiot”, “dumb as shit”, and “has the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader,” and this is by members of his own cabinet, much less Democratic opponents. However, he is exactly what the base wanted. 

They didn’t want Republicans who sounded like Ivy-League educated lawyers, especially not after Barack and Michelle Obamas (who were exactly that). They wanted someone who saw the world the way they did and sounded like the political voices they trusted the most, someone who resembled college dropouts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the team at Fox News.

Trump’s intellectual indifference was no different with COVID-19; his aides warned the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar against briefing Trump on coronavirus in January because he is upset by bad news and often misinterprets the information he is presented with. To wit: When Trump was first briefed, he was not only uninterested in what he saw as a Chinese problem, he wanted to argue with Azar about flavored e-cigarettes instead.

Later, as it became apparent the problem would become an American one too, Trump was consistently presented with unlikely best-case scenarios as truth to avoid his wrath. The Trump White House was also behind the 8-ball from the beginning because there were no in-house experts in the administration: the White House team of experts responsible for pandemic preparation and response had been fired two years prior in 2018 as a cost cutting measure. 

Thus, when Trump finally was briefed, he was motivated to downplay it for several reasons. He has made the economy the focus of his pitch to be re-elected, and has used the stock market as a barometer of his economic policies. He is reticent to do anything about the coronavirus that might negatively affect consumer confidence, the stock market, or the economy as a whole.

Trump also never admits mistakes, and dislikes backtracking or giving the appearance of ever having been wrong. Everything he does has to be the best or perfect. Thus, he declared that the administration’s initial responses to COVID-19 CDC tests were “…all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.” The tests were not “perfect”.

He also vastly overestimated his knowledge of epidemiology in a classic example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. “Every one of these doctors said: ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability,” he boasted during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Except that Trump had no idea that vaccines don’t cure diseases, or that the flu vaccine wouldn’t prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nor did he know that people could die of the flu, even though it is what his grandfather succumbed to. He has also vastly overstated how quickly a vaccine might be available, because he apparently  does not understand the difference between entering trials and becoming ready for public use.

Early in the outbreak, Trump downplayed the need for any sort of vigorous government response. While the virus’ transmission rate is temperature sensitive, experts warn that warmer climates do not entirely prevent its spread. Nevertheless, he repeatedly claimed that the virus will simply go away when warmer weather comes. “By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away,” he stated. This unfounded hypothesis ignores Australia’s current outbreak in the middle of its summer. Even if true, it was the second wave of Spanish Flu–in the fall of 1918–that caused most of the fatalities in the US.

On February 26, 2020 Trump called a press conference, removed HHS director Azar from leadership of the COVID-19 response, and placed Mike Pence in charge. During the press conference he blamed the outbreak on “open borders” and immigrants. He also claimed that, “The 15 [cases] within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” WHO Special Adviser to the Director Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel watched the briefing, and described it as “incoherent.” He observed that  “[Trump] just revealed how ignorant he is about the situation… [There is] no evidence that the president or people around him that have been planning this have been taking this seriously.”

While Azar’s qualifications were so-so, Pence’s most prominent foray into public health had been banning needle exchanges as governor of Indiana over the objection of experts. This led to the largest HIV outbreak in the history of the state. The first order of business for Pence’s task force was making sure all HHS and CDC information on COVID-19 went through the Vice President’s office first before it was released to the public. This led to a perceived lack of transparency by lawmakers and a public which already were reluctant to trust an administration with such a loose connection to the truth.

Days later Trump declared that the danger had passed and the situation was contained completely. “We closed it down; we stopped it. Otherwise — the head of CDC said last night that you would have thousands of more problems if we didn’t shut it down very early.  That was a very early shutdown, which is something we got right.” His premature, and ultimately false, claim of containment was based on his administration banning travel from China, which experts had already warned would do little to halt the spread of the disease. Trump had also been pushing to keep testing as limited as possible to keep the number of confirmed cases artificially low in order to make himself look better.

Trump also repeatedly contradicted experts regarding the handling of the outbreak. He decided to quarantine passengers on a cruise ship off the coast of California, risking another mass outbreak like that on the Diamond Princess in Japan. He also overruled CDC experts and forbade them from issuing a warning to the elderly and frail to avoid air travel, for fear that it would disrupt the economy and send a message that everything might not actually be totally perfect and under control. The US response to the virus was slow and mild compared to other developed nations with similar outbreaks, such as South Korea, Japan, and Italy. The President also promised to continue to hold his campaign rallies (though none are now scheduled).

Trump and his media surrogates worked diligently to downplay any sort of concern among the base, while working to shut down the voices of experts at the CDC and obscure anything that might cause worry. Rush Limbaugh declared coronavirus an “overhyped hoax” meant to derail the president’s reelection chances.  He also promoted the conspiracy theory that Dr. Nancy Messonier, a senior CDC official handling the COVID-19 response, was part of a plot to hurt Trump.

A guest on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show told people not to listen to the CDC about COVID-19 because it’s a “highly politicized [liberal] organization.”  White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow went on CNBC to contradict the CDC’s warnings, claiming that “We have contained this, I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight.” 

Trump even went so far as to call in to the Sean Hannity Show on Fox and claim that people with coronavirus get better, “by, you know, sitting around and even going to work.” He also contradicted the CCD’s mortality rate numbers, and insisted there’s little difference between COVID-19 and a regular flu. “A lot of people will have this, and it’s very mild. They will get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor.”  

The CDC has been trying to warn the public since early January 2020, despite the administration’s efforts to gag them. Later, during the phase where containment might have been possible, the tests issued by CDC were failing to reliably detect COVID-19, and FDA policy hampered other organizations from developing their own tests. The US government had been offered test kits by the World Health Organization, but inexplicably declined them and decided to rely entirely on the CDC developing one. Neither the CDC nor the Pence-led task force will say who made this decision that crippled US testing efforts for weeks.

To make matters worse, only people who had traveled to an infected area, or had contact with a person known to be infected, were allowed to be tested when they became available. In effect, this made it difficult to detect community transmission, creating a situation where there was a great degree of uncertainty over how many people were infected, and artificially lowering the number of confirmed cases.

This was, in part, intentional. Trump actively encouraged Pence and the CDC to keep the numbers artificially low. The CDC obliged, and stopped tracking how many people have been tested, while CDC-reported cases lag behind the European Union and Johns Hopkins University estimates.

In late February of 2020, the CDC defied Trump and warned that the spread of coronavirus in the US “appears inevitable,” and that hospitals “may be overwhelmed.” Despite the administration’s claims that there is no danger, numerous epidemiologists agree that the high transmission rate of coronavirus combined with the lack of any immunity means that anywhere between 40-80% of the world’s population can expect to become infected.

Scientists within the government secretly fume over the damage Trump’s misinformation is doing to public health.  Dr James Lawler, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, briefed the American Hospital Association to prepare for 96 million infected and 480,000 dead based on his calculations. 

Still, the US response has lagged. Tests are still in short supply, and first responders are woefully unprepared in both equipment or training. Lack of communication means that many of them have no idea they are dealing with suspected cases of the virus. At the same time, the US is uniquely vulnerable  to this epidemic among the developed nations due to lack of insurance, high individual health care costs, no federal sick leave laws for workers, and people who are being told “come in to work or you’re fired.” The US also ranks 32nd out of 40 OECD countries in hospital beds per 1000 people to begin with, while about 15-20% of people who contract COVID-19 will require hospitalization

Thus, Dr James Lawler, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, briefed the American Hospital Association to be prepared for 96 million infected, and 480,000 dead based on his calculations the same day the President announced there would soon be zero cases of COVID-19. 

Jennifer Wright, author of Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and The Heroes that Fought Them, identified four ways governments fail at dealing with epidemics: by denying that the disease is a problem, by suppressing scientific information, by blaming minorities, and by claiming that those who fall ill are doing so because they are sinners. She noted the US has failed at the first three already.

Despite Trump’s inept leadership and chaotic messaging, his administration has been successful in discrediting the CDC and convincing the Trumpist base that everything is just hunky-dory. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, only 20% of Republicans see coronavirus as an imminent threat to the US.  Less than half were washing their hands more, and only 3% changing their travel plans. Other polls showed the same results: Republicans were half as likely as Democrats to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously.

After decades of undermining and demonizing academics, scientists, and subject matter experts, conservatives had successfully managed to convince the vast majority of their political base to ignore the experts trying to save them from a pandemic that is highly lethal to people over the age of 60.

The median age of a Fox News viewer is 68.

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It’s time to prioritize the plight of trans and queer refugees

In order for the United States to truly be a safe place for persecuted LGBTQ+ people, immigration reform alone is not enough

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By Jamie Sgarro | NEW YORK – Every year, on June 20th, World Refugee Day overlaps with LGBTQ+ Pride Month. This day presents an opportunity to raise awareness of the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees, and to demand action to reestablish the United States as a safe harbor for the thousands of persecuted LGBTQ+ people who seek refuge here every year.   

When the U.S. presidential election was called for Joe Biden, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. During its first 100 days in office, the Biden-Harris administration has slowly begun to undo Trump’s legacy of hate on LGBTQ+ rights and immigration. As the founder of a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ+ asylum and a newly “out” trans person, I am encouraged by the administration’s early efforts, but I also recognize that there is still much more work to be done.   

So far, in support of LGBTQ+ rights, the administration has urged Congress to pass the Equality Act, committed to advocating for LGBTQ+ equality abroad, issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility, and signed an executive order repealing the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military. The new administration has also begun to unwind Trump’s immigration policies by ceasing new enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocols policy its first day in office before formally ending the policy in June, reversing Trump’s “Muslim ban”, and eliminating Trump’s historically-low limits on refugee resettlement. 

But, despite this incremental progress, we must hold the new administration accountable for its promises not yet achieved. The administration’s action—or lack thereof—on both LGBTQ+ and immigration issues have life-or-death ramifications for persecuted trans and queer people. For example, since taking office, President Biden has enforced Title 42, a Trump-era policy that has resulted in most asylum seekers being turned away at the southern border without the opportunity to apply for protections in the U.S. According to WOLA, since March 2020, this policy has expelled more than 750,000 undocumented migrants apprehended at the border back to Mexico or their home countries. President Biden’s reversal of the Migrant Protection Protocols policy (known as “Remain in Mexico”) has also stranded over 30,000 asylum seekers whose claims were denied or dismissed under the policy in Mexico. LGBTQ+ asylum seekers cannot wait safely in Mexico and are at risk of murder upon deportation to their home countries.    

Additionally, while immigration enforcement has decreased under the new administration, President Biden has continued to detain LGBTQ+ immigrants. The U.S. detention system is dangerous, even lethal, for LGBTQ+ individuals (especially trans women). According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, LGBTQ+ immigrants held at federal detention centers are 97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees. In this context, anything less than the immediate release of every transgender, gender nonconforming and queer person from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detention centers is insufficient. Fleeing persecution to live authentically should never result in arbitrary imprisonment.    

In order for the United States to truly be a safe place for persecuted LGBTQ+ people, immigration reform alone is not enough. The administration must also ensure that all LGBTQ+ people have full equality under the law and the freedom to safely walk down the street. Although America has made significant strides in the right direction on LGBTQ+ rights —from increased representation in media to the recent landmark Supreme Court ruling banning workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees —our country still falls short of social acceptance in many communities and still lacks federal anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in critical areas including housing, education, federal funding, public accommodations, credit, and the opportunity to serve on a jury. Trans women of color continue to face a deadly epidemic of violence, and trans youth can still be subjected to psychologically-damaging conversion therapy in 25 states.  

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 is already the worst year in recent history for state legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ rights. So far, 17 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been enacted. This coordinated legislative effort particularly targets the transgender community. These attacks are damaging to all trans people but are perhaps especially cruel for trans refugees who have courageously fled persecution in pursuit of a better life. Upon arrival in the United States, LGBTQ+ refugees deserve to be met with compassion, not an onslaught of discriminatory legislation and rhetoric.  

It is time for America to prioritize welcoming trans and queer refugees. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live authentically without fear.

 

Jamie Sgarro is the co-founder of AsylumConnect, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing the world’s first web and mobile resource platform for LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution.

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Take to the streets of WeHo on June 27 — it’s time to march before we party

“We don’t need corporate sponsors or fancy floats and bands or even contingents of LGBTQ clubs and organizations”

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If Kamala Harris and her husband can join a Pride walk through DC, you can do it in WeHo and the Los Angeles Blade is calling on its readers, the community and the City of West Hollywood to do just that on Sunday morning, June 27 at 10 AM.

There, I said it.

Bring friends, make signs, wave flags. No floats, no speeches, just you and your loved one’s celebrating our first amendment rights.

On June 15, you can start to reclaim your life and get back to something close to normal and that means Pride can begin to bounce back.

Just this past week Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that makes marching possible. It lifts the coronavirus pandemic’s emergency restrictions that we’ve endured for the past 15 months.

And as we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to celebrate. More than 60 percent of LA County is fully vaccinated.

Pride is, after all, a celebration of coming out and it doesn’t have to be the fancy float filled event of year’s past.

That requires months of planning, millions of dollars of sponsorship sales, a plethora of communications, and complex, coordinated efforts to stage Pride as we’ve come to love it.

On June 28, 1970, with approximately 1,000 people in attendance, marchers headed in an Easterly route along Hollywood Boulevard, starting at Hollywood and Highland, moving east to Vine Street, and then back to Hollywood and Highland to finish.

It was a simple effort that was accomplished without any complicated sponsor engagement or much planning. It was an almost spontaneous celebration.

Eight short blocks, and importantly, during another pandemic, a pandemic of violence and bigotry, when the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had active Vice and Morals squads who pursued gay men terrorising and arresting them in entrapment schemes raids, and frankly by any means available to incarcerate them just for being gay. Lesbians, trans people and drag queens and any kind of queer person too was also targeted and harassed by the LAPD and LASD.

There were no services, no safe spaces at that time, not really, and the nascent ‘gayborhoods’ such as the Castro in San Francisco, or the West Village in New York, or Northalsted (Boystown) in Chicago, DuPont Circle in Washington and of course WeHo were just then building the deeper roots becoming the hubs for the protests and the widespread LGBTQ+ movement that would follow in the decades to come.

A gay man or lesbian born that month would now be fifty-one, middle aged, growing up in a world after that time when Pride was more than a protest march. In fact, those marchers were fighting and protesting loudly for the very rights that have since transpired, albeit not in a sense of full parity or equity just yet.

Same-sex marriage, open military service, LGBTQ+ elected officials at all levels of government from local, state, to federal in greater numbers that even those early pioneers thought possible.

Yet the fight for full LGBTQ equality still continues and very much requires active participation and yes, protest marches to get our elected officials and fellow citizens to see us as fully enfranchised human beings.

The LGBTQ+ community needs to have, needs to present a unified and loud voice folks. Granted this past year the entire world moved online into a virtual reality of zoom meetings, Facetime calls, and tons of Instagram and Tik Tok videos. But the very problems that confront our community didn’t disappear with COVID, in fact in some ways those problems were exacerbated by the pandemic.

However, one thing did happen and that was because all of us were trapped at home and our only true window on the world was virtual, we were witness to the horrors of systematic racism that caused the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans. We saw Republicans in over thirty states enact or try to enact legislation that attempts wholesale erasure of our Trans brothers and sisters.

Yes, many defied coronavirus restrictions and participated in the Black Lives Matter movement and protests, in fact in our own neighborhoods here in Los Angeles and the ‘gayborhood’ of West Hollywood people marched for #Blacklivesmatter.

We don’t need corporate sponsors or fancy floats and bands or even contingents of LGBTQ clubs and organizations. No, what we do need is shoe leather on the asphalt and voices raised loudly. We need you, every single member of the greater LA LGBTQ+ community to gather to protest the ongoing injustice perpetuated by an opposition to our very existence. Folks, Trump maybe gone, but the dark forces that put him in office are not. Need proof? Look no further than the recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom. Look at the litany of anti-trans legislation passed and signed into law by over 15 states.

Look at the fact that even here in supposedly “LGBTQ+ friendly” California we were erased as a community from the data on just how badly our community was and remains impacted by the pandemic. This paper, along with Equality California, Senator Scott Weiner, Assembly member Evan Low and others fought hard to get a law passed to stop that erasure.

We still need to march, we must march we must have our collective voices heard. Yes, there’s an absolute acknowledgment that the legacy organization of LA Pride and other Pride groups were deeply affected and were unable to launch events. Yes, there was no possible way to hold a Pride as an entity, instead its a mixture of virtual and smaller in-person events.

But- before you head to Roccos or the Abby or the venue of choice, before you wrap yourself up in the rainbow festivities and social gatherings on Robertson, maybe it is time to reimagine how Pride truly ought to be symbolic by returning to its very roots and holding a peaceful ad hoc Pride walk assembling at N. Crescent Heights Dr. and Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood at 10 AM.

Troy Masters is the Publisher of the Los Angeles Blade

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The Song of Achilles; When he died all things were buried with him

We also began promoting the power of kindness to heal our broken world and to promote and support LGBTQIA+community and ethnic diversity

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Jeanne Pepper (L) The Demolition Dolls, Gideon Bernstein (R) 2018 'Blaze It Forward' Orange County Pride. This was the first Pride after the death of their son Blaze. (Photo courtesy of the Bernstein family)

“The sorrow was so large it threatened to tear through my skin. When he died, all things swift and beautiful and bright would be buried with him.” 

Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles  

By Jeanne Pepper | I told myself I would not do it again:  explain who I am and who my son was as an introduction to my story.  I love writing, but how many times can I talk about the horrific things that happened?   What you need to know: he was gay, Jewish, and the victim of a hate crime.   This tragedy propelled me into the public eye and gave me a chance to be an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, and it also ended the  beautiful life of my son Blaze Bernstein.  He should be enjoying gay pride month this June, but instead his body lies in an Orange County cemetery since January 2018.   He died at just 19 years of age.  

I don’t want to be a captive storyteller, forced to regurgitate our sad truth and the story of how we endured Blaze’s disappearance and violent death.  I want to talk about the great things we have accomplished since then and the miraculous things people around the country did and continue to do to show their support for those who identify as queer and for the kindness movement we wholeheartedly embraced when we started #BlazeitForward in honor of Blaze.   The story of my brilliant and kind son who was going to change the world,  should not start with the horrific ending of his life.  The story should start with hope because his life started with and even in death continues to give hope to all of us.

The night he disappeared many of my dreams for my family ended and a radical new timeline began.  I came out of the closet as a supporter of LGBTQIA+ and a parent of a gay teen.  While Blaze was alive and living in the closet, he was not comfortable with us participating in any activities that would draw attention to his sexual orientation.  While we encouraged him to live openly, he was young and we respected his right to “out” himself.  We will never know how our failure to educate ourselves and our family on how best to support a gay child impacted the tragedy that came to us. 

Our family lived in the shadow of the normative Orange County world that we raised him in that did not understand the needs of gay teenagers or the dangers they face both from alienation that can lead to teen suicide nor did we understand the dangers posed by malevolent outsiders and ignorant peers, teachers and strangers.  It was this revelation after his death that spurred our entry into the public eye when the opportunity arose. 

My husband Gideon and I made the quick decision that Blaze’s death should herald a new age of sex positivity.  We also wanted to do something about the stereotypes and hateful tropes we heard about Jewish people and that inundated the media.  While Blaze would not live to see a world where his uniqueness and kindness became an ideal, we live to promote it.   We exposed the haters and hate groups as we did the unthinkable:  put our mourning on hold and immediately used his death to educate the public about the danger hate groups such as Atomwaffen pose to all of us.  We also began promoting the power of kindness to heal our broken world and to promote and support LGBTQIA+ community and ethnic diversity.  

As the years after his death progressed, a pattern began to develop.  The polarization in political, religious and sexual beliefs became unmanageable in our country.  We could not come together to fight the pandemic when it began.  Civil unrest ensued.  Corruption and racism exposed throughout the United States caused rioting and more polarization.   Reforms were proposed.   People began to see the need for learning how to have respectful discourse.  Some became more sensitive and either apologetic for wrongs against the marginalized or outraged by the way the system has kept us marginalized.  No one was left untouched by the violence, inequity, and unhappiness that was left in the wake of the events of the last few years.  

Blaze’s murder could serve as a catalyst for positive peaceful social change.  Was the world ready for the message?  Probably more than ever.  What was the message?  Be good to each other.  Be kind.  Don’t wait for things to get better.  Take affirmative intentional action now.

Photo: Jeanne Pepper (L) and Gideon Bernstein

We coined the term #BlazeitForward and use it to encourage people to do intentional kind acts in honor of Blaze and his legacy.   My husband and I spent the last few years powering the Facebook public group #BlazeitForward where we encourage our members to post stories of kindness, community philanthropy and everyday miracles.   We also oversee endowments created in Blaze’s name that fuel college scholarships, the Blaze Bernstein school of Culinary Arts at the Merage Jewish Community Center, annual Orange County School of the Arts conservatory funding, an annual Real Arts internship for the University of Pennsylvania, and annual donations to various foundations such as homeless shelters, Orangewood Foundation, the Human Relations Council, Second Harvest Food Bank, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Tilly’s Life Center, the Anti-Defamation League, The LGBTQ Center of Orange County, and The City of Hope, to name a few.

In addition to our advocacy for marginalized people and holocaust education, we speak out against homophobia and hate groups, conversion therapy, bullying and hate speech.   We do all of this to give life to Blaze’s legacy of kindness while we await the commencement of the criminal trial set to begin by the Fall of this year.  

In June we stand proud with good people around the country and celebrate Gay Pride.  I cringe at the absurdity that I could not do this with Blaze.  We “came out” and support the LGBTQIA+ community because there are parents out there who do not know what to do or say to help their LGBTQIA+ children.  Hearing me speak out could be the first time, they learn the importance of giving these kids acceptance and love.  

If you want to repair the world, you need to start at home with your own family.  Do it right now.  Call your younger siblings and tell them you are a proud supporter of this community.  Give your teen a hug and tell them that their sexual orientation is not something they need to hide – you love them and support them unconditionally.  Tell your kids that hate in any form and for any reason is something you will not support.  Educate your kids on hate groups, the holocaust, the dangers of ethnocentrism and the beauty of diversity.  Go to a gay pride parade.  Show your support for and be curious about people who are different.  Listen non-judgmentally to the stories of others.  Join the #BlazeitForward group on Facebook.  Create a legacy of kindness in your family.

Editor’s Note: More on the Bernstein’s son’s murder case can be read here, ( LINK )

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