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Best of LGBTQ LA 2023

Sixth annual special issue celebrates the LGBTQ+ community. Twenty thousand Blade readers then voted and the winners are presented here

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LOS ANGELES – Welcome to the sixth annual special issue of the Best of LGBTQ LA! The Los Angeles Blade is proud to celebrate the best of our community as this special recognition issue becomes a Los Angeles tradition. 

The year for LGBTQ people and families has been uniquely challenging and the accomplishments made throughout this past year seem more relevant than ever. We got past some of the pandemic restrictions, but anti-LGBTQ forces got more aggressive and violent. It was a year in which we relived the attempted insurrection from the year prior while learning details of all that happened behind the scenes, and who was responsible. It was also a year when LGBTQ families and our gender non-conforming population came under direct political and physical attacks. 

In Los Angeles, we had a change of leadership after enduring our own local scandals tainted with racism and homophobia. Through it all, our community did not allow our fabulousness to dim. We are strong and know how to fight back. This could not be more evident as you enjoy these highlights of Los Angeles living that demonstrate the best of LA’s LGBTQ community.  

Los Angeles Blade readers nominated finalists; the top five vote getters in each category were then added to the final ballot. Twenty thousand Blade readers then voted and the winners are presented here. The Blade staff congratulates each of this year’s winners and finalists.

LGBTQ Icon Sheila Kuehl Honored with Hero Award presented by the Ariadne Getty Foundation

Courtesy of Sheila Kuehl

By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – “I haven’t been this happy since I was in my 20s,” says out former Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who will celebrate her 82nd birthday on Feb. 9. “The freedom of deciding or not deciding every day what you want to do without any weight on you, without any expectations on you, without any demands on you, is enormously freeing and really, really pleasant.” 

After almost three decades as an elected leader and actively fighting for progressive issues, Kuehl’s final day in office representing the Third District was Nov. 22, 2022 — a day filled with celebration and grateful tears shed by colleagues and friends. 

Now she’ll have time to write. The working title for her planned autobiography is “My Life As I Remember It: Probably a Novel.”

Much of that life has been in service of advancing LGBTQ rights, for which Kuehl is being honored by the Los Angeles Blade and the Ari Getty Foundation on Jan. 18 at 10 DTLA during the Blade’s Best of LGBTQ LA Readers’ Choice Awards 2023. 

In an odd flash of fickle fate, Kuehl culminated her long legislative career in much the way as she began it — protected by bodyguards from threatening bullies. In 1994, the bullies were knuckle-dragging followers of Far Right rhetorical bombastic bomb-thrower Newt Gingrich. Today, the bullies are followers of Gingrich’s heir, Donald Trump, some of whom the Department of Justice considers domestic terrorists

In Kuehl’s case, her primary bully was LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who LA Magazine dubbed “the Donald Trump of L.A. Law Enforcement.” Last Sept. 14, after two years of fiercely fighting Villanueva over alleged LASD wrongdoing, a slew of Sheriff’s deputies pounded on Kuehl’s door at 7:00am, served her with a search warrant in a corruption investigation, and escorted her outside barefoot to a face a throng of reporters and TV news cameras. 

The raid was big news but backfired on Villanueva, who subsequently lost his bid for re-election. The LA Times reported succinctly: “A Times review of the case found it is based on the testimony of just one person, a former Metro employee named Jennifer Loew, who brought her bribery complaint to at least four law enforcement agencies, but found a receptive audience only at the Sheriff’s Department. The Times found no evidence to support Loew’s allegation.”

1994 was also a year of living dangerously. Gingrich was elevated to the traditionally respected position of Speaker of the US House of Representatives and pledged to implement his anti-gay, lie-based Contract with America, civility be damned. Meanwhile Kuehl and her best friend Torie Osborn were watching a new LGBTQ movement grow and get stronger as thousands of LGBTQ people, AIDS activists, Queer Nationals and allies took over the streets in 1991 after California GOP Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed AB 101, the gay rights bill he had promised to sign. 

“Thousands and thousands of us were on the street, as opposed to just being in the closet and hiding in a lot of shame,” says Kuehl. “I had not really thought about running. I was engaged in more of the Women’s Movement, especially domestic violence issues, sexual assault issues, trying to get any law in California to deal with domestic violence, which it didn’t have at the time. We founded the California Women’s Law Center. 

“There was a lot going on in the ’70s and ’80s and there was a lot to push back against,” Kuehl continues. “There’s a difference between working towards something when there’s nothing there and working to gain something back — like the loss of Roe v Wade (the federal law permitting abortion). Our expectations grew, but there was nothing in place to protect us. I actually had not thought about running. But I had been up and back to Sacramento many times testifying on new domestic violence bills that I helped to draft before I was elected and I understood from sitting for so many hours at committee hearings that there was no silver bullet genius talent in these members, that they were just like me — and in some cases, less capable because they hadn’t been to law school. They didn’t really understand the issues.”

Then, on Jan. 17, 1994, two earthquakes happened at once – the Northridge earthquake and Kuehl’s decision to enter politics. 

“There was broken glass and fallen pictures and glasses and everything all over my house. I picked up the LA Times and it says, ‘Terry’s not running,’” she recalls, referring to Assemblymember Terry Friedman. “I think, ‘Okay, this is my chance if I’m going to be one of those people sitting in those chairs and try to make a difference.’ I started exploring running, and frankly, I didn’t think at that moment about how historic it would be. I didn’t think about being the first gay person if I got through whatever. I felt more like a feminist progressive that needed to be there to add that voice to the table.”

Kuehl quickly discovered that she was making history. But her victory as the first gay person elected to the California State Legislature was fraught with danger, with so many death threats, then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown ordered a bodyguard for her protection. “I had to wear a bulletproof vest the whole first year that I was in the legislature,” Kuehl told Spectrum News1

But braving those threats and doing the work, then and now, is not the only reason Sheila Kuehl is an LGBTQ hero. She recognizes her place in the largely invisible long span of LGBTQ history. 

“Just as people have said they’re standing on my shoulders,” Kuehl says, “I stood on a lot of shoulders, too.”

West Hollywood’s Mayor Sepi Shyne honored with a Stop the Hate award

Courtesy of Sepi Shyne

Mayor Sepi Shyne made history in November 2020 when she was elected becoming the first out LGBTQ Iranian elected anywhere globally and the first woman of color elected to West Hollywood’s City Council. Actively progressive in her politics, Shyne is constantly seeking to improve the lives of her constituents, friends, family, and the greater community of the City affectionately referred to as WeHo.

“West Hollywood is a vibrant tourist destination and one of the most walkable as well as LGBTQ+ safe cities in America. Our visitors and residents love to frequent our businesses, so helping to keep them in business is a priority. One of my joys of living in West Hollywood is walking down the street to neighborhood restaurants or cafes and enjoying a meal or an oat milk latte,” Shyne told the Blade in an interview after her first anniversary of being sworn into office on December 7, 2021.

As a woman of color and as a minority as well, Shyne is keen to maintain awareness of the ongoing needs of the diverse communities that comprise her city. “Aside from COVID, the social justice movement impacted the City of West Hollywood by awakening our community to the truth that systemic racism, even in our progressive city, needs to be dismantled,” she noted.

After her sister was sworn into office as Mayor earlier this month at City Hall, in which the Mayor and her mother opened the ceremony with comments in their native Fārsī language, Soodi Eshraghi, made a few poignant remarks:

Good evening mayor, mayor pro-tem and council members, my name is  Soodi Eshraghi, I am incoming mayor Shyne’s sister, representing the Baha’i Faith.

A little girl with big brown eyes frightened in a new country and not speaking the language. In her short years this little girl had experienced the trauma of war as well as the compulsory hijab which forced her to cut her hair short, choose a boy’s name to be able to play on the streets with her cousins. Yet, her resilience and tenacity allowed her to overcome challenges faced by many immigrants and build a life for herself and become a lawyer. Her choice of academia was a reflection of her passion for justice and equality. Her decision to run for office was for the same exact reason, and more. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference in the lives of those around her, bringing about opportunities conducive for betterment of life, especially her constituents. Mayor Sepi Ghafouri Shyne, your family is extremely proud of you and we are always ready to support you every step of the way. 

The prayer I’ll be reciting from the Baha’i writings is on the destiny of America with the hope that this nation can become promulgator of peace and the oneness of humanity.

O Thou kind Lord! This gathering is turning to Thee. 

These hearts are radiant with Thy love.

These minds and spirits are exhilarated by the message of Thy glad-tidings.

O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious.

Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world.

O God! This American nation is worthy of Thy favors and is deserving of Thy mercy.

Make it precious and near to Thee through Thy bounty and bestowal.

 

Best Drag Performer: Lolita Colby

Lolita Colby/Facebook

Lolita Colby is now a 10-year drag veteran, having launched her career in a Miami bar. She now creates legendary moments at Rocco’s in West Hollywood.  “I don’t know if this is a cliché or not, but it takes a really strong man to put on a dress,” says this year’s Best Drag Performer winner. Given the current right-wing attack climate in the United States, that statement is truer than ever. “Many drag artists do not realize the importance we bring to the community. Drag artists break boundaries. We stand up against the norm. We do a lot of things that other people are afraid of.” Lolita’s 30,000 TikTok followers, 18,000 Instagram followers, and a host of LA Blade readers agree with her fan that called her “Absolutely Gorgeous.”

Runner Up: GottMik

Best Drag Show: Makeout Mondays at Rocco’s

Rocco’s WEHO/Facebook

Last year’s Editor’s Choice is this year’s winner. The 5,000-square-foot Rocco’s, located at 8900 Santa Monica Blvd., wowed boystown with the best drag on the LA scene. Crowds flocked to the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente in the heart of WeHo. “This is the funnest place EVER and their drag shows are so much fun! The food is great and the atmosphere is awesome!” wrote a happy visitor. A second chimed in, “They have some epic drag shows that are different and entertaining!”  LA Blade readers obviously agreed.

Editor’s choice: Thirsty Thursdays at Beaches, West Hollywood

Best Influencer: Gigi Gorgeous

Screenshot/YouTube

The LA Blade’s Best of 2020 winner, Gigi Gorgeous, again takes the top spot. Gigi is a YouTube star, transgender activist, author, television personality, actress, and model. With nearly 8 million followers across her social platforms, she has almost half a billion views on her popular YouTube channel. She is a self described “lover of beauty, fashion, and a good party.”  

 Runner Up: Ambers Closet

Best Queer Artist: Nats Getty

Nats Getty, (Right) at The Talmadge on March 17, 2022 in Los Angeles.
(Photo by Araya Doheny/Getty Images for The Art of Elysium)

Check out Nats Getty’s “Undecided 10” signed art prints. Writer Karen Ocamb said of him, “Nats Getty was an artist long before he knew it. His soul was forged in the fight between the fire of freedom and the cold dictates of a society he tried mightily to understand and follow, only to fail and fall into rebellion, a fury of authenticity that still feeds his art and serves his independent, progressive, philanthropic spirit today.” Getty himself stated, “Philanthropy — and advocacy — is something that is very important to me. I made 600 masks that were donated to hospitals and nursing homes on the frontlines, and 400 masks for the Strike Oil website, where 100 percent of proceeds have gone to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank…Everything I create from a jacket to an art piece has a story and serves a purpose in my personal journey.”  LA Blade readers cheered his generous spirit and named him this year’s best artist.

Runner up: Guadalupe Rosales

Best LGBTQ Bar: Heart

Heart WeHo/Facebook

Heart WeHo threw what it called “the biggest most lavish NYE celebration in West Hollywood” with three DJs, two levels, and two packed rooms of dancing and featured DJ Liza Rodriguez from Brazil. The premier watch party for the premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” was a sold out “amazing night of love.” Patrons call Heart “the happening spot” and “super fun.” LA Blade readers voted in kind.  

Editor’s choice: Bar 10

Best Brunch: The Abbey

The Abbey/LA Blade file photo

Patrons cite a “fabulous outdoor terrace” and “fun ambiance” for making the “world famous” Abbey this year’s go-to spot for brunch. The Abbey launched 31 years ago as a small coffee house by David Cooley as a safe space for the gay community. “Come as you are,” was its mantra. The stained glass window décor inspired the religious-themed name and atmosphere. LA Blade readers got religion this year and brunch toasted The Abbey as the best.

Editor’s choice: Stache West Hollywood

Best Restaurant: The Nice Guy

The Nice Guy/Facebook

With a delicious menu that ranges from roasted veggies to exotic pizzas (lobster pizza with sunny vodka sauce anyone?), to incredible pasta, steak, and seafood, The Nice Guy has been named this year’s best. The aesthetic is described as “decadent Mafia” that brings a unique social experience encouraging conversation and camaraderie. As they say, thanks to the mafioso deliciousness and good vibes, if LA Blade readers tried to escape, The Nice Guy just keeps pulling them back in again.

Editor’s choice: Bottega Louie

Best Radio or TV Station: KTLA

KTLA Studios off Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood (KTLA/Facebook)

This year KTLA aired the annual telethon in support of Project Angel Food’s vital work of feeding critically ill men, women, and children in Los Angeles County. Janene Drafs, vice president and general manager of KTLA 5, told the LA Blade, “This show gets better and better every year, and we are thrilled to extend our relationship with Project Angel Food. KTLA has a 75-year tradition of being there for LA, so providing this very special program to connect our community of viewers with Project Angel Food’s work serving the most vulnerable in our community at large is what being ‘L.A.’s Very Own’ is all about.” With more than 400 LGBTQ relevant stories on its website, KTLA has demonstrated that it has its finger on the pulse of LGBTQ interests. From tracking U.S. progress on LGBT rights to reporting that California reached the milestone of 10% of its legislature being LGBTQ, KTLA is there for the community. LA Blade readers show their gratitude by calling them the best.

Editor’s choice: 104.3 Pride

Best Cannabis Retailer/Lounge: Green Qween

Green Qween/Facebook

 Business partners Andres Rigal and Taylor Bazley launched Green Qween as “a queer-driven cannabis dispensary in an industry where LGBTQ+ and BIPOC representation have been lacking.” Donating a portion of proceeds to the DTLA Proud Community Center, Green Qween sees itself as an incubator for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC cannabis brands and growers. LA Blade readers just see them as the best.

Editor’s choice: The Artist Tree

Best LGBTQ-Owned Business: Cake and Art

Cake & Art/Website

Cake and Art has proudly served the community since 1976. It is the renowned producer of custom cakes, cupcakes, and more. They brag, “For 46 years, Cake and Art has specialized in imaginative birthday cakes for Hollywood’s biggest entertainment industries and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Clinton, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and many more.” Cake and Art was founded by Glenn von Kickle when he was 45 years old. Glenn, who’s gay, started the shop where he could be himself, and in a community that would appreciate what he was doing. Current owner Tom Rosa came on board as a business partner, and became the spirit that made sure von Kickle’s legacy endured. Cake and Art’s history arcs between being the place to get the cake no one else will think of, or attempt, to heroes of the anti-same sex wedding cake wars. When gay marriage started, they filled the gap for many consumers rejected by their usual bakeries. As for being “LGBTQ owned,” Tom has said “I’ve never been considered ‘the gay bakery’…I was sitting there thinking, what does that mean?  What are the parameters of a gay bakery?  Is it creative?  Is it sensational?  Is it fabulous?  Do we all dress in rainbow?” Well Tom, whatever it means, it means that you have been voted the best of them.

Editor’s choice: Urban Pet

Best LGBT Social Group: Impulse Group LA

Impulse Group 2019 international summit (Photo courtesy AHF)

Impulse is doing something right. They have won this category for three years in a row. Impulse Group LA was founded in 2009 by Jose Ramos. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a stronger and healthier community for gay men. Hosting more than 400 events annually in 25 cities, 12 countries across 5 continents across the globe, Impulse seeks to create a brave space to engage, support and connect our community. This year their outreach included HIV testing, a strong showing for World AIDS day, and embarking on a fight against Monkey Pox.  

Editor’s choice: Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles

Best House of Worship: Congregation Kol Ami

Los Angeles Blade file photo

In 2019, 2021 and 2022, Congregation Kol Ami won the award for Best House of Worship. In 2020 it won Editor’s Choice, and now wins the award yet again for the Best House of Worship this year. Kol Ami is an important leader in the Jewish, LGBTQ, and West Hollywood communities since its founding in 1992. Rabbi Denise L. Eger, who plans to retire in 2024, broke barriers that resulted in more LGBTQ inclusion at synagogues worldwide. Kol Ami describes itself as “a progressive, Reform congregation rooted in a rich Jewish tradition, with commitment to social justice, diversity, and a world in which all individuals are honored and connected. Our congregation celebrates an LGBTQ+ core at the center of a profoundly diverse community.” (1200 N La Brea Ave, West Hollywood) 

Editor’s choice: InVision Church Los Angeles

Most Committed Activist: Gabby Leon and Terri Jay

Indigenous Pride LA/Facebook

Gabby Leon and Terri Jay jointly came to the realization that there was a need for an event to create visibility and celebration of the Two Spirit identities. The concept of a festival that celebrated and honored Native American LBGTQ roles and traditions was born. The idea blossomed into a reality and Los Angeles now has the cultural Indigenous Pride LA, which “honors, and acknowledges all indigenous peoples’ plight, especially those who are Two Spirit and/or identified with the contemporary labels and terms of cisgender and transgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, and intersex.”

Editor’s choice: Princess Murray

Favorite Public Official: Karen Bass

Karen Bass takes the oath of office from Vice-President Kamala Harris
(Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign)

On Nov. 17, Karen Bass spoke to Los Angeles for the first time as its first woman and second Black mayor. She addressed economic hardship and declared a state of emergency over the homeless crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris has stated of Bass, “I saw how she would tirelessly fight for the people … the people of our state and the people of our nation. Karen Bass has a long history of always being on the side of people, fighting for the people.” The people who read the Blade have embraced that reputation and declared her their favorite public official.

Runner-Up: Lindsey Horvath

Most LGBTQ-Friendly City: West Hollywood

Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood/Jon Viscott

There are some who will claim that the city of West Hollywood is perfect. In terms of being the most LGBTQ-Friendly City, they may be right. The city was born out of a determined campaign by LGBTQ activists, seniors, and renters on Nov. 29, 1984. The city has a rich history and can be credited for launching iconic rock and punk musical acts. With approximately 39,000 residents, it has been called “Los Angeles’ hottest destination for the entertainment industry.” It boasts celebrity-owned bars and restaurants, unparalleled nightlife and shopping. It hosts world impacting events like the HBO Emmy Party, Sir Elton John’s Annual Oscar Party, WEST HOLLYWOOD PRIDE and the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, the largest Halloween street party in the world. Many feel that West Hollywood sets a standard for super creative individuals representing the state-of-the-art on trends and new ideas.

As far as West Hollywood being “perfect”, the Human Rights Campaign has the receipts. It scored West Hollywood as earning 100 out of 100 possible in terms of LGBTQ friendliness.  LA Blade readers already knew that as they name West Hollywood the friendliest city for the fourth year in a row.

Editor’s choice: Beverly Hills

Best Local Pro Sports Team: LA Dodgers

Courtesy of the LA Dodgers

Things have changed since 1970. That year, Dodgers player Glenn Burke was traded away when the owners found out he was gay. What a difference half a century makes. This year, the Dodgers kicked off Pride month in LA with their game against the New York Mets. Burke’s family threw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch and 18,000 special Pride packages to the game were sold. Fans showed up in droves wearing rainbow paraphernalia and Pride caps and jerseys were available for purchase. So, yes, things have changed and LA readers have declared the Dodgers the best local team for the third year in a row.

 Editor’s choice: LA Sparks

Best Realtor: Josh Flagg 

Josh Flagg, an original cast member on the show “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” on Bravo, represents more than a decade’s worth of high-end deals in the real estate industry. He has wowed the Los Angeles real estate market. Flagg, who’s gay, has sold well over $2 billion worth of property and is among the city’s top five real estate agents. He has represented many American billionaire families such as the Gettys and DeBartolos. Adam Levine, Shonda Rhimes and Steve Aoki are also clients.

Editor’s choice: Compass

Best LGBTQ Ally: California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom and his children welcome President Joe Biden to California
(Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

As Florida and Texas all but declared war on transgender kids and their families, one governor did more than shake his head in shock and disbelief. He did something about it. On Sept. 22, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill, one of many LGBTQ affirming of the year, that aims to legally protect trans youth and their parents who need to flee conservative states due to personal persecution and the oppression of gender-affirming care availability. His statement read, “States across the country are passing laws to demonize the transgender community especially transgender youth and their parents… the hate demonstrated by these laws is unfathomable and contributed to soaring suicide rates… This is unacceptable and we must fight for our youth and their parents.”

Editor’s choice: Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union

Best Salon/Spa: Spa Montage

Spa Montage Beverly Hills/Facebook

Spa Montage’s clients are raving. “The best spa in LA,” states one. “Very old school glam, full of antique style and old world charm,” declares another. Yet another goes right to the heart of a good spa: “The team here is just fantastic.” Goop also professes its love, “From prenatal massages to really good facials, the Montage is one of those luxe hotel spots that pulls no punches when it comes to pampering.”  LA Blade readers agree.

 Editor’s choice: Burke Williams

Best Car Dealership: Honda of Hollywood

Honda of Hollywood/Facebook

Honda of Hollywood is deservedly proud. “At Honda of Hollywood, we strive for excellence during every visit. Our team of experts is here to help you with all of your automotive needs…Whether you’re from Hollywood, Los Angeles, or another city, get in touch with our team to experience superior customer service,” they state. “Great staff, friendly service, feels like a small family-like environment” promises one customer. “Amazing dealership. Recommend 100%,” states a second. LA Blade readers have test driven them into being the Best Car Dealership for the second year in a row.

Editor’s choice: BMW of Beverly Hills

Best Doctor/Medical Provider: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

AHF’s 2023 Rose Parade® Float/Facebook AHF

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS healthcare in the world. It currently has 1,725,070 patients in care across 45 countries. As a global non-profit, it provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy. Their float in this year’s Rose Parade was “No Place Like Home.” Their local fans, and LA Blade readers, agreed naming them the year’s best for the third year in a row.

Editor’s choice: Cedars-Sinai

Best Fitness: LA Fitness, Hollywood

LA Fitness, Hollywood/Facebook

LA Fitness can tell you why you should get fit with them. “LA Fitness offers many amenities at an outstanding value. Gym amenities may feature Functional Training, state-of-the-art equipment, basketball, group fitness classes, pool, saunas, personal training, and more!” Its clients call out its wide range of equipment, friendly staff, great classes and convenient parking. For the second year in a row, LA Blade readers have named LA Fitness the best.

Editor’s choice: Crunch, West Hollywood

Most LGBTQ-Friendly Workplace: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been an Editor’s Choice for most LGBTQ-Friendly workplace, and this year the LA Blade readers agree, voting it into the top spot. AHF represents the consistently excellent work of doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, med techs, benefits counselors, and support staff at 14 AHF Healthcare Centers and satellite clinics throughout Southern California. A recent employee reports, “The people here are so welcoming and full of joy. Corporate also does a great job of making you feel included and often have outreach events.”

Editor’s choice: Getty Museum

Best Non-Profit: LA LGBT Center

Los Angeles Blade file photo

Founded in 1969, The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides programs and services for LGBTQ people. The organization’s mission centers on four key areas: health, social services, housing, and leadership and advocacy. 

This year, as a response to the 2021 Hate Crime Report from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, the Center made an even deeper commitment to the LGBTQ community to fight: “I have served our Los Angeles community for nearly 17  years, and it pains me to say that I have never been more concerned for our collective safety than I am right now,” said Terra Russell-Slavin, Chief Impact Officer at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “Across the country, armed white supremacists are showing up en masse to intimidate drag performers. Hospitals and healthcare facilities that provide care to transgender patients are closing their doors to bomb threats. Our nightclubs and safe spaces are being threatened and attacked. And our trans community is being deliberately targeted by far-right groups and our lawmakers on a daily basis. It’s not surprising that we see the ripple effects of that violence here in Los Angeles. I hope our community knows that their Center will fight like hell for them, and will always be here as a place of refuge.” LA Blade readers seem to understand the importance and need for the LA LGBT Center in these growingly contentious times, naming them the Best Non-Profit of the year.

 Editor’s choice: Project Angel Food

Best Museum/Art Gallery: The Getty

The Getty/Facebook

The Getty is a Los Angeles treasure. In its two locations, it represents more than 6,000 years of art. Besides a library collection of books, archives, and services, the museum holds more than 100,000 artwork images as well as special collections. The Getty Center, with its bird’s eye view of Los Angeles, is located in Brentwood and showcases European art amid modern architecture. Its second location is the Getty Villa Museum, which lies along the coast and displays ancient Greek and Roman art in a recreated Roman house. The Getty embarks on numerous philanthropic projects including several supporting the LGBTQ community.  LA Blade readers have shown their appreciation for the second year in a row by naming the Getty as the Best Museum of the year.

Editor’s choice: LACMA

Best Theater: Geffen Playhouse

Geffen Playhouse/Facebook

The Geffen Playhouse, located in Westwood, is a not-for-profit theater company founded by Gilbert Cates in 1995. It has been a key hub for theater in Los Angeles since its opening and produces plays in two theaters in the Geffen Playhouse, which is owned by University of California Los Angeles. Patrons compliment it on its breadth of productions, excellent staff, and comfortable seating. LGBTQ audiences have appreciated works like “The Inheritance,” which cited key LGBTQ history allusions. In support of the play’s theme and to give audiences a sense of context, The Geffen published a “dramaturgical deep dive” into LGBTQ history on its website. 

The Geffen has made diversity a mission. Its commitment includes this statement: “In recognition of the essential examination of systemic racism and injustices, we at Geffen Playhouse commit to continued analysis and expansion of our own institutional practices in order to be part of the solution. Our vision for the Geffen is that people of all races, faiths, sexual orientations, abilities, genders and backgrounds find it an easily accessible and highly relevant source of art that reflects the dynamic human experience and galvanizes a more equitable and vibrant community.”  For this, and great theater, LA Blade readers have deemed them the Best Theater in LA. 

Editor’s choice: Pantages/Broadway in Hollywood

Best Music Venue: The Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl/County of Los Angeles

Two years ago, the Hollywood Bowl won for Best Virtual A&E Events. Last year it was named the Best A&E Venue. This year, it won again – for Best Music Venue. This can only lead you to conclude that live or virtual, artistically or musically, in the eyes of LA Blade readers, it is perennially the best. Since its opening in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has been the premier destination for live music, hosting everyone from Billie Holiday to The Beatles to Yo-Yo Ma under the iconic silhouette of its concentric-arched band shell. This past year saw such LGBTQ-friendly acts as Ricky Martin and Grace Jones. Can this year top that? Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, Game of Thrones and Janet Jackson will surely try.

Editor’s choice:  The Walt Disney Concert Hall

Most LGBTQ-Friendly Entertainment Company: Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Brothers Discovery/Website

Warner Bros. Discovery tells us that they are “the stuff that dreams are made of.” They are a relatively new combined company. The new company combined WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports, and news assets with Discovery’s leading non-fiction and international entertainment and sports businesses. The combination is a premier global media and entertainment company that promises to offer us the “most differentiated and complete portfolio of content, brands and franchises across television, film, streaming and gaming.” Hyperbole aside, they brought us “White Lotus” and gay boys Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen to welcome in the new year. LA Blade readers were impressed.

Editor’s choice:  The Walt Disney Company

Best Screenwriter: Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy at the Golden Globes 2023/Screenshot YouTube NBC Universal 

It is no surprise that LA Blade readers called out Ryan Murphy as the best screenwriter of the year. The bigger question is — for which script? Murphy is prolific, having written literally hundreds of scripts in 2022. He wrote scripts for his “American Horror Stories,” “Dahmer-Monster, the Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” “9-1-1,” “9-1-1 Lone Star,” “American Horror Story,” “The Watcher,” and “Ratched” shows. The new year does not promise a slowdown. Upcoming, he scripts the mini-series “A Chorus Line,” the series “Consent,” and the TV movie “One Hit Wonders.” 

 Editor’s choice: Our Lady J

Best Actor: Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox courtesy of Netflix

The iconic Laverne Cox impressed LA Blade readers this year. She, of course, is the American actress and highly visible LGBTQ advocate. She burst on the scene with her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” This gave her the notoriety of becoming the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. In 2015, she was the first trans woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.” In 2017, she became the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on U.S. broadcast TV as Cameron Wirth on CBS’s “Doubt.” This year, LA Blade readers were impressed by her performance as Kacy Duke in the mini-series “Inventing Anna.” 

Editor’s choice:  Jennifer Coolidge

Favorite Musical Artist: Cardi B

Cardi B (Screenshot via YouTube)

This year, the famed Grammy-winning “WAP” rapper seemed to impress LA Blade readers as much with her pro-LGBTQ candor as she did with her talent. She ended the previous year as an officiant at a same-sex wedding, “I’m going to get these two beautiful ladies married. It’s not only a special day for you guys, but it’s a special day for me, and I want to thank you for making me a part of your beautiful journey,” she said at the time. This year, she slapped down those who wanted to doubt or play down her bisexuality. “I ate bitches out before you was born …..Sorry I don’t have razr phone pics to prove it to you,” she snarked on Twitter. Just in case you are not yet clear on where she stands in regard to LGBTQ people, she made the point clear: “If you homophobic you just ugly.” Her favoritism by our readers appears to be well-earned.

 Editor’s choice: Dolly Parton

Best LGBTQ Event: GLAAD Awards

GLAAD Awards 2022 Los Angeles/Masters

Last year, the annual GLAAD awards was a star-studded ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills hosted by Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and DJ “Shangela” Pierce. The ceremony included appearances by Andrew Garfield, Troye Sivan, JoJo Siwa, Jasmin Savoy-Brown, Mira Sorvino, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo, and more. Anti-trans legislation and the “Don’t Say Gay” bills were addressed during the show. President and CEO Kate Ellis denounced the hateful political activities in her speech, “These bills are designed to erase us as a community, but GLAAD will not let that happen. We have never been more committed to our vision of a world where everyone can live the life that they love.” With that, LA Blade readers expressed their love for GLAAD.

Editor’s choice: DragCon LA

Best Regional Pride: LA PRIDE

LA Pride/Facebook

Our readers were torn over this category. It was the closest vote in all of the categories, but LA Pride just barely edged out WeHo Pride for Best Regional Pride.

Readers were blown away by the events Parade, which drew a massive crowd of more than 130,000 people to the streets of Hollywood.

When the first L.A. Pride Parade, which was organized by Rev. Bob Humphries, Morris Kight and Rev. Troy Perry (founder, Metropolitan Community Church) organized the world’s first permitted LGBTQ+ Pride parade, held on June 28, 1970 in Los Angeles, such numbers were unimaginable.

The 2022 parade, like the original parade returned to its roots after decades of being hosted by the City of West Hollywood, starting at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga in Hollywood and running along Hollywood Blvd., Highland Avenue and Sunset Blvd. 2022 parade goers might be surprised to learn that the first parade also attracted a massive crowd of more than 50,000.

The return of LA Pride was not only a return to its roots, it was also a return to Pride in Los Angeles in general after a 2 year Covid-hiatus.

Readers were also excited by the massive LA Pride Festival, branded “LA Pride in the Park” for 2022 in Los Angeles State Historic Park, featuring electric performances by Christina Aguilera, Anitta Bob the Drag Queen, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, and over 20 other sizzling acts. Over 20,000 ticketed fans were in attendance for this first festival outside of West Hollywood since 1984.

WeHo Pride Weekend also saw exuberant celebrations for it’s first solo Pride execution, an event managed by events company JJLA. It was held in and around West Hollywood Park that included a free street fair that represented a diverse array of LGBTQ+ community groups; a three-day ticketed OUTLOUD Raising Voices Music Festival, the Dyke March and Women’s Freedom Festival, and an inaugural WeHo Pride Parade.

Editor’s choice: WeHo Pride and DTLA PROUD

Best Hotel: Sunset Tower

Sunset Tower Hotel/Facebook

The New York Times called it “Hollywood’s Grand Dame Hotel.” LA Blade readers just called it the year’s best. With a dramatic setting on the Sunset Strip and elegant Art Deco styling, the Sunset Tower was designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant. It boasts former residents Howard Hughes, John Wayne, Billie Burke, Marilyn Monroe, Errol Flynn, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Paulette Goddard, Zasu Pitts, and even gangster Bugsy Siegel. Hotelier Jeff Klein purchased the building in 2004, enlisting designer Paul Fortune to revive the property’s classic art deco style and then in 2018, Klein put his personal touch on another refresh, restoring the Sunset Tower’s heart and soul while not compromising its character. The hotel’s rooms were elegantly refurbished and its famous Tower Bar was expanded to include a dark and sexy bar, reimagined restaurant, and updated pool area. Further additions have included a bright and airy 7,000-square-foot gym in John Wayne’s former apartment, and the Joanna Vargas Spa one level above offering expert facials and massages. 

Editor’s choice: San Vincente Bungalows

Best Coverage of LGBTQ Issues by a Mainstream News Outlet: John Fenoglio of KTLA

John Fenoglio/KTLA 5 Facebook

LA Blade readers appreciate hearing the news from one of our own. Out reporter John Fenoglio appears to have our backs. He is quoted as saying, “LGBT people are the targets of more hate crimes than any other minority. A San Pedro resident and veteran I met today knows firsthand what that feels like. Don’t hate… But do fight back and fight smart.”

Editor’s choice:  Elzie Lee “LZ” Granderson of the LA Times

Best LA Region Airport: Hollywood/Burbank Airport

Hollywood-Burbank Airport/Hollywood-Burbank Airport Facebook

Hollywood Burbank Airport is legally and formerly marketed as Bob Hope Airport after entertainer Bob Hope. It is a public airport three miles northwest of downtown Burbank. LA Blade readers seem to agree with airport patrons who have declared “this place just treats you like family and customer service is simply awesome.” 

Editor’s choice: LAX

Best Podcast: MARSHA MOLINARI’s “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha”

Marsha Molinari/Instagram

In the run up to election day, no LGBTQ related podcast or media (admittedly including Los Angeles Blade) did more to give a platform to LA Mayoral Candidate Rick Caruso than Marsha Molinari’s Podcast “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” She gave Caruso a challenging but fair airing on a variety of LGBTQ topics. And it didn’t go unnoticed.

The local culture, fashion and nightlife icon is also mastermind behind the H.Wood Group, owner of some of LA’s hottest clubs and best restaurants (The Nice Guy earned the award for Best Restaurant). Molinari is also nationally prominent LGBTQIA+ Transgender & Human Rights Activist and Creative Director of J.Molinari Jewelry… Marsha does it all.

Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!” explores raw human experiences with conversations that lead to a true sharing with the goal of improving how we view one another. The show, with its focus on overcoming adversity and bringing people together, is not shy about engaging in uncomfortable conversations, but comfortably so. Subjects include all things LGBTQIA+, life purpose, self-worth, confidence, mental health, race, ethnicity, sexism, ageism and so much more.

 Editor’s choice: Rob Watson, Rated LGBT Radio Hollywood

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Events

The Dru Project announces its 5th annual “Gun Violence is a Drag”

The event, held in honor of Pulse victim Drew Leinonen, raises funds for supporting queer youth scholars in college, grad school, and beyond

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The Dru Project/Los Angeles Blade graphic

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Dru Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance, proudly presents the 5th Annual “Gun Violence is a Drag” show. This heartfelt and empowering evening is set to take place at Heart WeHo on February 10, 2024, promising a memorable and impactful experience for attendees. 

The event, held in honor of Pulse victim Drew Leinonen, aims to raise funds for supporting queer youth scholars in college, grad school, and beyond. The Dru Project continues its mission to create positive change and foster a sense of community through this unique and powerful event. 

This year’s “Gun Violence is a Drag” event will embrace a Valentine’s theme, adding a touch of love and solidarity to the drag brunch. Attendees can expect an unforgettable afternoon filled with entertainment, compassion, and a shared commitment to making a difference. 

Key highlights of the event include:

Celebrity Guests: The evening will be graced by the presence of prominent celebrity supporters who share The Dru Project’s vision for a more inclusive and accepting world. Past guests include: Melissa Rivers, Jai Rodriguez, Katie Thurston, Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan, Lana Parrilla, and more. 

Raffles from Entertainment Sponsors: Generous support from entertainment sponsors will provide attendees with the chance to win exciting prizes through raffle drawings, adding an element of excitement to the fundraising efforts. 

Incredible Lineup of Drag Performers: The stage will come alive with an extraordinary lineup of drag performers from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, ensuring a brunch filled with captivating performances that celebrate self-expression and individuality. 

“We are thrilled to announce the 5th Annual ‘Gun Violence is a Drag’ event,” said Sara Grossman, Board President at The Dru Project. “This year’s Valentine’s theme adds a beautiful layer of love to our commitment to creating a safer and more inclusive world for queer youth. We invite everyone to join us for a night of entertainment, empowerment, and fundraising for a cause that truly makes a difference.”

Event Details: 

Date: February 10, 2024 

Location: Heart WeHo 

Theme: Valentine’s 

Time: Doors open at 12pm; Show begins at 1pm 

Individual tickets for the event can be purchased day-of, with all proceeds going directly to The Dru Project’s initiatives supporting queer youth.

The Dru Project is a non-profit organization founded in memory of Drew Leinonen, a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The organization is dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion and acceptance, with a focus on supporting queer youth through scholarships and GSA materials.

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Events

2024 Best of LGBTQ LA Finalist Voting

Finalist voting is now open until January 7, 2024- Winners will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ LA Party January 26th at Heart WeHo

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – The 2024 Los Angeles Blade Best of LGBTQ LA Awards are here! Finalist voting is now open until January 7, 2024.

Winners will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ LA Party on Friday, January 26th at Heart WeHo. More details about the party will be coming soon.

VOTING IS NOW CLOSED!

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Events

Los Angeles Zoo is proud to announce its upcoming Pride Night

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, including family, friends, and allies, are invited to a night of celebration and unity on Jan. 4, 2024

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Photo courtesy of LAZoo Press

LOS ANGELES –  The Los Angeles Zoo is proud to announce its upcoming Pride Night on Jan. 4, 2024, from 6 – 10 p.m., at L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow, in collaboration with L.A. Pride.

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, including family, friends, and allies, are invited to a night of celebration and unity on Jan. 4, 2024

“The L.A. Zoo is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for all of our communities, including those who visit and work at the Zoo,” said Jess Kohring, Curator of Community Inclusion, L.A. Zoo. “Pride Night is put together as an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ staff, community members, friends, families, and allies to come together in a supportive environment to experience L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow.”

What to Expect at Pride Night at L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow:

  • Dance party for all ages at Treetops Terrace, featuring the musical stylings of DJ Brynn Taylor;
  • Full cocktail bar for adults ages 21+, including two signature Pride Night cocktails — “Pride Punch” and “Taste the Rainbow,” served with a side of Skittles;
  • Fun Pride photo opportunities throughout the L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow event.

L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow is a festive celebration of nature, wildlife, and the winter holiday season and will run through Jan. 7, 2024. This enchanting festival of lights showcases stunning lantern sculptures, vibrant interactive displays, roaming live entertainment, and festive holiday photo opportunities, creating a magical wonderland of lights beneath the stars. All ages are welcome to join in the festivities and experience the magic of L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow in a supportive and inclusive environment. Ticket prices for L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow start at $18 for children and $29 for adults (13+), with free parking included. GLAZA members can enjoy up to a 27 percent discount on nightly tickets.

For more information and ticket details, please visit www.lazoolights.org.  

The Los Angeles Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is dedicated to providing exemplary animal care and wellbeing.  As a trusted leader in local and global conservation efforts, the Los Angeles Zoo is saving wildlife and connecting Angelenos to the natural world by delivering diverse learning opportunities and creating unforgettable experiences. The lush 133-acre campus and its passionate and dedicated team welcomes all to be inspired by the Zoo’s vision to create a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together.

The Zoo is located on Zoo Drive in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $22 for adults and $17 for children ages 2 to 12.

For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo website at www.lazoo.org.



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Events

Jingle & Mingle: Holiday event focused on queer immigrant stories

The Los Angeles Blade partnered with AIDS Healthcare Foundation affinity group The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD)

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Drag star Melissa BeFierce (Photo by Jorge Barragán)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The Los Angeles Blade, partnered with AIDS Healthcare Foundation affinity group The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD), on held December 22, a joyful evening of food, hobnobbing, music, and entertainment at HEART WeHo.

The event attracted a diverse crowd of 150 people from the worlds of politics, entertainment, nightlife, media and community members from around the SoCal area.

The event kicked off with a vibrant performance by Drag star Melissa BeFierce and Veronica, opening the show with a review of Jennifer Lopez’s Spanish language hits, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Como Lo Flor,” “Amor Prohibido” and “I Could Fall in Love.”

Blade publisher Troy Masters welcomed the crowd:

“I have learned from someone very special to me that people who are in this country as an asylum seeker, a DACA recipient or as an Undocumented person, you do not have access to the same legal protections that I do, that most of you do,” he said. “I believe that is one of the many inequalities facing immigrants that needs to be addressed and that’s one of the topics I hope we will discuss tonight,” Masters added.

Masters then introduced Edwin Millán, International President of LOUD, who greeted the many VIPs in attendance and thanking everyone for “giving up their Friday night before Christmas to support this event and the LGBTQ immigration community.”

Edwin Millán, International President of LOUD (Photo by Jorge Barragán)

Millán then presented 4 panelists representing a  diverse immigration experience; Gretta Soto Moreno, a Mexican trans who said that it took her 13 years to obtain asylum, but that during that time she experienced difficult situations, including spending three years in prison; Jesús Paizano, a 22-year-old Venezuelan asylum seeker who explained that after two and a half years, he still has not received a resolution; Hans Vompakerth, a 23-year-old undocumented Colombian gay, said that he has not yet decided to apply for asylum for fear of facing deportation; and Laura Morales García, who arrived in the United States when she was two years old, explained what it was like to get DACA and what this means for her.

Editor’s note: For the original reporting in English regarding the panelists please go to this link: (here)

Aquí están sus historias

Gretta Soto Moreno, Guerrera por los Derechos de los Inmigrantes Trans (Foto de Jorge Barragán)

El viaje de Gretta Soto Moreno es un testimonio de las dificultades que enfrentan los solicitantes de asilo y las luchas dentro del sistema de detención de EE. UU. Gretta, una mujer transgénero que huye de años de tormento, soportando agresiones y amenazas en México, su país de origen, lamentablemente se encontró sufriendo abusos similares al llegar a EE. UU.

Antes de irse, la familia de Gretta desconocía sus luchas, centrándose en lugar en sus propios asuntos. México no solo era violento, sino también aislante y traumatizante. Es un lugar difícil para ser uno mismo auténtico.

Pero hubo momentos felices, como la fiesta navideña de la oficina donde se presentó valientemente como Gretta, sorprendiendo a una colega católica que, según Gretta, no tenía idea. “Se sorprendió porque notó a esta ‘mujer bonita’ organizando la fiesta; yo también me sorprendí porque cuando se dio cuenta de que era yo, estaba extasiada”, dijo Gretta. “Su reacción fue tan inesperada y me hizo sentir especial”.

Las personas transgénero, especialmente en un lugar como México, rara vez encuentran tal aceptación.

Gretta sufrió la pérdida de su mayor defensora cuando su abuela falleció. Ella había sido la fuerza más protectora y solidaria en su vida. “Cuando murió, me sentí tan sola y perdida… Ella siempre supo que era diferente de los demás niños, pero para ella eso me hacía muy especial”. Al darse cuenta de que estaba sola y de que su vida no mejoraría en México, eligió buscar asilo en Estados Unidos. Pero su viaje migratorio estuvo lleno de desafíos.

El arresto y la condena relacionada con el alcohol de Gretta complicaron su solicitud de asilo. Y como persona transgénero que tuvo que abordar su encarcelamiento pasado, las cosas se volvieron muy complicadas, una historia que refleja la situación de muchas personas trans en circunstancias similares. “Mis condenas por alcohol me hicieron muy difícil convencer al juez de inmigración de que mi reclamo de asilo era legítimo; y eso es realmente difícil porque como persona trans, que te crean o que cuestionen tu verdad es realmente traumático”, dijo.

En el Centro de Detención de Eloy, Gretta soportó abusos y la negación de medicamentos esenciales para personas transgénero, repitiendo los mismos horrores de los que huía. Trasladada a una unidad LGBTQ en Santa Ana, las esperanzas de alivio se desvanecieron a medida que los registros invasivos persistieron, ignorando su identidad e infligiendo un trauma mental y físico severo.

La historia de Gretta arroja luz sobre la cruel realidad que enfrentan los inmigrantes, exponiendo el desprecio insensible por la identidad y el abuso sistémico prevalente dentro de los centros de detención. Su narrativa revela el sufrimiento profundo soportado por personas como ella, independientemente de sus antecedentes o luchas.

Gretta es una especie de guerrera por los derechos de los solicitantes de asilo trans y se ve a sí misma como alguien que lucha contra un oponente mucho más grande. “Me encanta la historia de David y Goliat. Lo pienso como una historia de amor gay, en la que el rey Saúl se enamoró de David”, dice. David, al igual que Gretta, luchó contra un oponente mucho más grande, esperando llevar paz y seguridad a una tribu de personas a las que amaba.

“Amo a mis hermanas y hermanos trans y haré lo que sea necesario para hacer del mundo un lugar mejor y para hacer del asilo un lugar seguro y afirmativo”, dice. “Nadie que busque cambiar su situación debería ser castigado y obligado a regresar a ella. Pero los inmigrantes son personas vulnerables que a menudo descubren que defender nuestros derechos resulta en complicaciones que empeoran la situación”, explica. “Juro cambiar eso”.

Jesús Paizano, hablando con micrófono, un solicitante de asilo venezolano de 22 años, defiende la igualdad en inmigración (Foto de Jorge Barragán)

Jesús Paizano es un estudiante que rara vez pasa por alto un detalle y puede enfrentarse a las personas más inteligentes de la habitación, incluso a personas tres veces mayores que él. Entonces, cuando se propone algo, va a por ello con confianza y no hay nada ni nadie en su camino que pueda detenerlo.

Quizás esa sea una cualidad que adquirió después de ver a su padre, un jugador bien conectado en el gobierno de Hugo Chávez, perdiera todo. “Mi papá trabajó con el gobierno de Hugo Chávez y luego con el presidente Nicolás Maduro. Pero tuvo un desacuerdo con Diosdado Cabello, quien también es uno de los más altos diplomáticos de Venezuela. Mi padre se negó a seguir órdenes arbitrarias y, en respuesta a eso, fue políticamente arruinado y destituido”.

Jesús fue testigo de primera mano del impacto que tuvo en su padre y toda su familia, ya que las normas de privilegio, paz, posición, posesiones y su sentido de seguridad les fueron arrebatados. Venezuela desde 2013, cuando Jesús tenía solo 12 años, descendió lentamente a una situación de extrema violencia política y desastre económico que ha resultado en una crisis humanitaria y un éxodo sin precedentes: más de 7 millones de personas han huido.

Desde niño, veía el mundo a través de ese prisma arrugado y, en su adolescencia, se dio cuenta de que sus posibilidades de éxito eran muy limitadas. Añade a eso su realización de que ser gay en una cultura muy cerrada y machista era otro golpe en su contra; de hecho, conoce a muchos jóvenes homosexuales que fueron víctimas de violencia homofóbica, algunos de los cuales se quitaron la vida o simplemente desaparecieron.

Determinado a salvarse a sí mismo, decidió huir. Jesús puso su mirada en Estados Unidos, convirtiéndose en uno de los más de 1 millón de solicitantes de asilo venezolanos del mundo. Por supuesto, eso significó despedirse de la familia y, aunque estuvo lleno de ansiedades no expresadas, la promesa de un futuro más brillante superó el dolor de la separación. Y, además, era joven y “nunca pensé en ello como una despedida”.

El viaje a la frontera de Estados Unidos cerca de San Diego no fue tan aterrador como cruzar realmente a Estados Unidos. Siendo pragmático, cuando vio a la policía, decidió entregarse de inmediato y comenzar a presentar su solicitud de asilo. Durante los siguientes seis meses, fue enviado de centro de detención a centro de detención. “La detención a veces daba miedo y me enfermé mucho y también tuve Covid, pero había algo en ello que era gratificante”, dijo. “Había otras personas gay y algunas personas trans y nos cuidábamos mutuamente”.

Finalmente, se conectó con un patrocinador en Los Ángeles que le envió un boleto a LAX. “Me recogieron y lo primero que hicimos fue ir a The Abbey y luego a la casa. Nunca había sentido un alivio tan grande en mi vida”.

Al establecerse en Estados Unidos, Jesús encontró un panorama muy diferente al de su tierra natal. La apertura de su identidad LGBTQ se destaca en marcado contraste con las limitaciones que enfrentó en casa. “En el camino, sin embargo, ha habido lecciones de civismo que fueron una sorpresa”. Jesús dice que hay una brecha peligrosa en la capacidad de un inmigrante para obtener justicia a través del sistema judicial ordinario. Él dice: “la diferencia entre los derechos que tiene un inmigrante y los de un ciudadano estadounidense crea una brecha que se puede usar para controlar o manipular e incluso explotar a las personas”, dice. “Los inmigrantes dudan en luchar por sus derechos legales cuando han sido agraviados o heridos e incluso cuando han sufrido agresiones o violencia en su contra”, dice. “La gente teme que de alguna manera pueda afectar su caso de inmigración”. Él aboga apasionadamente por una defensa más fuerte y acceso a un sistema que proteja y empodere a todos, independientemente de su estatus de ciudadanía.

“Yo soy un inmigrante, no un extraterrestre”, declara. “Bueno, tal vez soy un extraterrestre, pero no del tipo terrestre”, bromea. “Pero creo en la IGUALDAD”, dice refiriéndose a las diferencias en los derechos de recurso legal que tiene un inmigrante en comparación con un ciudadano estadounidense.

“Amo a este país y cuando me convierta en ciudadano estadounidense, lo honraré como un privilegio otorgado por uno de los pocos países donde la democracia aún sobrevive. Pero tiene que hacerlo mejor para proteger los derechos de los inmigrantes que ya están aquí”, dice. Jesús se niega a ser encasillado por suposiciones sociales. 

Se ve a sí mismo no como un forastero, sino como un contribuyente, listo para enriquecer la vida estadounidense. “Un día espero tener hijos y quiero que tengan una vida libre de las cosas que experimenté en Venezuela”, dijo. Jesús cree en segundas oportunidades y no está limitado por dogmas religiosos ni moralizaciones; en cambio, desafía todo eso. “No creo en el cielo ni en el infierno. Nadie sabe la respuesta sobre si hay una vida después de la muerte”, dice. “Todo lo que sé es que todo tiene un comienzo y un final. Y me gustaría creer que después de que algo termina, hay un nuevo comienzo”.

Hans Vompakerth, hablando con un micrófono, un viaje indocumentado desde Colombia
(Foto de Jorge Barragán)

Hans Vompakerth es un joven gay de 23 años de Medellín, Colombia, y a pesar de ser indocumentado, dice que no tiene miedo de contar su historia.

“Hay miles de personas como yo y no les suceden cosas malas, así que ¿por qué debería guardarlo en secreto?”

Después de todo, no ha hecho nada malo, dado el poco acogedor ojo oficial de las autoridades de inmigración al llegar a los Estados Unidos.

“Hubo dos ocasiones en las que ingresé a los Estados Unidos cerca de Tijuana… La primera vez me devolvieron al lado mexicano de la frontera”, dice. Pasó un año y lo intentó de nuevo.

“Me capturaron y me procesaron como antes, pero esta vez, en lugar de devolverme al lado mexicano, me llevaron, a mí y a un grupo de personas, en un automóvil blanco del gobierno y nos dejaron en medio de la nada en el lado estadounidense. Nos dejaron buscando civilización”.

La determinación de Hans de venir a los Estados Unidos parece provenir de su respeto y admiración duraderos por su trabajadora madre. Son tan cercanos que la única persona que sabía que iba a salir de Colombia era ella. El resto de su familia estaba en la oscuridad hasta que él se instaló de manera segura en los Estados Unidos y su madre los informó.

“Lo hice por ella. Trabajó tan duro para mantener unida a la familia y supongo que, como el hijo mayor, quería hacerle la vida más fácil y proveer para ella, mis 3 hermanas y mi hermano menor”, dice.

Sin embargo, en marzo pasado, la familia sufrió una tragedia. Su hermano menor, de 20 años, dejó el hogar sin avisar. Después de unos días de búsqueda constante y preocupación, la familia fue informada de que su cuerpo había aparecido en una isla cercana.

“Me sentí impotente. No pude regresar ni hacer nada excepto ayudar con todos los gastos”, dijo con dolor. “Tuve que consolarme sabiendo que mis hermanas estaban allí para cuidar de ella mientras ella lloraba”. A pesar de las presiones familiares, en Estados Unidos, Hans dice que tiene un nuevo sentido de la vida que contrasta fuertemente con los oscuros desafíos que enfrentó en su tierra natal.

“Siento que soy mucho más respetado y aceptado por todos. Me siento mucho más resiliente y feliz, y eso me ha permitido superarlo todo. Cuando murió mi hermano, lloré trabajando más duro y usando el dinero para cubrir los gastos del funeral. Todos los días, pasaba horas en WhatsApp con mi mamá y todavía lo hago”.

Entonces, no fue la violencia y la homofobia lo que motivó a Hans a dejar Colombia. “Nunca fui víctima de discriminación o violencia en Colombia”, dice. “Huí de una situación donde había escasez de todo, sin recursos en general, ni siquiera suficiente comida. Vivía en constante tumulto económico, incluso mi propia salud se vio afectada. No había trabajos.

“Y si mi mamá y mi familia iban a sobrevivir”, dijo, “tenía que huir”. “No experimenté violencia ni homofobia hasta que puse un pie en México y tuve contacto con las autoridades de inmigración de Estados Unidos”, dijo. “Fueron horribles conmigo”.

Pero desde que llegó a Los Ángeles, Hans dice que no ha experimentado discriminación ni violencia. Aunque ha requerido persistencia y no ha sido fácil, Hans dice que su viaje de inmigración ha sido lo más importante que ha hecho en su vida. “Fue una decisión que lo cambió todo para mí y mi familia”.

Pero aún no ha logrado lo que llama su sueño americano, obtener estatus legal y vivir en este país sin temor a ser devuelto. Hans tiene una perspectiva muy positiva y una creencia en la bondad innata de las personas, aunque es muy consciente del lado oscuro. “Mudarme a este país”, declara, “ha cambiado mi vida. Vivir en Estados Unidos me ha ayudado a levantarme, a ser disciplinado, a ser sensible, a aprender más, a cuidarme más a mí mismo y a ayudar a todos los que me importan”.

Laura Morales García, hablando con micrófono, nació en Durango, México y llegó a Los Ángeles a la temprana edad de 2 años, donde llegó con su familia indocumentada.
(Foto de Jorge Barragán)

Laura Morales García nació en Durango, México y llegó a Los Ángeles a la temprana edad de 2 años, donde llegó con su familia indocumentada.

Ha pasado toda su vida defendiendo a los beneficiarios de DACA y es una de las principales expertas en el tema y una destacada defensora. Se graduó de Los Angeles High School y fue la primera en su familia en asistir a la universidad, obteniendo su título en Psicología Clínica.

García se dedica al servicio público y trabaja para educar a los estudiantes de secundaria sobre la comunidad LGBTQ+.

Es embajadora de AHF, representante de farmacias y enlace comunitario de AHF para la prevención y atención del VIH.

The event was sponsored by Los Angeles Blade, LOUD, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the office of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, the office of LA County Supervisor Chair Lindsey Horvath and Equality California.

Denounce hate by calling (833) 866-4283 or 833-8-NO-HATE, callers can report anonymously Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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LGBTQ asylum seekers: Journey complicated by restrictive policies

The event, to be held at HEART WeHo on December 22 at 8 PM, will feature an outstanding panel of affected people from the Latino community 

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – The mere fact that LGBTQ people can claim refugee status and seek safe haven in this country based on dangers they face in their home country by anti-LGBTQ forces and laws was a hard fought, massive victory for LGBTQ refugees and one that has only been recently enacted.

In about 70 countries same-sex relations are criminalized and, in six countries, punishable by death. Many LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers have endured years of exclusion, discrimination, and even violence by family, community, and authorities before being forced to flee home.

Many LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers experience trauma inflicted by circumstances which led to them fleeing their nations of origin. That can have long-lasting mental health effects, including a range of mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Obtaining asylum status or permanent residency in the United States can also be a traumatizing experience as the process can take years of uncertainty. 

Pew Research recently noted that since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, his administration has acted on a number of fronts to reverse Trump Administration-era restrictions on immigration to the United States.

The steps included plans to boost refugee admissions, preserving deportation relief for unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and not enforcing the “public charge” rule that denies green cards to immigrants who might use public benefits like Medicaid.

Scripps News journalist John Mone reported that the United Nations World Refugee Agency that by the end of 2022, close to 110 million people were forcibly displaced around the globe due to violence, persecution or human rights violations.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, in its June 2022 report noted:

Only 37 countries formally grant asylum to individuals due to a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI).

Studies show that a main obstacle to seeking asylum appears to be lack of awareness that sexual orientation and gender identity constitute viable grounds for an asylum claim.

  • Research shows that the process of applying for asylum can itself have deleterious effects on LGBTQI+ persons. One recent study found that asylum applicants experience negative mental
    and physical health outcomes and economic insecurity as they wait in a precarious state of uncertainty.
  • A number of studies show how the requirements for a successful asylum claim require that LGBTQI+ migrants “come out” to present themselves as a sexual or gender minority, but do so in a way that is “credible” and “legible” to asylum adjudicators. One study attributed the cause of most denied SOGI claims to “disbelief of sexual orientation” or “lack of credibility,” which are typically predicated on heteronormative and Western conceptions of sexuality and expectations of queer lifestyles often rooted in stereotypes or prejudice.
  • A number of studies point to the challenge posed by adjudicators who may conflate sex with sexuality to the extent that sexual behavior forms a key part of the claimant’s narrative about
    their sexual orientation. Applicants without sexual or romantic histories are therefore routinely discredited.
  • “Proving” one’s identity is particularly challenging for transgender asylum seekers. Adjudicators often rely on outdated medicalized notions of what it means to be transgender in which, to be deemed “valid” and “real,” transgender people must desire and seek out medical intervention.
  • Bisexual claimants are often denied asylum due to understandings of bisexuality based on stereotypes, that is, the notion that bisexual migrants can simply choose partners of the opposite sex.
  • Documentation of country conditions is critical evidence to demonstrate a fear of persecution.
  • The experience of “coming out under the gun” in the course of applying for asylum can be actively retraumatizing for vulnerable migrants.

The changes reportedly under discussion by the Biden administration include placing a cap on asylum seekers, expanding detention and deportation of asylum seekers, creating a Title 42-like policy that would expel those entering the U.S. without the chance to ask for asylum, raising the bar for asylum seekers to prove the danger they are facing, codifying aspects of the asylum ban such as a third-country transit ban for those seeking protection at the border, and restricting asylum based on how asylum seekers enter the country.

These policies will result in many people who could otherwise be eligible for asylum being returned to the very danger they are trying to escape — in direct contradiction of federal and international law.

Then there is also the fiscal reality for LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers. To work legally in the country based on a Pending Asylum Application, asylum seekers are allowed apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) known as a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

However, this can only be done in the time frame of 150 days after the asylum application has been filed. Many asylum seekers arrive with extremely limited funds and in many cases outside of charitable assistance by organizations, churches or private individuals, find themselves supporting themselves illegally, and in the cases of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers, this can include sex work which has the potential to lead to human trafficking.

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The Los Angeles Blade teamed up with The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD) to host a Holiday Party celebrating the journey’s of LGBTQ Asylum Seekers, DACA recipients and undocumented folks. 

The event, to be held at HEART WeHo on December 22 at 8 PM, will feature an outstanding panel of affected people from the Latino community who will share their stories

Gretta Soto Moreno, a Mexican trans woman who is an asylum seeker, seeking safety from the persecution she experienced there. Jesus Paizano is a 22-year-old Venezuelan asylum seeker who is deeply passionate about immigration equality and justice. Hans Vompakerth an undocumented 23-year-old gay man determined to find his American dream. Laura Morales Garcia, a DACA recipient who arrived in this country at 2-years-old and who is fighting to strengthen the rights of people in her category.

Edwin Milan

The panel will be moderated by Edwin Millan, a native of Lima-Peru. Edwin is the International President of The Latino Outreach and Understanding Division (LOUD), an affinity group of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which addresses the social and health disparities that threaten the Latino Community.

By organizing events like the holiday party, LOUD, an affinity group of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, establishes a worldwide reach and earns recognition as one of the most influential Latino advocacy organizations.

Gretta Soto Moreno’s journey is a testament to the hardships faced by asylum seekers and the struggles within the U.S. detention system. A transgender woman fleeing years of torment—enduring assaults and threats in Mexico, her home country —sadly found herself suffering similar abuses upon reaching the U.S.

Mexico was not only violent, it was isolating and traumatizing. It’s a hard place to be your authentic self.

Gretta Soto Moreno, warrior for transgender immigrant rights

But there were happy moments, like the office Christmas party where she bravely presented herself as Gretta, stunning a Catholic colleague who Moreno says had no idea. “She was shocked because she noticed this ‘pretty woman’ managing the party; I was shocked too because  when she realized it was me, she was ecstatic,” Moreno said. “Her reaction was so unexpected and it made me feel special.” 

She suffered the passing of her biggest champion when her grandmother passed away. She had been the most protective and supportive force in her life.. “When  she died, I felt so alone and lost.. She always knew I was different that the rest of the kids but to her that made me very special.”

Realizing she was alone and that her life would never improve in Mexico, she chose to seek asylum in the U.S.. But, navigating immigration was full of challenges. 

Moreno’s alcohol-related arrest and conviction compounded her plea for asylum. And as a trans person having to address past incarceration, things became very complicated, a story echoing the plight of many trans individuals in similar circumstances. “My alcohol convictions made it very hard to convince the immigration judge that my asylum claim was legitimate; and that is really hard because as a trans person, being believed or having your truth questioned is really traumatizing,” she said.

Jesus Paizano, a 22 year old Venezuelan asylum seeker, takes a stand for immigration equality.

Jesus Paizano is a quick study who rarely misses a detail so, when he sets his sights on something, he confidently goes for it and there’s nothing or no one in his path who can stop him. 

“My dad worked with the government of Hugo Chavez, and later president Nicolas Maduro. But he had a dispute with Diosdado Cabello, who is also one of Venezuela’s highest diplomats. My father refused to follow arbitrary orders and in response to that he was politically ruined and removed from office.”

Paizano witnessed first hand the impact that had on his father and his entire family, as the norms of privilege, peace, position, possessions and their sense of safety were taken from them. 

Venezuela since 2013, when Jesus was only 12-years-old, has slowly descended into extreme political violence and economic disaster that resulted in a humanitarian crisis and unprecedented exodus: more than 7 million people have fled.

In his teenage years, Paizano realized that his chances of success were very limited and the realization that being gay in a very closeted, macho culture was another strike against him. In fact he knows many young gay men who were victims of antigay violence, some of whom took their lives or who simply disappeared. 

Determined to save himself, he became one of the more than 1 million Venezuelan asylum seekers. But the promise of a brighter future outweighed the pain of separation. And, besides, he was young and “never thought of it as goodbye.”

The journey to the U.S. border near San Diego was not as scary as actually crossing into the U.S.. Ever pragmatic, when he saw the police he decided to immediately surrender and begin to make his asylum plea. For the next six months he was routed from detention facility to detention facility. 

“Detention was scary at times and I got very sick and also had Covid, but there was something about it that was rewarding,” he said. “There were other gay people there and some trans people and we watched out for one another.” 

Eventually, he was connected to a sponsor in Los Angeles who sent him a ticket to LAX. “They picked me up and the first thing we did was go to The Abbey and then to the house. I had never felt such relief in my life.”

Paizano encountered a landscape starkly different from his homeland. The open embrace of his LGBTQ identity stands in stark contrast to the limitations he faced back home.  

He says there is a dangerous gap in an immigrant’s ability to get justice through the ordinary court system. He noted “the difference between the rights an immigrant has and those of an American citizen has sets up a gap that can be used to control or manipulate and even exploit people.”

“I love this country and when I become a U.S. citizen, I will honor that as a privilege bestowed by one of the few countries where democracy still survives. But it has to do better to protect the rights of immigrants who are already here,” Paizano said. 

Hans Vompakerth, an undocumented journey out of Colombia.

Hans Vompakerth is a 23-year-old gay man from Medellin, Colombia and despite being undocumented, he says he has no fear telling his story.

“There are thousands of people like me and they do not have bad things happen to them, so why would I have to keep it a secret?”

“There were two occasions in which I entered the US near Tijuana. The first time they returned me to the Mexican side of the border,” he says.  A year passed and he tried again.

”They captured me and processed me like before, but this time, instead of returning me to the Mexican side, they took me and a group of people in a white government car and left us in the middle of nowhere on the American side! We were left to set about looking for civilization.”

Vompakerth’s determination to come to the U.S. seems to come from his abiding respect and admiration he has for his hard working mother. They are so close that the only person who knew he was going to leave Colombia was her.

“I did it for her. She worked so hard to hold the family together and I guess, as the oldest son, I wanted to make life easier for her and provide for her, my 3 sisters and my younger brother,” he says.

Last March, however, the family suffered  tragedy. His younger brother, 20, left home unannounced. After a few days of constant search and worry, the family was informed that his body had washed ashore on a nearby island.

 “I felt powerless. I wasn’t able to return or do anything except help with all the expenses,” he said with heartache. “I had to take some comfort knowing that my sisters were there to take care of her while she grieved.”

Despite family pressures, in the U.S., Vompakerth says he has a newfound sense of life that contrasts starkly with the dark challenges he faced back home. 

“I feel I am much more respected and accepted by everyone. I feel much more resilient and happy and that has made it possible for me to get through everything. When my brother died, I grieved by working harder and using the money to cover funeral expenses. Everyday, I spent hours on WhatsApp with my mom and I still do.”

So, it wasn’t violence and homophobia that motivated Hans to leave Colombia. “I was never a victim of discrimination or violence in Colombia,” he says. “I fled a situation where there was a scarcity of everything, no resources in general- not even enough food. I lived in constant economic turmoil, even my own health was affected. There were no jobs. 

“I didn’t experience violence or homophobia until I set foot in Mexico and had contact with immigration authorities from the U.S.,” he said. “They were awful to me.” 

But since arriving in Los Angeles, Hans says he hasn’t experienced discrimination or violence.

“Moving to this country,” he declares, “has changed my life. “Living in the US has helped me pull myself up, to be disciplined, to be sensitive, to learn more, to care more about myself and to help everyone I care about.”

Laura Morales Garcia, a dreamer and devoted DACA recipient.

Laura Morales Garcia was born in Durango, Mexico and found her way to Los Angeles, CA at the young age of 2 years old, arriving with her undocumented family.

She has spent a lifetime advocating for DACA recipients and is one of the leading experts on the issue and a noted advocate. She graduated from Los Angeles High School and was the first in her family to attend college, obtaining her degree in Clinical-Psychology.

Garcia is devoted to public service and works to educate high school students on the LGBTQ+ community. 

She is an AHF Ambassador and AHF Pharmacy Representative & Community Liaison for prevention and care of HIV.

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Jingle & Mingle holidays event in West Hollywood at Heart

The Los Angeles Blade & Latino Outreach Understanding Division announce a special holiday party at Heart WeHo on December 22, 2023

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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Blade and Latino Outreach and Understanding Division are proud to announce a special holiday party at Heart WeHo on December 22, 2023 from 8PM.

We are celebrating the LGBTQ immigration community of Los Angeles: Asylum Seekers, DACA beneficiaries, Undocumented folks and their loved ones and supporters.

We’re hoping you’ll come and bring lots of cheer and a sense of family at this especially important time.

We are grateful for the support we have received from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Latino Outreach and Understanding Division, the office of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Equality California for this special, first of its kind event.

And hope you will help us get the word out! Please share!

Everyone is welcome and we look forward to celebrating their stories and the holidays with you at Heart WeHo on Friday, December 22, 2023 from 8PM.

Celebración navideña para la comunidad LGBTQ de inmigrantes en Los Ángeles

¡Únase a nosotros para una celebración navideña festiva e inclusiva! Estamos emocionados de reunir a la comunidad de inmigrantes LGBTQ de Los Ángeles para un evento alegre en Heart Weho. Ubicado en Santa Monica Boulevard en West Hollywood, CA, EE. UU., este vibrante lugar crea el escenario perfecto para nuestra reunión.

Para muchos miembros de la comunidad LGBTQ que enfrentan problemas de inmigración, Diciembre y la temporada navideña pueden llegar a ser difíciles y solitarios.

Así que, si te encuentras en esa situación, queremos invitarte a ti y a tus seres queridos a unirse a nosotros para una velada especial en la que celebraremos tu valiente viaje a este país.

Esta es una oportunidad única para conocer a otras personas con historias similares a la tuya.

A veces, simplemente poder hablar con otros con situaciones similares sirve de estimulo. Aqui encontraras solicitantes de asilo, beneficiarios de DACA y personas indocumentadas, quienes compartiran sus experiencias y quienes podran brindarte esperanza, aliento y alegría.

Contaremos con una invitada sorpresa que estamos seguros nos llenara de alegria y esplendor.

Esperamos que te unas a nosotros para una noche divertida e informativa con comida, música, entretenimiento, un panel informativo y oportunidades de networking. ¡Nunca sabes a quién podras conocer!

Ofreceremos algo de comida ligera y bebidas, así que solo tienes que presentarte y disfrutar.

Esta es una oportunidad increíble para conectarte con personas como tú y celebrar las festividades con amor.

¡Tu perteneces aquí!

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Queerceañera: Celebrating LAtinx Heritage Month

Queerceañera is an inclusive take on the coming-of-age quinceañera tradition throughout Latin America and the United States

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Queerceañera hosted by RuPaul's Drag Race Season 15 alum, Salina EsTitties. (Photo-Graphic Credit: Los Angeles LGBT Center)

LOS ANGELES – Get Ready, LA! This September, the Center will host its inaugural Latinx Heritage Month commemoration with Queerceañera (queer-seh for short), an inclusive take on the coming-of-age quinceañera tradition throughout Latin America and the United States.

Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 alum, Salina EsTitties, our Queerce is a cultural summit and community cotillion rooted in accessibility and unbridled celebration; quinceañeras are often regarded as out-of-reach status symbols, and our event breaks the gender norms and structures of said celebrations. Both vibrant and bold, Queerce will spotlight LA’s richly diverse queer, Latinx diasporic experiences.

RuPaul’s Drag Race México host Valentina will be honored at the event, kicking off a year-long ambassadorship with the Center to uplift and support outreach within the Latinx community. She will sit down for a keynote conversation with Mexican-Native American entertainer, Miss Benny. The duo will be honored for their trailblazing work in entertainment as breakout, culture-shifting nonbinary and trans artists, respectively.

PROGRAM

● 5:30PM – Doors + Bars Open

● 6:00—7:15PM – Quince-style cocktail reception and a mixer in our courtyard, and then guests will be escorted into our Renberg Theatre.

● 7:15—8:30PM – Emceed by celebrity host Salina EsTitties, the stage program will consist of show stopping performances, special honoree presentation and keynote conversations with influential figures from the LAtinx community.

● 8:30—10:30PM – Tiempo de Vals — the post-program offers more cocktails and surprise live performance elements in the courtyard for guests to enjoy before dancing into the evening.

ASL provided for the program. Event venue is wheelchair accessible.

Date and time

Friday, September 29 · 5:30 – 10:30pm PDT

Location

The Village at Ed Gould Plaza1125 N McCadden Place Los Angeles, CA 90038

More event + special guest announcements coming soon!

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PFLAG Parent Day is Sunday, July 23, presented on ABC stations

“PFLAG Parent Day is a celebration of families & the parenting- all of us can work together to create a world where everyone is celebrated”

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PFLAG Parent Day graphic courtesy of PFLAG

WASHINGTON – This National Parents’ Day, Sunday July 23rd, PFLAG National will highlight the parenting people who lead with love in support of LGBTQ+ people of all ages with a special presentation of PFLAG Parent Day across ABC Owned Television Stations’ platforms and PFLAG National social channels. 

PFLAG Parent Day, now in its third year, is a special event to celebrate LGBTQ+ affirming parents and all the people who fill a parenting role for LGBTQ+ kids of all ages. Follow the stories of families, advocates, educators, artists and communities across the country who show up each day to fight for love and justice in their own backyards.

“PFLAG Parent Day is a celebration of families and the parenting people fighting for a better world,” said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “Ultimately, it’s a reminder: all of us can work together to create a world where everyone is celebrated, empowered and loved.” 

In 2023, LGBTQ+ people and their families have faced an unprecedented volume of attacks—including threats to their lives, livelihoods, and civil rights—in every state across the country. Inspired by the same unconditional love that urged PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford and other parents to get off the curb and march alongside their LGBTQ+ loved ones 50 years ago, parenting people in 2023 are taking action and fighting back.

The PFLAG Parent Day presentation—which will premiere on PFLAG National and ABC Owned Television Station streaming platforms—is produced by PFLAG National with support from the ABC Owned Television Stations. Philip D’Amour (2023 White House Correspondents DinnerThe Grio Awards) serves as Executive Producer.

 

The special event will air on PFLAG National social channels, and as follows across the eight ABC Owned Television Station platforms:

Website links:

PFLAG Parent Day 2023:

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The Original Farmers Market & The Grove will host Pride Night 

NSYNC’s iconic member Lance Bass will kick off the event announcing a pet parade and adoption event hosted by Wags & Walks

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Photo courtesy of The Grove- Where L.A. Comes Together ®

LOS ANGELES – In celebration of Pride Month, The Original Farmers Market and The Grove will host Pride Night on Friday, June 30, presented by Afterpay, bringing together the LGBTQIA+ community for a night of festive bingo, live entertainment, disco dancing under the stars and more.

Beginning at 5PM on Gilmore Lane where The Original Farmers Market and The Grove meet, the street will transform into a sequin-filled disco oasis with Pride-themed décor, a rainbow dance floor, live music and several festive photo moments. 

NSYNC’s iconic member Lance Bass will kick off the event announcing a pet parade and adoption event hosted by Wags & Walks. Guest will enjoy an array of sips and bites from renowned vendors of The Original Farmers Market and The Grove as well as a lemonade stand from Afterpay.

Pop ups include a beer garden and food stand with El Granjero Cantina, and a variety of other food booths from favorite Market merchants including Kaylin + Kaylin Pickles, Fritzi Coop, Friends and Family Pizza, Michelina Bakery and Roxy and Jo’s Seafood.

The Grove’s beloved annual Pride Bingo will begin at 6:30PM. Tickets are $60 per person and include 10 rounds of bingo hosted by LA legend ‘Bingo Boy’ (Jeffrey Bowman), meal and beverage tickets and chances to win special prizes from some of The Grove’s favorite brands like Alo Yoga, Athletic Propulsion Labs, diptyque, Todd Snyder and more. Ticket proceeds will be donated to LA Pride.

As the sun begins to set, DJ Blake Cross will turn up the music for guests to dance the night away under the stars and sparkling lights.

Pride Night is sponsored by “buy now, pay later” service Afterpay. New and existing Afterpay customers who purchase Pride Bingo tickets will be reimbursed at check-in and enjoy complimentary gifting moments and benefits at the event. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit https://thegrovela.com/events/pride-night/.  

WHAT:                 Pride Night at The Original Farmers Market & The Grove, presented by Afterpay

WHEN:                Friday, June 30, 2023

Pet “Paw”rade  & Adoption: 5:00PM – 5:30PM

Food and Drink Pop-up’s from the Original Farmers Market: 5:00 – 9:00PM

Live Music from 80’s Band “Radio Rebel’s”: 5:30PM – 6:30PM

Bingo & Prizes: 6:30PM – 8:00PM

More Live Music, DJ & Dancing: 8:00PM – 9:30PM

WHERE:               Gilmore Lane in between The Original Farmers Market & The Grove

189 The Grove Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90036

ADMISSION:        Event entrance is complimentary and open to the public; food and beverages available for purchase

(1) Pride Bingo Ticket: $60

*Includes 10 rounds of bingo, meal and beverage tickets, swag bag, multiple photo opportunities and chances to win complimentary prizes from The Grove’s stores and restaurants

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LA Pride Parade Grand Marshals named, LA Pride Village returns

When LA Pride Parade returned home to Hollywood Blvd last year after more than 4 decades, it prompted the start of new traditions

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Graphic via Christopher Street West

LOS ANGELES – Christopher Street West Association (CSW) announced its trio of grand marshals to be celebrated at the LA Pride Parade on Sunday, June 11 taking place at its original historic location in Hollywood.

This year’s LA Pride Parade grand marshals include comedian, actor and activist Margaret Cho as the Icon Grand Marshal, an individual who needs no introduction and achieved major milestones within their career and industry; a posthumous tribute to Emmy-winner Leslie Jordan as the Legacy Grand Marshal, a new title this year in honor of Jordan for his everlasting impact on the community; and the ACLU of Southern California, that helped CSW obtain the permit for the first LA Pride parade, as the Community Grand Marshal, which celebrates a group or individual who has had a powerful influence through their work and dedication to and for the LGBTQ community.

“I’m thrilled and incredibly honored to be the Icon Grand Marshal,” said Cho. “We need this Pride more than ever. I have been attending Pride celebrations since 1978 and this time around the need to celebrate as well as unite is more urgent than it has ever been. Our love is greater than their hate. 

“On behalf of Leslie Jordan, we are overjoyed by Christopher Street West’s heartfelt recognition to name Leslie as LA Pride’s Legacy Grand Marshal,” said Jana “Cricket” Jordan. “This honor further solidifies the positive impact he made in the world, but more importantly for the LGBTQ+ community. His spirit continues to bring love and light.”

“For a century, we’ve been on the front lines fighting for people to be their true, authentic selves,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU SoCal. “We’re honored to be the Community Grand Marshal and proud to love, live among, and protect LGBTQ Californians.” 

“Christopher Street West is honored and humbled by this year’s three grand marshals,” said Gerald Garth, president of CSW. “Each have contributed to the LGBTQ+ community in their own unique ways, furthering our fight for acceptance, equality, and justice.” 

LA Pride Parade and Village Details

Graphic via Christopher Street West

The parade, which will feature a special drag performance presented by the ACLU SoCal and staged by Morgan McMichaels to music by 14-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren, will air LIVE on long-time LA Pride broadcasting partner KABC/ABC7 on Sunday, June 11 beginning at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

It will also air nationally on ABC News Live and Hulu, and wherever viewers stream ABC7 including abc7.com and the ABC7LA mobile app.

Anchor Ellen Leyva and reporter Christiane Cordero from ABC7 Eyewitness News will co-host the ABC7 broadcast. The parade route will begin at Sunset Blvd and Highland Ave heading north, then east onto Hollywood Blvd, then south onto Cahuenga Blvd, ending at Sunset Blvd and Cahuenga Blvd. 

This year’s LA Pride Parade partners include: Corona Extra, Corona Hard Seltzer and SVEDKA Vodka: Hero Sponsors: Toyota Mirai, TikTok and H&M; Activist Sponsors: Delta Air Lines – the Official Airline of LA Pride, The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) – Official Transit Partner of LA Pride, Glamazon, Kim Crawford Wines, L.A. Care Health Plan, Los Angeles Tourism, Nordstrom, Optum, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Advocate Sponsors: AEG, including the LA Kings, LA Galaxy, and AEG Presents, Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions, Coca-Cola, Grindr, Honda, LADWP, LVMH, Rare Beauty, UCLA Health, Warner Bros. Discovery and Kenvue CARE WITH PRIDEⓇ; Ally Sponsors: Activision Blizzard, the Dream Hollywood hotel, FOX Pride, Moxy/AC Marriott, NBCUniversal, Target, Tiffany & Co., as well as returning television and digital broadcast partner ABC7, and official radio partner iHeartMedia Los Angeles and PRIDE RADIO on the iHeartRadio app.  

Additionally, The Hollywood Partnership, the non-profit organization that oversees the public realm in the Hollywood Business Improvement District (BID), has once again partnered with LA Pride to bring the LA Pride Village back to Hollywood Blvd.

LA Pride Village is the official place to be after the LA Pride Parade, with festivities taking place from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., just steps from the official parade route.

When the iconic LA Pride Parade returned home to Hollywood Blvd last year after more than four decades, it prompted the start of new traditions and celebrations in Hollywood, including LA Pride Village, a free and open to the public street festival.

The second annual LA Pride Village celebration promises to be even bigger and better, with a new location on Hollywood Blvd, between Vine St. and Gower St., to make room for more booths featuring local vendors and non-profits, an expanded beer garden, delicious food trucks, two performance stages for twice the entertainment, and more comfortable crowd space for dancing. 

All details can be found here: https://lapridevillage.com/do/la-pride-2023

Sponsors of LA Pride Village include Princess Cruises and Royal-bud.com. 

Public transit and ride share services to LA Pride Parade and Village are strongly encouraged. For the Parade, connect to the L.A. Metro B (Red) Line and exit Hollywood/Highland or Hollywood/Vine Station. Metro has many Park & Ride lots servicing the county – parking is just $3.00 per day, payable onsite.

If self-driving to LA Pride Parade and Village, vehicles can access parking and the event site via Vine Street or Gower Street.

For additional information about parking and transportation, please visit https://lapridevillage.com/about/parking-and-transit

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