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M A G A Z I N E WINTER 2014

A Half-Century of Personal and Political Change

“It’s Our Life”

Marriage Under Cover Give me your tired, your poor, your queer Why I Give: Peter Paige


Marketing & Communications Staff

WINTER 2014

Alan Acosta

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Jim Key

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Chief Marketing Officer

Kelly Freter

Associate Director Marketing & Communications

Jesse Finley Reed Creative Director

Gil Diaz

Marketing & Communications Manager

7 D AY S • 5 4 5 M I L E S • E N D A I D S

Kurt Thomas Designer

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Melantha Hodge

Production Coordinator

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Phillip Kent Knight Webmaster

Callie Rodgers

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Vanguard Contributors Christopher Argyros

Anti-Violence Project Manager Los Angeles LGBT Center

Dr. Robert Bolan

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Medical Director Los Angeles LGBT Center

Susan Holt Mental Health Services Program Manager Los Angeles LGBT Center

Lorri L. Jean

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CEO Los Angeles LGBT Center

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Register today! Save $25

Photo by: Chris Stewart

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VANGUARD2015

Terra Slavin

Deputy Director of Policy & Community Building Los Angeles LGBT Center

RIDE 545

Vanguard Photographers

Whether it’s on your bucket list, or something you find unbelievable, AIDS/LifeCycle is a place for you to meet new people, get in shape, and see California – all while saving and changing lives.

Matt Baume Kyle Jackson Lisa Lisa Photography Jesse Finley Reed Faye Sadou

Super-charge your New Year with one of our community events: Resolution Ride: January 10, Griffith Park • facebook.com/resolutionride Cycling Expo: January 25, West Hollywood Park • aidslifecycle.org/expo Register for the Ride:

aidslifecycle.org PRODUCED BY & BENEFITING

“It’s Our Life” A HALF-CENTURY OF PERSONAL AND POLITICAL CHANGE

Peter Paige

Actor, Executive Producer Board Member, Los Angeles LGBT Center

CEO Letter THE CRUSADE FOR EXEMPTION: OUR POST-MARRIAGE BATTLEFRONT!

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Welcome to the Center

CAROLYN DYE AND MIKE MUELLER JOIN THE CENTER BOARD

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Marriage Undercover

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Center Voices

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Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Queer

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Photo Finish

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Center Notes

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Peter Paige: Why I Give

Holiday Gift Guide GIVING IS NEVER OUT OF SEASON AT THE CENTER

subscriptions Vanguard is published quarterly by the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a nonprofit corporation. 1625 N. Schrader Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028, Voice 323-993-7400 • TDD 323-993-7698. Copyright 2014, Vanguard. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. Publication of the name, quotation or photograph of a person in articles or advertising is not an indication of the sexual orientation or the HIV status of such person. Moving, getting duplicate mailings or wish to be removed from the Vanguard mailing list? Visit lalgbtcenter.org/vanguard.

Winter 2014

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CEO LETTER

The Crusade for Exemption:

OUR POST-MARRIAGE BATTLEFRONT! Lorri L. Jean, CEO

The last few months have been an astonishing whirlwind of fact that their LGBT colleagues and neighbors are getting married. activity for our movement. Few people on either side of the battle for Not only will heterosexual marriages be unaffected, but none of marriage equality expected the U.S. Supreme Court to punt, clearing the other horrific results predicted by our opponents will come true. the way for same-sex couples to marry in all states with bans similar to So many people will become accepting that when the U.S. Supreme those of the seven states that had petitioned the court. Court makes our freedom to marry the law of the land, the vast Suddenly, some of the most anti-LGBT states in the nation – with majority of people in the nation will consider it to be a non-event. no expectation of being affected by a court ruling – were required to That’s a good thing. But the news isn’t all good. comply with the constitution and allow same-sex couples to marry. Anti-LGBT forces are regrouping and it hasn’t taken them long. This included my home states of Arizona and Idaho! Their focus now is to continue attempting to mislead and confuse Right-wing extremists who oppose LGBT equality were people with claims that non-discrimination laws endanger religious dumbfounded. I watched with freedom. (They made the same fascination (and by turns glee and arguments, unsuccessfully, 50 years disdain) at the scrambling that ago when the Civil Rights Act was ensued, including the attempts by passed.) Republican officials to evade the Their goal w ill be to pass broad So many people will become laws they were sworn to uphold. “religious exemption” laws everyaccepting that when the U.S. Now a ruling from the Sixth Circuit where they can, allowing anyone Supreme Court makes our freedom Court of Appeals, representing five espousing anti-LGBT “beliefs” to states that include Kentucky and discriminate against us in the public to marry the law of the land, the vast Tennessee, has lifted their spirits. sphere. And they will succeed in majority of people in the nation will In a 2-1 decision, the justices in some, if not many, places.The worst consider it to be a non-event. the court’s majority basically – and news is that these laws are likely to bizarrely – said they don’t have the have effects far beyond marriage. authority to overturn the discrimiThey could extend to any other laws natory marriage bans. Now with that protect us or require that we be circuit courts in conflict with each treated equally, like jobs protections, other, the Supreme Court likely will be forced to take action and employee benefits, adoption and foster parenting, housing, and more. could even issue a ruling by next June. If and when that happens, most Because it’s anyone’s guess whether the Supreme Court would of us court watchers expect a favorable decision. eventually strike down such laws, our best protection is to make sure Until then, there are now (at press time) 35 states in which samethey don’t get passed in the first place. So, while there is indeed much sex couples can marry! What does all of this mean to our quest for full cause for celebration this holiday season, it is not yet time to let our equality and social acceptance? Predominantly it is excellent news. guards down. We must remain vigilant and marshal our forces against misguided efforts to equate religious freedom with the freedom to Once the hue and cry settles down, people in the newly free states harm other people. will go about living their lives.Though rabid opponents may not budge an inch on their prejudice, huge numbers of people who didn’t support our freedom to marry, but were otherwise generally reasonable, will begin to change. Like President Obama purported to do, they will “evolve.” They will see that life goes on in spite of the

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Winter 2014

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“It’s Our Life” A Half-Century of Personal and Political Change

by Gil Diaz & Kelly Freter

“Here’s my Joycie.” Shirley Ann Hill slips into a knowing, affectionate smile as Joyce Longshaw Briscoe appears at the top of the stairs to the couple’s living room. They have shared this home in the Adams Hill district of Glendale, Calif., for much of their 47 years together. Looking out, the views of the Los Angeles valley and Verdugo Mountains are magnificent. Looking in, their home tells the story of two lives - and one life. There are stories here. Stories of how the house expanded as their lives grew together. Stories of how each piece of artwork or furniture came to be theirs. Photographs framed on tables and hung on the walls fill in the details. In conversation, they help finish each other’s memories.

(left) Joyce and Shirley Ann at home in Glendale in the mid-1980s. 6

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(Far Left) Joyce during her ice skating days. (Left) Shirley Ann at work during her years with the phone company. (Right) Joyce and Shirley Ann at home in Glendale in October 2014.

performing, crisscrossing Europe and visiting parts of Asia. “I remember in Indonesia many people had never seen ice bigger than an ice cube, and here we came,” Joyce said. “People would come to the edge, amazed, just to touch the edge of this huge rink of ice.” When Holiday on Ice planned an extended tour through England, Joyce decided to journey to the United States with two friends to try out for the Ice Capades. “I went home and told my parents, ‘I’m going to America!’”

“This life is what we both wanted,” Joyce said. “It was a natural thing.”

love we have received from the community deserves it right back from us.”

Together since 1967, the couple’s life together spans much of the modernday LGBT movement for equality in the United States. They were together when Stonewall happened and through the eras of Harvey Milk and the early horrors of HIV/AIDS. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” started and ended. Ellen came out and marriage equality became the law of the land.

It’s important to Shirley Ann and Joyce to help sustain the ongoing work for LGBT equality. Just don’t call them activists.

The couple are longtime supporters of the Center, including as members of the Center’s Circle of Life, which helps ensure future financial support for crucial programs that reach some of the LGBT community’s most vulnerable members. “We want the Center to continue its vital work,” Joyce said. “Helping kids who have been thrown out of their homes, seniors who are neglected. It’s important to know money is there to help.” Shirley Ann quickly expands on the couple’s Circle of Life intentions. “The LGBT community is our community,” she said. “The support and

“We’re ‘examplists.’ We’ve lived our life by example.” - Shirley Ann Hill

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“You know what we are? We’re ‘examplists,’” Shirley Ann said. “We’ve lived our life by example.”

California State of Mind For Shirley Ann and Joyce, like many Californians, their individual stories started elsewhere before destiny intervened in the Golden State. Born in Prestwich, England, Joyce tried skiing for the first time at 14 during a school trip to Norway. She was a natural and, after she returned home, her mother asked if she’d ever thought about ice skating. “It was the farthest thing from my mind,” Joyce said. “I told her not to buy me skates until I was sure I liked it.” Within two years, Joyce was winning local club skating championships. Word about her talented potential didn’t stay local for long. “I got a telegram from Holiday on Ice inviting me to join their show,” Joyce said. Based in Germany and now in its 70th year, Holiday on Ice has been seen by more than 325 million people, making it the most visited ice show in the world. Joyce left home to join the troupe. She was 16. Joyce traveled much of the world

Still teenagers with no jobs and little money, Joyce and her friends rode steerage class to the United States. When she arrived in New York, the Hudson River was frozen over and there was 16 feet of snow on the ground. The friends took a bus to Detroit, where Joyce auditioned for and joined the Ice Capades. Between tours, she would be based in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Shirley Ann’s journey to California starts in the middle of America. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Shirley Ann came of age at a time when much of the country was engulfed in the ongoing battle for African American civil rights. It wouldn’t be the last time Shirley Ann’s personal identity would overlap with a larger political movement dominating much of the country’s attention. “Looking back at it now, I’m African American, a woman, and a lesbian,” Shirley Ann said. “That’s a lot.” At a time when protests overtook the streets of major American cities and often turned violent, Shirley Ann’s personal civil rights movement took place in the workplace. Working in administration at a large phone company, she would become among one of the first African Americans to be promoted to a managerial position. That same phone company would help Shirley Ann move west. She applied for, and received, a transfer. At that time, the promise of California was enough. “I just felt I needed a fresh start,” Shirley Ann said. “I had some family here, but had never been to California.”

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The Black Cat:

L.A.’s Birthplace of Equality

Saturday Nights in 1967 “Would you like to dance?”

IMAGE COURTESY OF ONE ARCHIVES

It was a question Shirley Ann had heard before at the Sugar Shack, a women’s bar in Culver City, Calif. This time it was Joyce was asking; Shirley Ann said yes. That first dance led to their first date. It was February 4, 1967, a Saturday night. Joyce arrived to pick Shirley Ann up for dinner in a gold TF 1500 MG – with the top down. “She looked darling,” Shirley Ann said. “Riding in that car was such fun.” The couple never separated after that first date. Their first home together was a small Silver Lake apartment with a 100-stair walk up. It had a great view. When they decided to buy their first house, they wanted a hillside property with a view – and a dishwasher. Their realtor searched for six months.

Starting in the 1950s, bars became the hub of burgeoning gay and lesbian public life in major cities like Los Angeles. What began as nightlife for the economically elite before World War II, spread to more working-class areas in post-war America. Police raids were still frequent. Bar patrons were harassed and often arrested on charges ranging from loitering to lewd conduct. Many statutes were on the books so that police could specifically target gay men and lesbians. Bars were still heavily segregated within the gay and lesbian community: often bars for gay men were on one side of the street, women’s bars for lesbians on the other. In the late 1960s, Joyce would still occasionally go to gay bars with her male friends in Los Angeles. In fact, she and her friends had left just a few hours before an infamous – and now historic – police raid at the Black Cat. Located on Sunset Boulevard near Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles, the Black Cat was a gay men’s bar. Just after midnight on January 1, 1967, undercover police raided the bar. The skirmish turned violent and spread outside to nearby bars. In the aftermath, a group called Personal Rights in Defense and Education (P.R.I.D.E.) organized a protest. Six weeks later on February 11, 1967, the first documented LGBT civil rights demonstration in the nation took place. The Black Cat was designated a historic and cultural monument by the City of Los Angeles in 2008.

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An ‘Examplist’ Life “When you lead by example, you open people’s eyes and dissolve their prejudices,” Shirley Ann said. Alongside every very public Yep, I’m Gay cover-story moment, there are personal moments of truth with families and friends, between co-workers and neighbors. Even before they started going viral on YouTube, these smaller, quiet conversations gave depth to the LGBT movement’s growing voice. Lives lived openly, if not loudly, still change hearts and minds on the long arc towards equality. In the 1950s and 1960s, Joyce’s Ice Capades troupe was made up of 32 men and 32 women; Joyce was the only out lesbian. She had come out as a teenager during that Holiday on Ice trip to Asia.

(Above) Framed photos of Joyce and Shirley Ann hanging in their home.

“Finally she called and said she had found the house for us,” Shirley Ann said. “Then she told us it was in Glendale. Glendale! You’ve got to be kidding!”

“I would go out with my friend from the show – he was gay,” Joyce said. “Finally I thought, ‘Well, I don’t like men.’ And some of those girls were gorgeous.”

but we’re not so sure we’re going to get married,” Shirley Ann said. “We’ve thought about it, but honestly, we believe we’ve been married all along.”

At that time in 1970, Glendale had a reputation for being less than welcoming to minorities. As in many places across the country, racial integration was proceeding sluggishly, at best. The couple faced racial prejudice, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, even among their gay and lesbian friends. When they went to look at the house in Glendale, there was still an informal, but culturally enforced curfew for many minorities.

Joyce’s Ice Capades family was more accepting of her sexuality than Shirley Ann’s world. Many of the troupe’s men were gay. Shirley Ann felt pressure to keep her true relationship with Joyce a secret through much of her corporate life.

The couple’s legal history on paper mirrors the historically serpentined legal progress towards full marriage equality for LGBT Americans. The couple’s financial assets, including the house, are joined legally. As registered domestic partners they are able to share Shirley Ann’s employment benefits. Their friends even threw Shirley Ann and Joyce a very wedding-like party on the couple’s 40th anniversary, complete with cake, tulle, presents, and a Deacon.

“We said we would look at the house, but probably wouldn’t like it,” Shirley Ann said. “It was this house. We saw it and fell in love.” They were a young, interracial lesbian couple in love. The new neighbors took notice as soon as the couple started to move in. It was raining that day, just a drizzle but enough to wet the ground. “However a neighbor came out, hooked up a hose and started watering his yard – in the rain – just to watch us moving in,” Shirley Ann said. “I looked over, gave him a big smile and waved ‘Hello!’” The couple went on to become great friends with that neighbor - and many more through the years. Now a mainstay in this neighborhood with winding streets and spectacular views, they’ve watched generations grow up around them and many still come back to visit Joyce and Shirley Ann.

“I shattered the corporate ceiling, but leading two lives was stressful. It was really very difficult.” Shirley Ann said. “We were together and I loved her dearly, but to everyone other than our close friends, Joyce was just my best friend.” As the larger LGBT movement started to gain a voice, Shirley Ann began to feel a shift as well after leaving her corporate job to work in real estate. While more open, she still went to most business events without Joyce. That was until one of her broker’s party invitations included the phrase “and your significant others.”

Their ‘examplist’ life includes leading very active lives in Glendale society. They lend their time and support to some of the city’s well-known organizations, including the Women’s Civic League, Glendale Historical Society, Alex Theatre and the Glendale Association of Realtors.

loved being part of the Center,” Shirley Ann said. “For 47 years my life has been about Joyce and our association with the LGBT community. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful.” And what about those 47 years? “Some people say don’t go to bed angry, but we’ve gone to bed angry on occasion and we’re still together, so I don’t think it was that,” Shirley Ann said. They both laugh. “Love is fragile, but you don’t break up with every argument.You’re not going to see eye-to-eye on everything,” Shirley Ann continued. “You’ve got to be in love.You’ve got to be very committed and faithful. Build a family, whatever that looks like, put your resources together. This house – our home – doesn’t belong to me. It doesn’t belong to Joyce. It belongs to both of us.” “You said it all with the word commitment,” Joyce added. “Plus I’ve always loved you.”

“These organization’s don’t question my relationship with Joyce,” Shirley Ann said. “Just by being with and around us, together, people began to like and respect us.”

Shirley Ann and Joyce will celebrate their 48th anniversary of love and life together on February 4, 2015.

In 1999, California became the first state to recognize domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Shirley Ann and Joyce were the sixth couple in line at the Los Angeles County Clerk’s office. Their framed certificate from July 2, 1999, hangs on a wall in their house.

The couple first became involved with the Center during the late 1980s, attending performances at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza’s Renberg Theatre and fundraising events like Women’s Night, which evolved into An Evening with Women. Their dedication to the Center, and its future, deepened when they became Circle of Life donors.

The Circle of Life is the Center’s legacy group. Members have demonstrated a commitment to the Center through a future gift in their estate plan or the purchase of a charitable gift annuity.Their foresight and generosity help sustain the Center’s ongoing work for the LGBT community.

“People ask us about it all the time now,

“From the moment we got involved, we

“It was like everyone knew about me – and us,” Shirley Ann said. “I just didn’t know they knew.”

STRONG! In the last five years, membership in the Circle of Life has more than doubled – from about 220 members to well over 500 members today. And now the Center is embarking on an ambitious goal to reach 1,000 members in an effort called Project 1000! If you’d like to learn more about ways to make a future gift to the Center, please contact Bill McDermott, Director of Development, at 323-993-7679 or bmcdermott@lalgbtcenter.org.

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Welcome to the Center! As a result of the Center’s merger with Gay Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH) earlier this year, two of GLEH’s board members have joined the Center’s Board of Directors: Carolyn Dye and Mike Mueller. Both of them are founding members of GLEH and helped to develop Triangle Square, the nation’s first affordable housing complex providing social services focusing on the needs of LGBT seniors.

Carolyn Dye Born in Kentucky, Dye moved to Los Angeles in 1979 and, after stints with corporate firms, has practiced law in her own firm specializing in bankruptcy and general business since 1990. She has been a member of the Central District of California Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Panel since 1991 and was chair of GLEH for two years. “Seniors in our community are a growing and largely underserved population,” Dye says of her interest in LGBT seniors. “In particular, lowincome seniors of our community face unique challenges in their lives. I am dedicated to helping the Center deliver the kinds of services that will assist our seniors in overcoming their hardships and enriching their lives, and I am most interested in the development of additional affordable housing. Providing a predictable and affordable rent is the first step to make everything else easier to handle.”

By joining the Center’s board, I look forward to making a bigger impact in seniors’ lives with the creation of the Center’s expanded senior housing complex.” - Mike Mueller

Mike Mueller As a residential architect, Mueller was taken aback by the fact that Los Angeles lacked affordable housing for LGBT seniors. Originally contracted to help in the design and construction of Triangle Square, he quickly joined GLEH’s board and served as its board chairperson for two years. He designed all of the interiors at Triangle Square. “I find joy and tranquility in creating beautiful spaces for the most underserved segment of the LGBT community,” says Mueller. “By joining the Center’s board, I look forward to making a bigger impact in seniors’ lives with the creation of the Center’s expanded senior housing complex. The building will become a pioneer in intergenerational living—and I will be proud to be a part of that innovative project.” Mueller resides in Hancock Park with his partner, Nick Bode, and their three grown children.

Dye and her partner, Hope Faust, live in Los Angeles with their two children and two dogs.

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In today’s China,

the demand to conform to heterosexual marriage and the pressure to have children is very real in the lives of young LGBT adults. More and more, they must grapple with balancing personal freedom and familial obligation as centuries of tradition clash with a burgeoning movement for recognition and equality. “By 22, I was expected to marry a man, have children and raise a family,” said Xiao Xiong, a young lesbian from northeast China who is a recent graduate of the Center’s Emerging Leaders program. “If a daughter does not marry, people will wonder what’s wrong with her, why doesn’t anyone want her. My family would face criticism, discrimination.” Two years ago, Xiao Xiong made a decision: she was getting married – to a gay man. Xiao Xiong was going to hide her sexual orientation and enter into a fake heterosexual marriage. It’s known as Xing Shi Hun Yin in Chinese – “marriage under cover” – and is often seen as the only option for LGBT people in China.

Marriage

“I felt no excitement at all about my wedding,” she said. “I put on make-up, wore a dress – it felt like an insult to me. I was suffer-

“I put on make-up, wore a dress – it felt like an insult to me. I was suffering inside because it was all part of a show I had to put on.” ing inside because it was all part of a show I had to put on.”

(under

Before the wedding, Xiao Xiong and her soon-to-be-husband planned very carefully, creating a detailed consensus of what their marriage would look like to their families – and the outside world. “We discussed every detail, made a very specific plan, including what we would tell our friends and family,” Xiao Xiong said. “We would present ourselves as a married couple to our parents and families, but we have an agreement that nobody would come visit us at our home.”

cover)

In traditional Chinese culture, it’s common for parents to visit their children’s homes often once they are married. Xiao Xiong and her husband’s parents have visited their home only once – immediately after the wedding. Another part of the couple’s plan was how to handle the pressure to have children. “It’s not easy,” Xiao Xiong said. “Couples have a plan for how to handle this – for my husband and me, we use the excuse that we cannot afford to raise a child.” When not with their families, Xiao Xiong and her husband live

separate lives. She lives with her girlfriend; he lives with his boyfriend. Keeping with their plan, the couple only appears together at planned family gatherings. “I have nothing to regret,” Xiao Xiong said. “My parents are pleased. We live in a society where they would be criticized and discriminated against – it would be a challenge for them. I’m willing to bear these consequences.” Xiao Xiong, now 32, is one of the founders of Qi Yuan Yi Sheng, an LGBT organization in China. Her activist work led her to the Center’s Emerging Leaders Program. Since 2008, LGBT leaders have traveled from China to participate in this seven-week skills and leadership development program. These young leaders then return to China, ready to work at the vanguard of the LGBT movement in their home country. Part of Qi Yuan Yi Sheng’s work in China is to serve as “match maker” for gay men and lesbians who are considering arranged marriages. Xiao Xiong also is featured in a documentary film, Our Marriages, which chronicles the realities of “under cover marriage” and was screened at the Center’s Renberg Theatre in November. “This is not the best solution. Not everyone should have to go through this process,” Xiao Xiong said. “This is an option for people who need marriage to fulfill overwhelming obligations.” When arranged marriages are not possible, LGBT people in China often resign themselves to marriages in which their spouses are unaware of their wives’ and husbands’ true sexual orientations. This proves more damaging to the individuals involved and adds to anti-LGBT sentiment.

Xiao Xiong in her wedding dress in 2012

“It hurts the spouses who don’t know and creates more problems for society,” Xiao Xiong said. “The strongest anti-gay voices in China are women who are victims of heterosexual marriage – women who have unknowingly married gay men.” In China, as in many other countries and cultures, women have limited options when a marriage ends. Despite her personal and professional realities, Xiao Xiong can imagine the possibilities promised on the long arc towards freedom. “My friends are understanding because everyone has the same kind of pressure,” Xiao Xiong said. “I suspect my parents know some of it, but they just do not what to confront us.” As part of her ongoing evolution as a woman and LGBT activist, Xiao Xiong is preparing to come out to her family. “My parents are considered open-minded,” she said.“I believe they will accept the fact of who I am.”

By Gil Diaz & Kelly Freter | Photograph by Kyle Jackson 14

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Analysis and insight from the Center’s staff on current issues and events facing our community

PrEP: New Study Findings Encouraging, But Preliminary Late in October, the interim data safety and monitoring boards for two pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials in Europe and Canada announced preliminary but encouraging results. The Center’s Medical Director Dr. Robert Bolan wrote an article putting the findings into context. Excerpt: “Before the scheduled end of the trials, the safety monitoring boards determined Truvada was effective in reducing the HIV infection rate among study participants, so they stopped the trials early and offered Truvada to all study participants. It’s important to know, however, that we don’t yet have the critical information we need to make firm conclusions about the frequency, timing or exact dose of PrEP required for protection. Although there will be a full reporting of the data in scientific meetings and publications, it will take some time for that data to be fully analyzed. And because the trials were halted early, it’s possible there will not be enough data to answer all of the questions initially posed by the investigators.We also don’t yet have important data regarding the risk behaviors of study participants, rates of HIV infection and adherence to the PrEP regimen. So as we wait for more information from these and other important studies still underway, including the Center’s own study, I agree with the statement issued by the CDC recommending ‘the FDA-approved and proven regimen of daily oral Truvada for HIV prevention among those at substantial risk for HIV infection.’”

It’s Time for A Change October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Center’s Mental Health Program Manager Susan Holt and Deputy Director of Policy & Community Building Terra Slavin authored an opinion piece focused on the realities and impact of domestic abuse and violence in the LGBT community. Excerpt: “Despite the fact that intimate partner violence in the LGBT community happens at rates comparable to or greater than in the non-LGBT heterosexual community – nearly one in three members of the LGBT community experience intimate partner violence at some point in his or her life – there still remain only a handful of services specifically targeted towards LGBT survivors. In fact, according to a recently published study, only one in five LGBT survivors receives victim services. As our nation takes these moments to examine the problem of intimate partner violence in all communities and across sexual orientations, let us make sure that we are not only inclusive in that examination, but we also take into account the role that institutionalized and systemic homophobia play in the perpetration of violence within and from outside the LGBT community. As a country, we need to educate ourselves, learn the signs and develop effective community-based resources. After all, addressing this epidemic is going to take more than a public moment. It will take – and deserves – a national commitment from all of us.” PHOTO BY MICHAEL OWEN BAKER/L.A. DAILY NEWS

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Support our work to help LGBT people be healthy, equal and complete members of society through regular monthly contributions. Become a member of the Advocates—one of the greenest and most effective ways you can support the Center.

lalgbtcenter.org/advocates

TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE On November 20, our entire Center family was proud to stand with our community and allies to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence.

Botched Robbery or Hate Crime? The killing of Aniya Parker in Hollywood this fall was the eighth murder of a transgender woman of color in the U.S. since June. Attacks on transgender women rose 38 percent and 100 percent of all anti-transgender crimes were violent, according to the 2013 Los Angeles County Hate Crimes Report released in late October. The Center’s Anti-Violence Project Manager Christopher Argyros wrote an opinion piece calling for a broader understanding of the elevated violence threatening the transgender community. Excerpt: “It appears that an understanding of Ms. Parker’s identity within the broader context of violence fueled by transphobia, homophobia, sexism and racism in our society has been missed. An acknowledgement of our identities and experiences is a prerequisite for recognizing hate crimes and investigating how and why hate-motivated violence happens. Moreover, in cases such as this one, law enforcement has an opportunity to build trust with a historically marginalized population, which ultimately will improve investigations and community safety. The current investigative premise seems to be: A crime is not a hate crime until proven otherwise. When the victim is a trans woman of color, this approach flies in the face of our current reality. I propose a different approach for law enforcement: A violent crime against a transgender person should be investigated under the presumption that it was motivated by antitransgender bias and hatred, until the evidence shows otherwise.”

Winter 2014

We are strong. We are courageous. We are inspirational. We are compassionate. We are relentless.


HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE ‘Tis the Season. Service is never out of season at the Center. We are the largest LGBT organization in the world…because of you. Your support ensures that we are here – offering care, resources and hope – every day, every month, every year to the most vulnerable members of our community. Thank you.

{ $10} One day of meals for a homeless youth

{$50} Lunch for 10 seniors

{ $50} One day of drop-in services for a youth (meals, shower, laundry, case management, education programs and employment training)

{ $750} {$10} One hygiene kit for a senior in need (includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental fl  oss, shampoo, conditioner and soap)

{ $1,000 } {$25}

One year of one-on-one mentoring for a youth through the LifeWorks program

Condom distribution through the Sexual Health Education and Prevention program

{ 250} $

One workshop to help a LGBT senior learn how to receive benefits he or she earned as a veteran of the U.S. armed forces

{ 100} $

{ $750}

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{ $1,000} One client’s supply of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to reduce HIV transmission

{ $500} Attendance for five youth at the Center’s life-changing (& futureshaping) Models of Pride conference

Books and materials for one youth to attend the Center’s alternative charter high school program

Comprehensive health services – testing, treatment, education & counseling – for one patient

Legal services work to protect a victim of violence

{$100} One night of emergency shelter for a homeless youth, including meals

{$25}

One month of access to support groups for a senior

Winter 2014 19


Get Involved

THANK YOU

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is extremely grateful for the support of the following new Sustaining Donors and Circle of Life members.

PLAT I NUM CIRCLE $12,0 0 0 -$17,999

SILVER CIRCLE $1,5 0 0 -$1 ,79 9

Harvey Levin & Andy Mauer

Glen Alpert Maria Beckman

GO LD CIRCLE $6,0 0 0 -$11,999

Carolyn Dye & Hope Faust

Construction Insurance Agency **

Ryan Fitzgerald Edward Grant & Jon Hall

ST E RLING CIRCLE $3,60 0 -$5,999

Timothy Hall

The Harry F. Barnes and Carol H. Barnes Family Foundation

Holly Hanson & Sophie Hanson

Neil Beecher & Vern Richards Mark Powell & Ike Mendoza ** Richard Klug & Adam Schmidt ** Ted Lieu Eric Egaas & Stephen Rose **

As of November 2014

Reza Farahan

Ivan Illan Los Angeles Tennis Association Jonathan Mallow Michael Mueller Michael Murphy & Chris Kennen ** Quincy Navarro & Dorothy Navarro Cheryl Rivin Joshua Sassoon

SI LVE R CIRCLE $2,40 0 -$3,599

David Gajda & Louis Malagon ** Mark Gordon & Sally Whitehall ** Stella Theodoulou & Marti Harlow **

Jennifer Saunders Aimee Sloan Cory Sweat Ed H. Traynor

SI LVE R CIRCLE $1,80 0 -$2, 399

Joseph Castaneda

The Los Angeles Women’s Network supports the Center’s specialized responses to the needs of women in our community. Now in our sixth year, we are driven by a base of committed members who dedicate themselves to providing financial and volunteer support for the Center’s services for women and girls. The Center remains on the forefront in responding to the unprecedented range of issues impacting the LGBT community. And while women and girls in our community benefit from our broader programs and services, the Center recognizes the unique needs of lesbian and bisexual women and girls.

WE ARE STUDENTS IN OUR 20s, BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS IN OUR 40s, AND SENIORS IN OUR 70s”

Lesbian and bisexual women face many barriers in accessing competent healthcare and, compared to heterosexual women, are less likely to have health insurance. They report higher levels of stress along with a greater range of health and financial disparities, from high blood pressure to higher poverty rates. Our members continually ask, “How can I help?” The Los Angeles Women’s Network has grown to more than 100 members. We are students in our 20s, business professionals in our 40s, and seniors in our 70s. We create opportunities to network with other women. We elevate one another and forge relationships that directly shape the women’s community in Los Angeles. We serve women in our community who are in the greatest need. As this year comes to a close, we thank all of our members for another year of amazing work. We are looking forward to 2015 with optimism and determination. We always have a lot of fun and do a lot of good – and we invite you to join us!

Julieta Moran **

Sincerely, Los Angeles Women’s Network Board Co-chairs and Staff *Indicates Multi-Year Pledges **Indicates an increase in membership level ***Indicates Multi-Year Pledges and increased membership level

For information about Planned Giving or becoming a Sustaining Donor, please contact: Jorge Mellado Major Gifts Officer 323-993-7635 jmellado@lalgbtcenter.org

Frank Stasio Major Gifts Officer 323-993-7687 fstasio@lalgbtcenter.org

Tim Lee Major Gifts Associate 323-993-8945 tlee@lalgbtcenter.org

Andi Franklin

Patti Rayne

Julie Marie Wiegmann

Katie Covell

Kathleen Dimpfl

Nessa Andrea

Tina Shaw

Lynne Witmer

Wendy Hartmann

Kara Steffen Director of Membership Development

Join now at lalgbtcenter.org/lawn 20

Winter 2014

Debbie Canada

Rebekah Trachsel Membership Associate


WELLS FARGO PRESENTS LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER'S 45TH ANNIVERSARY GALA

WELLS FARGO PRESENTS LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER'S 45TH ANNIVERSARY GALA

WELLS FARGO PRESENTS LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER'S 45TH ANNIVERSARY GALA

WELLS FARGO PRESENTS LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER'S 45TH ANNIVERSARY GALA

MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR LGBT PEOPLE. ONE SUPERHERO AT A TIME. The 45th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards brought together our Center supporters for a special night honoring some of the superheroes in the LGBT movement. Thank you to everyone who helped make it a superhero-sized success! Each year, this event is a not-to-be-missed, galvanizing celebration of the very best of the Center. We’ll see you there in 2015!

clockwise from the top right: Presenter Tab Hunter, Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, International Vanguard Award recepients George & Brad Takei, Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award recepient Zev Yaroslavsky, Corporate Vanguard Award recepient Marvel accepted by Cort Lane, Presenter Marki Knox, Presenter LuAnn Boylan 22

Winter 2014

Original illustrations by CallieWinter Rodgers2014

23


Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Queer the Center’s Legal Services Expand to Help LGBT people Seeking asylum By Gil Diaz

W With the car doors locked and nowhere to run, the shaken young man in the passenger seat thought he was going to die. The undercover police officer sitting next to him brandished a gun – and then pointed it at

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Winter 2014 25


uncontrollably and pleaded with the officer to let me go,” recalls Anwar.* “He threatened to call other officers for backup if I didn’t follow his orders.” During the previous two weeks, the 28-year-old had been communicating with another man whom he met through a social networking website for gay and bisexual men. The two eventually agreed to meet in person. “I didn’t trust the guy, but I didn’t think he was a liar, either,” said Anwar. “When I got into his car, he suggested driving to a different spot for privacy. Minutes later, he stopped the car by the side of a highway and flashed his police badge. He said all of our online conversations had been copied and demanded to see my identification card.” Anwar, petrified and desperate, was willing to do anything to prevent the officer from outing him. He handed over his identification card to the officer, who then jotted down his personal information. He now had enough ammunition to destroy Anwar’s life.

I was crying

“Because I was crying so much, the officer felt sorry for me and agreed to let

* Name changed to protect client’s safety. 26

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me go. He assured me that if he ever saw me online again or hanging out at places where gay men frequented, he would arrest me,” said Anwar. “He unlocked the doors and kicked me out of the car along the side of the highway.” This type of police entrapment is common in Egypt where Anwar lived. Men and women who are suspected of being gay or lesbian face arrest – and worse – as they face charges of immorality, debauchery and blasphemy. When Anwar was 22, he was arrested by police during a sting operation at a public men’s restroom, which was rumored to be frequented by gay men. “The officers beat me and they wouldn’t let me go until I gave up my wallet and cell phone,” Anwar said. “I was terrified because friends in Egypt had been beaten, extorted, and jailed by police for being gay.” Anwar believed he was doomed to live in a country where he had no rights or freedom to be openly gay. He eventually came to the United States in 2013 to study in Los Angeles, but he was afraid to return to Egypt when his visa expired. Anwar followed the advice of a friend and sought help from the Center’s Legal Services program. Bleakness about his future started to give way to hope. “I didn’t know what asylum meant,” recalled Anwar. “I didn’t even know something like that existed. I was so happy because – finally – I might be able to escape from the torture back home.” One month before Anwar’s visa expired in 2013, he met with Legal Services Advocate Mariana Marroquin. It was the first time Anwar shared stories of his persecution. Marroquin immediately scheduled him to see one of the Center’s Mental Health Services counselors. “The Center is in a unique position to do this work given our medical and mental health resources as well as our ability to provide volunteer immigration attorney consultations and representation,” said the Center’s Director of Legal Services Roger Coggan.

Anwar’s case helped focus the Center’s work around asylum issues. Although the Legal Services team began assisting refugees more than two decades ago, this was the department’s first time managing an asylum case fully in-house, without working with outside attorneys or agencies. “Los Angeles has possibly the largest LGBT refugee population in the country,” said Coggan. “Our asylum work will help LGBT survivors of persecution and torture by increasing their awareness of available protections as well as identifying those who are eligible for asylum and then advising or helping them directly as they navigate the legal system.” In September, Jason Ortega, who worked on Anwar’s case, started a two-year asylum project at the Center’s Legal Services thanks to an Equal Justice Works Fellowship sponsored by Apple Inc. and O’Melveny & Myers LLP. He has been joined by fellow USC law school graduate Socorro Moraza. “Over the course of more than 15 meetings, I gained Anwar’s trust and began to hear the horrific details of his experiences,” said Ortega. “Many times LGBT people in America don’t realize

how much more freedom and rights they have here compared to other countries. No one deserves to go through the suffering that Anwar did.”

In 2014, it’s a crime to be gay in these 82 countries. In many others, while not technically against the law, it is fundamentally unsafe to be LGBT. (ImmigrationEquality.org)

The lengthy process consumed Anwar’s life; he eventually was granted asylum in late 2013 and has not returned to Egypt. He tells his large family that he’s too busy with school to return. “Honestly, I’m not leaving America because I’m free to be whomever I want to be here,” said Anwar. “If my asylum application had been denied, I was going to fight it all the way. It would’ve been a long process, but I was willing to wait.” Anwar can soon apply for permanent residency. He has recovered from bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts from when he lived in Egypt and is now living his dream of freedom in America. He works full-time and is attending college.

“I do miss my family and my friends back home,” he said. “When I dream about Egypt, I only have nightmares. But, when I wake up, I look around and realize I’m safe – and it’s all because of the Center.

Oceania Cook Islands Indonesia Kirbati Nauru Palau Papua New Guinea Samoa Solomon Islands Tonga Tuvalu

Americas Antigua & Barbuda Barbados Belize Dominica Grenada Guyana Jamaica St. Kitts & Nevis St. Lucia St. Vincent & the Grenadines Trinidad & Tobago

ASIA & Middle East

Africa Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burundi Cameroon Comoros Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Gambia Ghana Guinea Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libya Malawi Mauritania Mauritius Morocco

Mozambique Namibia Nigeria Sao Tome Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Sudan Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe

Of the more than 21,000 individuals currently seeking asylum in the U.S., approximately 2,111 are thought to be LGBT.*

Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan Brunei India Iran Kuwait Lebanon Malaysia Maldives Myanmar Oman Pakistan Palestine Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore Sri Lanka

Syria Turkmenistan Ukraine United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) Uzbekistan Yemen

Nearly 40 percent of all LGBT asylees in the U.S. are in California.*

2,111 21,113

37%

* The true number of LGBT asylees is difficult to track because information on sexual orientation and gender identity is often not collected or is unavailable due to confidentiality concerns. (Rainbow Welcome Initiative report from Heartland Alliance, rainbowwelcome.org) 28

Winter 2014


Sustaining Donors Dinner

(1-2) Students, adult allies and volunteers attended the nation’s largest, free LGBTQ youth conference at University of Southern California, produced by the Center’s LifeWorks program.

The Center’s most generous donors gathered with Center staffers at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, among them: (10, l-r) Curt Shepard, the Center’s Children, Youth & Family Services Director, and his partner, Alan Hergott; Anita May Rosenstein; Center Board Member LuAnn Boylan; (11, l-r) Ashan and Sam Leslie; (12, l-r) Matt Dunlap and Dean Buth; and (13, l-r) the Center’s Human Resources Director Sharon Brown, Keith Hildreth and Lisa Vidato.

10

3

Transgender Job Fair 1

2

(3) Hosted by the Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project and sponsored by the City of West Hollywood, job seekers met with prospective employers at The National Council for Jewish Women.

David Bohnett CyberCenter Grand Reopening

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(4) Twelve new desktop computers have been installed at the CyberCenter located at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, thanks to the generous foundation of longtime Center supporter (5, left) David Bohnett, who attended the November 12 grand reopening hosted by (5, right) Alan Acosta, the Center’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.

13

45th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards Among the guests who attended this year’s event, held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza: (14, l-r) Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, West Hollywood Councilman Jeffrey Prang, and Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin; (15) honoree L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; (16) Transparent’s Jay Duplass; (17, l-r) honorees, Brad and George Takei; (18) Red Band Society’s Wilson Cruz; (19, l-r) The Brady Bunch’s Florence Henderson, Wells Fargo Regional VP, Jonathan Weedman and Lynda Oschin; (20, l-r) Jason Miller, Raynard Pace, and Yawar Charlie; (21) Marvel’s VP of Animation Development & Production Cort Lane; and (22, l-r) Barclay Butera and Eric Finley.

5

Blow the Whistle on Hate (6, center) Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Monica Garcia and (6, right) Dave Garcia, the Center’s Director of Public Policy and Community Building, announce an OUT for Safe Schools campaign focused on reducing LGBT-related bullying in sports.

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PHOTOGRAPHS 14-19 AND 21 BY FAYE SADOU

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14

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7 6 The award-winning, bestselling lesbian author (7, right) Sarah Waters made a promotional stop at the Renberg Theatre during a tour of her latest book, The Paying Guests, hosted by (8) the Center’s Los Angeles Women’s Network.

Emerging Leaders Program (9) ELP interns from China and their colleagues attend the Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards (from left to right): Damien Lu, Aibai Culture & Education Center Board Member; Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director, East West Players; interns Li Jin and Yin Yan; Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings; interns Xiang Zi and Xiao Xiong; and Geoff Chin, the Center’s International Project Coordinator.

Winter 2014

8

16 PHOTOGRAPHS 20 & 22 BY LISA LISA PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTOGRAPH BY FAYE SADOU

A Tribute to Sarah Waters

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY MATT BAUME

PHOTOGRAPHS BY LISA LISA PHOTOGRAPHY

Models of Pride

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21

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Winter 2014 31


CENTER NOTES

CULTURAL ARTS:

Meningitis SOCIAL SERVICES & SHELTER:

One in Five A first-of-its-kind study found that approximately 1 in 5 foster youth (19 percent) in Los Angeles County, home to the nation’s largest population of foster youth, identify as LGBTQ. That is double the percentage of LGBTQ youth in Los Angeles. LGBTQ foster youth are also twice as likely to report poor treatment, more likely to live in group homes and to have more foster care placements. The study report, Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Los Angeles County Foster Care: Assessing Disproportionately and Disparities, was funded as part of a landmark $13.3 million, five-year federal grant awarded to the Center. It was co-authored by scholars at The Williams Institute and Holarchy Consulting. It is the first population-based survey aimed at measuring sexual orientation and gender identity of youth in any foster care system.

“This study supports our long-held belief that LGBTQ youth are not only overrepresented in the foster system but extremely disadvantaged within that system,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Center. Show you care about the welfare of LGBTQ foster youth by signing our statement of support online at lalgbtcenter.org/fosteryouth. The statement will be sent to political leaders and foster care agencies to spark reforms in the system.

1,200 YOUTH DECIDE:

‘What’s Next?’ More than 1,200 LGBTQ youth from 100 Southern California cities attended the Center’s 22nd annual Models of Pride conference at the University of Southern California on Oct. 11. As the nation’s largest free conference of its kind, Models of Pride offered a full day of life-enriching programming designed to help young people build confidence and self-esteem and develop valuable life skills. Hosted by the Center’s LifeWorks youth development and mentoring program, Models of Pride’s “What’s Next?” theme focused on the next crucial issues to be addressed within the LGBT community. 2014 Models of Pride attendees strike a pose with the Center’s five attributes.

In response to three cases of meningitis in New York that developed in HIVpositive gay men, the Center’s Medical Director Dr. Robert Bolan wrote an open letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), co-signed by other HIV/ AIDS service organizations. The letter urged the CDC to take action and investigate why gay and bisexual men seem to be at greater risk of exposure to, and transmission of, Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) than the general population.

“This issue also highlights the importance of tracking health data associated with sexual orientation and gender identity. Without that data, we may not be able to identify the disproportionate risks to LGBT people and in the case of meningitis, that lack of knowledge can have deadly consequences,” said Dr. Bolan. “Here in Los Angeles, the health department only began identifying the sexual orientation of people with IMD two years ago.”

Standing Ovation Edward Albee’s Tony Award-winning play The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? ended its criticallyacclaimed production at the Center’s Davison/ Valentini Theatre in November. Starring Matt Kirkwood, Spencer Morrissey, Ann Noble and Paul Witten, the play explored the limits of tradition, tolerance and morality. Directed by Ken Sawyer and produced by the Center’s Director of Cultural Arts Jon Imparato, the production received 17 rave reviews and was named a Los Angeles Times Critic’s Choice. It also was given the Ovation Recommended designation by LA Stage Alliance.

It takes a Village to be Transparent The Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza made several cameo appearances in the critically-acclaimed Amazon original series Transparent. In one scene, the exterior of The Village is depicted as the location where Maura – played by actor Jeffrey Tambor – attends a transgender support group. Longtime Center supporter Judith Light portrays Tambor’s ex-wife.

LEADERSHIP & ADVOCACY:

Blow the Whistle on Hate Unveiled during Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, “Blow the Whistle on Hate” is an OUT for Safe Schools campaign engaging Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) coaches and athletes to help to make school safer for LGBT students. Coaches were trained to address and intervene and, as part of the campaign, 1,000 whistles and lanyards were provided to the athletic department to help “blow the whistle” on hate and create safe sports in schools.

“Homophobia and gender bias remains rampant in the world of organized sports,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “Thanks to our strong partnership with LAUSD and through the work of Project SPIN, we’re going to set a tone of inclusiveness among student athletes that will not only help change the culture on campuses, it will help shape the future of organized sports.” Part of the Center’s Project SPIN (Suicide Prevention Intervention Now), OUT for Safe Schools launched last year with the distribution of 30,000 badges worn by LAUSD teachers and staff to indicate they can be approached if an LGBT youth needs help to feel safe at school. For more information, visit lalgbtcenter.org/project_spin.

ABOUT US:

Going Global (Again)

the Teacher

The Center accepted an invitation to become a member of the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings and Chief Development Officer Bill McDermott attended CGI’s weeklong Annual Meeting in New York in September. Cummings participated on and helped plan the panel of the sole LGBT-themed session, The Modern Business Imperative: LGBT Rights Around the World. Participants included fellow panelist Xiaogang Wei, a prominent Chinese activist/filmmaker and graduate of the Center’s Emerging Leaders Program.

Center CEO Lorri L. Jean & Board Member Susan Feniger were featured in Los Angeles magazine as two of the inspirational women who are

“game changers in making the city a better place.”

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GAME CHANGER H A L L of FA M E

ER LIGHTBULB

Susan Fe n i g e r THE FOOD PIONEER CREATED FOR LOS ANGELES A FLAVOR ALL ITS OWN

KIM: FELIX SALAZAR; MOMIN: RAMONA ROSALES; FENIGER: COURTESY OF SUSAN FENIGER; ADAMS-GELLER: NAJ JAMAI

HEALTH:

Susan Feniger’s impact on L.A.—like her culinary style—has no borders. Along with her business partner, Mary Sue Milliken, she is responsible for bringing the tastes of the world to the forefront of the local dining scene, beginning in 1981 with City Café on Melrose Avenue. In the years since, she and Milliken have fostered our passion for panLatin food with Border Grill (there are now four locations in L.A. County, plus two market-y food trucks). With Street on Highland Avenue, she brought the street food of Thailand, India, and beyond to the table, then transformed the space to give Hollywood a welcoming neighborhood hub, Mud Hen Tavern. Feniger has spread the gospel of good eating on television (Too Hot Tamales, Top Chef Masters) and in cookbooks (she has coauthored six). She’s stirred things up outside the kitchen, too, supporting the LGBT community and the Human Rights Campaign. She is a board member of the Scleroderma Research Foundation and was an adviser on the L.A. Sports and Entertainment Commission. Now that’s great service.

THE ADVOCATE

Lorri L. Jean THE CEO OF THE LOS ANGELES GAY & LESBIAN CENTER PROVIDES LGBT ANGELENOS MEDICAL SERVICES, CAREER RESOURCES—EVEN LODGING—WHILE FIGHTING FOR CIVIL RIGHTS NATIONWIDE

M O M E N T : Long before I knew I was a lesbian, I wanted to stand up for what was right. Once I was practicing law, I realized I would have a lot more fun working for my own community. H E R E L E VAT O R P I T C H : Legal equality does not mean that you are treated fairly in society. We’re seeing all-timehigh numbers of homeless LGBT youth in need because families in L.A. are kicking their kids out because of their sexual orientation. It’s going to be decades before organizations like ours are no longer needed. H E R G R E AT E S T C H A L L E N G E : There are approximately 65,000 gays and lesbians over the age of 65 in L.A., but people who have the resources to help don’t understand the challenges those seniors face. They say, “They’re adults. Can’t they take care of themselves?” Not always. They are four times more likely than their straight counterparts to have no family to help them as they age. T H E R E WA R D : On the rare days when I get weary, I talk with one of the kids who is living at the center, and it takes me a nanosecond to get over my job’s frustrations. We’re making a difference in people’s lives.

THE ROLE MODEL

PA I G E A DA M S - G E L L E R THE FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF PAIGE DIDN’T STOP AT CHANGING THE FACE OF THE DENIM INDUSTRY; SHE RAISES AWARENESS FOR VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

H

ER LIGHTBULB

M O M E N T : I went to a life coach to talk about my need to be creative and to empower others, and she said, “You should think about starting your own clothing line.” It was crazy. I hadn’t studied business or fashion, but I did my homework and saw that there were no other powerful women in the denim world. HER SECRET TO SUCCESS: Because I’m a woman, I look at jeans differently. I’m compassionate about how traumatic

it can be to try things on. When it comes to fitting, I’m mindful of different body types. Also, it was important to me to create a healthy work environment that nurtures a sense of community. If someone is toxic, they don’t last here very long. HER PROUDEST MOMENT: I was asked to become a board member of the Rape Foundation. I was a rape victim at 16, and I later went to the Rape Treatment Center for help. So joining the organization’s team has brought my life full circle. Q LAMAG.COM

Winter 2014 33


WHY I GIVE. BY PETER PAIGE

My love and passion for the Los Angeles LGBT Center is hardly a secret. I’ve been a member of the Board of Directors for more than seven years and will happily invoke all the extraordinary services that the Center offers to anyone who will listen. I believe wholeheartedly in its mission and scope. But the truth is - that’s not really “Why I Give.” I give because when I arrived in Los Angeles some (ahem) 17 years ago, I was scared and overwhelmed, more than a little depressed, and feeling deeply, deeply alone. And then someone suggested I check out the Center. I shamefully walked into Mental Health Services, pretty much convinced they would send me away, because – in addition to all the ways I felt horribly about myself – I was also broke. Like flat broke. Busted. But they didn’t send me away. They treated me with dignity and kindness, and assigned me a wonderful therapist, for the staggeringly low fee of $10 a week. That therapist was instrumental in helping me get my life back on track, finding my sense of self and the will to live again. And I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that there is a direct line from the scared young man who walked through those doors to the adult I am today – and that line goes directly through the Center. Over the years, I have used the Center in many more ways. I’ve had HIV tests there, been to classes there, performed there, and seen beautiful, hilarious, challenging and confronting pieces of theatre there. I’ve been to more galas

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than I can count, and I’ve heard so many stories completely different from my own, but with the commonality of having been helped - profoundly so - by the incredible work that the Center does. People occasionally ask me what I think is the most important service the Center offers. And I have a very simple answer: “Whatever it is you need at the time.” If you’re being evicted because your landlord just found out you’re gay, it’s Legal Services. If you’ve recently sero-converted, it’s the health clinic or one of the myriad support groups that are offered. If you’re an LGBT kid who’s been kicked out of the house, it’s the Transitional Living Program. If you’re an isolated, aging lesbian, it’s Senior Services. And the list goes on and on... So that’s why I give - because the Center was there for me in precisely the way I most needed it, when I needed it. I want to know it will be there for anyone else brave enough to walk through the doors and ask for help. I want to know that a thriving and vibrant Center will be around for a long time, because a community that cares for its own is the only kind of community I am interested in being a part of. I want to know the Center will be there for me or anyone like me who needs it, for reasons big or small. That’s why I give.

As an actor, Peter is best known for his role as Emmett Honeycutt on Queer As Folk. He is currently the Co-creator and Executive Producer of ABC Family’s critically acclaimed hit The Fosters.

#IamRELENTLESS CELEBRATE

Are you Strong, Relentless, Compassionate, Courageous or Inspirational?

COMING OUT!

Choose a #IAM pride word and swap your social media profile pics. Download graphics & share your story using the same #­— lalgbtcenter.org/out Winter 2014 35


McDonald/Wright Building 1625 N. Schrader Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028

Wishing you a

Holiday Season!

Your Friends at the Center

Moving, getting duplicate mailings or wish to be removed from the Vanguard mailing list? Visit lalgbtcenter.org/newsletter


Vanguard - Winter 2014/15