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City of West Hollywood’s 2021 Rainbow Key Award honorees

The City presented more than 155 awards since 1993 to people & organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ community.

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WEST HOLLYWOOD – This year’s Rainbow Key Award Nominees represent a broad spectrum of backgrounds from filmmaking to journalism and music. Since 1993, the City of West Hollywood has presented more than 155 awards to people and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ community. Previous honorees have included activists, artists, civic leaders, educators, community organizations, and many others.

Dante Alencastre, local documentary filmmaker and LGBT community activist

Dante Alencastre is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and LGBTQ community activist, based in Los Angeles, California. An advocate for equal rights globally and for creating social change through media awareness of Latino and Trans People around the world, he is known for over a decade of work supporting and documenting the Transgender community in Los Angeles and Lima, Peru.

He has made several films spotlighting Trans experience and activism around the world, starting with”En El Fuego” (2007), a short exploring transphobia in Lima, and a follow-up, “El Fuego Dentro” (2011). In 2014, he released “Transvisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” a documentary about the Trans Latina Los Angeles woman who founded the TransLatin@ Coalition, and who is now a renowned international leader and Trans community advocate. In 2016, he was a producer on “Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria”, a feature documentary examining the social, cultural and political legacy of Jose Sarria, the world’s first openly gay man to run for public office and the founder of the Imperial Court System. He next directed “Raising Zoey,” documenting a California teen’s battle against school officials for the freedom to be her authentic self at school.

Dante’s latest documentary, “AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman,” about the influential ACT UP leader who self described as an “ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current post-operative transsexual woman who is HIV positive” and simply “a human being seeking my humanity,” premiering in August at LA’s iconic Outfest LGBTQ film festival. It is his second film to be screened at Outfest.
In addition to his film work, Dante has worked on the boards of Los Angeles Arts organizations, as well as political and community groups, which are focused on the overlapping Transgender, Latino/a, and gender-non-conforming tribes within the community. In 2018, he was appointed Executive Director of the California LGBT Arts Alliance.

Grace Baldridge, local musician and composer

Grace Baldridge identifies as genderqueer and non-binary using their middle name of Semler for music writing and performing, chosen both because of the name’s links to their maternal family history and because they prefer their music to be experienced from a gender-neutral viewpoint.

In February 2021 Semler released an EP, Preacher’s Kid, about being a queer Christian, which they recorded at home and promoted themselves.

Baldridge has been a regular guest host of The Young Turks, and co-hosted the former TYT Network show Pop Trigger. They created the TYT-associated YouTube series Murder with Friends, which was nominated for Best Non-Fiction Series in the 7th Streamy Awards in 2017.

In 2020, Baldridge hosted a documentary series entitled ‘State of Grace’ on being LGBTQ and Christian, produced by Refinery29. The first episode, “The Life Threatening Dangers Of Gay Conversion Therapy”, was nominated at the 31st GLAAD Media Awards for the Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia award.

Jeff Consoletti, principal of JJLA and producer LA Pride

As a creative director and executive producer, Jeff Consoletti’s career has spanned nearly two decades leading trend-setting special events, brand activations, concerts and festivals. Jeff is the Founder and CEO of JJLA. Headquartered in Los Angeles, JJLA is a full-service live and digital event production, management, experiential and entertainment firm creating ground up special events that grow audiences, elevate experiences, energize fans and connect communities. 

For over ten years, he was widely recognized as the executive producer of the LA PRIDE Festival, transforming the event into the largest LGBT ticketed festival in the nation. In 2019, he produced Pride Island at NYC’s WorldPride, headlined by Madonna. During the pandemic, he launched his award-winning digital series, OUTLOUD: Raising Voices, profiling queer artists, for Facebook, and in the summer of 2021 delivered OUTLOUD as a the first post-pandemic live-concert at the iconic Coliseum to over 1500 fans per day and over 5M viewers on Twitch.

He is listed among Billboard’s PRIDE List, BizBash’s Most Influential Producers, Business Equality Magazine’s 40 Under 40, Special Event’s Top 50, and an INC5000 Fastest Growing Company. 
Originally from Boston, he graduated with honors from The George Washington University before relocating to Los Angeles where he resides with his husband, Rob.

Sophie B. Hawkins, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, writer, actor, and painter

Sophie B. Hawkins is an acclaimed music artist who burst onto the international scene with her 1992 platinum-selling debut album, “Tongues and Tails,” which included the Top Five hit single “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and earned her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist – the first of multiple honors that have come her way in the three decades since.  

Sophie is not just a singer: she writes her own songs, is a multi-instrumentalist, and has been fully involved in every aspect of the production of her records herself – as an accomplished visual artist, she has even produced artwork and photography for each of her own albums.  Born and raised in New York City, she attended Manhattan School of Music before leaving to pursue a career as a percussionist. She cut her musical teeth singing from her drum set in various bands.

Throughout her rich musical career, Sophie has not only proven herself an enduring artist with a fierce commitment to artistic integrity, she has also committed herself to being an advocate and philanthropist. She performed a benefit concert for the Waterkeeper Alliance, an organization of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect rivers, streams and coastlines around the world. In addition to her work with Waterkeeper, she has supported GLAAD, The Ms. Foundation for Women, The Trevor Project, and Raise a Child Foundation.

Even with all these achievements under her belt, Sophie says the crowning achievement of her life, and the accomplishment of which she is most proud, is being the mother of her two children.

NiK Kacy, a gender-non-binary trans-masculine fashion designer

NiK Kacy is the Creator and Executive Producer of Equality Fashion Week, the 1st LGBTQ+focused Fashion Week in LA, as well as the Founder and President of NiK Kacy Footwear, a LGBT-certified business, and the first gender-equal /
gender-free footwear and accessories for genders and identities in all spectrums.

As a gender nonconforming, transmasculine individual who identifies as nonbinary, Kacy’s designs are inspired by both their personal identity, style, cultural background, fashion, and activism. Their mission is to utilize fashion as activism in a way that inspires change so that gender is no longer a force that limits or restricts, and EQUALITY becomes the vernacular that ALL individuals speak.

Kacy’s journey began shortly after traveling throughout Europe in search of masculine-styled shoes made to fit smaller, petite feet. For most of their life, Kacy was unable to find a proper pair of shoes that were both comfortable and fitting of their identity. Tired of being under-represented, Kacy set out to discuss with manufacturers why shoes have traditionally been divided between men and women only. After being told repeatedly by the footwear industry that the market for this niche was too small and therefore non-lucrative, Kacy decided to design their own collection of gender-free shoes in a range of gender-equal sizes.

Since their successful Kickstarter campaign in March 2015, NiK Kacy has been featured in numerous publications.

In their spare time, NiK Kacy is dedicated to the local and global LGBTQ+ community in raising awareness, visibility, education and supporting the community at large. Kacy is part of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Trans-Inclusion Task Force, is on the Board of Directors at TransCanWork and The Queer 26, and is also on the Advisory Board of GendrFwd, a new non-profit focused on increasing the visibility of non-binary and gender non-conforming community.

One of Kacy’s many passions include supporting local LGBTQ+ focused nonprofit organizations like the LA LGBT Center, the TransLatina Coalition, and Trans Chorus of LA.

Currently, NiK Kacy is committed to raising funds and increasing visibility for the Equality Fashion Week brand and hopes to bring EFW across the nation to cities where representation for LGBTQ+ communities are most needed.

Troy Masters, publisher, the Los Angeles Blade,

In 1988, at the height of the AIDS crisis Troy Masters was working in New York City, selling ads and managing accounts for what was then the world’s largest circulation magazine, PC Magazine. Masters was tracking in the right place for corporate success but for an openly gay man it was not the right time and, as it turns out, not the right place.

Masters, like many other gay men at the time, ditched his high-paying job to use his talents for his community and took a job selling ads for a new gay and lesbian magazine called OutWeek. In his words; “[…]it was a life-changing move because it put me at the center of a vast network of like-minded people who were deeply involved in every aspect of the AIDS crisis and a rapidly escalating fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights.” From that beginning he went on to be the founder of not just one, but ultimately five LGBTQ+ publications on the East and West Coast. Among them was a magazine, QW, which he co-founded with current Los Angeles Magazine Editor-In-Chief Maer Roshan. The glossy magazine paused publication after the AIDS death of Masters’ then partner, William Chafin. One year later, Masters founded LGNY, a lesbian and gay newspaper that, in 1994, also launched arguably the first LGBTQ+ newspaper website, even before nytimes.com was launched. That newspaper changed its name to Gay City News in 2002 and is now NYCs only LGBTQ newspaper.

In late 2015, Masters relocated to Los Angeles with the goal of establishing a strong LGBTQ newspaper for the Los Angeles region (none existed), ultimately resulting in the founding of the Los Angeles Blade where he is Publisher. Partnering with the venerable Washington Blade, one of the nation’s pioneering LGBTQ newspapers. Los Angeles Blade quickly built a powerful network of allies in the LA area and nationally that includes LGBTQIA community notables, activists, non-profit, political and business leaders, and philanthropists like Ariadne Getty and her philanthropic foundation, AGF. Masters continues to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community has its own news source and voice in Southern California. 

Masters, who was recently honored by the City of West Hollywood for hosting Pride Walk in WeHo, lives in LA’s Beverly Grove neighborhood with his partner of 20 years Arturo Jimenez and their beloved Schnauzer Cody.

Paulo Murillo, editor in chief and publisher of WeHo Times

Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES, an award-winning online news publication covering the City of West Hollywood. Murillo began his professional writing career in 1998 as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! Newspaper. He has been documenting LGBTQ history and current events as a columnist, reporter, and photojournalist for more than 20 years. 

From writing about his personal life as a gay man in Los Angeles, to covering LGBT news and advocating for recovery from drugs and alcohol in the LGBT community, Murillo has been featured in numerous LGBTQ+ print and online publications, including The Los Angeles Blade, The Fight Magazine, Bay Area Reporter, Frontiers Magazine, IN Los Angeles Magazine, and LA Health News, among others. 

In addition to his position at WEHO TIMES, Murillo continues to pen “The Share” column for The Fight Magazine where he interviews LGBTQ members of the sober community and shares their journey in recovery. The Fight Magazine celebrated their 10th Anniversary this year.

“I’m deeply touched and honored to be a co-recipient of this year’s Rainbow Key Award,” Murillo tells The Los Angeles Blade. “I hope it sends a message about the importance of documenting our LGBT history as we continue to lose our community spaces. I also accept this award on behalf of my extended LGBTQ family members who are working to recover from drugs and alcohol addiction. May this recognition inspire you to stay the course. There is always hope.”

Dr. Adrian Ravarour, founder of San Francisco-based Vanguard, who is also a priest and spiritual artist.

Adrian Ravarour, Ph.D., is a recipient of the 2021 Rainbow Key Award because he founded and organized Vanguard in 1965, the first gay rights liberation youth organization in the country to demonstrate for equal treatment, acceptance and to end discrimination; and, he has continued to make contributions to the LGBTQ+ communities throughout his life.

Adrian Ravarour is a priest, spiritual artist, and social activist who started Vanguard in San Francisco with Joel T Williams in the summer of 1965. Ravarour was the adult founder of Vanguard and civil rights teacher to the Vanguard members who were mainly Gay young male adults, teenage runaways and Tenderloin street youth. Ravarour felt obligated to enliven their hearts, souls, minds in his personal belief that being gay was a natural human emotion and that discrimination against the youth for being gay was unjustified. Vanguard was a gay rights youth organization active from 1965 to 1967 and a forerunner of the first Gay and Lesbian Center in San Francisco in 1967. Ravarour and other Vanguard leaders were participants in several protests related to discrimination against Vanguard members, including those that led to what has become known as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot.  

Adrian is also a prolific artist and writer. His work currently centers around photography and his photography books are in numerous collections. 

Adrian has also been active in preserving historical records, artifacts and memorabilia that support gay artists. He was the president of the Ruth St.Denis Foundation for 20 years. A professional videographer, Adrian was the Executive Director of the Dance Video Center of Los Angeles recording local and major dance companies in Los Angeles and New York, and at the famous Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. He also recorded oral histories of LGBT dancers and choreographers.   

Adrian Ravarour is a gay elder, spiritual leader, activist and prolific artist, who has and continues to make lifelong contributions.

This year’s Etheridge Award will be conferred to legendary LGBTQ+ rights activist and outgoing CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the former CEO of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Lorri L. Jean, for her relentless advocacy and tireless efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Lorri L. Jean

Speaking to the Los Angeles Blade, LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean marveled at the journey for the center she has headed on for so long and is now preparing to hand off its primary leadership role of- but also at her personal journey.

Twenty-nine years ago the Los Angeles LGBT Center moved from a rather dilapidated old motel and into a newly renovated 44,000 square foot building in Hollywood. Along with that newly operational space came a new Executive Director and the promise of a new future and direction for the Center which since 1969 had cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBTQ individuals and families in the Southland.

Along the way the Center has grown- expanding to a nearly 2 block campus along with an additional 9 sites around the Los Angeles metroplex. [10 sites includes the campus] Jean initially served as the Center’s executive director from 1993 to 1999. She returned as CEO in 2003. She announced last September that she would be stepping down in July 2022.

In addition to her role at the LA Center, Jean played a critical role as a co-founder in 1994 of CenterLink a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable, LGBTQ community centers across the United States; A role Jean is proud of she told the Blade.

Reflecting on the role CenterLink has played, Jean noted that what was once around 65 LGBTQ Community Centers has grown into 270 centers. “If you look at legislative efforts or LGBTQ rights that have been expanded, there is usually a strong and stable LGBTQ Center. They are the engines of the LGBTQ movement,” she said. “They assist fostering change.”

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West Hollywood

WeHo Mayor John Erickson graces cover of THE FIGHT Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you identify?

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

When did you know you were gay?

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

How did your family react?

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

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

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appea

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

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Micky’s WeHo fined for Go-Go Dancer performances on Patio

Micky’s WeHo was fined $1,000 & a $75 administrative fee for lacking a special license permit to have go-go dancers in their patio dining area

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Micky’s WeHo at 8857 Santa Monica Boulevard was fined $1,000 & a $75 administrative fee for lacking a special license permit to have go-go dancers in their patio dining area. (Photo Credit: Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – While local bars and restaurants in the Rainbow District hustled to make the most out of WeHo Pride weekend, one of their busiest times of the year, Micky’s WeHo at 8857 Santa Monica Boulevard was fined $1,075.00 when West Hollywood Code Enforcement issued an administrative citation.

This included a $1,000 fine and a $75 administrative fee for lacking a special license permit to have go-go dancers in their patio dining area.

The fine outraged Micky’s owner, Michael Niemeyer, who said he didn’t care about the money but found the policing of his LGBT bar inappropriate during a time meant to elevate and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community he serves.

Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times

“I’ve owned a bar since 1978,” he said. “I’ve had my face pushed up against the wall by police officers. I’ve had police batons under my chin while I was being made to produce our liquor license. I’ve seen people get thrown over the bar by police and ABC agents because they were ‘overserved.’ I think of all that when something like this happens. I remember police using their batons to lift women’s dresses to check if they were wearing female underwear. I’ve seen all of that.”

Niemeyer is furious that Code Enforcement entered the establishment during pride weekend, an event he says has been watered down in the past ten years and lost its meaning due to political correctness.

“It’s a big day of the year for us, but there’s a reason for the season,” he said. “People stood up and fought back. Over thirty years ago when I first opened Micky’s, there was sensitivity from the sheriffs and the city. They understood where we were coming from. They can do their fire inspections and safety checks, but don’t do it in the middle of everything. Stay the f*ck out during the pride celebration.”

According to an employee, Micky’s WeHo has always been allowed to have go-go dancers in their patio area for two main West Hollywood events: the WeHo Halloween Carnaval and WeHo Pride weekend. He said they have never needed a special permit nor have they ever been fined in the past 30-plus years, so he doesn’t understand why this year was different.

“They have never fined us before,” he said, asking to remain anonymous. “Meanwhile, look at the hot dog vendors all over the street. Why aren’t they being fined? I saw go-go dancers in the outdoor patios at Beaches WeHo, Heart WeHo, and Stache. Why aren’t they getting fined?”

Paulo Murillo/WeHo Times

Director of Community Safety Danny Rivas stated that information-sharing on code enforcement matters is limited. “What I can share is that City staff received a reported concern last Friday evening, May 31, that businesses in the Rainbow District may have been performing entertainment in areas where they had not received approval,” he stated. “The City’s code enforcement team works with businesses when concerns emerge, and the team always makes attempts to gain voluntary compliance.”

According to Rivas, a warning was provided on Friday evening, May 31, regarding entertainment occurring in an area without approval. “The following day, on Saturday, June 1, Micky’s continued with entertainment in the area for which they had been warned the day prior. As a result, City staff issued a citation on Saturday, June 1.”

He added that Beaches WeHo had acquired a special event permit allowing entertainers to perform, and City staff was not made aware of any concerns regarding Stache.

“Regarding street vendors selling hot dogs, City code enforcement officers were deployed,” he added. “They addressed unpermitted street vending, among other issues, on Friday, May 31; Saturday, June 1; and Sunday, June 2, each day between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. The City did receive reports of unpermitted street vending prior to the 6 p.m. deployment on Saturday, June 1, and we immediately responded to those reports upon conclusion of a late afternoon public safety briefing that day.”

Rivas also stated that it is important to remind the community that it is extremely challenging to address unpermitted street vending, as the State of California passed Senate Bill 946 in 2018 and Senate Bill 972 in 2022. These bills have placed limitations on the ability of municipalities to address unpermitted street vending.

Niemeyer says he disagrees with the citation. He thinks it is incorrect and inconsistent with past years, and he has every intention of contesting the fine with West Hollywood City Hall.

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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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WeHo Pride Arts Festival kicks off with Life in Pictures exhibition

This exhibition is part of the 2024 WeHo Pride Arts Festival featuring LGBTQ+ dance, visual art, performance, literary arts, & more

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WeHo Pride Arts Festival 2024 (Montage via WeHo Times)

By Mike Pingel | WEST HOLLYWOOD – WeHo Pride Arts Festival kicks off Friday, June 14, 2024, with LGBTQ+ photography exhibition, Vitam Picturarum (Life in Pictures), exploring the quotidian – framing a snippet of everyday life of and through our queer lens. Expounding on existential issues, tribalism, creativity, love, joy, and more, from the humdrum to the fantastical, with a presentation of well over 30 local and international artists.

The opening reception will take place on June 14, 2024, from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Plummer Park, Long Hall, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., featuring a DJ and literary performance by West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Jen Cheng.

This exhibition is part of the 2024 City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Pride Arts Festival and the Queer Biennial, formed in 2014 with a mandate to present and champion a more equitable representation of ever-expanding LGBTQ+ and BIPOC diasporas. The Queer Biennial presents full-fleshed, alternative art experiences representing a wide range of disciplines, including art installation, performance, and film.

There is some free parking at Plummer Park. However, attendees are strongly encouraged to take public transit or rideshare.

Image courtesy of the WeHo Pride Arts Festival

WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place Friday, June 14, 2024 to Sunday, June 16, 2024 at various locations throughout the City of West Hollywood. First launched in 2008, and formerly known as the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, this year’s Arts Festival will feature a stellar range of LGBTQ+ dance, visual art, performance, literary arts, and more. More information will be available in the coming weeks at www.wehopride.com.

WeHo Pride celebrations during June 2024 will include a diverse array of LGBTQ+ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration. The City of West Hollywood invites community groups to take part in WeHo Pride 2024.

Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, West Hollywood consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation. More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and three of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay or lesbian.

Pride is deeply rooted part of West Hollywood’s history and culture. In fact, Pride events have taken place in West Hollywood since 1979, five years before the City of West Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality. The City’s embrace of Pride is part of its advocacy for nearly four decades for measures that support LGBTQ individuals, and the City is in the vanguard on efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level.

The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board (now LGBTQ+ Commission) and a Transgender Advisory Board, which each address matters of advocacy. As part of its support of the transgender community, the City has a Transgender Resource Guide available on the City’s website.

In 2022, the City of West Hollywood inaugurated WeHo Pride with programming that represents a diverse array of LGBTQ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration. West Hollywood is a community of choice for LGBTQ people from throughout the world and WeHo Pride embraces a source of deep connection for its LGBTQ history and culture.

More information: www.wehopride.com/artsfestival.

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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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2024 WeHo Pride Parade on KTLA 5

Tens of thousands of people gathered in West Hollywood on Sunday for the annual WeHo Pride Parade live streamed on KTLA

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The mobile Los Angeles Blade billboard advertisement truck marks the end of 2024 WeHo Pride Parade June 2. (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA 5)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Tens of thousands of people gathered in West Hollywood on Sunday, June 2, for the annual WeHo Pride Parade. Legendary pop singer Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, True Colors) was named the 2024 WeHo Pride Parade Lifetime Ally Icon and joined KTLA’s live broadcast.

The 2024 WeHo Pride Parade on KTLA was live streamed on Sunday afternoon.

Watch:

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Typewriters return to WeHo Pride for 5th annual Pride Poets

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Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – This WeHo Pride, be on the lookout for typewriters. LGBTQ+ poetry group Pride Poets will be standing by waiting to listen to your story and turn it into poetry, on the spot, for you to take home.

Pride Poets celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, an accomplishment for this first-of-its-kind program which uplifts the voices of LGBTQ+ writers in direct dialogue with their community. In an age of book bans and LGBTQ+ censorship across the country, Pride Poets gives the community a chance to connect and support these writers, and for the writers to serve their community directly and hear their stories.

You might get a poem from Lambda Literary Award-winner Victor Yates, who himself was a poem-recipient in the program’s first year. Says Yates, “I stumbled across Pride Poets in 2019 and was blown away. It was this moment of literature, and honestly a break, in the middle of the Pride to get to sit down with a poet and have your own life turned into a poem and given back to you – I knew I had to be part of it the next year.”

In its 5 years, Pride Poets has worked with over 200 poets to write more than 3,000 poems for the public. During the pandemic lockdowns, when festivals disappeared, Pride Poets operated a hotline that received over 500 calls during Pride weekend. “This was my Pride, this year,” said one caller, who was isolated in the hospital. Another used the poem written for her and her fiance as the vows for their Zoom wedding. And at the festival, one in every ten or so people who receive a poem cry.

“Writing custom poems for strangers is a revelation,” says Catherine Gewertz, a founding member of Pride Poets, who covers the education beat as a journalist when she’s not churning out poems on a typewriter. “In an age of isolation, it creates surprising, tender bonds that come from feeling seen. As the poet behind the typewriter, I get the gift of these unexpected connections, and the experience of deepening my writing in surprising ways.”

The group is the brainchild of Brian Sonia-Wallace, who started writing for strangers a decade ago at a typewriter and now runs typewriter poetry company RENT Poet. “We write at a lot of straight weddings and corporate events,” Sonia-Wallace says, “so it’s been meaningful to bring this transformative practice back to my community.” Sonia-Wallace has just been announced as a 2024 Rainbow Key Awardee for this work by the City of West Hollywood, where he formerly served as Poet Laureate.

Sonia-Wallace isn’t the only Pride Poet to become a Poet Laureate, with founding members Carla Sameth (Altadena) and Jen Cheng (West Hollywood) receiving this title in the years since the group started and helping to change the narrative of poetry from an ivy tower eccentricity to a powerful tool for community organizing.

In addition to bringing together established writers, Pride Poets serves as an incubator for emerging LGBTQ+ talent, supporting participating poets in publishing, performing, and teaching. Beyond Pride, members have supported each other in writing and beyond, from appearing on a game show together to attending a gay rodeo.

Ironically, many Pride Poets say their experience writing poetry is what has brought them to Pride for the first time, or the first time in a long day. Poets are famously introverts, and Pride can be overwhelming. Equally ironically, many of the poets have embraced their identity as poets for the first time since starting this practice. Many have other writing careers as novelists, journalists, screenwriters. Even founding member Hank Henderson, who ran LGBTQ+ literary series Homocentric at Stories Cafe for ten years, marveled, “I wrote more poems in two days at Pride than I had in the two years before that.”

Pride Poets will be at Booth 135 on Santa Monica Blvd between Huntley and Westbourne 12-7pm, June 1 and 2.

Confirmed poets for 2024 include:

Priya Chatwani; Syd; Catherine Gewertz; Victor Yates; Jen Cheng; Jay Baldwin; Alexia Jasmene; Michael Narkunski; Timothy Nang; Tee; DW; Valerie, darling; José Rios; Jeffrey McCray; Jair Bula and Hank Henderson.

Pride Poets receives funding from the City of West Hollywood. Arts Coordinator Mike Che says, “It’s rare that governmental art funders get to see firsthand the emotional impact of the projects they help bring to life. Throughout the last five years I’ve been blessed to have seen countless tears, hugs, and genuine smiles as a direct result of the amazing work of Pride Poets.”

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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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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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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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West Hollywood in brief- City government in action this week

Older Adults Health Fair, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Foster Care Panel Discussion, Kings Street Design Concept Plan plus more

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Photo by Paulo Murillo

Older Adults Health Fair on Tuesday, May 21 at Plummer Park

WEST HOLLYWOOD – To celebrate Older Adults Month, the City of West Hollywood will host its 19th Annual West Hollywood Older Adults Health Fair on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Plummer Park’s Community Center, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. Admission is free; no RSVP is required.

The Older Adults Health Fair is a no-cost event co-sponsored by Cedars-Sinai and Jewish Family Service LA. The event will feature health screenings, information from more than 25 health and social services community partners, vaccinations, a Human Library activity, complimentary lunch while supplies last, giveaways, and more. Local organizations will provide health and social services information, Cedars-Sinai will conduct health screenings, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will administer COVID-19 and flu vaccinations.

Limited free parking is available at the Plummer Park parking lots, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue/ N. Vista Street at the north end of the park. There are also paid parking meters in the surrounding area.

The City of West Hollywood provides free transportation to Plummer Park through its Cityline service. Cityline is a friendly and accessible alternative to the larger bus system and all shuttles are ADA-accessible. Cityline operates Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and shuttles arrive approximately every 30 minutes. For additional information and a detailed route map, visit www.weho.org/cityline — route maps are also available on Cityline shuttles and at West Hollywood City Hall, located at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard.

For more information about the Older Adults Health Fair, please contact Becca Lubin, City of West Hollywood Strategic Initiatives Program Administrator, at (323) 848-6518 or at [email protected]

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The City of West Hollywood joins organizations and mental health advocates across the nation in recognizing the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to work together to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support the millions of people living with mental illness and their families.

In commemoration of the month, from Wednesday May 15, 2024 through Wednesday, May 29, 2024, West Hollywood City Hall will be lit green, the color of recognition for mental health awareness month.

Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 and was started by Mental Health America (MHA). Mental illness affects more than 50 million people in the United States. According to the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five U.S. adults experiences a mental health condition each year. Annually, mental illness affects; 16% of Asian adults; 21% of Black/African American adults; 18% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults; 21% of Hispanic adults; 27% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults; 24% of White adults; 35% of multiracial adults and 50% of LGBTQ adults.

The impacts of mental health challenges are significant among youth. One in six U.S. youth experiences a mental health condition each year, and only half of them receive treatment. Data also shows that mental health treatment, i.e. therapy, medication and selfcare has made recovery a reality for most people from mental illness.  People receiving treatment in a given year are 47% of adults with mental illness, 65% of adults with severe mental illness and 51% of youth (6-17) with a mental health condition. Last year 56% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults with a mental health diagnosis received treatment or counseling.

Mental Health Action Day was founded to shift mental health culture from awareness to action. Now in its fourth year, this global movement is powered by a growing coalition of more than 2,300 nonprofits, leading brands, government agencies, and cultural leaders that spread the message that, just like our physical health, we can take actions to improve our mental health.  This year’s call to action is to dedicate one hour to social connection. For more information about how to participate in Mental Health Action Day go to www.mentalhealthaction.network

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, connect to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24/7 by calling or texting 988 or connect to emergency community services by calling 211. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. 

 Those in need of mental health support or connections should reach out to the following resources for assistance:

  • APLA Health – West Hollywood provides individual and group therapy sessions to assist with a variety of concerns including depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma. Contact (213) 201-1369 or visit https://aplahealth.org/
  • Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services provides counseling, psychiatric services, medication support and substance abuse programs at various sites. Contact the 24/7 Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255 or (888) 807-7259 or visit www.didihirsch.org.
  • Jewish Family Services Comprehensive Service Center provides social services programming for seniors and people with disabilities that includes counseling, psychiatry, and case management. Contact (323) 851-8202
    or visit www.jfsla.org.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) directly operates more than 80 programs and contracts with more than 700 providers who provide a spectrum of mental health services to people of all ages.  Contact the 24/7 Help Line at (800) 854-7771, or text “LA” to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor via text message, or visit https://dmh.lacounty.gov/.
  • Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Mental Health Services team provides counseling, group support, addiction recovery, and psychiatry services for LGBT and non-LGBT individuals for issues including depression, anxiety, domestic violence/intimate partner violence, and substance use. Contact (323) 993-7669 or visit www.lalgbtcenter.org
  • Maple Counseling provides free and low-cost comprehensive mental health services to individuals of all ages, couples, and families. Contact (310) 271-9999 or visit www.maple4counseling.org
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  provides free education, support, and advocacy. The NAMI Westside Los Angeles Chapter can be reached by contacting (310) 889-7200 or visiting www.namila.org
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) website at www.ncadv.org offers comprehensive and inclusive information for all about warning signs of domestic and intimate partner violence and abuse, including psychological abuse, and how to get help. NCADV runs the National Domestic Violence Hotline website at www.thehotline.org, which offers immediate help to everyone  24/7/365 via the “chat now” button on the website or by calling (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or texting LOVEIS to 22522, and for people who are Deaf/hard of hearing: (855) 812-1011 (VP) or (800) 787-3224 (TTY).
  • Saban Community Clinic provides individual therapy and support groups for stress, anxiety, and more to help develop practical coping skills. Contact (323) 653-1990 or visit www.sabancommunityclinic.org.
  • The Trevor Project provides confidential and free crisis counseling, information & support to LGBTQ young people 24/7, all year round. Contact (866) 488-7386, or text 678-678, or via online chat at www.thetrevorproject.org.

The City of West Hollywood’s Human Services Division website area provides information about available local mental health services and resources at https://www.weho.org/services/human-services/mental-health or contact staff at (323) 848-6510. 

The City of West Hollywood’s Recreation Services Division provides information about quality leisure service experiences that promote health and wellness at https://www.weho.org/community/recreation-services including the City’s Be Well WeHo program designed to support physical and mental health at any age.

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, please contact Larissa Fooks, the City of West Hollywood’s Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6413 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood will Host a Foster Care Panel Discussion

The City of West Hollywood will host a free panel discussion that will focus on the effective practices and challenges within the foster care system and the transformative power and compassion of fostering.

The panel discussion will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. It aims to bring further awareness to issues impacting foster youth during May, which is National Foster Care Awareness Month. The panel will bring together diverse perspectives including professionals who work to support the foster youth population in various capacities.  

The discussion will be moderated by Dawn McCoy, a children’s advocate and founder of the Loving Way Foundation. The Loving Way Foundation’s mission is focused on ending child abuse through advocacy, awareness, and visibility while bettering the lives of impacted children.

Panelists will include:

  • Bonnie Sharpe, Director of Programs at Extraordinary Families, whose mission is to help children and youth in foster care to have the childhoods and futures they rightfully deserve.
  • Mario Gonzalez, Academic Services Manager at Foster Love whose mission is to improve the lives of children in foster care by providing essential resources and educational opportunities.
  • Jody Giles, Director of Philanthropy at Catalyst Family Office, an organization that supports philanthropic endeavors to help drive meaningful change. 
  • Nova Bright-Williams, Head of Internal Training, Learning & Development, at The Trevor Project whose mission is to provide lifesaving and life-affirming services to LGBTQ young people.
  • Shiré Wortham, Social Worker at Alliance for Children’s Rights whose mission is to protect the rights of children in poverty and those overcoming abuse and neglect by delivering free legal services, supportive programs, and systemic solutions.

May marks National Foster Care Month, a pivotal time to raise awareness regarding the needs of more than 391,000 children and young individuals within foster care. The month is a time to raise awareness of issues related to foster care and acknowledge the parents, family members, foster parents, child welfare, and related professionals, mentors, policymakers, and other community members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

National Foster Care Month is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the overrepresentation of LGBTQ youth in child welfare, 30% of whom identify as LGBTQ. LGBTQ youth who face family rejection and maltreatment are often forced out of their homes, or will run away, become homeless, or enter the foster care system.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Del Toro, the City of West Hollywood’s Community and Legislative Affairs Supervisor, at (323) 848-6549 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood will Kick Off WeHo Pride Season Beginning on May 22, Harvey Milk Day

Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community by kicking off WeHo Pride season with an annual Harvey Milk Day event.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 6 p.m. Pride Starts Here with the second annual José Sarria Drag Pageant. The event is 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. It will take place at the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck, located at 8750 El Tovar Place, adjacent to West Hollywood Library. The event is free to attend; advance RSVPs are requested at https://HarveyMilk2024.eventbrite.com.

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. 

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.

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.

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

Additional information about WeHo Pride 2024 is posted at www.wehopride.com. OUTLOUD Music Festival information is posted at www.weareoutloud.com. Follow @wehopride on  Instagram and Facebook and follow @officiallyoutloud on Instagram and Facebook. Sign up for WeHo Pride text updates by texting “Pride” to (323) 848-5000.

Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. No other city of its size has had a greater impact on the national public policy discourse on fairness and inclusiveness for LGBTQ people. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, the City consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation.

More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and four of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay. The City has advocated for nearly 40 years for measures that support LGBTQ individuals and the City is in the vanguard of efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level. #WeHoPride @WeHoCity

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s José Sarria Drag Pageant on Harvey Milk Day or about the WeHo Pride Arts Festival, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator, Mike Che, at (323) 848-6377 or at [email protected] or visit www.wehopride.com/artsfestival.

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

‘Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings Street Design Concept Plan’ Informational Open House at Plummer Park on May 21

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to attend an upcoming Informational Open House to learn more about the Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings Street Design Concept Plan. The purpose of this in-person open house is to provide community members with detailed information regarding the Street Design Concept Plan and share an overview of the project’s steps taken to-date and next steps, moving forward.

The Informational Open House will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at 6 p.m. at the Plummer Park Community Center in Rooms 1 and 2, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. Drop-in; no advance RSVP is needed. Light refreshments will be served. 

The City of West Hollywood’s mobility projects are guided by the adopted Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan, which advocates for comfortable, safe, healthy, and convenient places to walk and bicycle in the context of a balanced, multimodal transportation network serving pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists of all ages and abilities. 

The Street Design Concept Plan was identified as a priority project in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan, and it launched in 2019. The project’s primary objective is to enhance the neighborhood and protect the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists through strategic street improvements across the corridor. This comprehensive streetscape initiative aims to create safer, more accessible routes for walking and biking while effectively reducing cut-through traffic. By transforming Kings Road and Vista/Gardner Streets into key connecting corridors, the Street Design Concept Plan facilitates a seamless link between residential and commercial areas and east-west routes like Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue. This connectivity not only supports a healthier, more active community but also promotes environmental sustainability and enriches local quality of life.

The Street Design Concept Plan is the first project stage in the development of the Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings Street Design Capital Improvement Project. With the recent approval of the Street Design Concept Plan by the West Hollywood City Council, the Plan now moves forward to the Design & Engineering Phase, where concepts will be developed in much more detail. This includes the development and incorporation of detailed engineering plans, specifications, and cost estimates that will serve as the blueprint for project construction. The next stage of the project will determine the feasibility of the conceptual project elements from the Street Design Concept Plan and allow for additional insight into any refinements that may need to be incorporated into the project’s final design. 

The Community Engagement and Plan Development Process to date has included: 

  • The Willoughby, Vista/Gardner, and Kings project was identified in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan adopted in 2017, and outreach on the Concept Plan for these streets began with a visioning workshop in Summer 2019. 
  • The project was delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but in August 2022 the City hosted two community virtual workshops. Feedback and survey responses guided recommendations.
  • In 2022, demonstration projects were installed along Willoughby as an alternative way to share ideas and provide community input.
  • In addition to the community workshops, staff also met with residents to share information about the project. City staff attended multiple update meetings with the City of Los Angeles, including Council District 5 and the Mid-City West Neighborhood Council. 
  • As part of the demonstration project and community workshops in 2022, Here LA and the City’s WeHoTV collaborated to put together an engagement video to help community members envision potential street changes and improvements.
  • In April 2023, based on feedback from the community, City staff finalized the report and recommendations to include protected bike lanes along Vista/Gardner, except for the two blocks between Fountain and Lexington, which were excluded due to the potential loss of parking along this segment.
  • Staff presented these recommendations to the Transportation & Mobility Commission in June 2023, and the Commission expressed its support.
  • In November 2023, the West Hollywood City Council directed staff to develop a policy to include protected bike lanes on all roadway projects. Following this directive, staff developed a protected bike lane option for Gardner between Fountain and Lexington.
  • In March 2024, staff presented the Street Design Concept Plan to the West Hollywood City Council with two options for Gardner between Fountain and Lexington, including one with the addition of protected bike lanes.

The City of West Hollywood will be providing additional community outreach opportunities, moving forward, to refine concepts as part of the upcoming Design & Engineering Phase. In particular, the City will be looking for ways to address issues of concern, including minimizing impacts to on-street parking.

For additional information about the Street Design Concept Plan, please visit the Engage WeHo information and feedback page, which is located at https://engage.weho.org/willoughby

For more information, please contact Bob Cheung, City of West Hollywood Senior Transportation Planner, at (323) 848-6346 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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For up-to-date information about City of West Hollywood news and events, follow @wehocity on social media, sign-up for news updates at www.weho.org/email, and visit the City’s calendar of meetings and events at www.weho.org/calendar.  West Hollywood City Hall is open for walk-in services at public counters or by appointment by visiting www.weho.org/appointments.  City Hall services are accessible by phone at (323) 848-6400 and via website at www.weho.org.  Receive text updates by texting “WeHo” to (323) 848-5000.

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West Hollywood

WeHo will kick off 2024 Pride Season on May 22, Harvey Milk Day

For nearly four decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the nation

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Los Angeles Blade/City of West Hollywood graphic

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community by kicking off WeHo Pride season with an annual Harvey Milk Day event.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 6 p.m. Pride Starts Here with the second annual José Sarria Drag Pageant. The event is 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.

It will take place at the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center Respite Deck, located at 8750 El Tovar Place, adjacent to West Hollywood Library. The event is free to attend; advance RSVPs are requested at https://HarveyMilk2024.eventbrite.com.

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. 

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.

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.

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

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

OUTLOUD Music Festival information is posted at www.weareoutloud.com. Follow @wehopride on  Instagram and Facebook and follow @officiallyoutloud on Instagram and Facebook.

Sign up for WeHo Pride text updates by texting “Pride” to (323) 848-5000.

Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. No other city of its size has had a greater impact on the national public policy discourse on fairness and inclusiveness for LGBTQ people. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, the City consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation.

More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and four of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay. The City has advocated for nearly 40 years for measures that support LGBTQ individuals and the City is in the vanguard of efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level. #WeHoPride @WeHoCity

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s José Sarria Drag Pageant on Harvey Milk Day or about the WeHo Pride Arts Festival, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator, Mike Che, at (323) 848-6377 or at [email protected] or visit www.wehopride.com/artsfestival.

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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West Hollywood

WeHo’s Rainbow Neon Dog gets public art dedication

Community members gathered at Williams S Hart Park for a public art dedication of the public artwork Rainbow Neon Dog on Friday, May 10, 2024

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Dedication of the Rainbow Neon Dog Art Installation. (Photo by Paulo Murillo/WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Community members gathered at Williams S Hart Park at 8341 De Longpre Avenue for a public art dedication event for the installation of the public artwork Rainbow Neon Dog on Friday, May 10, 2024.

The event offered some words by Rebecca Ehemann, WeHo Arts Manager of the City of West Hollywood, who introduced Mayor John Erickson to the podium with Pet Mayor Winnie. “This is the best part about being in the City of West Hollywood,” said Mayor Erickson. “We have our amazing Arts Department. Thank you so much for all of the amazing work that you do. We are just so excited to welcome the Rainbow Neon Dog as part of our city’s urban art collection.”

Dedication of the Rainbow Neon Dog Art Installation – WEHO TIMES
Dedication of the Rainbow Neon Dog Art Installation – WEHO TIMES

The mayor made a joke about his motor being slow every now and then in reference to the neon art that stopped rotating shortly after being installed. “We’re excited to see it start spinning again and have it at this entrance right here at our beautiful historic William S. Hart park at 10 feet high 10 feet wide. And three feet deep as radium barking neon dog is the perfect way to announce a presence here at this park.

Also in attendance were council member Chelsea Byers and council member Lauren Meister.

The Rainbow Neon Dog may not spin, but it still lights up. There was a countdown to its lighting as part of the ceremony. Community members had an opportunity to enjoy the art installation and walk away with a custom pin in the shape of the neon art as a memento.

Dedication of the Rainbow Neon Dog Art Installation – WEHO TIMES

There were rumors that some local residents were going to use the dedication to protest improvements coming to Hart Park; however, the rumors turned out to be false. The ceremony happened in perfect harmony.

@wehotimes A City of West Hollywood CLASSIC is BACK!!! The Neon Dog is fully restored and installed at its new home on The Sunset Strip. On Wednesday, September 14, 2022, the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission unanimously approved the proposed Neon Dog project for installation at William S. Hart Park & Off Leash Dog Park, a property leased by the City of West Hollywood, but owned by the City of Los Angeles. The neon dog was connected to Collar & Leash. On January 21, 2020, the City Council accepted a gift of the neon dog sign from Joseph Chan and Charles Chan Massey. The neon sign was restored and conserved very much like the Rocky & Bullwinkle sculpture that is also on display on Sunset Boulevard. #wehotimes #wehonews #wehocity #weho #westhollywood #neon #neonart #wehoarts #art #streetart #thesunsetstrip @weholove @Paulo Murillo @City of West Hollywood @CityofLosAngeles ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

The Rainbow Neon Dog is the most recent addition to the City’s growing Urban Art Program and consists of a reconditioned, electrically rotating neon sign in the shape of a barking dog set atop a supporting pole that raises it above street level to be enjoyed by pedestrians and vehicles alike traveling along Sunset Boulevard in either direction.

Dedication of the Rainbow Neon Dog Art Installation – WEHO TIMES

The sign measures 10-feet-high by 10-feet-wide by 3-feet-deep. It was designed in 1990 by Wilson Ong for the Collar & Leash pet store formerly located at 8555 Santa Monica Boulevard. In 2020, after the closure of the store, the owners gifted the sign to the City of West Hollywood for inclusion in the Urban Art Program collection.

At its new location along the iconic Sunset Strip, the sign is guaranteed to become a novel cultural attraction and will serve as a wayfinding device for the entrance to Hart Park while continuing the City’s efforts to activate Sunset Boulevard with pedestrian-friendly experiences.

The Urban Art Program provides a mechanism to integrate free and accessible art into the urban fabric of the City. In particular, the Urban Art Program is motivated by a desire to ameliorate some of the effects new development has on the community. New development often results in intensified use of land where larger structures seem imposing and inaccessible to the public. Urban art can help soften this effect and provide interaction and connection between the public and private domains.

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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 appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

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

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