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Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center for Los Angeles opens

First facility of its kind nationwide serving Trans and Non-Binary individuals and communities of, by and for Trans and nonbinary individuals



Connie Norman Trans Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Friday Sept 10, 2021 (Photo Credit: Ged Kenslea)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – In a location that once housed the Aids Healthcare Foundation’s Linn House, a hospice for people dying from AIDS, the first facility of its kind nationwide serving Trans and Non-Binary individuals and communities of, by and for Trans and nonbinary individuals opened Friday, September 10.

Named for and dedicated in honor of Connie Norman, known as the ‘AIDS Diva,’ a fearless Transgender and AIDS activist who died of the disease in 1996.

The Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center, will serve as a home for several Trans-led organizations including FLUX, a national division of the Aids Healthcare Foundation and the Unique Woman’s Coalition (UWC). The center will focus on building capacity, advocacy and overall health and wellness of the Transgender and Non-Binary communities.

The 20,000 square-foot building has been repurposed to function as a sort of ‘WeWork’ space for Trans-led organizations to have a place to do their work, grow and be affirmed.

Named after a Diva like Connie Norman, supported by an institution like AHF and led by two respected Trans orgs like the UWC and FLUX—this is historic!  An entire building where trans people are at the helm, making decisions and innovating,” said Queen Victoria Ortega, Founder and International President of FLUX. “We are committed to making sure our community has a voice. Now, we have this incredible building as a home for those voices. I believe that great things are going to happen here, really great things!

The Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center, 1001 N. Martel Street (Photo credit: John Johnston)

Norman was a force to be reckoned with according to Los Angeles based filmmaker Dante Alencastre’s 2020 documentary film AIDS Diva: The Legend Of Connie Norman, which was released 25 years after Norman’s death.

In a short bio published by FLUX the group noted, “Connie Norman (1949 – July 15, 1996) was an AIDS and gay and transgender rights activist with ACT UP/LA. Beginning in 1991, she was the host of the first daily commercial talk radio show about gay issues in Los Angeles, and also co-hosted a television show. After her death from AIDS, ACT UP scattered her ashes on the White House lawn.’

Veteran LGBTQ journalist and the former Editor of the Los Angeles Blade, Karen Ocamb membered the formidable Norman in a March 31, 2021 commentary piece published to mark Trans Visibility Day.

“It was the late ‘80s and I was still new to “gay” journalism so I followed standard reporter practice of mingling with the crowd, getting a sense of what was going on, then asking to speak with the organization’s spokesperson. […]

For a bit I was stuck in my transition from old mainstream to LGBTQ/AIDS thinking. Luckily, Connie decided to educate me anyway. She invited me to her home — which she shared with her gay husband (who I recognized from 12 Step rooms) and LOTS of cats – and sat me in front of a video of her teaching a class of students about what it meant to be transsexual or transgender. […]

Connie and Rob Roberts during his hunger strike to draw attention to AB 101, the California gay civil rights bill, (Photograph from the collection of Karen Ocamb)

Connie was so generous with so many people- she made so many of us feel warm and loved and supported.

Curiously, after the video ended, Connie’s friend Harry Hay and his partner John Burnside (who turned out to be relative neighbors in WeHo) showed up and educated me about gays being Nature’s third sex. It was an amazing night. Connie was so generous with so many people. Most importantly for me – aside from being a reliable source of information so I could do my job properly — she smiled when she saw me. She made so many of us feel warm and loved and supported.”

When Connie Norman was living her final days at AHF’s Chris Brownlie Hospice, she bequeathed her childhood teddy bear to me, asking that I please help look after her Trans sisters and brothers she was leaving behind. I can think of no better way to honor that request than with this Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center that we dedicate today,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF and a good friend of Norman’s. 

Norman’s teddy bear will also now take up residence at the new facility in a commemorative plexiglass display case. In addition, September 10th 2021 will also be known as Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Day via proclamation by the City of West Hollywood.

The facility will also be home to a food bank opening onsite Monday, September 13th (12 noon- 2:00 pm). A ‘Clothing Closet’ to assist Trans and other individuals will also open onsite in the future and an AHF Healthcare Center serving the needs of Trans and nonbinary patients is set to open in 2022.

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West Hollywood

City of West Hollywood marks World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show support for people living with HIV, & commemorate people died from HIV/AIDS



Street view artist’s rendering of future WeHo AIDS Monument via

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Each year, the City of West Hollywood recognizes World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 United Nations World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention and is held each year on December 1.

Every year, United Nations agencies, governments, nonprofit organizations, and civil society join together to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate people who have passed away due to HIV/AIDS.

The international theme of this year’s #WorldAIDSDay is “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.”

“So many have left us much too soon due to HIV and AIDS. The City’s annual recognition of World AIDS Day is an opportunity for us to commemorate those lost to AIDS and support those living with HIV,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister. “We remember the extraordinary loss of loved ones over the last four decades, as well as our community’s remarkable resilience in the face of that loss. The City will continue to fight to end stigma, to support access to medical and emotional care, and to provide resources and support for those in need as we continue to work toward the day we can celebrate the end of suffering and loss caused by AIDS.”

 This year, the City of West Hollywood will recognize World AIDS Day with special events and programming, including:

  • AIDSWatch, the electronic memorial to those lost to HIV, which will be viewable on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHoTV broadcast channel — Spectrum channel 10 within the City of West Hollywood — on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 beginning at midnight through 11:59 p.m.; and
  • The Paul Andrew Starke Warrior Awards presentation, which will take place virtually on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 6 p.m., and can be viewed on the City’s WeHoTV YouTube Channel at The event will feature the Warrior Awards, which are given to outstanding employees or volunteers of local agencies that offer HIV/AIDS and/or substance abuse prevention and care services. This year’s honorees are: Darrin Aiken – APLA Health; Jamie Baker – Being Alive; Derald Hunter – Los Angeles LGBT Center’s WeHo Life program; Triana Maldonado – Friends Community Center; Anil Patel – Alliance for Housing and Healing; William Alexis Rogel – The C.I.T.Y. x1 Youth Group; and Desiree Jade Sol – AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The event will also feature an update about the City of West Hollywood’s HIV Zero Initiative from Aaron Celious, Ph.D. of the Maroon Society. 

The City of West Hollywood is currently seeking feedback about stigma experienced as a result of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. The City’s Social Services Division has launched a short survey, as part of efforts to implement the City’s HIV Zero Initiative. Community members, regardless of HIV status, are encouraged to provide feedback. A goal of the survey is to understand how stigma impacts access to care and overall health and wellness. The survey is available at:

The onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic had a significant impact in West Hollywood. The disease’s elevated infection rate among gay men caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the City. The City of West Hollywood was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local HIV/AIDS organizations. The City of West Hollywood sponsored one of the first AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985 and the City’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally.

The City of West Hollywood actively participates in the development of programs that can bring awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and services to people living with HIV/AIDS. In January 2015, the City announced its vision to become an ‘HIV Zero’ city. The City is currently implementing its HIV Zero Initiative.

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood commemorates Transgender Day of Remembrance

Transgender Day of Remembrance is part of the City of West Hollywood’s annual recognition of Transgender Awareness Month



Graphic via the City of West Hollywood

WEST HOLLYWOOD– The Transgender Advisory Board of the City of West Hollywood will present a virtual Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 6 p.m. featuring a reading of names to memorialize people who have been murdered as a result of anti-transgender violence.

The program will be hosted by transgender leader and advocate Sabel Samone-Loreca and will include guest speaker Reverend Valerie Spencer as well as tributes by musical artist LZ Love and the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, TCLA.

For information about the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony, visit

The event will be livestreamed on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHoTV YouTube channel at

Participants may join the event virtually by registering for the Zoom program using this link:

Sabel Samone-Loreca via Facebook

Transgender Day of Remembrance is part of the City of West Hollywood’s annual recognition of Transgender Awareness Month, which is recognized throughout the United States each November.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to look forward to the future and recommit to ending discrimination and transphobia by amplifying the visibility and voices of the transgender community. The City encourages every community member to honor these lives and memories and to take the opportunity to reflect on the work that remains to be done.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorates transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death and has become an important annual tradition.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) tracks annual statistics of violence against the people in the transgender community. In the latest statistics currently available, HRC has reported that in 2021 there have been at least 43 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means in the United States.

A disproportionately high number of victims are Black and Latinx transgender women. The 2021 report follows reports of 44 deaths in 2020; 27 deaths in 2019; 26 deaths in 2018; 29 deaths in 2017; and 23 deaths in 2016.

According to HRC: “it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare, and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”

This wave of violence has been declared an epidemic by the American Medical Association. Rates of actual violence or deaths may, in fact, be higher but anti-transgender violence can be difficult to accurately measure, as victims are sometimes misgendered in reports, which can delay awareness of deadly incidents.

The City of West Hollywood and the City’s Transgender Advisory Board recognize November as Transgender Awareness Month. Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has led the region in the pursuit and implementation of progressive policies that foster an environment of acceptance in which diversity is celebrated.

The City of West Hollywood will fly the transgender flag over West Hollywood City Hall through Tuesday, November 30, 2021. The flag will be flown at half-mast on November 20, which is Transgender Day of Remembrance, in honor of transgender individuals who have been murdered.

City Hall will be awash in blue, pink, and white lighting throughout the month. From Wednesday, November 10, 2021 through Sunday, November 21, 2021, the globe lanterns above Santa Monica Boulevard between N. Robertson Boulevard and Hancock Avenue will glow in blue, pink, and white. Transgender flags will be flown on the City’s medians where flags are currently displayed.

The City of West Hollywood has been one of the most outspoken cities in the nation in advocating for the legal rights of LGBTQ people. More than 40 percent of residents in the City of West Hollywood identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Transgender Advisory Board, which addresses matters of advocacy on behalf of transgender people in the areas of education, community awareness, and empowerment, and makes recommendations to the West Hollywood City Council.

Through the Transgender Advisory Board, the City of West Hollywood regularly co-sponsors programming and recognizes Transgender Awareness Month and Transgender Day of Remembrance each November and the Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31.

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s Transgender Awareness Month activities and resources, visit

As part of its support of the transgender community, the City of West Hollywood has a Transgender Resource Guide available on the City’s website, which provides information about a variety of resources including legal, health, and social services, available in the Greater Los Angeles area to enhance and improve the well-being of transgender people.

For more information about Transgender Awareness Month, please contact City of West Hollywood Community Programs Coordinator Larissa Fooks at (323) 848-6413 or [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood wins 2021 ‘Most Business-Friendly City Award’

The City of West Hollywood was a finalist among five cities with a population under 60,000 people in Los Angeles County



Photo credit: City of West Hollywood

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood has been awarded the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s 2021 Most Business-Friendly City Award. Awards were conferred at the 26th annual Eddy Awards evening ceremony on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at SoFi Stadium.

The City of West Hollywood was a finalist among five cities with a population under 60,000 people; the four other cities named as finalists were the cities of: Culver City, El Segundo, Rosemead, and Vernon.

“It’s an honor for the City of West Hollywood to be selected as the recipient of this year’s Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation award for Most Business-Friendly City,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister. “It’s especially significant right now because of everything we’ve been through as a community in adjusting to the difficult realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our city and our businesses have responded, throughout the pandemic, by working together to rise to the challenges of balancing shifting health-and-safety guidelines with creative solutions that support our community, our local economy, and one another.”

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s Eddy Awards annual dinner gala and awards ceremony celebrates exceptional public and private leadership in economic development in Los Angeles County. The Most Business-Friendly City Award recognizes demonstrated outstanding contributions to economic development in the region in business, education, and government throughout LA County.

This year’s awards stand out as they recognize cities that prioritized creating the most supportive environment for business recovery, reinvention, growth, and hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Most Business-Friendly City Award honors the community’s extraordinary resilience and collaborative efforts, in celebration of economic reinvention by creating more equity and inclusion throughout LA County. 

In March 2020, the City of West Hollywood approved a declaration of local emergency in response to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic and it began implementing a series of immediate programmatic responses to address community needs and to provide regular updates to the community. Early in the pandemic, the City approved residential and commercial eviction moratoria to protect renters and tenants and the City regularly extended these moratoria and then aligned with state and county policies.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of West Hollywood has taken extensive action to support businesses and workers. This includes weekly business-specific meetings, regular business outreach, enhanced technical assistance, and deferment and reduction of certain fees, as well as:

  • A Small Business Grant and Microenterprise Program, which allocated general funds to assist eligible and qualified small businesses with small grants to meet operating expenses and retain or hire staff;
  • A COVID-19 Free Webinar Series with informational presentations to assist community members in accessing information about a range of topics including health and safety information for businesses; mediation for commercial tenants and landlords; employer and employee resources; job assistance programs, and more; and
  • A temporary outdoor expansion program, called OUT Zones, to provide businesses in West Hollywood with outdoor commercial space in the public right-of-way to meet protocols set forth by the LA County Department of Public Health and State of California, which prohibited many indoor operations. More than 60 restaurants, shops, and personal care establishments expanded operations outdoors through OUT Zones. 

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) was founded in 1981 as a nonprofit public-benefit organization to harness the power of the private sector in collaboration with LA County, to guide economic development, and to create more widely shared prosperity. The LAEDC drives action in support of a reimagined Los Angeles regional economy that is growing, equitable, sustainable, and resilient, and that provides a healthy and high standard of living for all.

For more information, please visit

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