DRAG UP! STRIKE BACK!
Join us 4/8 in San Francisco to speak out against the dangerous scapegoating & disinformation that extremists are spreading
SAN FRANCISCO – DRAG UP! STRIKE BACK! is bringing together drag queens, trans, non-binary, gender-nonconforming people & allies to protest these flagrant attacks on our civil rights. Join us 4/8 to speak out against the dangerous scapegoating & disinformation that extremists are spreading.
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
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
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.
Drag Isn’t Dangerous Telethon overflows with emotion & cash
Final amount raised from the live broadcast was over $523,000. Recording of it will stay online for 48 hours after its conclusion
HOLLYWOOD – Into the third hour of Drag Isn’t Dangerous, a brief film makes the point that there have been article after article about children molested by church clergy and counselors, yet not a single bill has been proposed tackling that real issue. Then there are drag queens. Drag queens have never harmed a child, and there are no articles implying that they have. Yet… yet….state after state, bill after bill are going after drag queens.
With this telethon event, drag queens and all that they have inspired, have sent the message: They are not going to take this shit anymore. Clips of rightwing pundits and commentators were presented and the ignorant hatred expressed in each clip is both at once chilling, and pathetic.
The message of hate is juxtaposed with segments like one featuring RuPaul Drag Race alumn Nina West. West told the story about her adventures doing storybook hours at Columbus Ohio libraries for children. It should be pointed out that the Nina West brand is one of classiness and kindness. She moved her popular book readings onto Instagram. The first hour where she did so was wonderful.
The second hour was not.
The audience turned “dark, terrifying and threatening.” Then it all got very personal. People showed up at his house where he was broadcasting and blew eardrum breaking airhorns outside his windows. They then started a campaign of harassment and doxing, targeting him, his parents and his sister. Signs appeared in his yard accusing him of being a groomer.
Last December he embarked on a Drag Christmas tour. The tour encountered protesters, bomb threats and required police escorts.
Hosted by Justin Martindale and Peppermint with a co-location hosted by Alaska and Adam Shankman, the telethon team declared a goal target of $250,000 for the evening. The evening was filled with performances from some of the Drag community’s best. Kicking off the evening were songs by Trixie Mattel and Alaska. The online crowd was gobsmacked with exclamations like “legends!” , “fierce!” “That voice!”.
The telethon was a recreation of the traditional telethon style with a phonebank of drag celebrities womaning the phones. Instead of the phone banks of years gone by the receptionists were not the first point of entry to make donations. In this modern version, donors first register their donation on the gofundme application and then are connected to the celebrity to receive thanks and conversation. Phone bank stars included Candis Cayne, Jinx Monsson, Ginger Minge, Laganja Estranja Trinity the Tuck, Monet Exchange and Queer Eye OG Jai Rodriguez.
As of 4:30 pm, $55,000 had been raised.
Celebrity cameos and interviews were generously sprinkled through the broadcast. Many of them expressed gratitude and awe for the talents and artistic contributions of drag. Still others were downright angry. “I will f*ck anyone who messes with you,” Charlize Theron declared.
“Drag isn’t dangerous, but Leslie Jones IS!” Leslie Jones fumed.
Sarah Silverman also did not mince words. “It is an invented ‘problem’. It creates a REAL problem for the marginalized. I would trust RuPaul before any of you (Republican) hate mongers.” To the drag community, she declared, “If they come for you, they will have to come through me first.”
“Lawmakers are terrified of how bright we are shining,” Adam Lambert stated affirmingly.
As of 4:50 pm $100,000 had been raised.
Donors were interviewed through the phonebank. Jai Rodriguez had an impromptu conversation with a young woman who had come out as queer that day. Even though her experience has been “tough”, she wanted to celebrate her landmark day by donating.
Michele Visage gave RuPaul visibility and spoke from her heart. “I wish I could say that I am glad to be here,” she started. “I am appalled I have to be at something called ‘Drag Isn’t Dangerous’. Imagine a world where dancers are told they can’t dance; imagine a world where artists are told they cannot take paint to canvas…because it is ‘bad for children.’ That is what is happening to drag right now.”
As of 5:40 pm, $205,000 had been raised. Jinx Monsson whipped out her own checkbook and wrote a check for $10,000.
Other celebrities added perspective to the issue. Ocean Kelly stated, “They want us to stay quiet. Watching a drag queen won’t make a child queer. If a child is queer, it is because they are….queer.”
Billy Eichner discussed the historical use of scapegoats as distractions. “It is not new, but it is urgent and dangerous,” he warned. “We need to be relentless and loud,” he instructed.
Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden demonstrated her queer chops by publicly outing her entire family. “All my children are queer,” she declared. “One is non binary, one is gay. My first boyfriend was gay and my conservative Naval Officer dad loved him. “ Of the drag controversy she said, “Why are we having to advocate for creativity and imagination? It is so fear-based. We know what love is.”
As of 7:38 PM, Half a Million Dollars had been raised.
The movement has started and this first outing is not yet over. Recording of it will stay online for 48 hours after it concludes.
Go here for tickets and then receive you email with the telethon link: https://www.moment.co/dangerous/dragisntdangerous-drag-isnt-dangerous-live
As for the end of the Telethon, Ginger Minge show stopped with the classic I Am What I Am from La Cage.
I don’t want praise I don’t want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it’s noise I think it’s pretty
And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle
Why not try to see things from a different angle
Your life is a sham til you can shout out
I am what I amI am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace sometimes the deuces
It’s my life that I want to have a little pride in
My life and it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a danm til you can shout out
I am what I am
Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.
He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.
He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.
He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .
The Los Angeles LGBT Center hosts gala raising over $1M
Pamela Anderson, Keke Palmer, and Leslie Jordan Honored at The Center Gala on April 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California
CENTURY CITY – The Los Angeles LGBT Center held The Center Gala April 22, an occasion to recognize trailblazing members of the LGBTQ community, organizations, and allies for their work and commitment to achieve equality for all.
Commemorating the organization’s 54th anniversary, The Center Gala has transformed into one of the largest gatherings of LGBTQ leaders and allies in Los Angeles, raising funds to support The Center’s life-saving and life-enhancing programs.
The event raised $1 Million to support the Center’s programs and services for the LGBTQ+ community.
The Center Gala at the Fairmont Century Plaza. Over 800 supporters came together as the Center honored the author and activist Pamela Anderson, Emmy-winning actress Keke Palmer, and the beloved entertainer Leslie Jordan (posthumously) for their contributions to the LGBTQ community. The gala was hosted by social media and television sensation TS Madison, and featured a special performance by R&B-soul artist Durand Bernarr.
“While I have only been the Center’s CEO since July, I know from my 25-year career that the Center is like no other organization in our movement. Not only are we fighting for our community’s rights through our global advocacy work, we are on the frontlines caring for the most vulnerable in our community when they need us most,” said Joe Hollendoner, the CEO of the Center. “The Center’s masterful weaving of direct services, public education, and policy work creates a safety net to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.”
Actress, author, and humanitarian Pamela Anderson accepted the Vanguard Award for her long history of activism and allyship. “We are painting the picture of our lives every day. And every time we walk out the door, it’s performance art. Might as well have a blast. Thank you for giving me the chance to share that with you,” said Anderson. “Thank you for rooting for me.”
Emmy Award-winning television host (and former employee of the Center) Karamo Brown(Queer Eye, Karamo) presented Keke Palmer with the Vanguard Award for her achievements in the entertainment industry, as well as her commitment to creating new opportunities for young people from marginalized communities. In her acceptance speech, Keke Palmer said, “I have faith that the more we share our unique experiences, the louder we are with using our voices, the more we don’t have to explain and explain and explain again what it is to be a person. Living in this world, defying all definitions just to be an original. There is no greater masterpiece than a person living in their truth.”
Hollywood vets Mayim Bialik and Del Shores gave a touching tribute introducing the inaugural Leslie Jordan Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Jordan, an American actor and comedian, as well as a longtime supporter of the Center, passed away late last year. Mayim Bialik said of her late Call Me Kat co-star, “The world formed a love and connection with Leslie during the pandemic—he was who you saw on Instagram…and that’s why he is remembered and mourned so deeply. I’m grateful to The Center for creating the Leslie Jordan Award that will now be given annually to someone who shines a light on the LGBTQ+ community through their work and art.”
The Gala’s live programming included an auction and special musical performance by Durand Bernarr. Durand was also presented with the Center’s “Rising Star” award by Grammy-nominated artist Adam Lambert.
Other highlights of the evening include a guest video appearance by Mariah Carey, who decried the 400+ pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation currently on the books in the United States, and a video of Nicole Richie “volunteering” at the Center, directed by 73 Questions creator Joe Sabia of Studio Sabia.
This year’s Gala was sponsored by Foster City, Calif. based Gilead Sciences, Inc. “Gilead is proud to honor and celebrate the remarkable achievements of LGBTQ+ leaders and advocates at this year’s Center Gala. Alongside the Los Angeles LGBT Center, we can better serve the LGBTQ+ community to create a healthier world where everyone can thrive,” said Alex Kalomparis, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Gilead.
National Cannabis Festival features Out vendors like Sean Kim
The Washington Blade is a sponsor. Tickets are still available for the Festival, which will feature an all-day concert & exhibitors
WASHINGTON – Ahead of the April 22 National Cannabis Festival, the Washington Blade caught up with Sean Kim on Friday at his store, Pride Smoke Shop, a smoke, gift, vape shop, and glass gallery located near Dupont Circle at 21st and P Streets NW.
“I want to show the community that I’m here for everybody,” he said, “And I’m not afraid anymore.”
This year will be Kim’s first National Cannabis Festival, and he is looking forward to setting up shop with two connected booths, “It’s amazing, actually, they put us near an LGBTQ pavilion that they have,” he said.
“It’s gonna be amazing,” Kim said. “I’m so excited. We have a lot of stuff planned.”
The event’s organizers are debuting the designated LGBTQ space this year. A spokesperson told the Blade by phone it is designed to be a “chill spot for the community,” a place where “you can take a load off,” they said, noting there will also be a seniors’ lounge.
Kim said Pride Smoke Shop represents his entrée into a new phase of his life, where he is free to live authentically as himself, his full self – out of the closet as LGBTQ, the sole proprietor of a smoke shop who had abandoned a successful career in auto sales to chase his dream of starting the business.
The endeavor has been successful. In fact, for this interview Kim had traveled back to D.C. from Atlantic City, N.J., where he is planning to open a second location of his store.
“As I got older and realized time is short on this earth, I became the true me – the person that I had suppressed for years and years, almost decades,” Kim said. “And I just became free.”
The decision to start his business came like an epiphany, he told the Blade. “I just woke up one morning and I was just like, I don’t want to be an old man looking back and thinking ‘I’ve lived this lie my whole life,’” Kim said.
Working in a corporate job had brought Kim considerable success, but while he was earning a comfortable living in accordance with his family’s wishes and expectations, he said, “I wasn’t happy.”
“It was my awakening, you know, no more being afraid of whatever stigmas, other people — I just don’t care anymore,” Kim said. “I want to be me and do what I love.”
The nature of Kim’s business also meant he would be coming out again and again. “For years and decades, even, I hid it from a lot of people – family, even a lot of friends,” he said. “I grew up in a Korean American household where it’s not even a question — you just don’t smoke.”
For this reason, Kim said, he felt like even more of “an odd one.”
When it comes to the location of his shop, Kim is cognizant that he was hardly the first LGBTQ person to venture into a certain Washington, D.C. neighborhood in search of refuge and the company of others who are different.
When I was younger, I always heard of Dupont [Circle] as like a safe place for our community,” Kim said, so his decision to situate his business there was an easy one — a homecoming of sorts to “the place where I felt safest, always.”
When it comes to the name of his business, “I couldn’t think of any word” other than Pride that would exemplify the idea that “this is me now, no questions asked, this is what I represent,” Kim said, adding “it’s pride of everything,” of his whole identity and everything that entails.
The name also touches on the idea that “a smoke shop can thrive,” he said, “that it’s not a terrible thing.”
For his parents, Kim said, “It was like the biggest shock, but now they’re my biggest supporters.”
The change of heart did not come easily, though. “It was very hard,” Kim said. “For my dad, it was the toughest thing. And now he’s the first person to fight for me, you know? If someone tries to say something, and he’s in construction, so he’s the first guy pulling up in his truck with all his tools come in to fix whatever.”
“My dad is bringing his workers,” Kim continued, “but then I see him, like, he has no questions, you know, he brings them right in, like, you can even see his workers’ faces looking around, like, you know, they see all the [LGBTQ pride] flags, so they get it.”
Customers “get it” too. Pride Smoke Shop is a window into its owner’s life, personality, and tastes.
“You’ll see my vision of my store” just by walking in, Kim said. “It’s just my favorite things,” like the “Wu Tang symbol on the ground” to celebrate “one of my favorite artists,” to “Lucy Ricardo’s picture [hanging] because ‘I Love Lucy’ is my favorite show,” he said. “Richie Rich was my favorite comic and you’ll see that influence. It’s just everything I love, and I’m here to just showcase that this is me.”
The Washington Blade is a sponsor of the event. Tickets are still available for the Festival, which will feature an all-day concert along with “exhibitors, education pavilions, munchies zone, sponsored lounges and more.”
Easter drag gathering & protest march in WeHo this weekend
The Easter drag protest event will begin with a rally and kickoff performance at 11 a.m. at West Hollywood Park
LOS ANGELES – On Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023, more than 1,000 Angelenos will gather in their Sunday Best for a strut down Santa Monica Blvd. The event will begin with a rally and kickoff performance at 11 a.m. at West Hollywood Park.
Speakers include Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne, Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner, and more, alongside performances by RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Kerri Colby and Honey Davenport. A resource fair will be on-site to connect attendees with local service providers and tips to activate legislative advocacy.
In the first three months of 2023 alone, more than 400 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation were introduced or passed across the United States, most of them targeting transgender and gender nonconforming people.
Organizers noted in a press release that in response to growing rhetoric supported by the Christian Nationalist movement calling LGBTQ+ people ‘unsafe’ for families, “Drag March will be held on Easter Sunday, and we will be accompanied by faith groups in solidarity and celebration.”
Partner organizations for Drag March LA include: ACLU of Southern California, All Saints Los Angeles, API Equality-LA, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California, BAMN, Being Alive, Bienestar Human Services, CA LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers, Equality California, Found Family LA, Founders Metropolitan Community Church, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Gender Justice LA, Haven Hills, Hugo’s Restaurants, Lambda Legal, Latino Equality Alliance, LGBTQ Center Orange County, LGBTQ+ Community Center of the Desert, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Nightshade, NMAC, ONE Archives Foundation, Pacific Oaks College, Peace Over Violence, ProjectQ, Queer Nation, REMHDCO, Radiant Health Centers, Rainbow Services, Ltd., Sacramento LGBT Community Center, SAGE, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Gabriel Valley Pride, Inc, SATRANG, Somos Familia Valle, The Abbey Food & Bar, The National LGBTQ Institute on Intimate Partner Violence, The Outwords Archive, The Source LGBT+ Center, The TransLatin@ Coalition, TransCanWork, among others.
Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at lalgbtcenter.org/dragmarch
Elton John’s annual Oscars WeHo viewing party raises $9 million
“We mustn’t forget that HIV is still causing needless suffering around the world and we must protect those most vulnerable to this disease”
By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Elton John and husband David Furnish’s annual Academy Awards Viewing Party, featuring special guests Eric McCormack and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, raised over $9 million for the global fight against AIDS via the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The event, which took place at West Hollywood Park Sunday evening, attributed its success to the Foundation’s donors, sponsors, and supporters. The star-studded fundraiser included a performance by singer-songwriter and actress Rina Sawayama.
The guest list included Donatella Versace, Maren Morris, Fan Bingbing, Emma Watson, Wiz Khalifa, Heidi Klum, Dove Cameron, Hilary Duff, Brooke Shields, Lucien Laviscount, Noah Schnapp, Kesha, Rege Jean-Page, Saweetie, Stella Maxwell, Tyga, Sharon Osbourne, Sophia Bush, Maggie Rogers, Jenna Dewan, Julianne Hough, Smokey Robinson, Karen Pittman, Simona Tabasco, Michael Imperioli, and more. Dinner guests were gifted an exclusive Spotlight sunglass frame from the Elton John Eyewear collection.
“We mustn’t forget that HIV is still causing needless suffering around the world and we must protect those most vulnerable to this disease with testing and compassionate care,” said Elton John via a statement. “We can see an end to AIDS in our lifetimes, but first we must break down stigma and discrimination and provide equal access to healthcare to finally end the epidemic for everyone, everywhere.”
“Elton and I are so touched and elated by the generosity we’ve seen throughout this glittering and massively successful evening,” says David Furnish, Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “This funding will help us continue HIV and AIDS prevention and care programs across the world, save millions of lives and help countless people to have a brighter future.”
Rina Sawayama sang “Minor Feelings,” “Hold The Girl,” and “This Hell.” Elton John joined her on stage to perform a duet to the song “Chosen Family.”
“What a spectacular and memorable evening for our 31st Academy Awards Viewing Party,” says Anne Aslett, CEO of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “We are blown away by the incredible support we’ve received tonight and want to thank every donor, sponsor and attendee who made the evening possible. We’re energised by the funding we raised together, which will significantly boost our life-saving work to ensure that all vulnerable people around the globe can access HIV testing, treatment and care.”
This year’s event, which took place on the 31st anniversary of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, has been instrumental in advancing global health equity for vulnerable groups. The Foundation has been able to raise millions for their life-saving work since the party’s inception in 1992.
Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.
The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.
GLAAD Media Awards 2023
Margaret Cho to host the 34TH Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles featuring special performances from Fletcher and Orville Peck
LOS ANGELES- GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer media advocacy organization, announced today that for the third consecutive year, Hulu will serve as the official streaming destination for the GLAAD Media Awards.
The Awards will be held in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 30, 2023 and will be available to stream on Hulu beginning Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
Emmy and Grammy nominated comedian and actress Margaret Cho will host the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles which will feature performances by GLAAD Media Award Nominees for Outstanding Music Artist, FLETCHER and Orville Peck at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, March 30, 2023.
The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. Since its inception in 1990, the GLAAD Media Awards have grown to be the most visible annual LGBTQ awards show in the world, sending powerful messages of acceptance to audiences globally.
Special guests include Angelica Ross (Pose, Framing Agnes), Betty Who, Billy Eichner (Bros), Brian Michael Smith (911: Lone Star), Brooke Eden, Chase Joynt (Framing Agnes), Gabrielle Union (The Inspection), Geena Davis (The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media) Geena Rocero (Horse Barbie), Harvey Guillen (What We Do in the Shadows), Isis King (With Love), Jake Borelli (Grey’s Anatomy), Jen Richards (Framing Agnes), Joel Kim Booster (Fire Island), JORDY, Rafael Silva (911: Lone Star), Ronen Rubinstein (911: Lone Star), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Wolf Pack), Sherry Cola (Good Trouble), Ts Madison (Bros), Zackary Drucker (Framing Agnes), Zuri Adele (Good Trouble) and more.
As previously announced, Christina Aguilera will receive GLAAD’s Advocate for Change Award, recording artist and actor Bad Bunny will receive the Vanguard Award and film, television and Broadway star Jeremy Pope will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award.
During the Los Angeles ceremony, GLAAD will also announce award recipients for LGBTQ representation in categories that span film, TV, news, and Spanish-language media.
Earlier this year, GLAAD announced nearly 300 nominees.
This past January GLAAD, announced that it is presenting its prestigious Barbara Gittings Award for Excellence in LGBTQ Media to the Los Angeles Blade along with the Washington Blade.
“Together, representing 50 years, the Los Angeles Blade and Washington Blade’s relentless reporting reflects best-in-class journalism, reminding us all that LGBTQ issues and people have a stake in every news story and headline,” GLAAD said in a statement.
Previous recipients of the award have included The Advocate, Windy City Times, and Curve.
Margaret Cho is a five-time Grammy and Emmy nominated comedian, actress, musician, advocate and entrepreneur. Her recent television appearances – guest star on Season 2 of The Flight Attendant (HBO Max), guest star on Season 2 of Hacks (HBO Max) and two Netflix is a Joke comedy specials: Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration and Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin: Ladies Night Live – have expanded an already wide-ranging career, and her role as the ‘mother hen’ in the well-reviewed movie Fire Island.
As a comedian Margaret has been named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time, one of Vogue magazine’s Top 9 Female Comedians of all time, while CNN chose her as one of the 50 People Who Changed American Comedy. Her Disney+ movie, “Prom Pact” premieres on March 30.
Praised by leading outlets like Rolling Stone, TIME, Interview Magazine, and more, acclaimed singer and songwriter FLETCHER hails from Asbury Park, New Jersey, where she cultivated her passion for music and her unforgettably candid storytelling.
In 2019 she released her debut EP ‘you ruined new york city for me.’ The widely lauded EP features her breakthrough hit “Undrunk,” a track that spent several weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, scored the No.1 spot on Spotify’s Viral Chart, and emerged as the fastest-rising song at pop radio from a new artist in the past five years.
Released in September 2020, FLETCHER’s EP THE S(EX) TAPES hit No. 1 on iTunes across all genres featuring gold-certified lead single “Bitter” – which has amassed over 200 million global streams.
FLETCHER’s debut album Girl Of My Dreams arrived in September 2022 featuring the smash single “Becky’s So Hot” which hit #3 on the iTunes chart across all genres and landed on Billboard’s Hot Rock and Alternative Songs chart. The album earned raves from the likes of Rolling Stone, Billboard, Alternative Press, Vulture and many others while her music has amassed over a billion combined streams worldwide.
FLETCHER’s latest single, “Better Version (feat. Kelsea Ballerini) is available now on the Girl Of My Dreams (Deluxe) edition. In support of her LP, FLETCHER performed on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”, and set out on sold-out headline tours across North America, Australia and Europe throughout 2022.
FLETCHER kicked off 2023 with a viral performance alongside Miley Cyrus on her “New Year’s Eve Party” on NBC. FLETCHER will continue her “Meet Her At The Bar Experience” in 2023, a program she launched last year in support of woman-owned queer bars around the country and GLAAD (raising $50,000 for their key initiatives with the support of her fanbase, brand partner JD Sports and co-sponsor Lyft).
Orville Peck is a country recording artist and songwriter known for his deep baritone voice, strong musicianship and songs that are sincere yet bold in their storytelling. Never confirming his identity, Orville, who is openly gay and lived an itinerant life across South Africa and the rural south, is never seen without his signature, fringed mask.
Following the release of his self-produced debut album Pony in 2019, Orville signed with Columbia Records and released his Show Pony EP. Released to immediate critical acclaim early last year, the EP features a duet with global icon Shania Twain and puts Orville’s triumphant songwriting skills and intentional craftmanship on full display. He then followed that up with BRONCO, which he released in chapters, alongside a multitude of cinematic videos. He was also hand selected by Lady Gaga for her Born This Way 10th Anniversary album.
Orville, known for his unique personal style, has collaborated with many fashion brands including but not limited to Dior, Michael KORS, ADIDAS X Ivy Park and Pamela Love amongst others.
Known for his live shows, Orville was one of the first artists to return to touring and has toured across the US, Europe, Australia and Canada. He has had sold out shows at Hollywood Bowl and Ryman Theatre, as well as major festival appearances at Lollapalooza, Stage Coach and Coachella amongst others.
When Orville is not performing or touring, he lends his time to activism and the causes he is committed to.
The Christina Aguilera Advocate for Change Award
Christina Aguilera, who has one of the most celebrated voices in history, has used her platform to be a bold advocate for the LGBTQ community, advancing conversations around LGBTQ acceptance and more, through music. Most recently, her impact on the LGBTQ community was realized after Club Q Colorado Springs shooting survivor, Michael Anderson, invoked her lyrics as he testified before the U.S. House Oversight Committee on LGBTQ violence.
In 2002, Aguilera dedicated her single, “Beautiful,” to the LGBTQ community, with the line “words can’t bring us down” becoming a personal mantra for many queer people. The song brought a unique awareness and a sense of compassion in the face of hate, earning Aguilera a Special Recognition honor at the 14th GLAAD Media Awards. Last year, the seven-time Grammy-winner celebrated 20 years of “Beautiful” with a brand new music video, reminding people of the importance of accepting themselves for who they are.
A staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights and a visionary for representation, Aguilera raised over $500 million for HIV research with MAC cosmetics in 2004, spoke out loudly against Proposition 8 in 2008 and brought trans dancers and drag artists into the limelight during the 2012 American Music Awards.
Following the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Aguilera dedicated the song, “Change,” to those affected by the tragedy with proceeds from the song going to victims’ families. She later penned a “Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community” for Billboard in 2017. Her very own Pride collection was launched in 2021, to proudly support two nonprofit organizations: TransTech and TransLash. Using the power of music to build bridges and demand change, Aguilera has redefined what it means to be a true advocate for the LGBTQ community, creating spaces for queer voices and talent to be known and thrive: From performing alongside breakthrough LGBTQ artists like Anitta, Syd, Kim Petras, Chika and Michaela Jaé, to condemning anti-LGBTQ legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
“Christina Aguilera is a beloved icon who has inspired and shared messages of love for the LGBTQ community since the start of her music career. From using her voice to speak out against anti-LGBTQ legislation to creating songs and music videos that showcase LGBTQ love, Christina loudly and proudly raises the bar for what it means to be a LGBTQ ally today,” said GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis.
Bad Bunny’s Vanguard Award
Bad Bunny’s advocacy and outspoken allyship for the LGBTQ community has reached millions around the world . Named Spotify’s most-streamed artist of 2022, with 8.3 billion streams globally, the three-time Grammy-winning artist uses his craft to powerfully speak out as an ally to transgender people and advance equality for the LGBTQ community, bringing his own voice to the forefront to help others see themselves in the world.
As he reimagines the Latin urban music genre, LGBTQ people and issues remain in the vanguards of equality and inclusion for him, especially those in Puerto Rico, where he was born. His live performances and music videos cast an array of voices, experiences and backgrounds, showcasing queer love and affection on full display. For his music video for “Yo Perreo Sola,” he dressed in drag, telling Rolling Stone, “I did it to show support to those who need it. I may not be gay, but I’m a human.”
In a performance for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the rapper paid homage to Alexa Negrón Luciano, a trans woman murdered in the city of Toa Baja, wearing a shirt in Spanish that read: “They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt.” In 2019, the artist also helped influence a movement to force former Puerto Rican Governor, Ricardo Rosselló, to step down from office, after being exposed for corruption and anti-LGBTQ attitudes.
Moving from sound booth to the big screen, Bad Bunny plans to executive produce the forthcoming Netflix adaptation of the New York Times bestselling novel, “They Both Die in the End,” which features a queer Latinx storyline.
Previous GLAAD Vito Russo Award recipient Ricky Martin told Rolling Stone that Bad Bunny is an “icon for the Latin queer community.”
“Bad Bunny uses his role as one of the world’s most popular music artists to boldly shine a light on LGBTQ people and issues, including transgender equality and ending violence against trans women of color,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “By consistently advocating for our community, elevating our stories, and demanding action from anti-LGBTQ leaders, Bad Bunny redefines the positive influence Latin music artists can have within the LGBTQ community, and has set an example for all artists.”
Jeremy Pope’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award
Jeremy Pope is a multi-faceted out performer who has broken barriers across Broadway, television and film, earning two Tony Award nominations, a Grammy Award nomination, an Emmy Award nomination, and a Golden Globe Award nomination.
His breakthrough film role as Ellis French in Elegance Bratton’s autobiographical first feature, “The Inspection,” follows a closeted Black gay man through Marine Corps Recruit Training in a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” era. That performance earned him his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, as well as a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for “Best Lead Performance.”
Pope’s rise from stage to screen began in 2018, when he earned two Tony Award nominations in the same season – one for Best Lead Actor in A Play for his Broadway debut performance in “Choir Boy” and a second nomination for Best Featured Actor in a musical for his performance in “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” Pope was soon cast in Ryan Murphy’s series “Hollywood,” where he earned an Emmy nomination for his lead performance as aspiring Black screenwriter Archie Coleman. Pope also had a meaningful arc in “Pose” and in the final season of the FX series, his character, Christopher, gave audiences a sense of visibility and belonging for trans experiences and for those living with HIV.
Pope is about to wrap his Broadway run as Jean-Michael Basquiat in Manhattan Theater Club’s “The Collaboration.” Later this year, he will be seen revisiting the role on the big screen.
“Jeremy Pope is one of today’s most talented and dynamic actors who has given life and excitement to important stories that impact and honor the LGBTQ community. Offscreen, Pope has used his voice to have important conversations about being an out actor in Hollywood, which are key to continuing to erase stigma and bias that affect out actors today,” said GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis.
The 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards
This year, GLAAD announced 295 nominees across 33 categories including two new categories: Outstanding Podcast and Outstanding Live TV Journalism – Segment or Special. For the first time ever, the Outstanding Reality Program category was also split to nominate both reality competition series and non-competition series independently.
The Outstanding Kids & Family Programming category was also split to nominate animated and live action programs independently. This year also includes ten nominees in the Outstanding Film – Wide Release category for the first time.
Last year, the 33rd GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles were hosted by Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela and were streamed on Hulu.
Cody Rigsby and Peppermint hosted the 33rd GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.
Both ceremonies featured appearances and performances by Dove Cameron, Kacey Musgraves, Ben Platt, Cody Rigsby, Ariana DeBose, Laverne Cox, Karine Jean-Pierre, Wilson Cruz, Cynthia Nixon, Gigi Gorgeous, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Judith Light, Anthony Rapp, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Christina Ricci, Cynthia Erivo, Shangela, JoJo Siwa and many more.
The Executive Producers of the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis and GLAAD’s Rich Ferraro and Anthony Allen Ramos. STAMP Event Co. will produce.
The 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Gilead Sciences, Inc., Hyundai, and Ketel One Family Made Vodka. GLAAD is also grateful to Major Sponsor Delta Air Lines and Official Sponsor Sony Music Group.
To purchase tickets for the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, please visit: www.glaad.org/mediaawards/tickets.
On socials please follow @GLAAD and #glaadawards
Save the date: WeHo Pride 2023
WeHo Pride 2023 in the City of West Hollywood > Updates and Details will be Announced at www.wehopride.com
WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood announces dates for its WeHo Pride 2023 celebration in May and June:
- WeHo Pride Weekend will take place on Friday, June 2, 2023; Saturday, June 3, 2023; and Sunday, June 4, 2023 in and around West Hollywood Park, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard. The weekend will include a free Street Fair, the Women’s Freedom Festival, the Dyke March, the WeHo Pride Parade, and the ticketed OUTLOUD @ WeHo Pride music festival.
- The WeHo Pride Street Fair will take place on Saturday, June 3, 2023 and Sunday, June 4, 2023 and will celebrate Pride with diverse participation of LGBTQ+ community groups and allied organizations as part of visibility and expression. The Street Fair is free and will feature a vibrant variety of exhibitors along Santa Monica Boulevard. There will be live entertainment and performances on a community stage, highlighting the LGBTQ+ community. The Street Fair is a family-friendly event and is open to everyone. It is a great occasion to take part in WeHo Pride’s LGBTQ+ community experience.
- The Women’s Freedom Festival presented by the L-Project Los Angeles is planned to take place on Saturday, June 3, 2023. The 2023 event will feature emerging LGBTQ and BIPOC women and non-binary musicians, comedians, poets, and activists. More information will be available in the coming weeks at www.wehopride.com.
- The Dyke March is planned to take place on Saturday, June 3, 2023. For people who are interested in marching, stay informed at www.wehopride.com for route and timing information!
- Get festive as we roll down Santa Monica Boulevard for the WeHo Pride Parade on Sunday, June 4, 2023! The WeHo Pride Parade is an imaginative and colorful annual tradition along Santa Monica Boulevard that embraces LGBTQ+ representation, inclusion, and progress. Full of music, dancing, colorful floats, festive marching contingents, and creative flair, the Parade celebrates LGBTQ+ people and our contributions to community and culture. The Parade is a lively, energetic experience with good cheer and great vibes, and a whole lot of rainbows! Whether you participate in the Parade or join in the fun as a spectator, there’s something for everyone at the WeHo Pride Parade! Organizations and individuals interested in submitting an application to participate as an entrant in the annual WeHo Pride Parade must apply by 5 p.m. on April 15, 2023 by using the form posted at https://www.wehopride.com/news/weho-pride-parade-applications-now-available-2023. Get creative and think outside of the box! The WeHo Pride Parade welcomes floats, bands, drill teams, dance teams, entertainment entries, marchers, and more.
- OUTLOUD @ WeHo Pride produced by JJLA is the flagship music festival and concert experience of WeHo Pride featuring Grace Jones, Orville Peck, Santigold, Carly Rae Jepsen, and dozens more! It will take place on Friday, June 2, 2023; Saturday, June 3, 2023; and Sunday, June 4, 2023 at West Hollywood Park, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard with a star-studded, high-energy line-up celebrating and advocating for queer voices in music. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.weareoutloud.com.
- WeHo Pride Arts Festival will take place during 40 days from Harvey Milk Day on Monday, May 22, 2023 to Friday, June 30, 2023 at various locations throughout the City of West Hollywood. First launched in 2008, and formerly known as the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, this year’s Arts Festival will feature a stellar range of LGBTQ+ dance, visual art, performance, literary arts, craft, and more. Learn more about Arts Festival events by visiting www.wehopride.com/artsfestival (programming details will be posted as they become available). This year’s Arts Festival launches with a celebration of Harvey Milk Day taking place on Monday, May 22, 2023 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., which features the 1st Annual José Sarria Amateur Drag Pageant, a voter registration table, and an interactive photo opportunity.
WeHo Pride celebrations during WeHo Pride Weekend and during May and June 2023 will include a diverse array of LGBTQ+ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration. The City of West Hollywood invites community groups to take part in WeHo Pride 2023. Through an application and review process, community groups may apply to request City funding for an independent Pride event, produced entirely by the group or organization. Details are posted at www.wehopride.com/getinvolved by clicking on the Community Group Grants tab for an application. If selected, your event will enter into a co-sponsorship agreement with the City and be a part of the City’s Official WeHo Pride program, occurring between May 22, 2023 and June 30, 2023. The deadline to apply is March 24, 2023.
WeHo Pride Street Fair applications are also currently open for vendors, artists, performers, and more. The Street Fair promises to be bigger and better than ever before. With a wide range of activities and options, there is sure to be something for everyone. LGBTQ+ affiliated community groups who would like to apply for a free booth space in the WeHo Pride Street Fair can apply here. All other organizations interested in exhibiting at the WeHo Pride Street Fair can apply here.
Additional details about WeHo Pride 2023 will be posted as they become available at www.wehopride.com. Follow @wehopride on Instagram and Facebook and follow @officiallyoutloud on Instagram and Facebook.
Since its incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, West Hollywood consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation. More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and three of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay or lesbian.
Pride is deeply rooted part of West Hollywood’s history and culture. In fact, Pride events have taken place in West Hollywood since 1979, five years before the City of West Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality. The City’s embrace of Pride is part of its advocacy for nearly four decades for measures that support LGBTQ individuals, and the City is in the vanguard on efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level. The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board (now LGBTQ+ Advisory Board) and a Transgender Advisory Board, which each address matters of advocacy. As part of its support of the transgender community, the City has a Transgender Resource Guide available on the City’s website.
In 2022, the City of West Hollywood inaugurated WeHo Pride with programming that represents a diverse array of LGBTQ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration. West Hollywood is a community of choice for LGBTQ people from throughout the world and WeHo Pride embraces a source of deep connection for its LGBTQ history and culture.
WeHo Pride Weekend: June 2 to June 4
OUTLOUD @ WeHo Pride: June 2 to June 4
WeHo Pride Parade: June 4
WeHo Pride Street Fair: June 3 to June 4
Women’s Freedom Festival & Dyke March: June 3
WeHo Pride Arts Festival: May 22 to June 30
WeHo Pride Community Group Events: May 22 to June 30
Updates and Details will be Announced at www.wehopride.com
Follow @wehopride on Instagram and Facebook and @officiallyoutloud on Instagram and Facebook
For more information about WeHo Pride and the WeHo Pride Arts Festival, please visit www.wehopride.com/contact.
For more information about Outloud @ WeHo Pride, please visit www.weareoutloud.com/get-involved.
For inquires to the City of West Hollywood’s Event Services Division, please email [email protected].
For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.
HIV is Not a Crime holds event at Paramount
The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Gilead Sciences & HIV is Not a Crime presented an event about ending HIV stigma & criminalization
LOS ANGELES – On Thursday on the lot at Paramount, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Gilead Sciences and HIV is Not a Crime presented a powerful event about ending HIV stigma and criminalization. Hundreds of people have been jailed in the 30 states where these laws make it easy to jail/imprison people with HIV; most who have been jailed are Black.
The event included a film about the Louisiana incarceration of Robert Suttle, whose life was altered by a grossly unjust HIV prosecution and conviction.
The film was followed by a play, UNJUST, written by ACT UP NY alumni Lee Raines (Playwright) and expertly directed by Jenny Sullivan, performed by Saidah Arrika Ekulona, John Clarence Stewart, and Jason Stuart. It memorizes the actions of a New Jersey politician who created that state’s criminalization laws.
The play was followed by a panel led by Greg Mathis, Jr., featuring Cecilia C Chung (Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Evaluation, Transgender Law Center), Harold Phillips (Director, White House Office of National AIDS Policy), Janet Butler-McPhee (Co-Executive Director, HIV Legal Network), and Robert Suttle (Chair, ETAF Council of Justice Leaders). And a highlight was Nashville based Timothy “T.K. (Thunder Kellie)” Hampton & his YSL2Z Crew’s beautiful performance of “You Shall LHiV 2:ZERO.”
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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’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 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
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 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
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 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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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”
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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