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COVID19 LGBTQ safe space casualties mount- 2 more disappear

Losing that safe space is also a unique problem many LGBTQ+ people will have to face as a result of the pandemic

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245 S Main St, Los Angeles – The New Jalisco Bar (Blade photo by Noah Christiansen)

LOS ANGELES – The New Jalisco Bar has served as a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals for over twenty-plus years, but is now on the brink of closing its doors due to lack of rent relief. It first opened in the 1990s to cater to LA’s growing LGBTQ Latino crowd.

Many restaurants and bars in the LA area have shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused many people to lose the businesses that they spent their whole lives working on. For LGBTQ+ bar and club spaces in particular, not only is losing one’s business a problem, but losing that safe space is also a unique problem that many LGBTQ+ people will have to face as a result of the pandemic.

The owners of the bar, Rosa Maria Hernandez and her husband Sergio Hernandez, have been working since the 1990’s to sustain a space for LGBTQ+ nightlife. Because of their dire situation, they have created a GoFundMe page online to raise money for their business. The webpage has been up since December 20th and has already raised $30,000 of their $80,000 goal.

On the GoFundMe description, it says, “Our doors have been closed since March 2020 and we have not been able to obtain financial relief to support our business expenses or rent commitments. Unfortunately, we now owe our landlord 10 months of rent with interest.” 

The bar itself is easily recognizable with its political messages on the building. Everything ranging from “NOT OUR PRESIDENT” to “BLM” can be found on the building. The letters of “Jalisco” on the building are in different colors used to express the pride flag as well.

“We are reaching out to our clients, supporters, and friends to please consider donating to our cause,” says the couple. 

Many people find The New Jalisco Bar important to them and there have been numerous comments left on the GoFundMe page reflecting that. Some individuals highlight the impact that the bar had in their life some saying, “This is my all time favorite bar in LA. It has given me so much life and I love a good show!!!” Other people have talked about the importance of preserving a space for LGBTQ+ people of color – specifically Latinx people. Daniel Jauregui commented “We need to save Latinx queer spaces”, after donating $150. The comments are endearing and show the importance of saving The New Jalisco Bar to its clientele.

The Hernandez couple realizes and recognizes the importance of The New Jalisco Bar and understands that it is a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people of color. “Your contributions will help save a community space that has served as a safe haven for generations of Angelenos in our city,” says the Hernandez couple.

The LA Blade reached out to The New Jalisco Bar for a comment and received none.

Many small businesses, especially in the service hospitality sector, have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic due to lack of relief for rent and mortgage payments. The state of California’s health officials have also repeatedly opened and closed restaurants and bars in response to the number of new cases or hospitalizations which has made it difficult for small businesses to stay alive.

In WeHo, the popular venues Rage, Flaming Saddles, Gym Bar, Cuties and the Gold Coast all shut down permanently due to mounting debt and ongoing disputes with landlords such West Hollywood commercial real estate property mogul Monte Overstreet.

Overstreet has numerous multi-million property holdings on Santa Monica Boulevard as well as various LA and WeHo apartment buildings.  There is a Facebook group devoted to airing grievances against Overstreet called Boycott Monte Overstreet Properties, which details the following;

This page is devoted to the LGTB+/gay male citizens of West Hollywood and other patrons who rise up in protest of the closures of our city’s many iconic and historical gay bars which are located on commercial real estate owned by Monte Overstreet.

Altered Facebook photo of Monte Overstreet from Facebook page: Original Here

For the Silver Lake neighborhood’s queer bar, Akbar, it has been an ongoing struggle to keep up with the monthly mortgage payments. Akbar’s owners, Peter Alexander and Scott Craig quietly posted a $150,000 fundraiser on popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe last week, hoping to save the 24-year-old Silver Lake bar from closing forever as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,

But, for the iconic LGBTQ+ bar, Oil Can Harry’s, there’s more than what meets the eye. 

It’s easy to assume that Oil Can Harry’s recently shut down due to the pandemic, but in reality, it’s actually due to the property owner wanting to sell the property- Monty Overstreet.

11502 Ventura Blvd, Studio City – Oil Can Harry’s (Blade photo by Noah Christiansen)

On Oil Can Harry’s website, there is a bold statement describing the reasons for the closing of Oil Can Harry’s. The statement said, “The property sold in December, thanks to Monty and Jon just needing to shut down another establishment.”

Overstreet had an interview with WEHOville talking about the sale. Overstreet didn’t give much information about the specificities about the sale other than the fact that it was a “losing venture” for him as well as a “loss on the sale.” 

At the moment, there will be a jazz club that replaces Oil Can Harry’s, but there’s no sign of it being a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals. The statement on the Oil Can Harry’s website went on to say, “I fought hard to keep it, but just had to give up.”

The statement on Oil Can Harry’s website ended by talking to all of the people that we involved with Oil Can Harry’s. “Thank you all for this beautiful gift that we shared for 52 years,” the statement said, “Please, no negative posts on social media! It only hurts. Only positive would help!”

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California

California expands broadband infrastructure & internet access across state

The initial project locations based on unserved/underserved areas that don’t reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second

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California Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

SACRAMENTO – Advancing California’s commitment to bridge the digital divide, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state has identified 18 projects to begin work on an open-access middle-mile network that will provide missing infrastructure paths to bring broadband to all communities.

As part of the historic $6 billion broadband investment advanced in partnership with legislative leaders earlier this year, the initial project locations are based on known unserved and underserved areas across the state. The projects will connect to the core of the global internet and interconnect to last-mile infrastructure, which is the final leg that provides internet service to a customer.

“California is committed to taking on the challenges laid bare by the pandemic, including the digital divide holding back too many communities across the state,” said Newsom. “These projects are the first step to delivering on our historic investment that will ensure all Californians have access to high-quality broadband internet, while also creating new jobs to support our nation-leading economic recovery.”

The initial 18 projects represent a range of geographic locations and technical approaches. Projects are being initiated in the following tribal communities, counties and cities: Alpine County; Amador County; Calaveras County; Central Coast; Coachella Valley; Colusa Area; Inyo County; Kern County; Kern/San Luis Obispo Area; Lake County Area; Los Angeles and South Los Angeles; Oakland; Orange County; Plumas Area; Riverside/San Diego Area; San Bernardino County; Siskiyou Area; and West Fresno.

Evaluation of project areas included consideration of public comments, prioritization of unserved or underserved areas of the state, and inclusion of tribal communities, cities and counties. An unserved or underserved area has households that do not reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload of at least 3 Mbps.

“Core to our success will be the deep partnerships we’ve built with a diverse set of community organizations and last mile providers. Through many years of engagement with metropolitan planning organizations, CPUC-supported broadband consortia, Tribal organizations, community-based broadband advocacy groups, and organizations like the Rural County Representatives of California, the NAACP, and the California Emerging Technology Fund, we are now ready to take this historic step towards broadband equity for California,” said Louis Fox, Founder and Chair of GoldenStateNet, the state’s third-party administrator.

State partners implementing the middle-mile initiative include the California Department of Technology, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Caltrans. GoldenStateNet was selected as the Third-Party Administrator (TPA) to manage the development, acquisition, construction, maintenance and operation of the statewide open-access middle-mile broadband network. As the TPA, GoldenStateNet will partner with key stakeholder groups across the state to investigate the best technical, financial and operational models to meet the needs of the project sites.  

A map and additional information on the initial projects can be found here.

“A reliable broadband connection makes the difference between having access to full-service health care, education and employment or sometimes going without,” said State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong. “Through a historic partnership between our Governor, the Legislature, state agencies and a third-party administrator, we are taking immediate action to improve connectivity for Californians in the northern, central and southern parts of the state.”

“These initial routes have been identified to accelerate projects in areas of the state that are unserved because of the lack of open middle mile infrastructure to serve them. We are accelerating the selection of a diverse set of routes — those that are ready to build and those that are not ready to build.  This allows the state to partner with locals on these diverse projects and learn by doing, as we concurrently work to finalize all the needed routes in the State. There are many more communities like those in Phase I that will be included in the final map,” said Martha Guzman Aceves, Commissioner at the CPUC.

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Santa Monica

Sen. Alex Padilla & Santa Monica College- Thanksgiving grocery giveaway

“As we approach Thanksgiving, it is important to support each other and our communities, and give back when we can” 

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Santa Monica College volunteers & Senator Alex Padilla (Photo courtesy of Senator Alex Padilla)

SANTA MONICA — Ahead of Thanksgiving, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) on Tuesday volunteered with Santa Monica College (SMC) for their 2nd Annual GIVING THANKS(giving) Holiday Grocery Drive-Thru Giveaway.

Padilla joined dedicated SMC volunteers, along with state and local officials to provide fresh holiday groceries to 1,500 food insecure students.

“As we approach Thanksgiving, it is important to support each other and our communities, and give back when we can,” said Senator Padilla. “I was proud to join Santa Monica College and regional partners for their annual holiday food drive to make sure students have access to fresh food and groceries this holiday season. But this is also a stark reminder that there is more work to be done to address student food insecurity, an issue that existed since before the pandemic. I’ve introduced the BASIC Act to give students the resources they need to stay focused on their education. No student should have to worry about meeting their basic needs while pursuing their education.”

“Having Senator Padilla attend today’s event is so powerful because it raises the importance of giving back to our community,” said Lizzy Moore, president of the Santa Monica College Foundation and Santa Monica College’s dean of institutional advancement. “The Santa Monica College community is grateful for his leadership in the Senate to push for the BASIC Act and other legislative proposals to address the dramatic rates of food insecurity that exists on all college campuses including Santa Monica College.”

Even before the pandemic, 50 percent of California Community College students were food insecure.

Senator Padilla has been a strong advocate for addressing food insecurity and ensuring students can meet their basic needs while pursuing a higher education. This year, Padilla introduced the Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act, bicameral legislation to ensure college students are able to meet their basic needs while pursuing their education. Specifically, the legislation provides $1 billion for grants to ensure institutions of higher learning have the resources they need to support their students’ most fundamental needs, and directs the federal government to streamline data sharing across agencies to help students qualify for aid – particularly Pell Grant recipients and attendees of community colleges and minority-serving institutions.

Senator Padilla also joined his colleagues in introducing the Student Food Security Act of 2021. This bicameral legislation helps address food insecurity on college campuses by enabling more low-income college students to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), improve data collection and sharing, and create a new grant program to help colleges and universities support their students.

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Arts & Entertainment

2022 Best of LGBTQ LA Readers’ Choice Award Nominations

Nominate your favorites in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA categories through December 5th.

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It is Decision 2022! Nominate your favorites in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA categories through December 5th. The top 5 nominees from each category will become a finalist with voting starting December 15th. Our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ LA Awards Party and special issue on January 28th, 2022.

Nominate below or click HERE.

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