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Activists protest renaming of street for iconic Ranchera Music singer

Known as the King of Ranchera Music to his millions of fans, he led a life that arguably was filled with success, tragedy, and scandal

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Vicente Fernández-Gómez (Publicity photo courtesy of SONY Entertainment)

LOS ANGELES – The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council and some LGBTQ+ activists are taking Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon to task for his unilateral push to rename a section of Bailey street after legendary Mexican musical icon, Vicente Fernández-Gómez, nicknamed “Chente” which is short for Vicente.

Fernández known as the “El Rey de la Música Ranchera” (The King of Ranchera Music) to his millions of fans, led a life that arguably was filled with success, tragedy, and scandal.

In an unauthorized biography, El Último Rey, (The Last King), released just prior to the singer’s death at 81 this past December after four months of being admitted to a hospital in Guadalajara due to a fall that injured his spine, Argentine journalist Olga Wornat details the singer’s more than five decades-long career. Wornat writes that family tragedy, “a life absent as a father” and infidelities to his wife María del Refugio Abarca, “Cuquita,” plagued the musical maestro.

Wornat states that the most significant event was in 1998 when his elder son Vicente Jr. was kidnapped by a gang known as “Mocho Dedos.” After Fernández Sr. paid $3.2 million dollars to free him his son was abandoned outside the family’s ‘Los tres Potrillos’ ranch, near the city of Guadalajara in the Mexican State of Jalisco,121 days later with two of his fingers having been amputated.

In an email to the Blade, David A. Silvas, Vice President and Chair of the Planning and Land Use for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council stated: “The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council feels strongly that all voices in the community are heard when decisions are being made – especially ones such as proposing the renaming of streets or other civic monuments.”

“As there were concerns about singer Vicente Fernández conduct which which directly upset the members of the LGBTQ community within Boyle Heights, it was necessary to delve into how these actions may affect members of the community – especially minority members.”

“The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council works as an advisory board to the council office. Despite any decision made, ultimately the Los Angeles City Council will make the final decision by their vote. But we do hope they take into consideration the opinions and comments of the minority members of the community.”

Silvas in another email told the Blade, “Councilmember Kevin DeLeon only informed immediate stakeholders on this small stretch of street and did not do any outreach to a significant number of stakeholders nor the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.”

“Based on this, and feedback that has come to my attention about singer Vicente Fernández’s past history of sexual allegations as well as his views on not wanting to receive any organ transplant from an “addict or “homosexual” […] the Planning and Land Use Committee came out with a Community Impact Statement opposing Councilmember Kevin de Leon’s proposed motions.”

“The community impact statement letter has had mixed reactions – many support it – but there has already been homophobic remarks on social media about how “the gays need to get over this – they are just a minority.” That sort of rhetoric cannot be tolerated.”

Fernández in an interview with Spanish language media outlet El Universal in May of 2019 told the paper that while he was a patient in Houston to undergo a liver surgery, he decided to reject a transplant because he did not “want to sleep with his wife while having the liver of another man, who could have been a homosexual or a drug user.”

Accusations of womanizing also had plagued Fernández. In January of 2021 a photograph of a 2017 ‘meet & greet” with fans went viral as in the photo Fernández appears to be cupping a female fan’s breast. According to media accounts a few days later, Fernández issued an apology to the woman’s family, stating that “I admit that I was wrong, I don’t know if I was joking, maybe it was a joke […] I don’t know. I do not remember, there were many people (with whom I took photos), sincerely I offer an apology.”

A month later the news broke that Fernández was accused of sexual assault by a singer named Lupita Castro nearly forty years previously when she was still a minor at age 17. That case ultimately went away as Castro refused to take Fernández to court.

The problem, as one source told the Blade, is that the very culture and the times of his career in some ways gave Fernández cover with many in the public especially Latinos. The source insisted this did not excuse the behavior, adding that also the inflection of the still highly prevalent ‘machismo,’ the strong or aggressive masculine pride- exaggerated masculinity, is still very much a component of Mexican culture.

“When one considers the place “Chente” occupies in Mexican culture and among Latinos- his music is the background to virtually their entire daily lives, it is not surprising that especially the older generations will give him a pass,” the source told the Blade.

In the case for Latinos in LA, this is very pronounced when one considers that ground zero for mariachi ranchera music is dead center of Boyle Heights at Mariachi Plaza.

Generations of Latinos grew up listening to “Chente’s” music. Carlos Montes, a member of the neighborhood council, who spoke for residents in support of the name change in an interview with LA Fox affiliate KTTV;

“I’m just saying his career, what he has contributed culturally and emotionally to millions of people outweigh these allegations,” Montes stated.

The Latino Equality Alliance issued a statement in support of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council; “As a social justice organization, LEA stands against any form of homophobia or denigration against the LGBTQ+ community, especially as it relates to our Latino youth.  A lot of our work revolves around education programs that help our community understand and respect the LGBTQ+ community in Boyle Heights.  We value and support the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council and stand in solidarity with their position regarding the renaming of a street in our community. While we cannot attest to the veracity of Vicente Fernández’s alleged homophobic statements, we do however support the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council’s opposition to renaming a street in our neighborhood without their prior knowledge or consultation,” said Marco Gonzalez, LEA, Board Chair.

Kevin DeLeon (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin DeLeon)

In an email to the Blade, Councilmember Kevin DeLeon said, “My office has seen an outpouring of support for renaming the block alongside Mariachi Plaza after Vicente Fernández – whose music has been the soundtrack for generations of Latinos like my family and others worldwide. This street naming is about celebrating his incredible musical contributions and his positive influence on Latino culture globally.”

Silvas noted, “There will be another opportunity to voice comments and  concerns about this matter at an upcoming Planning and Land Use Committee meeting on Thursday, February 17, 2021 at 6:15pm.” 

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Los Angeles

Trans remembrance vigil held at LA LGBT Center

“We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity”

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LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad

HOLLYWOOD – A Trans Remembrance Vigil was held at the Los Angeles LGBT Center on Monday, November 21st.

Candles and white, pink, and lavender flowers mounted on tiers draped by a trans flag adorned the center stage. A large monitor served as the focal point of the evening above the memorial display. 

The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles started the ceremony with an acapella performance. Following the song of hope and redemption, opening remarks were given at the pulpit by the Anti-violence project manager for the LGBT center, Mariana Morroquin, and representatives from the Trans Wellness Center, Bienstar Human Services, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Friends Community Center, APAIT, and [email protected] 

Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“I think it is very important to acknowledge our partners,” said Morroquin, somberly addressing the seated audience of about one hundred and fifty. “We know that hate is real. A lot of us have seen hate pretty close. We are very grateful to have you. We open our arms to receive your love and your support. The way we support each other is by providing jobs, providing spaces for us, and providing opportunities. Because hate is out there. We need this space. We need to welcome everyone. I want you to keep that in your heart. And tomorrow, when we get back to work, let us open our hearts and our minds. Don’t make decisions for us. Invite us to those tables. We know what we need. We’ve been doing this forever. We are going to keep fighting because this is what we do.” 

She then added, “We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity. We gather because we must remember what is worth fighting for. For now, we commemorate. We tell the stories of the ones we lost. For tonight, that will be enough.” 

One by one, members of the audience approached the pulpit to read the names and stories of a multitude of trans people whose deaths were the tragic result of hate crimes. The photos, names, and ages of the victims were displayed on the center-stage monitor. 

“My name is Nikai David,” said one speaker, the photo of a pale, curly-haired young lady displayed behind them. “I am a model and social media influencer who aspired one day to own my own clothing boutique. I had just celebrated my birthday a week before I was shot in Oakland California, on December 4th, 202. I was thirty-three years old.” 

Stories of these deaths included shootings by assailants, police, and family members, brutal beatings, and stabbings. The bodies of these victims were found in their homes, in garbage cans, and on streets where they were left, still dying, among other locations. 

The final name read was Daniel David Aston, who died in the recent Club Q mass shooting.  This year, TDOR came on the heels of the senseless massacre in Colorado Springs that left five members of the LGBTQ+ community dead and 25 injured. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer gave an impassioned closing speech, first inviting the audience to take several deep breaths in unison. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“We will mourn our family, our siblings,” said Reverend Spencer,  “but we are not having our primary focus on the violent conclusion of their life. We are choosing to see them and know them and celebrate them in the full context of their living. For they were fierce and powerful people.”

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Los Angeles

Karen Bass speaks to Los Angeles for first time as mayor-elect

With her daughter at her side, the mayor-elect spoke of her background & love for the city of LA She addressed issues including homelessness

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Karen Bass speaks to LA for the 1st time as mayor-elect (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7)

LOS ANGELES – Rep. Karen Bass, (D-Calif.) addressed the City of Los Angeles for the first time as mayor-elect since she was declared winner Wednesday and her opponent billionaire real estate magnate Rick Caruso conceded in a press conference.

With her daughter at her side, the mayor-elect spoke of her background and love for the city of Los Angeles. She addressed issues including homelessness and economic hardship promising that her administration would work hard to get things done for the city.

Her primary focus she said when she takes office in December is to declare a state of emergency and execute actions on the homeless crisis that has enveloped Los Angeles.

KABC 7: Karen Bass to address city of Los Angeles for the 1st time as mayor-elect:

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Los Angeles

Beloved North Hollywood bookstore suffers arson attack

The Iliad Bookshop has been a fixture in North Hollywood for 35 years, the fire is currently under investigation by LAFD arson investigators

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The Iliad Bookshop/Instagram

LOS ANGELES – The Iliad Bookshop, located 5400 Cahuenga at the corner of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvds. in North Hollywood, was the target of an alleged arson attack at around 11 p.m. this past Thursday evening.

LA Fire firefighters responded to the blaze in front of the rear entrance which was fully engulfed after an unknown person or persons stacked up books and items left out by the store.

In interviews with KCBS2 LA, KABC7, and other media outlets, the bookshop’s owner Daniel Weinstein, said that a flyer, which he categorised as “terroristic,” was left at the scene of the blaze. The damage to the building was primarily to the entrance area with noticeable scorch marks, there was smoke damage inside as well. Weinstein added that the store’s iconic two live-in cats, Zeus and Apollo, were not harmed.

There was no information as to the extent of the damages to the store’s inventory.

In a GoFundMe started by the bookshop to repair and recover from the attack, Weinstein wrote:

“We were very lucky: neighbors saw the flames and flagged down a passing firetruck; had the firefighters arrived mere moments later, the entire store would probably have gone up. As it is, we suffered heavy damage to the main entry. The doors (which are metal) are still functional, but will need to be either replaced or fixed. We lost lighting fixtures, signage, and wood framing; we also suffered damage to the mural on the right side of the doors. Smoke filled the interior of the store, but we were able to rescue our two cats Zeus and Apollo and we’re hopeful that the damage to the books and fixtures is minimal.

We have high insurance deductibles so we need to cover the cost of replacing the exterior lights, sign, and trim, and touching up the mural. We expect the funds we’re looking for to be divided between repair costs and a mural artist.”

The Iliad Bookshop has been a fixture in the North Hollywood community for over 35 years. In a March 2019 profile article by Los Angeleno magazine writer Augustus Britton, the shoppe was described as “a cozy mix of librarial reverence and old lore magic. The walls are lined with literary memorabilia, most notably art by R. Crumb and posters of Bukowski alongside author obituaries from days past. An aged photograph showing Weinstein drowning in a pile of hardcovers hangs on the wall.”

Britton goes on to say: “Weinstein’s 10 employees are awesome. There are no better poetic words to describe them. One could say they all look like fictional characters. Grateful Dead fans, Philip K. Dick spies or Stendhal savants eating Chinese food at the counter while the shop’s spunky cats Zeus and Apollo — more nods to Greek mythology — climb over their shoulders.”

The fire is currently under investigation by LAFD arson investigators.

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Los Angeles

LAPD asking for public’s help finding missing teen in West LA

On Sunday, the LAPD issued a brief statement: “Andrew was located and reunited with his family.”

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UPDATED: Monday Nov. 7, 2022 from KABC 7.

A Los Angeles teen who went missing from his home on Halloween night has now returned safely and been reunited with his family, police said Sunday.

On Sunday, the LAPD issued a brief statement: “Andrew was located and reunited with his family.”

Andrew’s mother Anna posted on Facebook that Andrew came home Saturday. She said her son left home voluntarily because he was struggling with some mental-health issues. He then decided to come home on his own volition after about five days of sleeping on the street.

She expressed thanks to the public for providing support and said Andrew saw some of the missing-person flyers “and knows now that he is cared about by so many people.”

LOS ANGELES – The family of 18-year-old Andrew Jason Wright and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit are asking for the public’s help in locating him. Wright, an 18-year-old high-school senior, was last seen Monday around 6 p.m. near the 1700 block of Federal Avenue in West Los Angeles.

Wright is described as an 18-year-old male Asian with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs approximately 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black coat, maroon vest, gray pants, and black leather shoes.

His mother told KABC Eyewitness news that Wright has recently been suffering from depression and is extremely worried.

“He went on a walk around 6 p.m.” Anna Wright said. “He was supposed to go trick-or-treating with his little brother and sister at 7. And he never came back.”

Andrew’s father set up a search party where volunteers have been going around looking for him and passing out flyers.

If you have seen, or have any information regarding the whereabouts of Andrew Jason Wright, please contact Los Angeles Police Department, Missing Persons Unit, at (213) 996-1800.

During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most Keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

From KABC 7:

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Los Angeles

Trixie Mattel & LGBTQ youth celebrate 30th annual Models of Pride

The sponsor of this year’s Models of Pride was Glamazon L.A.—Amazon’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Group along with the Los Angeles City College

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Trixie Mattel accepts Model of Pride Leadership Award from LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner (Photo Credit: LA LGBT Center)

LOS ANGELES — Amazon’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, Glamazon L.A., celebrated the 30th anniversary Models of Pride youth conference which drew hundreds of LGBTQ+ young people and allies—and special award-winner Trixie Mattel—to Los Angeles City College this past Saturday.

Attendees connected with peers, learned from role models, and got to celebrate with live performances and festivities. Parents and professionals had opportunities to learn from one another, build community, and gain tools to support the LGBTQ+ young people in their lives. 

The day’s highlights included drag queen, musician, entrepreneur, and television phenomenon Trixie Mattel accepting the first-ever Model of Pride Leadership Award.

“Right now, we are witnessing drag becoming weaponized by bad actors on the far right. They are banning Drag Queen Story Hours and trying to paint drag queens as enemies of family values,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner said in his opening remarks. “This is a disturbing trend happening across America. What we at the Los Angeles LGBT Center know, and what Trixie Mattel’s prolific career embodies, is that drag is powerful. It is a pathway to unlocking new potential for freeing yourselves of the shackles of gender norms and for embracing the creativity that is waiting to be unleashed inside each and every one of you.”

“I didn’t grow up with much representation on television. At most, gay people on TV were allowed to be the snippy gay assistant or the funny makeup artist or, at best, the sexually ambiguous villain,” Mattel said in her acceptance speech. “I think the reason drag is so inspiring is because queer people are told to minimize everything. We’re told to be the friend or the supporting character. Drag makes us think, what if I’m the main character? I want you guys to know that you are all the main character.”

The Rolf/Uribe Models of Pride Leadership Award, given annually to youth and adults who have been models of pride to the LGBTQ community, was awarded to youth activist Alex Flores and PFLAG Los Angeles Vice President Steve Krantz.

The event was attended by more than 500 youth—including more middle schoolers and younger attendees than any previous Models of Pride—as well as more than 200 parents and professionals. Youth, parents, and professionals attended 100 workshops, with the offerings for youth ranging from “Rights of Youth in CA Public Schools” to “Drag Queen Story Hour.” Adult workshops ranged from “When Your Kid Transitions” to “Creating Affirming Spaces for Queer & Trans Elementary-Age Children.”

Entertainment highlights included performances by the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Gay Freedom Band of Los Angeles, The Voice finalist Hailey Mia, Mayhem Miller of RuPaul’s Drag Race, DJ Brynn Taylor, and Mike Xavier. Attendees also enjoyed a continental breakfast, a catered backyard BBQ lunch, and a dessert extravaganza.


Models of Pride is the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies, filled with life-enriching workshops, entertainment, resources, and more to help attendees to build confidence and self-esteem while developing valuable life skills. The conference also offers family members, educators, professionals, and all other LGBTQ+ supporters the opportunity to attend the Parents and Professionals Institute at Models of Pride, which offers tailored workshops, a resource fair and celebratory reception.

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Los Angeles

LAPD announces criminal probe into leak of racist audio recording

According to Chief Moore it was Martinez, de León, Cedillo and Herrera who approached the LAPD last Friday and asked for an investigation

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Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore (Screenshot/YouTube LAPD)

LOS ANGELES – Speaking to reporters at a briefing Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore announced the department’s Major Crimes Division was overseeing an investigation into the source of the leaked racist recordings that has thrown the city government into crisis.

Moore acknowledged that the results would be presented to “the appropriate prosecuting agency” for possible criminal charges. “The department has initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of eavesdropping,” Moore said.

Under California law, all parties must consent to the recording of a private conversation or phone call. Otherwise, the person who made the recording could face criminal and civil penalties.

Disclosure of the racist and homophobic audio recording earlier this month by The Los Angeles Times and Knock LA resulted in the resignation of Nury Martinez, first from her position as council president and then stepping down from her seat. Of the three others heard on the audio recording, powerful labor leader Ron Herrera, the now former president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor had offered his resignation which the federation’s executive board accepted.

City councilmembers Kevin de León and Gill Cedillo also heard on the recording have defied demands that they step down from their seats. Councilmember de León has been actively making the rounds of media outlets in the city offering apologies but refusing to consider stepping down, telling Univision’s León Krauze “No, I will not resign because there is a lot of work ahead,” he added; “I feel very bad, I feel very sorry for the damage, for the wounds that exist today in our communities.”

Calls for him and Cedillo to resign have included Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA mayoral candidate, Rep. Karen Bass, California Governor Gavin Newsom, President Joe Biden and councilmember Mike Bonin, who along with his minor son, was a target of the racist and homophobic comments heard on the recording.

According to Chief Moore it was Martinez, de León, Cedillo and Herrera who approached the LAPD last Friday and asked for an investigation.

“This (request) was done by the principals – this wasn’t done through some intermediary or otherwise,” he added.

LAPD’s Major Crimes Division detectives have since interviewed the four involved parties about why they believe the recording was made “unlawfully and surreptitiously,” he said.

“We’ll also look, as far as possible, to understand how such a recording was made and identify, if possible, the person or persons responsible,” he said. No suspects have been identified, he added.

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