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It Gets Better turns 10 while Personal Stories Project documents LGBTQ lives

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Charles Chan-Massey (left) and Joseph Chan (right) courtesy of The Personal Stories Project

LOS ANGELES – Ten years ago from the mid summer to the early fall of 2010 a pandemic of suicide deaths affected the LGBTQI community across the United States as nearly a dozen of adolescents killed themselves. Some identifying as gay, others Trans, and others subjected to horrific bullying because those young people were ‘perceived to be gay,’ all ended their lives all too early.

On July 9, just weeks after finishing his freshman year at Anoka High School in Anoka, Minnesota, 15-year-old Justin Aaberg killed himself in his bedroom; On September 9, Billy (William) Lucas, a 15-year-old from Greensburg, Ind., was found dead in a barn at his grandmother’s home — he had hanged himself.

Tyler Clementi a student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge at the age of 18, on September 22, after his roommate broadcast live video of Clementi ‘making out’ with another male in his dorm room. Tyler had informed his parents just days prior to attending Rutgers for the first time he was gay; Seth Walsh, 13 died Sept. 27, eight days after he was found on the ground after hanging himself from a tree on Sept. 19 in Tehachapi, California. An investigation later revealed he was a victim of bullying due to his ‘expressed homosexuality.’

The roll call of death continued on with many more young people. As a result, noted Seattle, Washington-based newspaper advice columnist, LGBTQ activist, and social commentator Dan Savage and his partner now spouse Terry Miller, were determined to make a difference and attempt to prevent other LGBTQ youth from killing themselves and to, as Savage later said, ‘give these kids hope.’

Savage and Miller uploaded an eight-and-a-half minute long video to YouTube on September 21, 2010 that had a simple but direct message to any LGBTQ young people in distress- “It gets better.”

If there are 14 and 15 and 16 year olds — 13 year olds, 12 year olds — out there watching this video, what I’d love you to take away from it is, it really is that it gets better,” Savage said.

The pair discussed the bullying and rejection they experienced as gay teens, and how life got better for them in the years after they graduated from high school. Their simple message went viral and within the days, weeks, and months that followed- hundreds and soon thousands of others uploaded their messages that life indeed did get better and a movement was born. Then U.S. President Barack Obama also contributed a video of his own as an ally.

That movement also spawned a non-profit. This week as the Los Angeles-based ‘It Gets Better Project’ turned ten-years-old, it is now home to 70,000+ video stories from LGBTQ people and their allies.

Brian Wenke, who took the helm as executive director in 2016, told NBC OUT that the organization is run by a small team of less than 10 people, but its reach includes a global affiliate network across 17 countries.

At the heart of the ‘It Gets Better Project’ is the vulnerability of its storytelling NBC Out noted.

Openly LGBTQ celebrities like such as singer Adam Lambert, actress Lavern Cox, actor Neil Patrick Harris, online social media stars like Gigi Gorgeous; and out politicos have all made videos to talk about their overcoming bullying, rejection and shame. Still, the nonprofit has struggled to find those willing to tell their most personal stories to the world Wenke told NBC Out.

In the era of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Discourse and now TikTok reaching LGBTQ youth at risk is even more challenging as ‘It Gets Better’ enters its second decade. Making the task urgent is the fact that LGBTQ youth are four times more likely than their peers to consider killing themselves- with Trans youth at a higher percentage of the overall statistic according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System team.

The greater levels of awareness and a willingness to take about mental health issues that affect LGBTQ youth however have greatly improved in the past decade Wenke told NBC Out.

I think when you look at the early stories of the It Gets Better Project, they were very much focused on overcoming trauma, and validating experiences of young people: ‘Look, I went through the exact same thing that you did, and this is what I did to get past that and this is where I am today,’” he said. “But what you’re finding today with people who are sharing stories is that there is an acknowledgment that trauma exists, and that there is trauma in the past, but that is not the main focus of the story that’s more about ‘This is what I’m doing now, and, yes, that happened, but it doesn’t define me. It has shaped me, but I’m bigger than that.’ And there’s a focus more on positive outcomes than trauma in younger generations today, which is encouraging.”

Storytelling is also at the heart of another Los Angeles based non-profit that records the stories of LGBTQ people, which was very much inspired by the ‘It Gets Better Project.’

The brainchild of its Executive Director Charles Chan Massey and his husband Joseph Chan who serves as a Board Member and Treasurer, the Personal Stories Project documents LGBTQ people’s lives from all sectors of society around the United States and the globe. The difference though Chan-Massey told the Blade was that in addition to preserving the stories, he and his spouse wanted a way to increase donations focused on giving to LGBT-focused 501c3 organizations.

Chan-Massey related his organization’s story in a phone call Tuesday with the Blade;

When we first started bouncing around the idea to form The Personal Stories Project in 2012, the It Gets Better Project was one of several that we looked to for ideas. I really liked what they were doing and how they focused on LGBTQ youth. We wanted to do that as well, plus serve as a resource and platform for the larger community, including our allies,” he said.

Our initial idea was to work with folks to share their written and edited stories and be 100% social media based, with a “call to action” at the end of each story which would direct readers to a particular organization’s donation page directly, allowing them to make a contribution if they were moved to do so by the story they had just read.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that this wasn’t necessarily the best business model to remain sustainable so we fine-tuned things a bit and once we became a 501c3 in our own right we modified the call to action asked readers to make a donation to The Personal Stories Project, a portion of which would be shared with an organization they could select from a drop-down menu, including a “fill in the blank” where they could name a charity of their choice.

We now have 20 organizations we donate to on an annual basis including PFLAG National, several PFLAG chapters, the Trans L@tina Coalition, Stepping Stone, which is an LGBTQ-specific non-profit alcohol and drug recovery organization, GLSEN, and The Utah Pride Center, among others. Each December our board of directors determines how much we are able to donate, based on the success of the previous year’s fundraising efforts.

As an organization we decided early on that we wanted to serve as a platform for “everyday folks” to share their stories. To that end, you’ll find stories including one about a mom from Texas who came from a religious background who shared in part that “before my beliefs could change my truth had to change” in regards to how she came to accept her two LGBTQ children; the father of a young trans girl from Montana; and a young man whose video proposal went viral, among others. Each of the stories we have shared have been “sourced,” for lack of a better way to say it, via our collective social media connections.

Most recently, in the age of COVID-19, we have obviously had challenges shooting video stories, so in June we came up with what became a “project within a project” and shared half a month’s worth of “What’s Your Pride Story?” short written stories. All our stories, video and written, are archived on our website: https://personalstoriesproject.org/stories/.

We live in a world where there is room for all kinds of story sharing projects, from the It Gets Better Project, to I’m From Driftwood, to The Lavendar Effect, and more. I don’t think of any of these organizations as competition, but rather as colleagues. We all have the same goal – to give people a platform to share their own personal stories to help others who may, in some way, identify with a story they might read or video they might watch,” he said.

As for my personal goal? I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. Most days I feel like I’m on the right track to do just that.”

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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 LA County Fire Department hosted a Women’s Lifeguard Prep Academy in Venice where hopeful recruits got the full experience of being a lifeguard.

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

This Weekend – Free Pet Adoptions!

The County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control is proud to announce its participation in the first ever California Adopt-a-Pet Day on Saturday, June 1!

More than 150 animal shelters and organizations throughout the State will be offering FREE adoptions as part of this groundbreaking event. The ASPCA has generously committed to covering adoption fees for participating shelters, ensuring that the adoption process is accessible to all. Potential adopters can visit their local animal care and control center on June 1 to meet pets in search of their forever home.

For more information about California Adopt-a-Pet Day and to find a participating shelter near you, please visit caadoptapetday.org.

At Your Service

Income Assistance for Expecting Mothers

The California Abundant Birth Project, a guaranteed-income program, provides monthly cash assistance to pregnant individuals with the highest risk of perinatal health inequities, to support healthier outcomes for babies and mothers.

Learn about the program’s eligibility requirements and apply at California Abundant Birth Project. For questions and more information, email [email protected].

Out and About

Small Business Summit

Join Team DEO and partners for the grand finale of the LA Region Small Business Summit Series in the Antelope Valley next week on May 30th! Get ready to immerse yourself with expert panels, a bustling expo, and FREE resources from 35+ partners and organizations – all tailored to fuel your entrepreneurial journeys. Stop by:

Thursday, May 30th – Antelope Valley College
3041 West Avenue K, Lancaster CA 93536

Ignite the spark of innovation and prosperity with Team DEO. If call the Antelope Valley and the Fifth Supervisorial District home, there’s still time to claim your spot. Register NOW by visiting here.

Photo Finish

Little Yorkie, Noah, enjoying the day at Dali’s Dog Park in Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park in Rowland Heights. (Photo Credit: Los Angeles County / Mayra Beltran Vasquez)

This park features two separate fenced enclosures for small and large animals to safely play off-leash, shaded benches, drinking fountains, and obstacles for high energy dogs.

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

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Los Angeles County

Rep. Kamlager-Dove & Project Angel Food mark a milestone

Project Angel Food celebrated a monumental achievement, delivering the 18 millionth meal to critically ill residents of LA County

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Democratic Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove with Project Angel Food celebrated a monumental achievement, delivering the 18 millionth meal to critically ill residents of Los Angeles County on Thursday. (Photo Credit Noe Garcia/Project Angel Food)

LOS ANGELES — Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA) joined Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub to celebrate a monumental achievement, delivering the 18 millionth meal to critically ill residents of Los Angeles County on Thursday.

The significant milestone event unfolded at Project Angel Food’s headquarters off Vine Street in Hollywood with staff and volunteers joining in the celebrations, reflecting the collective effort and dedication that fuel this vital organization.

Rep. Kamlager-Dove was given a tour of the kitchen facilities and witnessed first-hand the meticulous care and compassion that goes into preparing each meal. The congresswoman then actively participated in the operations, labeling the final meals leading up to the 18 millionth and engaging with the dedicated team whose efforts ensures greatest impacts achievable.

Ayoub and Rep. Kamlager-Dove spoke and the congresswoman presented a certificate of recognition from the U.S. House of Representatives, lauding Project Angel Food for its unwavering service to the community.

“Project Angel Food truly embodies the spirit of angels, with each meal prepared and delivered, serving as a testament to the love and care bestowed upon our community members in need,” Kamlager-Dove said.

Echoing the significance of the occasion in his remarks, Ayoub noted, “Project Angel Food is rising to the challenge with these 18 million meals, and will continue to do so, as there are more people sick, hungry, and alone who need a medically tailored meal not only to make them feel better, but to feel loved.”

Rep. Kamlager-Dove delivered the milestone meal to a stroke survivor battling cardiovascular disease, emphasizing the organization’s role in addressing the health challenges faced by many in the region.

Kamlager-Dove also noted that Project Angel Food continues to stand as a pillar of hope and vital support, especially within California’s 37th Congressional District, which is home to 722 individuals needing meals delivered each year. A significant portion of the clients are among the most vulnerable populations with severe diabetes being a prevalent challenge.

Founded in 1989, Project Angel Food nourishes the spirit and health of vulnerable people facing critical and life-threatening illnesses by preparing and delivering medically tailored meals with love, care, and dignity. More than 2,500 clients are fed daily with more than 1.5 million meals delivered each year — 18 million in its 35-year history.

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Southern California

Triple A: Finally, some SoCal cities drop below $5 a gallon

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.09, which is six cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Six straight weeks of price drops at Southern California gas stations have pushed average prices below $5 a gallon in a few cities, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.09, which is six cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.56, which is four cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.05 per gallon, which is six cents less than last week and 12 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.07, which is six cents lower than last week and 17 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.10, which is six cents lower than last week and 21 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.96, which is six cents lower than last week and 13 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.12 average price is five cents less than last week and 29 cents higher than a year ago today.

“Oil Price Information Service reports that wholesale Los Angeles gasoline prices are continuing to drop because of increased availability of imported gasoline and reportedly lower levels of demand compared to last year,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Those factors should help pump price drops to continue for now.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on May 30, averages are:

socal blue gas chart May 30

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Los Angeles County

New survey: “Without LGBTQ people, LA would just be traffic”

In the Lived Experiences in LA County (LELAC) Survey, researchers asked about 500 participants what, if anything, LGBTQ people contribute

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East Los Angeles Library presents Mariachi Arcoiris during Hispanic Heritage Month. On National Coming Out Day, the first LGBT mariachi in the world performs and discusses the sensitive topic that is very taboo in the Hispanic community. (Mayra B. Vasquez/Los Angeles County)

LOS ANGELES – A new survey of LGBTQ adults in Los Angeles County by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds LGBTQ people provide many of the things that give LA County its unique identity and make it an attractive place to live and visit.

In the words of a cisgender gay white man in his 30s: “Without LGBTQ people, LA would just be traffic.”

In the Lived Experiences in Los Angeles County (LELAC) Survey, researchers asked about 500 participants what, if anything, LGBTQ people contribute to the broader LA community and culture. Responses ranged from offering values of acceptance, support, love, and resilience to enriching diversity, helping others, and contributing to all parts of the local economy.

“Despite the challenges they face, LGBTQ Angelenos are proud of the many contributions they make to LA County,” said lead author Brad Sears, Founding Executive Director at the Williams Institute. “LGBTQ contributions make the County unique, a better place to live for everyone, and a model of equality, diversity, and pride for other parts of the United States.”

Positive values and characteristics

More than 40% of LGBTQ respondents identified positive values and characteristics, including acceptance, inclusivity, empathy, love, vibrancy, joy, and support.

As one cisgender bisexual white man in his 60s said, “LGBT people contribute intelligence, strength, passion, generosity of spirit, and courage to the broader community and culture of LA County.”

Enriching diversity

About one-third (31%) of respondents said that LGBTQ people and communities added to LA County’s rich diversity. They mentioned that by living their lives openly and with pride, LGBTQ inspire everyone to accept themselves and live openly as their authentic selves.

A cisgender bisexual Black woman in her 40s said, “The desire and expectation to live their authentic lives openly and honestly is the contribution … [It’s] the reminder to live authentically.”

Culture, arts, and creativity

About one-third (31%) of respondents noted how LGBTQ people’s creativity contributes to the arts, culture, and entertainment in Los Angeles.

One nonbinary white person in their 80s said, “[We have] a different way to experience life and the world. A new approach to problems derived from living a life contrary to what is forced upon us. A vibrant art expressing our different beliefs and lives.”

Community leadership and service

More than one in five (22%) respondents described how LGBTQ people give back to LA County by supporting marginalized communities, volunteering, and participating in the political process.

A cisgender bisexual Latina in her 30s said, “Without queer people, so many societal developments would still be stalled … LA County LGBTQ people have carved out a safe haven for those who need a home and community.”

Economic contributions

About one in ten (11%) LGBTQ respondents emphasized the economic contributions of the LGBTQ community to LA County to industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and education, by being entrepreneurs and promoting tourism.

As one cisgender Asian lesbian in her 20s said, “Gay tourism stimulates the economy due to LA’s reputation as a hotspot for LGBT people.”

“LGBTQ people feel they make significant and unique contributions to the Los Angeles County community,” said co-author Christy Mallory, Legal Director at the Williams Institute. “These contributions are often grounded in how LGBTQ people differ from non-LGBTQ people, including their lived experiences of being closeted, bullied, and discriminated against.”

Read the report

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West Hollywood

Sheriff Luna expected to march in this year’s WeHo Pride Parade

The third annual WeHo Pride Parade will step off at 12:30 p.m. along Santa Monica Boulevard on Sunday, June 2, 2024

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Sheriff Robert Luna, along with other LASD personnel participated in West Hollywood’s 2nd annual Pride Celebration in 2023. (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Sheriff Robert G. Luna is expected to march at this year’s WeHo Pride Parade kicking off on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. An email sent earlier this month invited all Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department members to join and march with at this year’s parade.

“All Department members are invited to attend,” reads the email. “Come show your support and march with Sheriff’s Department members, friends and family. We welcome you, your spouse/significant other, children, and family members to join us.”

Sheriff Luna marched in the 2023 WeHo Pride parade. He was joined by LASD sworn personnel, civilian employees, volunteers, FBI, LAPD, and their friends and families.

LASD group photo before 2023’s WeHo Pride parade. (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

The WeHo Pride Parade will step off at 12:30 p.m. along Santa Monica Boulevard on Sunday, June 2, 2024. The parade will Feature Festive Floats with Community Groups, Nonprofit Organizations, Local Businesses, and More. Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning artist Cyndi Lauper will be the WeHo Pride Parade’s Lifetime Ally Icon this year.

The City of West Hollywood reminds the community and the region about WeHo Pride-related street and facility closures. Drivers and Metro riders can anticipate increased traffic and commute times; please plan to use alternate routes.

Street Closures will take place, as follows:

  •  N. San Vicente Boulevard closed from Melrose Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard fromThursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • Santa Monica Blvd (Eastbound) closed from N. La Cienega Boulevard to N. Doheny Drive from Friday, May 31, at 12 p.m. (noon) through Monday, June 3, at 7 a.m.
  • N. Robertson Boulevard closed from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue fromFriday, May 31, at 12 p.m.(noon) throughMonday, June 3 at 7 a.m.
  • Santa Monica Boulevard (Westbound) closed from N. La Cienega Boulevard to N. Doheny Drive from Saturday, June 1, at 6 a.m. through Monday, June 3, at 7 a.m.
  • N. San Vicente Boulevard closed from Santa Monica Boulevard to Cynthia Street from Saturday, June 1, at 6 a.m. through Monday, June 3, at 7 a.m.
  • Santa Monica Boulevard closed from N. Fairfax Avenue to N. Doheny Drive (including side streets one block north and one block south of Santa Monica Boulevard) from Sunday, June 2 at 5 a.m. through Sunday, June 2, at 5 p.m. for the WeHo Pride Parade. Santa Monica Boulevard from N. La Cienega Boulevard to N. Doheny Drive will remain closed though Monday, June 3 at 7 a.m.

Facility Closures will be, as follows:

  •  West Hollywood Park from Monday, May 27 through Wednesday, June 5 (West Hollywood Park will reopen Thursday, June 6).
  • Small Dog Park at West Hollywood Park from Monday, May 27 through Wednesday, June 5 (Small Dog Park will reopen Thursday, June 6).
  • Large Dog Park at West Hollywood Park from Wednesday, May 29 through Tuesday, June 4 (Large Dog Park will reopen Wednesday, June 5).
  • Five-Story Parking Structure at West Hollywood Park from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • West Hollywood Library Garage at West Hollywood Park from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • Aquatic and Recreation Center Garage at West Hollywood Park from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.
  • Plummer Park South Lot from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 12 p.m.
  • Robertson Lot from Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. through Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m.

The City of West Hollywood will activate its annual Pride Ride free shuttle service during #WeHoPride Weekend. The City’s free transit services, The PickUp and Cityline, will offer combined Pride Ride services that will operate over the weekend.

Pride Ride vehicles (both PickUp and Cityline vehicles marked with route/destination) will travel through West Hollywood from N. La Brea Avenue to N. Kings Road along Santa Monica Boulevard. Select Pride Ride vehicles (marked with route/destination) will also run to the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station as follows:

  • Friday, May 31, 2024 – West Hollywood route will run from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. From 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. service will run to-and-from the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station.
  • Saturday, June 1, 2024 – West Hollywood route will run from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. service will run to-and-from the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station.
  • Sunday, June 2, 2024 – West Hollywood route will run from 11 a.m. to midnight. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. service will run to-and-from Hollywood & Highland Metro Station to N. Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard due to WeHo Pride Parade street closures. Following the Pride Parade, once streets have reopened, Pride Ride will run along Santa Monica Boulevard between N. La Brea Avenue and N. La Cienega Boulevard until midnight.

WeHo Pride Weekend (May 31 to June 2) will include a free WeHo Pride Street Fair representing a diverse array of LGBTQ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration; the Women’s Freedom Festival; the annual Dyke March; free Friday Night at OUTLOUD; OUTLOUD at WeHo Pride music festival; the WeHo Pride Parade, and a wide range of community group programming throughout Pride month. The WeHo Pride Arts Festival (June 14 – June 16) will take place at various locations throughout West Hollywood.

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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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California

Governor Newsom launches resources website: ready.ca.gov 

With the unofficial start of summer, Newsom today is highlighting how the state is preparing for summer emergencies, extreme heat, and fires

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Governor Newsom with emergency managers at Cal OES. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – With seasonal challenges on the horizon as temperatures increase and Californians head outside, Governor Gavin Newsom visited the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) today to announce ready.ca.gov – a new, one-stop shop for Californians to prepare for emergencies and extreme weather.

The new website is part of Listos California, which is a state effort that connects communities with resources before, during and after emergencies. 

During his visit to Cal OES, the Governor was briefed by emergency managers on the administration’s preparedness for summer and peak wildfire season, including progress made in building forest resilience to catastrophic wildfires, firefighter staffing levels and firefighting fleet readiness, and the administration’s Extreme Temperature Response Plan that was developed to coordinate an all-hands response by government to mitigate the state’s most deadly natural weather event.

“California is prepared for summer and peak wildfire season — with a surge in firefighters and equipment, better forest management, and one of the most tried and tested emergency management systems in the world. Make sure your family is prepared too. Visit ready.ca.gov — a new resource to help keep Californians safe this weekend and all summer long,” said
Governor Newsom.

Combined with a comprehensive suite of translated messaging and materials, Listos California at Cal OES continues to uplift life-saving messages through interactive, community-based tactics, including peer-to-peer phone banking efforts, in-person events, and door-to-door engagements. 

Preparing for Memorial Day weekend & summer

Extreme heat preparation: Listos California recently kicked off its summer season campaign efforts, beginning with its Wildfire Awareness Campaign in rural communities. Community leaders are encouraged to sign up for local emergency alerts and share these resources with family, friends and neighbors to build resiliency and help communities stay safe this summer.

Snowmelt & swift water preparedness: California’s waterways can conceal dangers below the surface. With a melting snowpack, the volume and speed of the water are creating hazardous conditions. Across the Administration, state departments and agencies are promoting swift water safety and drowning prevention messaging in honor of the summer season. Water safety messages in more than a dozen languages can be found at Listos California.

Wildfire & emergency preparedness: CAL FIRE has worked to reduce the risk of fires all year round, including increased fire prevention efforts, better firefighting technology and resources, and community preparedness initiatives. In 2023, there was a 93.87% reduction in structures destroyed compared to 2022. Potential mega-fires were kept small, protecting communities and limiting smoke impacts and CAL FIRE met its 100,000-acre goal for fuel reduction activities for the fourth straight year. Through the Ready for Wildfire initiative, Californians can learn the necessary steps to prepare their homes to be better prepared if a wildfire strikes.

Roadway safety: Heading into Memorial Day, the California Highway Patrol is initiating a statewide Maximum Enforcement Period from Friday to Monday to address the expected surge in holiday travelers on California roads. In 2023 over the holiday weekend, 46 people were killed in crashes and more than 1,100 arrested for driving under the influence throughout the state.

ready.ca.gov

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West Hollywood

WeHo City kicks off WeHo Pride with José Sarria Drag Pageant

The City kicked off WeHo Pride festivities with the annual Harvey Milk Day events celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community

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City of West Hollywood kicks off WeHo Pride with José Sarria Drag Pageant for Harvey Milk Day. (Photo: Mike Pingel/WEHO TIMES)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood kicked off WeHo Pride festivities with the annual Harvey Milk Day events celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.

Organized by the City of West Hollywood and West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle and is co-sponsored by the Imperial Court and by Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, Third District, the second annual José Sarria Drag Pageant took place on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

José Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for office in the United States, helped pave the way for Harvey Milk’s successful run for office, was a well-known drag performer under the name the Window Norton, and founded the International Imperial Court System, which is one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ organizations in the world. The Drag Pageant competition will be hosted by West Hollywood Drag Laureate Pickle, and several drag icons will be honored. Judges will include Queen Mother Karina Samala and Emperor Eugene Maysky of the Imperial Court, Landon Cider, Anil Patel, Nyx, and Kyra Jete.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

Pageant contestants included Queen Angelina, Bilella Fierce, Cruella Brazil, Bych Nastee, and Linda Recessionista. They were judged on presentation, talent and personality.

Pickle announced the winner at the end of the pageantry. And that winner is… Queen Angelina!

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

In addition to the Drag Pageant, the event will include a voter registration table, a Harvey Milk photo opportunity, and typewriter poetry provided by Pride Poets. Pride Poets is a cohort of LGBTQ poets who create custom poetry for the public on typewriters. Pride Poets was founded by former West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace for the City’s LGBTQ Arts Festival in 2019. The participation of Pride Poets in this event is funded by a City of West Hollywood Arts Grant.

West Hollywood Harvey Milk Day 2024 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

WeHo Pride Weekend will take place from Friday, May 31, 2024 to Sunday, June 2, 2024 and, in addition to the WeHo Pride Parade, will include the free WeHo Pride Street Fair; WeHo Pride Presents Friday Night at OUTLOUD; the OUTLOUD Music Festival; the Women’s Freedom Festival; the Dyke March; and more.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place from Friday, June 14, 2024 to Sunday, June 16, 2024. WeHo Pride celebrations will include a diverse array of LGBTQ community group programming from May 22 to June 30 as part of visibility, expression, and celebration.

The WeHo Pride Arts Festival is organized by the City’s Arts Division. The City of West Hollywood is committed to providing accessible arts programming for residents and visitors and the City’s Arts Division delivers a broad array of arts programs including Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Urban Art Program (permanent public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, the WeHo Reads literary series, Free Theatre in the Parks, Arts Grants for Nonprofit Arts Organizations, Library Exhibits and Programming, the City Poet Laureate Program, Drag Laureate, Drag Story Hour, Human Rights Speakers Series and the WeHo Pride Arts Festival Weekend. For additional information, please visit www.weho.org/arts.

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the nation. Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people and allies from around the world traditionally make West Hollywood their regular destination during Pride season.

OUTLOUD Music Festival information is posted at www.weareoutloud.com.

Additional information about WeHo Pride 2024 is posted at www.wehopride.com.

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Mike Pingel

Mike Pingel has written six books, Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels & Angelic Heaven: A Fan’s Guide to Charlie’s Angels, Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman, The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy after all these years; Works of Pingel and most recently, Betty White: Rules the World. Pingel owns and runs CharliesAngels.com website and was Farrah Fawcett personal assistant. He also works as an actor and as a freelance publicist.

His official website is www.mikepingel.com

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

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Southern California

Triple A: Memorial Day travelers get a break at the pump

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.15, which is nine cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Gas prices continued downward for a fifth straight week, giving some Southern California Memorial Day travelers the chance to fill up for about $4.50 a gallon or even less in a few areas, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.15, which is nine cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.61, which is one cent higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.11 per gallon, which is ten cents less than last week, 27 cents less than last month, and 25 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.13, which is ten cents lower than last week, 23 cents lower than last month, and 29 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.16, which is five cents lower than last week, 17 cents lower than last month, and 30 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.02, which is ten cents lower than last week, 28 cents lower than last month and 25 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.17 average price is five cents less than last week, 15 cents less than last month, and 36 cents higher than a year ago today.

“With an all-time record number of Southern California travelers expected for this Memorial Day getaway weekend, the gas price drops are providing some welcome relief,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Those travelers who are planning out-of-state trips should expect to pay even less when they fuel up for their return, since California continues to be the only U.S. state with a gas price average above $5 a gallon.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on May 23, averages are:

052324 FINAL CHART CA

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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

Meet Fabian, an artist, an advocate and Founder/Executive Director of the Homeboy Art Academy. Fabian and his team are bringing hope and healing through art thanks to the support of LA County’s Creative Recovery Grant, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan.

LA County is using $1.9 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to address LA County’s most urgent inequities. Visit LACountyandYou.com to see more stories from people who have received support to help themselves, their families and business get equitably back on their feet.

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

LA County Rent Relief Program is Now Open 

Following a successful initial launch, the Los Angeles County Rent Relief Program is set to open for a second round of applications. Landlords affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to receive up to $30,000 per rental unit to cover past-due rent and other eligible expenses incurred since April 1, 2022.

The application window is open through Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at 4:59 p.m. To learn more about the eligibility criteria, and to receive a direct link to the application when it goes live, visit the LA County Rent Relief Program website at lacountyrentrelief.com.

At Your Service

Supporting Young Learners

LA County Library is excited to introduce the new Summer Stars tutoring program, which offers free in-person tutoring for students in grades 1-6. This initiative aims to provide extra support in reading and math to help young learners excel.

The Summer Stars tutoring program features two 4-week sessions:

  • Session 1: Reading, June 18 – July 11, 2024
  • Session 2: Math, July 16 – August 8, 2024

Sessions run from Tuesday to Thursday each week. Appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and space is limited.

For more information and to complete an interest form, visit LACountyLibrary.org/summer-stars.

Out and About

Tribute to Veterans and Military Families

Join Los Angeles County this weekend for a special day in support of those who’ve served. The event includes a ceremony honoring veterans, resource fair, equipment displays, food trucks, live music, and lots of family fun!

Admission and parking are FREE.

Saturday, May 25, 2024 | 10 A.M. to 1 P.M.

Arcadia County Park
405 S Santa Anita Ave, Arcadia, California 91006

Photo Finish

(Photo Credit: Los Angeles County/Mayra Beltran Vasquez)

Join in on all the fun at the LA County Fair. Don’t miss out – this is the final weekend of the 2024 season!

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

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California

1,000+ reported acts of hate in first year of Calif. vs hate hotline

This reporting system is 1st of its kind – operating separately from law enforcement & partnering with community organizations across Calif.

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California Civil Rights Department officials and other stakeholders come together for a press conference on May 22, 2023 to launch CA vs Hate. (Photo courtesy of the California Civil Rights Department)

SACRAMENTO – The California Civil Rights Department (CRD), alongside state and community partners, today released new data highlighting the impact of California vs Hate in its first year of operation and announced new and ongoing initiatives to combat hate across the state.

Officially launched a year ago this month by Governor Gavin Newsom, CA vs Hate is the state’s first-ever multilingual statewide hotline and online portal that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts. In the first full year of operation, initial data submitted to CRD shows approximately 1,020 acts of hate reported to the hotline.

“CA vs Hate is about recognizing and protecting the incredible diversity of our state and sending a clear message that hate will never be tolerated,” said Governor Newsom.

“When California was confronted by an alarming increase in hate, we didn’t just sit back and hope it got better,” said CRD Director Kevin Kish. “We came together and launched an array of nation-leading programs to ensure all our communities feel welcome and protected. I’m incredibly proud of our state’s resilience and commitment to a California for all. This work is only just beginning, but it would not be possible without the advocacy of our community partners and the foresight of our state’s Administration and Legislature. With CA vs Hate, we’re doing our part to ensure that when people report they get support.”

Many hate crimes have historically gone unreported due to a variety of factors, including fear of retaliation, lack of culturally competent resources, concern around potential immigration consequences, and distrust of law enforcement. CA vs Hate aims to help address some of these issues by offering people targeted for hate — and their communities — additional resources to report acts of hate through a community-centered approach that does not require engagement with the criminal legal system.

Hotline services are confidential and provided for free, regardless of immigration status. CA vs Hate accepts all reports of hate and is not limited to only receiving reports that are criminal in nature. Whether individuals report to CA vs Hate online or by phone, they are eligible to receive ongoing care coordination to ensure people impacted by hate are able to access resources and support, including legal, financial, mental health, and mediation services.

As part of the effort to make CA vs Hate as inclusive and easy-to-use as possible, individuals who report an act of hate can remain anonymous and, recognizing that hate can target multiple aspects of a person’s identity, may select multiple bias motivations related to the report. To the extent that individuals who report are comfortable doing so, CA vs Hate staff engage extensively with them through initial contacts over the phone or follow up care coordination to better understand the incident and services needed.

In the first full year of operation, initial data submitted to CRD shows approximately 1,020 acts of hate reported to the hotline, across nearly 80% of the state’s counties. 

For a subset of 560 reports where data were further validated by CA vs Hate staff, the most cited bias motivations included:

  • race and ethnicity (35.1%)
  • gender identity (15.1%)
  • sexual orientation (10.8%)

Most common reasons for reporting: 

  • Discriminatory treatment 18.4% 
  • Verbal harassment 16.7% 
  • Derogatory names or slurs 16.7%

Most common locations where incidents occurred: 

  • Residential 29.9% 
  • Workplace 9.7% 

More granular data verified through that process is also included below. While CA vs Hate data serves as an important indicator, the hotline is new, and the data should not be treated as being representative of all acts of hate in California. In all, people who reported to CA vs Hate were directed to more than 100 different forms of resources and support. In the first full year of operation, CA vs Hate:

  • Had 2,118 contacts from members of the public seeking assistance — including non-hate related reports — and directed people to resources, regardless of whether a report was tied to an act of hate. Of those contacts:
  • The most common reasons cited for the reports were discriminatory treatment (18.4%), verbal harassment (16.7%), and derogatory names or slurs (16.7%).
  • The most common location types for where an incident occurred were residential (29.9%), workplace (9.7%), and public facilities (9.1%).
  • Received 1,020 actual reports of hate based on the information provided by the individual reporting the act. Of those reports:
  • Roughly four out of six people agreed to follow up for care coordination services, including direct and ongoing support accessing legal aid or counseling.
  • Nearly 80% of California’s counties were represented, including all 10 of the state’s most populated counties.
  • Further validated bias motivation information for 560 reports through additional CA vs Hate staff review. Of those reports:
  • Race and ethnicity (35.1%), gender identity (15.1%), and sexual orientation (10.8%) were the most cited bias motivations.
  • Anti-Black (26.8%), anti-Latino (15.4%), and anti-Asian (14.3%) bias were the most cited reasons for reports related to race and ethnicity.

As reported hate crimes have risen in recent years, California has led the charge in responding through increased grant funding, innovative programs, and expansive outreach efforts across state government and in collaboration with community-based organizations.

These partnerships — whether through the Stop the Hate Program or Ethnic Media Outreach Grants — are critical to CA vs Hate’s success. As CA vs Hate continues to grow, the program is launching new initiatives and building on existing efforts aimed at strengthening the hotline’s statewide support network and improving access to resources for all of California’s diverse communities. These ongoing or upcoming efforts include:

Outreach Campaigns

  • Kicking off CA vs Hate’s first-ever billboard campaign to support increased awareness of the hotline and available resources across half a dozen cities.
  • Launching targeted outreach materials to support increased access to CA vs Hate resources for historically hard-to-reach and underserved Californians, including new digital assets developed in coordination with tribal partners and members of the AAPI community.
  • Developing new pathways to reach members of the public, including through a digital ad partnership with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and in-person event engagement with California-based sports teams.

Capacity Building

  • Launching a partnership with UC Berkeley’s Possibility Lab to support increased data collection and analysis going forward.
  • Exploring the launch of a text-responsive reporting option to support increased access to the CA vs Hate hotline.
  • Stepping up statewide coordination efforts through ongoing collaboration with United Against Hate Week.

Community Engagement

  • Bolstering community-specific engagement through the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act grant to ensure communities most targeted for hate have access to resources, including a new partnership with California Black Media.
  • Establishing new quarterly meetings with city and county government partners to support increased responsiveness to local communities and build on existing feedback mechanisms in place for community-based organizations.
  • Standing up a coalition of faith-based leaders from a range of backgrounds to better address acts of hate targeting Californians on the basis of religion.

Information about the hotline and online portal:

CA vs Hate is a non-emergency, multilingual hate crime and incident reporting hotline and online portal. Reports can be made anonymously by calling (833) 866-4283, or 833-8-NO-HATE, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT or online at any time.

Hate acts can be reported in 15 different languages through the online portal and in over 200 languages when calling the hotline.

For individuals who want to report a hate crime to law enforcement immediately or who are in imminent danger, please call 911.

For more information on CA vs Hate, please visit CAvsHate.org.

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