Losangelesblade.com, Volume 4, Issue 4, January 24, 2020

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California plans to fight homeless crisis Supervisor Kuehl on affordable housing efforts By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com On Jan. 16, Gov. Gavin Newsom promoted 100 travel trailers as an immediate but temporary solution to providing shelter for an estimated 150,000 homeless Californians — more than 100,000 of whom live outdoors or in their cars. Newsom considers the trailers, which could fit up to 11 people each, and dozens of tents as “a way to establish triage centers for state, local and social service groups to connect with the homeless population in different communities and offer assistance,” the Los Angeles Times reports. In his new state budget, Newsom proposes spending $1.4 billion on homelessness, which, if approved by the legislature, would distribute

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl Photo courtesy Kuehl

$650 million to different communities as his administration looks for land for the temporary shelters. “This is a deeply temporary solution to the crisis at hand,” Newsom told reporters. “No one is in denial about the scale and scope of the crisis…It’s about catalyzing a focus, catalyzing investment and beginning to leverage our

resources and resourcefulness to meet this moment head-on.” Meanwhile, over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, leaders from around the state gathered at the 28th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit to issue a call to action on homelessness. “We must resolve, in our hearts and minds, that it is our duty to improve lives beyond our own,” event founder LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told about 800 at the plenary session at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Willowbrook. “We must do more to lift up people experiencing homelessness and turn their despair into hope, their dreams into reality,” new City Council President Nury Martinez told the group. LA County is also tackling affordable housing. “The chasm between the number of affordable housing units we need and those that currently exist is daunting, but not insurmountable,” out

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl wrote in her weekly newsletter, noting that the Board approved over $90 million for five affordable housing developments. “First, we approved $48.58 million in loans, including $43.58m in state No Place Like Home funds, for four different affordable housing projects” providing 271 units, “the majority of which are specifically designated for homeless individuals with serious mental illness.” Two of the four projects are in Kuehl’s Third District, including 80 units in Canoga Park and 62 units in East Hollywood. “We also approved $45 million in taxexemption housing revenue bonds to finance the construction and development of West Carson Villas,” Kuehl said, “an affordable 111unit multifamily housing development in West Carson. PATH Ventures, the development arm of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) that will carry out the project, is a recognized leader in creating high-quality, affordable, and stable

Wiener introduces bill requiring plan to end HIV, HCV, STDs SB 859 posited as first big step in ending the epidemic By RANCE COLLINS State Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) announced new legislation on Jan. 15 that would require state agencies to create a master plan to drive down infection rates in HIV, HCV and other STDs across California. New infections have not moved significantly statewide during the last decade among the most vulnerable demographics. The 13 percent decline in white Californians represents the largest demographical shift in a study measuring HIV diagnoses between 2013 and 2017. Meanwhile, the decline with African Americans has only been two percent while the Latinx community has seen a four percent increase in new HIV infections. By contrast, New York has put forth efforts that have allowed their HIV infection rates to drop by 40 percent since 2014. The comprehensive proposal, SB 859, would aim to bring new infections down dramatically

Sen. Scott Wiener Photo by Karen Ocamb

across all STDS, specifically within the LGBTQ, African American and Latinx community who are affected disproportionately, largely due to a lack of access to proper health care and education. The legislation argues this is unacceptable, particularly in recent years when the wide distribution of drugs like PrEP have made the end of HIV a possible reality. “We have the tools to end new infections of HIV and STDs,” Weiner said in a statement. “What

we’re missing is political will. This bill, SB 859, would require California to make a plan to end this epidemic, and help state agencies access the necessary resources to do so…SB 859 would a big step towards finally ending the epidemic.” The bill is a first step. The specifics of how exactly more services and educational information would be disseminated would be determined later. Weiner’s office explains: “Senate Bill 859 would require the Secretary of California

Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with the Chief of the Office of AIDS (OA), to create a comprehensive Master Plan to end new infections of HIV, HCV and other STDs. This bill mandates that the Secretary and Chief institute a Stakeholder Advisory Committee and work with relevant state agencies to set targets to end new infections and identify recommended programs, policies, strategies, and funding for achieving these targets.” In addition to Weiner, Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) are chief co-authors of the legislation, which is also co-signed by Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Melissa Hurtado (D-Fresno). Additionally, APLA Health and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation serve as sponsors, with co-sponsorship coming from Essential Access Health. Chiu stated that he was proud to join Weiner in authoring the bill. “Creating a Master Plan on HIV, HCV, and STDs will address widening disparities among vulnerable populations and build upon the successes of the last 30 years,” said Chiu.



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Untapped Latino vote could be key to 2020 elections Elizabeth Warren attracting young LGBTQ Latinos like Diego Sepulveda By KAREN OCAMB Univision anchor and longtime LGBTQ ally Jorge Ramos is still angry with former President Barack Obama for failing to keep his 2008 promise to pass an immigration reform bill when Democrats controlled Congress is 2009. “The Latino people hold a grudge against Democrats in general — and former President Barack Obama in particular — for two reasons: More than three million undocumented immigrants were deported during the Obama administration, and Mr. Obama didn’t get through Congress an immigration reform bill that would have allowed millions of undocumented immigrants to remain legally in the United States,” Ramos wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Jan. 10 in which he argues that “Latino voters will decide the 2020 election. It’s as simple as that.” Ramos notes that in 2016, over half of the 27 million eligible Hispanic voters stayed home. “As was the case in 2016, if Democrats want to have any chance of defeating Mr. Trump, they will need the strong support of Latino voters. This time, however, they will have to work extra hard to get it,” Ramos wrote. “According to the Pew Research Center, 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2020, compared with 30 million African-Americans.” But, like other minorities, including LGBTQ voters, “the Latino community itself is very diverse,” Ari Gutierrez Arámbula, co-founder of the LGBTQ Latino political groups Latino Equality Alliance and HONOR PAC, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “That is, we have recent immigrants, 2nd and 3rd generation Americans and families whose roots go back to before the current Southern border was established. Each group may have varied and intersectional interests in presidential candidates.” However, she notes, “we are looking

Elizabeth Warren campaign organizer Diego Sepulveda (right) with Krishan Patel at the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles Jan. 18. Photo via Patel’s Twitter

for acknowledgment, fairness and the opportunity to see our investment through education and work help us provide a better quality of life for our children and theirs. For us, that’s the American Dream. Getting out the Latino vote requires trust that a candidate will stand up, speak up and work to make America a place that is welcoming, safe and fair.” Gutierrez Arámbula supported former candidate HUD Sec. Julian Castro. Recently, she joined a list of more than 100 Latino/a and Latinx leaders in endorsing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who Castro also endorsed. Warren “was always my 2nd choice behind Castro. It’s a good match,” Gutierrez Arámbula says. “Besides money and name recognition, the candidates need an effective grassroots network of campaigners. I don’t think Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] has that and the [Sen. Bernie Sander’s] Bernie Bro’s have a track record of being too aggressive.

I don’t see excitement behind [former Vice President Joe] Biden. He’s more of a safe bet but I think he’s problematic on a number of fronts.” Gutierrez Arámbula is excited about the engagement of LGBTQ Latino youth, such as Diego Sepulveda, who serves as Deputy Organizing Director for the Warren for President campaign. Born in Durango, Mexico, Sepulveda tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I came to the United States when I was four years old, on my birthday - August 12, 1991. I grew up in Huntington Park, southeast Los Angeles,” raised by “fierce, powerful, immigrant women that have fought for opportunity and justice in this country and have provided me with that framework for my entire life.” In 10th grade, Sepulveda told his teacher he was undocumented. He kept the secret “not because I was ashamed of it, but because it was a sense that if I ever went back home, my mom or my parents might

not be there.” His teacher told him: “You are not your circumstances. Because you are undocumented, it doesn’t mean that that’s what you’re going to be for the rest of your life.” That profoundly changed Sepulveda’s life. He went to East Los Angeles college, transferred to UCLA and in 2012, was the first person in his family to graduate from college. “And it was all because my parents supported me, my community was behind me.” Sepulveda, who came out as gay in 2007, made a vow: “I am the first, but I will not be the last.” He saw “the opportunity to be a voice for other LGBT young people, to Latinos, to say that, ‘No matter what your circumstance is -- you deserve opportunity, justice and everything that this world has to offer you and you have an advocate in me.” Sepulveda supports Warren because she’s running on a platform of big ideas. “To make real change, we need to dream big and fight hard,” he says. “I really value her background. She grew up on the ragged edge of the middle class in Oklahoma, became a teacher, a law professor, and a U.S. Senator because America invested in kids like her.” That resonated. “In my life, I have been dreaming big and I’ve been fighting hard. And for me, she is the candidate that can make that a reality.” Sepulveda says the Warren campaign “is about building people power and doing it through an intersection, multiracial and intergenerational lens and bringing people into our organizing. It’s about engaging in meaningful conversations with our communities and really actively listening and saying that we are in this fight together for big structural change and making strides forward to ensure opportunity for everyone in this country.” That grassroots organizing is how Warren is going to win, he says, giving people the tools to be “part of this movement and to really fight for big structural change.”

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Nunes predicted to win re-election, despite Ukraine link Congressman ‘involved in getting all this stuff on Biden’ By KAREN OCAMB Kellyanne Conway explained the rules of engagement two days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. Defending White House Press Secretary Sean’s Spicer’s absurd, emphatic insistence that Trump’s presidential inauguration crowd “was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” despite photographic evidence to the contrary, Conway told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Jan. 22, 2017 that Spicer was stating “alternative facts.” Todd quipped: “Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.” But “alternative facts” seem to have become acceptable. As of Jan. 19, 2020, Trump “has made 16,241 false or misleading claims” over 1,095 days in office, according to the Washington Post Fact Checker. His Orwellian doublethink, “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories are embraced as truth to his cult-like followers, many of whom – like California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes – actually seem to buy into their own made up machinations. When Nunes chaired the House Intelligence Committee, he apparently coordinated with the White House on matters pertaining to Russian interference in the 2016 election that favored Trump. He came to national attention after a bizarre news conference in March 2017 declaring that Trump had been essentially spied upon by US intelligence agencies. As reporters probed Nunes’ surveillance claims, it turned out that he took an unscheduled “midnight run” to the White House, later confirmed in a CNN report, where an elaborate ruse was concocted that Nunes perpetrated in two news conferences, making claims about which he never informed his committee and Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff later disputed. Out Democratic Rep. Mark Takano was among those who called for Nunes to recuse himself as committee chair because, he told

Devin Nunes is expected to win again. Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via Flickr

the Los Angeles Blade, “I don’t think he can be a fair and independent oversight leader.” Nunes was exposed again when he hyped and released a false-fact-filled classified memo on Feb. 2, 2018 that was supposed to “derail the entire Russia investigation,” as MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow reported. “This was a put up or shut up moment when putting up was not the better of the two options.” Nonetheless, while Republicans lost the House in the Nov. 2018 elections, Nunes was reelected. As Ranking member, Nunes blasted Democrats for fabricating the TrumpUkraine bribery scandal that led to Trump’s impeachment. But only recently has it become known that Nunes is still a midnightrunner for Trump. Lev Parnas, a henchman for Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, revealed to House investigators and the media that Nunes knew of Trump’s desire to shakedown the new Ukrainian president to get dirt on former Vice President Joe

Biden and his son Hunter Biden, Trump’s presumed 2020 reelection rival. Nunes called Parnas “a fraudster and a hustler.” But the House released a document showing phone calls between Nunes and Parnas. On Dec. 3, Nunes told Fox’s Sean Hannity that it was “possible” that he spoken to Parnas but he didn’t recall the name. He went back on Fox on Jan. 15 and acknowledged having a “random” conversation with Parnas after reviewing his records. But that same night, Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he met Nunes “several times” and was stunned to see Nunes and Nunes aide Derek Harvey, with whom he’d worked on the secret Ukraine bribery campaign, at the impeachment hearings. “I texted my attorney. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” Parnas said. “Because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden.” “It’s hard to see them lie like that when

you know it’s, like, that scary because you know, he was sitting there and making all statements and all that when he knew very well that he knew what was going on,” Parnas said. “He knew what’s happening. He knows who I am.” Nunes’ office did not return an email from the Los Angeles Times seeking comment on the text message story. After Nunes admitted to Fox his “very odd, random” call with Parnas, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) posted on Twitter that Nunes threatened to sue him last December unless Lieu apologized for saying Nunes and Parnas conspired in the Ukraine shakedown. “I welcome any lawsuit from your client and look forward to taking discovery of Congressman Nunes,” Lieu wrote to Nunes’ lawyer. “Or, you can take your letter and shove it.” As the Senate takes up the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, there has been much criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s timetable and trial rules, whether the facts of the impeachment case presented by the House will be accepted, whether witnesses such as Parnas and former Sec. of State John Bolton will be allowed and whether new evidence will be permitted. The White House is seeking a swift trial and acquittal. “Mr. Trump’s lawyers dismissed the validity of both articles of impeachment lodged against him — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — because they do not state any specific violation of the law, advancing a constrained and widely rejected interpretation of the power to impeach a president. While the lawyers did not contest the basic facts of the case, they maintained that Democrats’ accusations in effect seek to punish Mr. Trump for foreign policy decisions and efforts to preserve executive prerogatives,” the New York Times reported on Jan. 20, the eve of impeachment. Meanwhile, despite all his links to Trump’s impeachment scandal, Nunes is expected to win re-election in 2020 in his red 22nd Congressional District, according to the Cook Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. A victory for “alternative facts.”



“If the Senate does not conduct a fair trial, then we can begin to talk about the end of our democracy.” — U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris to MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt.

“I cannot imagine what happens to transgender people if these criminal bans pass. I don’t think we can possibly raise the alarm enough, because people are going to die.” – Trans ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio regarding promotion of bills targeting transgender youth by conservative agitators and Republican legislators in more than a dozen states.

“We are undeniably part of the diverse mosaic of human life. And if you’re not respecting our human rights, yours are on the chopping block soon too.” - Monica Roberts of the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition to a rally at 32nd annual Creating Change Conference in Dallas Jan. 16.

Rep. Adam Schiff was steady but fuming as he read the Articles of Impeachment against President Donald John Trump as smug Republicans sat in the Senate chamber, as if history and their place in it had no meaning beyond cult-like fealty to the reality TV star. Schiff, a former federal prosecutor who represents Californians from Burbank to West Hollywood –and the rest of America in that Jan. 16 moment – has been immersed in the Trump investigation as chair of the House Intelligence Committee and now as an impeachment manager. The House articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abuse of power for pressuring the new president of Ukraine into falsely announcing an investigation into the son of his presumed 2020 reelection rival, Joe Biden and for withholding congressionally mandated military aid as leverage. Additionally, by ordering administration witnesses not to testify and blocking the release of evidence during the House inquiry, Trump violated the Constitution by obstructing Congress, the independent third branch of government. “President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” Schiff said. Senators listened to Schiff in silence, as ordered by sergeant-at-arms, Michael C. Stenger. “Hear ye! Hear ye!” Stenger announced to open the historic proceeding. “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, president of the United States.”

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Buttigieg nixes fundraiser at gay club, angering male pole dancers ‘If you want to dance on a pole, we’re the place to be’ By CHRIS JOHNSON The decision by Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign to nix a fundraiser planned at a gay club in Providence — which the venue says is over a dancing pole the owners refused to remove — is angering some LGBTQ people, including male pole dancers who say the decision was unwarranted. Among the pole dancers critical of the decision was Steven Retchless, a gay male pole dancer who made the semi-finals on Season 6 of “America’s Got Talent” and won the title in 2010 of American Pole Fitness Champion. “The pole stigma is associated with sex work, but sex workers whether they’re on a pole or not are humans, too, and shouldn’t be discriminated against for providing a service as old as time,” Retchless told the Washington Blade. “Get over it and support the whole gay community — not just the picture perfect, ‘masc for masc,’ fit-into-abox and label-me-conservative side.” Retchless, who studied dance as a youth at the Las Vegas Academy of Perfoming Arts & California Institute of the Arts, has toured internationally and taught at Body & Pole studio in New York City. Denouncing both Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, Retchless indicated his support instead for Bernie Sanders. “I don’t believe in politics,” Retchless said. “I think it’s all carefully orchestrated by corporations and conglomerates fueled by greed. Pete and Warren are just in it to divide up the Democrats and the only one with a history of fighting for human rights is Sanders.” News broke over the weekend that Buttigieg had cancelled at the last minute a fundraiser at the Dark Lady, a popular LGBTQ nightclub in Providence, R.I., last week as a result of a dancing pole at the center of the club. Instead, the event was held at the nearby Hotel Providence. Buck Asprinio, the general manager of the

Pete Buttigieg’s campaign canceled a fundraiser at a gay club, reportedly because the venue hosts pole dancing.

Dark Lady, is quoted by local affiliate WPRI as saying the Buttigieg campaign asked staff members to remove the pole, but the owners refused. “It’s been here since we opened and it’s not going anywhere,” Asprinio is quoted as saying. “The dancer pole is part of who we are if you want to dance on a pole, we’re the place to be.” Asprinio is quoted as saying the Buttigieg campaign was aware of the pole prior to the event — which was widely publicized on social media — because owners sent images of the interior well before the event had started. “We had sent pictures of the club, they knew exactly what the place looked like,” Asprinio reportedly said. “We thought the fundraiser was going forward at full force.” Tess Whittlesey, a Buttigieg campaign spokesperson, didn’t dispute the account of the cancellation, but emphasized the candidate — the first major openly gay candidate in the presidential primary — has hosted events at LGBTQ venues. “Our commitment to LGBTQ+ spaces is strong and we always strive to hold events in inclusive spaces,” Whittlesey said. “Pete and

Chasten know first-hand how important it is for members of the LGBTQ+ community to have a safe space to gather and our campaign would never do anything to intentionally disrespect such a space.” The Buttigieg campaign provided a list of dozens of LGBTQ venues where the candidate has held events, such as the Human Rights Campaign gala in Houston and the Las Vegas LGBTQ Center, and places where the candidate has had a presence, such as the annual Creating Change conference hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force taking place now in Dallas. None of the venues listed, however, seem comparable to a gay nightclub. According to a news statement from “Queers Not Here for Mayor Pete,” staff arrived four hours early to prepare for the fundraiser. The cancellation, the group says, came just 12 minutes before the expected start time, cost the bar an estimated $1,000 and workers were unable to receive tips they had anticipated. The Dark Lady, according to the group, has hosted a variety of LGBTQ community events and political events without issue, hosting senators, members of Congress,

governors, mayors, Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank. Anthony Derose, who’s known as the drag queen Jacqueline DiMera and performed at the Dark Lady for 13 years, said in a statement he won’t support Buttigieg as a result of the cancellation. “All of the sudden our club is not good enough,” Derose said. “I was so excited to get to meet Pete and Chasten a month ago, but now I’m going to have to find another candidate.” A Buttigieg staffer said the campaign had offered to compensate the Dark Lady for the event after cancelling at the last minute. Asprinio told the Blade “it’s very true” the campaign made that offer, but it wouldn’t have covered the cost of expenses. “The [campaign] offered the $400 base fee,” Asprinio said. “I had to pay they entire staff for four hours. I lost over $1,000.” Philip Deal, a queer-identified pole dancer who founded Mr. Pole Dance America, told the Blade the decision to nix the fundraiser was “shameful,” suggesting LGBTQ people should look to another candidate. “In a way, this validated an important point about leadership,” Deal said. “Voting for someone who has lived long enough to experience American history does make a lot of sense.” A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Deal was a featured dancer at the Chasers nightclub in North Carolina and won medals in national pole dancing competitions. Deal said the cancellation demonstrates a point about leadership, indicating voters should instead consider either Warren or Sanders. “If Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders were invited to visit the Dark Lady, I don’t think ether one would bat an eye about it,” Deal said. “This points to a bigger issue in the LGBT community which is young gay people don’t know our history and that’s a serious problem. LGBTQ people died for the right to walk into a bar, dance, and hold hands with their lovers without having to fear police brutality. If Pete Buttigieg does not want to embrace our glorious gay culture, he doesn’t need the gay vote.”



N.J. is 9th state to ban ‘gay panic’ defense New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Tuesday legislation that would prohibit the use of gay or trans panic as a defense in state court, making the Garden State the ninth in the United States to enact such a law. “We will always stand with our LGBTQ+ community and promote full equality for all our residents,” Murphy said in a statement. “Gay and trans panic defenses are rooted in homophobia and abhorrent excuses that should never be used to justify violence against vulnerable populations.

With this new law, we are enacting critical measures to protect our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community.” Individuals accused of violent crimes against LGBT people have in the past invoked gay and trans panic defenses in court to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, avoid conviction. In essence, the accused would blame the emotional disturbance of finding their victim was LGBT to avoid legal consequences for the act of violence. Primary sponsors of the legislation,

known as A1796, include New Jersey State Assembly members John McKeon and Joann Downey and State Sens. Joe Lagana and Vin Gopal. “The ‘gay panic or trans panic’ defense is not a freestanding defense to criminal liability, but rather a legal tactic,” McKeon said in a statement. “Whether the person was gay, transgender or heterosexual, sexual orientation should not have any bearing on determining a person’s guilt in a murder trial. It is prejudiced against the LGBTQ community.” CHRIS JOHNSON

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation into law banning the use of the gay panic defense in court.

Thousands attend Creating Change DALLAS — Thousands of activists from the U.S. and around the world attended he National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference that took place last weekend in Dallas. A rally against anti-transgender violence took place on Jan. 16 before the conference officially began with a keynote speech from Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, founder of the Center for Transformative Change in California. The Task Force on the same night honored Monica Roberts, a Houston-based trans activist and blogger.

The Task Force’s annual “State of the Movement” speech on Jan. 17 was a plenary that focused on trans women of color. Executive Director Rea Carey and Deputy Executive Director Kierra Johnson joined Micky Bradford of the Transgender Law Center, Taffy Lei Johnson of the Seattle-based United Territories of Pacific Islanders’ Alliance, Jade Lenore of AIDS United and Jeynce Mizrahi Poindexter of Equality Michigan on stage. “When we were talking about this conversation that we wanted to have

together today, we talked about the power of culture change,” said Carey at the beginning of the plenary. “We all know that while policy and legislation having strong pro-LGBTQ legislative change is a necessary part of protecting LGBTQ people and our families, we also know that policy has and never will take care of all of it.” José Gutiérrez, founder of the Latino GLBT History Project, and Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera, a Puerto Rico-born LGBTQ activist who lives in Maryland, are

among those who attended the conference. Other attendees included Arizona state Rep. Daniel Hernández; Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund Executive Director Andy Marra; Quentin Hill of A Wider Bridge and Arianna Lint, executive director of Arianna’s Center, an organization that serves trans people in South Florida. The first Creating Change took place in 1988. Next year’s conference will take place in D.C. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

RuPaul to host SNL for first time Everything seems to be coming up RuPaul these days. The Emmy-winning icon, who is not only the creator of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” but a renowned recording artist, actor, and drag superstar, has never been far out of the limelight. In recent months, however, he seems to be practically bathing in it. On Jan. 10, Netflix premiered “AJ and the Queen,” the 10-episode comedy in which he has his firstever leading role in a scripted TV series, and it’s been getting him plenty of extra attention. Before that, VH1 announced in August that it would bring back “Drag Race” for a 12th season, as well as an “All-Stars 5”

RuPaul Image via YouTube

and a new “Celebrity Drag Race” edition over the next year. In addition, The “Drag Race” brand announced plans for even greater expansion worldwide, with a first season of “Canada’s Drag Race” and a second season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” planned for debuts in 2020. Now, RuPaul will join the ranks of some of pop culture’s greatest icons when he takes the stage in front of a live studio audience in New York’s Rockefeller Center on Feb. 8 for his debut gig as host of “Saturday Night Live.” As announced by NBC, RuPaul will serve as host for the episode, with Justin

Bieber as musical guest, one week after an episode featuring NFL star J.J. Watt as host and country artist Luke Combs as the musical guest on Feb. 1. Though it marks RuPaul’s first appearance as host, it’s not the first time the 59-year-old star has been on SNL – in 1993, he appeared in a sketch during a show hosted by Charles Barkley. After NBC’s announcement, the Twitter account for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” posted an image with the caption, “Start your engines…and live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!!! Can’t wait Mama.” JOHN PAUL KING



Group demands ICE release trans woman An advocacy group says a transgender woman who is in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in New Mexico is “in a life-or-death medical crisis.”

Reuven Magder after he served food to migrants who are living in a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, on Jan. 12. Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers

D.C. boy volunteers at Mexico migrant camp A D.C. boy traveled to the Mexican border city of Matamoros last week to help migrants who are living in a camp. Reuven Magder, 12, along with his father, Dan Magder, were among a group from Adas Israel Congregation in Cleveland Park who traveled to Matamoros with Team Brownsville, a group in Brownsville, Texas, that cooks food for the camp’s residents and provides them with sleeping bags and other items. The Magders and other Team Brownsville volunteers served rice, beans, chicken and juice from a nearby restaurant to hundreds of migrants. The Magders also erected a tent for two families from Honduras and Ecuador who moved into the camp. The Mexican authorities have built a dome over the area in which the Magders were working in order to provide migrants who are living in tents some protection from the elements. Resource Center Matamoros, a group co-founded by Gaby Zavala, a community organizer who lives in Brownsville, works with Mexican officials when new migrants arrive at the camp and provides them with clothes and other supplies they need. Reuven on Sunday told the Blade he decided to help migrants for his bar mitzvah project. He created a fundraiser that raised several thousand dollars for Team Brownsville. Michael Benavides, a gay man who lives in Brownsville with his husband, co-founded Team Brownsville. “I can do anything that does good in the world,” Reuven told the Blade. “I wanted to do something that was related to immigrants.” Many of the more than 2,000 people who are currently living in the camp have asked for asylum in the U.S. The Trump administration has forced them to await the outcome of their cases in Mexico under its controversial “remain in Mexico” program. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

The Santa Fe Dreamers Project, an Albuquerque-based immigrant advocacy group, in a Jan. 16 press release says ICE last December released a trans asylum seeker from El Salvador identified as J.H. from the Cibola County Correctional Center where she had been detained for nearly a year. The press release notes ICE released J.H. after she successfully proved her life “would be in grave danger if she were returned to El Salvador.” The Santa Fe Dreamers Project says J.H. “became gravely ill” and was hospitalized for several days at Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque. The press release notes ICE once again detained her on Jan. 13, two days after her release from the hospital, and returned her to the Cibola County Correctional Center. The press release notes J.H. had a seizure within 24 hours after ICE detained her and she “is reportedly in very bad condition.” “Advocates and lawyers from Santa Fe Dreamers Project have been in round the clock communication with ICE leadership in ABQ (Albuquerque) demanding that she be released or, at the very least, she is brought to proper medical care,” says the Santa Fe Dreamers Project. “She has not been provided her routine medication or the antibiotics she was prescribed at Lovelace.” Roxsana Hernández, a trans Honduran woman with HIV who had briefly been detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center, died at Lovelace Medical Center on May 25, 2018. This reporter is among the handful of journalists who ICE invited to tour the facility last June. More than two dozen trans women at the Cibola County Correctional Center in a letter they sent to Trans Queer Pueblo, a Phoenix-based group that advocates on behalf of undocumented LGBTQ immigrants, roughly two weeks after the reporters’ visit complained about inadequate medical care and staffers who “psychologically and verbally” mistreated them. ICE has been sharply criticized over the treatment of trans women at other detention centers around the country. More than 40 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives last week called for ICE to release all trans people who are in their custody. MICHAEL K. LAVERS

First 2020 murder of trans woman reported in El Salvador CIUDAD DELGADO, El Salvador — A transgender woman was found dead in El Salvador on Jan. 17. The body of Briyit Michelle Alas, 22, was found in the Santa Margarita 2 neighborhood of Ciudad Delgado. She was not immediately identified because authorities did not find her ID documents at the scene; but she had been shot three times in her torso, once behind her ear and once in her shoulder. Authorities said Alas was killed at least 10 hours before they found her body. A source told the Blade that Alas’s family was able to identify her. Alas had not been home for several hours when photos of her dead body with the clothes in which she had been seen began to circulate on social media. Alas’ family identified her body at the morgue. Alas is the first trans woman in El Salvador to be reported killed this year. Her murder is one of the hundreds of unresolved cases that Salvadoran LGBTQ organizations have documented and for which authorities have largely not followed up. LGBTQ activists and organizations are helping Alas’ family cover her funeral costs because they have few resources. ERNESTO VALLE



Do celebrities get a pass in the fight for equality? Boycotts work with patience and adherence

James Duke Mason is an activist who helped lead the fight for the boycott of the Beverly

Recently, a number of celebrities were implicated in a scandal surrounding their recent visit to Saudi Arabia for a 3-day music festival called MDL Beast Fest. This wasn’t just any regular music festival, however. This was an event funded and organized by the Saudi government intentionally produced as a PR stunt to generate positive press that would mitigate the major backlash the government has received this year in response to their many human rights abuses. In an effort to “normalize” the Saudi regime and rehabilitate its image, they invited celebrities from America and Europe who have big social media followings. The celebrities were expected to create favorable posts and promote the country’s supposed newfound “progressiveness” and liberalism. The celebrities, including actor Ryan Philippe and fitness model Pietro Boselli, both of whom have large followings in the LGBTQ community, received a swift and forceful negative response. Many commentators felt betrayed that the celebrities would essentially condone the actions of a government that over the last year beheaded several gay men and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a persistent critic of the government’s corrupt and inhumane policies, as well as their widely publicized atrocities.

Almost all of the celebrities were defensive in response to the criticism. Instead of apologizing or trying to make amends for their actions —some on social media suggested that they should perhaps donate the money they were paid to attend the festival to non-profits that defend the rights of LGBTQ people or journalists — they doubled down and made excuses. They pointed to the fact that women in Saudi Arabia were finally allowed to drive cars last year and they cited the government opening its doors to foreigners for the festival as in itself a sign of substantive change. “Saudi is undergoing tremendous changes, for the better,” Pietro Boselli said on an Instragram post. “Of course, this does not mean forgetting the wrong that happened there. What is wrong should be condemned. But a positive change, and in this case openness, should be seen as progress, and a welcome one.” The celebrities also said that we all are guilty to a certain extent as almost all of us use cars and planes that are largely fueled by Saudi petroleum. This argument, of course, ignores the obvious fact that there is a big difference between simply driving a car and actually visiting the country while taking money directly from the government. As I wrote in the comments on Pietro Boselli’s post defending his actions — the money he received is stained with the blood of Jamal Khashoggi and all those who have been savagely tortured and murdered by the Saudi government. The argument that we are all hypocrites because we drive cars fueled by Saudi oil is one that I heard while helping lead the fight for the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the LGBTQ-hating Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, after he instituted Shari Law that punishes homosexuals by stoning us to death. My detractors said that because we couldn’t be perfect in our fight against the Sultan and the Beverly Hills Hotel/Polo Lounge-loving heterosexuals, we should basically give up altogether and have zero conscientiousness when it comes to where we put our money.

Additionally, there are often those who say that boycotts don’t work, even though evidence — such as the Coors Beer and Chick-fil-A boycotts — show otherwise. And, thanks to the work we did on the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Sultan put a moratorium on the implementation of Sharia Law in Brunei. The issue of whether celebrities should be given a pass or held accountable during a boycott is similar to whether politicians cross a picket line. Most don’t, wanting that union vote. The issue was huge in the 1980s when celebrities were called out if they violated the boycott of South Africa during apartheid. But ultimately most supported that boycott and ultimately, world pressure succeeded in ending that horrible government practice of racism. The fact is — boycotts work if you have the patience and determination to stick to them over time. As the saying goes: perfect is the enemy of good. We may not always know, for instance, if a business we patronize is owned by someone who we disagree with politically or who institutes policies in their country that we disagree with. But we can all at least try to make good decisions and support businesses that we know are owned by good people who do good things. Nobody is asking for perfection. We’re just asking for people to be informed and do the best they can in an effort to advance LGBTQ equality. Another lame excuse the celebrities deployed is that by boycotting the country we are somehow demonizing the people. This argument is also foolish. To the contrary, by boycotting Saudi Arabia we are putting pressure on the government to treat their citizens with dignity, equality and the rights that all human beings are entitled to. People like Ryan Phillippe can say that we’re “virtue signaling” by calling out those like him who condone injustice, but if virtue signaling means having a conscience and standing up for those who don’t have a voice, then count me in.

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All material in the Los Angeles Blade is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Los Angeles Blade. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. Although the Los Angeles Blade is supported by many fine advertisers, we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Los Angeles Blade, but the paper cannot take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. A single copy of the Los Angeles Blade is available from authorized distribution points, to any individual within a 50-mile radius of Los Angeles, CA. Multiple copies are available from the Los Angeles Blade office only. Call for rates. If you are unable to get to a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 26-week mailed subscription for $195 per year or $5.00 per single issue. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Phil Rockstroh at prockstroh@washblade.com. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Los Angeles Blade, PO BOX 53352 Washington, DC 20009. The Los Angeles Blade is published bi-weekly, on Friday, by Los Angeles Blade, LLC. Rates for businesses/institutions are $450 per year. Periodical postage paid at Los Angeles, CA., and additional mailing offices. Editorial positions of the Los Angeles Blade are expressed in editorials and in editors’ notes as determined by the paper’s editors. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Los Angeles Blade or its staff. To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words; commentaries should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for verification. Send submissions by e-mail to tmasters@losangelesblade.com.



Celebrating Kate Millett’s feminist literary criticism A new series exploring lives of queer women fighting for equality

Kathi Wolfe is a regular contributor to the Blade and winner of the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook competition.

(Editor’s note: This column is the first in a series highlighting queer women feminists.) As I write this, The New York Times editorial board has just endorsed Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, two female Democratic presidential candidates. Last week, I cheered when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment! (The ERA faces legal challenges.) Until 1920, women in our country (except in a few states) didn’t have the right to vote. The 19th amendment to the Constitution,

which gave women the right to vote, was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919. It was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. Since the 1900s, women have fought for the right to vote and for equality for women. Women’s rights matter to LGBTQ women. Today, many women still earn less than men. Then there’s sexual harassment and #MeToo. Misogyny lurks in the queer and hetero community. Historically, queer women have been part of the feminist movement. Yet, many second-wave feminists, out of homophobia and transphobia, disavowed or downplayed queer feminists. Betty Friedan, author of the groundbreaking “Feminine Mystique” called lesbians the “lavender menace.” (Years later, she apologized for the slur.) This series will highlight queer women who have been part of the struggle for women’s equality. I’ll begin with Kate Millett, author of the trailblazing 1970 book “Sexual Politics.” The work was such a cultural phenomenon, that in the era when magazines ruled pop culture, Millett was on the cover of Time. Why am I starting with Millett? Because feminism isn’t just political – it’s personal. When I was young and struggling to come out, I was in a bookstore with my

grandmother. We noticed a book called “Flying” by Kate Millett. My grandmother thought it was a memoir by a woman pilot. Scanning the back cover, I saw that it was a memoir – but not about aviation. It was Millett’s story of what it was like to come out as queer while famous. I wrote Millett a fan letter full of my sexual confusion and angst. Most authors would have ignored such an intrusive missive. But Millett wrote back. “Keep on truckin,’” she said to me on a postcard. Millett, who died at age 82 on Sept. 6, 2017 while vacationing in Paris with her spouse Sophie Keir, energized and inspired generations of hetero and queer women. Not only people like me, but our teachers, older sisters – our moms. Her work encouraged us to “keep truckin’” when we didn’t know how to even talk about, let alone fight against, sexism or the patriarchy. Most doctoral dissertations never make it out of academia. Even if they’re published as a book, they rarely attract much attention. Yet, as The New York Times has noted, Millett’s “Sexual Politics,” originally, her doctoral thesis, has been credited with starting a “Copernican revolution in the understanding of gender roles.” Sometimes literary criticism is as dull as

dishwater and political analysis, a mindnumbing rant. But that wasn’t the case with “Sexual Politics.” In this groundbreaking work, Millett exposed the misogyny of D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and other literary titans. Norman Mailer’s obsession with masculinity, she said, was “precarious spiritual capital in need of endless replenishment and threatened on every side.” In her literary criticism, Millett used literature to show how women had internalized sexist assumptions about themselves. “Many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against,” she wrote in “Sexual Politics.” Some lesbian feminists said she didn’t come out soon enough. Yet, she spoke openly about being a lesbian — writing about her sexuality and fame in “Flying” (1974) and in another memoir “Sita*(1977).” Millett was a sculptor as well as a writer. In “The Loony Bin Trip,” she wrote about her struggles with psychiatric abuse. Yet, Millett’s greatest legacy is her feminist literary criticism. Her investigation into the gender dynamics of novels was revolutionary. It changed hearts and minds. If you have ideas for this series, Tweet me @UppityBlindGirl.

Best of LGBTQ LA Your picks for the city’s best in people, dining, nightlife and more By SCOTT STIFFLER

This third annual special issue of the Los Angeles Blade celebrates the best of the LGBTQ community. From DJs to activists, restaurants to doctors, these are your picks for the Best of LGBTQ LA. The process began in November with online nominations. We picked the top five vote getters in 40 categories. Then our readers voted in December and here we present the winners. About 2,000 nominations and 10,000 votes were cast. The Blade staff congratulates each of this year’s winners and finalists.


Nobody can make you do something you don’t want to do—but our winner has a knack for nudging her millions of fans and followers to be their best selves, be it by stepping up their look, or living their truths.

Leading by example, self-professed “creator, personality, model/actor, lover of beauty, fashion, and a good party” Gigi Gorgeous made a public declaration of her identity as a transgender woman in 2013 and, last year, wed Nats Getty, the fashion designer and daughter of passionate philanthropist

Ariadne Getty (who takes this year’s honor as Most Committed LGBTQ Activist). “You can have everything in the world, but if you aren’t happy within yourself,” Gorgeous once said, “it’s not worth it.” @gigigorgeous RUNNER-UP: RYAN MITCHELL (@THESLAYGAWD)

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Photo Courtesy Getty

Most Committed Activist LGBTQ Activist WINNER: ARIADNE GETTY

Last year’s winner for Best Straight Ally is an unyielding advocate for our community. The granddaughter and godchild of J. Paul Getty, she told the Blade, “I’ve never pretended that I made a penny in my life. I inherited this money and I’m a steward.” Her interpretation of that stewardship merges money and mouth. Not content to simply write a check—millions have been donated to organizations including the Los Angeles LGBT Center and GLAAD, via the Ariadne Getty Foundation—she works the phones and speaks at public events, in the service of securing and protecting LGBTQIA rights. “The time is now to stand by marginalized communities and promote a better world for all,” said the mother of two out children. ariadnegettyfdn.org RUNNER-UP (TIE): EDDIE MARTINEZ AND QUEEN VICTORIA

Courtesy Wade

Courtesy DJ Morningstar


WINNER (TIE): DWYANE WADE/ GABRIELLE UNION AND KATHY GRIFFIN Married since 2014, now-retired NBA legend Wade and uncompromising actress Union solidified their status as awesomely affirming parents last year, when they celebrated their son’s gender expression via the social media posting of 12-year-old son Zion showing off fancy long fingernails. Union did the Twitter posting, and Wade shut down the sadly predictable backlash, tweeting, “As a parent my only goal is that my kids feel that I see them, love them and support them.” For those who feel adrift while navigating lessthan-nurturing environments, that one-two punch of Pride-centric messages landed in the sweet spot where we all deserve to live. dwyanewade.com @itsgabrielleu


Whether hosting the Str8UpGayPorn Awards (as she did, with her usual filthy fabulousness, on Jan. 12) or holding the severed head of Donald Trump, this Griffin

has claws—and never fails to let them rip in the service of supporting LGBTQ people. Gays who find themselves zinged know enough to get the joke, and move on to the next laugh. She’s poised to pierce all comers, and that’s why we love her. kathygriffin.net


WINNER: DJ MORNINGSTAR “I’m extremely honored to earn people’s votes again,” says DJ Morningstar, of his second consecutive win in this category. “I’m having more fun and am happier DJ’ing today than I’ve ever been,” he notes, crediting the LGBTQ community “for not just literally saving my life, but for providing the source for that happiness. I feel very fortunate to be accepted within a community who are so diverse, proud, intelligent, fun, free, and are quite literally always righteous in any cause. Not to mention, by far the most vibrant crowd I’ve ever played to. I want to thank everyone for supporting and valuing me.” Morningstar, whose “father created and opened up Rage, which is known as a leading force behind what has become known as WeHo nightlife,” says

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welcome to l.a.’s hippest boutique real estate firm with some of l.a.’s most experienced real estate agents.

LOCAL HERO: Runningbear Ramirez: young, gay, gifted and Native American From poor to rich and culturally responsible By KAREN OCAMB

Runningbear Ramirez Photo by Daniel Sliwa

Humility is not a trait routinely associated with being a rich 30-year-old gay guy. But Runningbear Ramirez defies stereotypes, exuding a kind of humility born of ancient spiritual strength and sense of responsibility for a culture and community too long ignored and too often violated – while also representing the tribe best known for the popular San Manuel Band of Mission Indians casinos. His name, Runningbear, “means that I’ve been able to incorporate animal instinct and courage for myself to take care of things that need to be taken care of. Whether it be family or business, I’ve always had that personality to take charge,” Runningbear tells the Los Angeles Blade. “The name was given to me as a child, but I decided to incorporate it into my normal day-today when I started to take on more responsibilities

for the tribe,” he says. “That was when I actually changed my name to Runningbear so that way I’ll be able to live my life as who I was meant to be.” Everywhere symbols and signs reflect the culture and deep history of his tribe. “The people of the San Manuel reservation are the indigenous people of the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys, and mountains who the Spaniards collectively called the Serrano, a term meaning highlander,” according to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians website. “Our people are the Yuhaaviatam people. The arrowhead (on the tribe logo) is actually on our mountain, our historical land. Where our reservation is,” Runningbear says, “there is a granite arrowhead in the mountainside that’s over 1,400 feet tall. Our family believes that was a spiritual territory and that’s what that arrowhead

represents on the side of the mountain….It’s very personal to us.” Runningbear uses fashion and body art to display his culture, as well, including a huge tattoo on his chest. “This is just me being able to portray my artistic side a little bit differently,” he says with a slight chuckle. “It’s a chief on the front of my chest with a female warrior. It’s still not finished, yet. It hurt too much to finish at the time. It’s supposed to show a whole family of different people to represent the past and the present, as well as the future — to know that it took your ancestors to get where you are today.” Runningbear’s childhood also helped get him to where he is today. A child of divorce who stayed with his non-Native mother as a boy, he

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experienced poverty and discrimination. “We didn’t have much. Growing up with my mom, we were extremely poor. I can remember times when I’d have bugs crawling on me when I’m sleeping, because there was no window,” he says. But in the 1990s, the no-frills 24-hour San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino was “an economic miracle for the tiny San Manuel tribe, which once scratched out an income raising apricots and lived in shacks and trailers on a dusty 648-acre reservation. Now, 40 landscaped houses dot the hillsides behind the casino’s walls, and security officers on bicycles patrol newly paved roads,” the New York Times reported in October 1998, noting the casino was part of California’s $1.4 billion Indian gambling industry. “Growing up, it was a little hard because I had cousins that would discriminate against me because I didn’t grow up fully on the reservation,” Runningbear says. “I didn’t get some of the perks that they did. They grew up with money.” But in 1998, after San Manuel and about 40 other tribes installed slot machines, intense opposition from a coalition of Nevada casinos, unions and anti-gambling church groups claimed they violated the 1988 Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and Gov. Pete Wilson threatened to shut down the casinos. Runningbear’s father, Ken Ramirez, then the 38-year-old vice-chair of the San Manuel tribe, led the fight for Proposition 5, the Tribal-State Gaming Compacts Initiative on the Nov. 3, 1998 ballot. Among the opposition was Christian fundamentalist lobbying group Traditional Values Coalition, whose anti-LGBTQ leader Rev. Lou Sheldon objected to California tribes asserting they are sovereign nations. “I hate Las Vegas but am thrilled that they’re helping us,” Sheldon told the Washington Post in September 1998. The opposition got ugly. “Lil’ Petey Wilson,” OC Weekly reported, “told a group of reporters on Oct. 22 that the lawyer who advised Indian tribes to put Proposition 5 on the November ballot ‘ought to lose his scalp.’….We obtained a copy of da gov’s next speech, where he warned tribal leaders to keep firewater out of their casinos, quit spending big wampum on Prop. 5, and remove slot machines or face having their tepees burned and squaws raped.” ‘’This is our livelihood,’’ Ramirez told the New

York Times, which noted that he “grew up on the reservation when it held only a few families, with water too fetid to drink.” “Today, we are proud people. We’re not living in Third World conditions on our reservations,” Ramirez told the Washington Post. “It was our option to take it to a vote of the people. We have faith they’ll stand behind us.” ‘’Frankly, I think it’s an incredible con game,’’ Frank Schubert, leader of the ‘’No on 5’’ campaign, told the New York Times. ‘’We’ve had millions and millions in TV ads bombarding the state for months now about reservations getting electricity and being able to have linoleum on a dirt floor, when in fact it’s a handful of tribes spending a fortune to keep a special deal.’’ The Prop 5 campaign cost over $68 million but won with 62.4% of voters. Runningbear remembers the victory, “having dinner with governors and attending a lavish party at the Beverly Hills Hotel on the night of the vote. That was definitely the start of my own journey in influencing politics. My dad, to this day, is a big inspiration to me.” An incredible irony of the Prop 5 fight is that Frank Schubert — who would manage the anti-gay marriage Prop 8 in 2008 — lost to Ken Ramirez, an openly gay man in a same-sex relationship. Now Runningbear is married, too, to Frank Romano. They’ve been together for six years. “I didn’t have to really come out. They already knew about me,” Runningbear says. “My parents never made me choose a man or a woman. I had grown up my whole life seeing my father with another man and my mother with a man. I had a stepfather for my mom and a stepfather for my dad. They all came together and raised us together, which they’re still doing now. We still have very modern family views. We still hang out together. My family was always very open and appreciative of whatever, as long as I was happy.” A few years after the Prop 5 fight, at 13, Runningbear started his long activism with and commitment to the tribe. But he never forgot walking between the two worlds of poverty and money. “For me, going through that really opened up my eyes to say, between the haves and the havenots, I’d much rather be able to help people than to just sit back and collect a check,” Runningbear says. “You have to be able to spread your wealth

and your love. I think that growing up in that way, it really showed me a way to do that.” Now, he says, “I’m able to walk in both worlds, to speak with people and understand certain issues based on my perspective within the tribe, within the reservation.” Even his cousins “appreciate that I am two-spirited,” which he defines as “being able to walk in both worlds of feminine and masculine.” But it was serving on the Board of Indian Health Services at 23 when Runningbear had his “ah, ha” moment. “I was able to see the plight of Native Americans — that really opened up my eyes,” he says. “Wanting to get more into philanthropy was seeing other reservations and how they were doing, outside of the gaming industries. That really got me to think about starting this five-year pilot program I did with Project Angel Food to help the diabetic community in Los Angeles counties, providing healthy meals for Native Americans.” A friend introduced Runningbear to Project Angel Food a couple of years ago and he subsequently joined the board, inspired by a family member with HIV and a sister who last year recovered from cancer. “I really wanted to learn more,” Runningbear says. “I felt that if I could philanthropically get to know the way that the disease runs its course and how it affects people, and if I could help in that way, that’s how I wanted to learn.” Project Angel Food clients, he learned, were getting healthier on meals that are based on their personal needs. “I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to utilize my wealth and my knowledge of being on Indian Health Services to bring a pilot program to the forefront for Native Americans in our area,” he says. “I know that cancer is on the rise and being able to access healthy meals is a big problem on reservation. That’s why we’re trying to make sure that the research is done and recorded right, so we can hopefully take it bigger or national.” Runningbear Ramirez seems to smile broadly over the phone, humbly grateful for the recognition as the Los Angeles Blade’s Local Hero honoree enabling him to share his story. “I feel like just because being gay and Native, we are a class of people who are sometimes looked down upon,” Runningbear says. “You can still do good for other people and yourself.”

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he thinks of West Hollywood as “an incredible place because it’s proudly gay, and I hope that it remains that way, and that the claws of corporate over-capitalizing gentrification don’t suck that majestic soul out.” @MORNINGSTARdj

year is already looking bright for Mayhem, who told us she’s got gigs and projects in the realms of “film, TV, and music, coming very soon.” 692 N. Robertson Blvd. theabbeyweho.com

Best Drag Queen


Caps and exclamation points are wellearned prerogatives of Mayhem Miller, who writes, “WOW!!! It’s such an honor to win BEST DRAG QUEEN.” The seasoned performer the world knows as a Season 10 contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” surely got the vote out via the love from fans of her weekly events at The Abbey (“All That ’90s” 1990s-themed party on Tuesdays, “Brunch Service” drag brunch on Saturdays). Calling LA a “city full of amazing drag entertainment,” Mayhem says she’s “just one of its many shining examples, for how fierce our drag really is out here. The scene is growing more and more, and I’m just happy to be part of it after all these years.” This young

Having spent a good portion of 2019 pouring on the charm while mixing cocktails and serving suds at WeHo’s let-the-goodtimes-roll western-themed watering hole, last year’s winner in this category wiped out the competition to emerge once again on top. We’ll drink to that. 8811 Santa Monica Blvd. flamingsaddles.com






Best Public Official


Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath was elected to the West Hollywood City Council in 2015, and won reelection last year. Previously, she served as a Council member from 20092011. “To even be included in a category with the officials who are my fellow nominees is an honor in and of itself,” said Horvath, of her win, promising she “will fight tirelessly to protect, defend, and empower our LGBTQ+ family in West Hollywood, the greater Los Angeles region, and beyond.” Helping to connect West Hollywood to the broader Metro rail system, creating new housing options, and a hope to see “changes in the current federal administration to acknowledge, uplift, and celebrate our LGBTQ+ community” are among her 2020 priorities. Of her home turf, the WeHo resident says, “our values aren’t just words on a page—they are a way of life. That’s why it’s important to hold ourselves accountable in the ways we fall short, and to work together to make West Hollywood even better for generations to come. I appreciate that I have a unique opportunity to work with the members of my community to do just that.” @LindseyPHorvath RUNNER-UP: CONGRESSMAN ADAM SCHIFF (LAST YEAR’S WINNER; SCHIFF.HOUSE.GOV)

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Articulate and altruistic Chris Miller wasn’t at a loss for words, when we reached out to him for comment on his win—but he did begin by distilling it to this dense nugget: “Be nice.” That, says the president of Flower Films and film/ television branding conglomerate Barrymore Brands, “is honestly the core of everything we do, and how I personally operate and run Revolver [Video Bar]. Whenever anyone hears that I own Revolver, their first reaction is normally, “Everyone is so nice there!”—and that just makes me so happy.” Life, Miller reflects, is hard, “and it’s so easy to get bogged down with the daily grind and politics, body image, shaming, and not feeling happy or taken care of. We’ve lost so many incredible friends and loved ones recently, and we can’t stop all of the daily challenges—but if we’re all just nice to each other, we can make a big difference!” Miller and crew have done just that, by participating in events with GLAAD, AIDSRide, and The Center. Revolver is located at 8851 Santa Monica Blvd., revolverweho.com

Best Shopping Center WINNER: FIGAT7TH

Downtown LA’s premier entertainment,

retail, and dining destination delights fashionistas, foodies, and fun- seekers alike. The open-air shopping center’s 333,000 square feet of offerings include live music events, art exhibitions, and a first-class collection of unique eateries inside TASTE Food Hall. Thursdays, 10 AM to 2PM, the farmer’s market is a rain-or-shine happening that sends you home ready to cook up a storm, with fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, honey, breads, olives, and more. 7th & Figueroa Sts. figat7th.com EDITOR’S CHOICE: THE ORIGINAL FARMER’S MARKET (6333 W. 3RD ST.; FARMERSMARKETLA.COM)

Best Queer-Friendly Night Out WINNER: CHICO’S ANGELS

Once upon a time, 2003 to be precise, comedy collaborators Kurt Koehler and Oscar Quintero wrote a little show that grafted a gay sensibility onto the wildly popular, often awful ’70s TV show about three little girls plucked from the police academy by a mystery man who sent them on dangerous missions. Audiences on every point of the Kinsey scale have been flocking to the “Chico’s Angels” series ever since, and the dependability factor of its bawdiness makes them our winning destination for

friends of Dorothy, and their friends. This Latin drag queen version of “Charlie’s Angels” casts Quintero as Kay Sedia, Danny Casillas as Frieda Laye, and Ray Garcia as Chita Parol. Infiltrating a beauty contest, protecting Charo from an assassin, and busting a Mexican baby black market ring are among the undercover crimefighting endeavors that never fail to put them in close proximity to shirtless hunks. chicosangels.com EDITOR’S CHOICE: TRAMP STAMP GRANNY’S (1638 N. CAHUENGA BLVD.; TRAMPSTAMPGRANNYS.COM)

Most LGBTQ-Friendly Workplace

WINNER: THE LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER “For more than 50 years, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has been providing invaluable services to our community. Many of our employees choose to work at the Center precisely because they are empowered to grow professionally in an environment that respects and honors who they are,” said Center Director of Human Resources, Sharon Brown. “We believe this ability to be one’s authentic self—regardless of background

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or identity—creates a workplace that is full of compassion and respect for the LGBT community and all who enter our doors. We are enormously proud of our staff and grateful to be acknowledged in this way.” McDonald/Wright Building, 1625 Schrader Blvd. lalgbtcenter.org EDITOR’S CHOICE: AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION (WINNER OF THIS YEAR’S BEST DOCTOR/MEDICAL PROVIDER; 6255 SUNSET BLDG.; AIDSHEALTH.ORG)

opportunity” to see the 11-time Tony Awardwinning Broadway Musical “Hamilton” at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, this year’s winner for Best Venue. Your purchase of prime Orchestra seats at $500 each (with $288 per ticket tax-deductible) goes to support this (literally) winning non-profit. 922 Vine St. angelfood.org EDITOR’S CHOICE: LA PRIDE, GMCLA (GMCLA.ORG)

Best Non-Profit

WINNER: PROJECT ANGEL FOOD “A world where every sick person is fed, nourished, and loved” is the vision statement of this year’s winner, a repeat of their 2019 honor. They give that vision focus, via preparing and delivering 15,000 meals per week to people impacted by serious illness. “We believe no one fighting critical illness should go hungry,” they say, “which is why we personally deliver, with care and compassion, free medically tailored meals, handmade with healthy ingredients, to those in our community who are hungry and alone.” Stars align April 5, when Project Angel Food offers “an incredible

Best Pet Business or Vet

WINNER: VCA-MILLER-ROBERTSON ANIMAL HOSPITAL Last year’s runner-up is this year’s top dog, which gives us pause (paws?) to ponder their pedigree: They’ve strutted down the victor’s catwalk before, when their Dr. Mark Nunez was awarded 2018’s Best in Show, so to speak. Nunez is still part of the VCA team—an anything-but-mangy menagerie of dedicated, friendly, professional colleagues who have “made it their mission to help pets live longer, healthier lives,” as their website notes. “To be true to this mission, the hospital team relies on several individuals, each equally important, in

helping us deliver the highest quality care and client experience for both you and your pet.” 8807 Melrose Ave. vcahospitals.com/miller-robertson EDITOR’S CHOICE: LAUREL PET HOSPITAL (7970 SANTA MONICA BLVD.; LAURELPETHOSPITAL.COM)

Best Regional Pride


DTLA Proud’s mission to strengthen and empower the local LGBTQ and ally community in Downtown Los Angeles took a decisive turn in 2019, when Board of Directors President Oliver Alpuche spoke with the Blade, in advance of the annual community festival, held Aug. 23-25. “We need to be active 365 days a year,” said Alpuche, “so we set out to start building the infrastructure of how we become an organization that is represented year-round.” The answer came in the form of their construction-to-begin-thisyear Community Center, which will offer an all-ages cafe featuring a transitional youth job training program, a queer library, co-working office spaces for LGBTQ+ non-profit start-ups, a conference room and theater, a community room and artist studios, a drop-in center, and services including career counseling, testing,

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senior support, and financial advisement. dtlaproud.org EDITOR’S CHOICE: PALM SPRINGS PRIDE (PSPRIDE.ORG)


Offering a “spirit-led, inclusive, affirming, nondenominational gathering of Christ-followers seeking authentic identity in Jesus,” InVision gives the LGBTQ community its own downhome, rollicking place of worship. Our runner up-last year, InVision flip-flops with 2019’s winner, Congregation Kol Ami (2020’s Editor’s Choice), whose “commitment to progressive spirituality, diversity, inclusion, and social justice remains rooted in Jewish tradition and practice.” Invisionchurch.com kol-ami.org RUNNER-UP: CONGREGATION KOL AMI


As we noted last year, when singing the praises of WeHo’s win for Best Place to Live, “There’s

just no place like it. The little town remains Los Angeles’ hottest destination for the entertainment industry with its boutique hotels, celebrity-owned restaurants, unparalleled nightlife and shopping, and world-renowned events. like the HBO Emmy Party, Sir Elton John’s Annual Oscar Party, and the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival.” What’s more, WeHo City Council member and Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath took top honors this year, in our Best Public Official category. See her write-up for what Horvath has planned, in the quest for further glorifying an already fabulously friendly city. weho.org EDITOR’S CHOICE: PALM SPRINGS (VISTPALMSPRINGS.COM)


The crimson carpet has always been a call to fabulousness—but with the possible exception of Cher on the year of her win for “Moonstruck” and Björk for that swan thing, who’s answered it better than the rainbow tribe? Here, in their natural habitat, they shine most brightly when they primp, preen, pose, and pontificate while

awaiting entry to the GLAAD Media Awards. The GLAAD Media Awards are held in NYC on March 19, and in Los Angeles on April 16. Instagram better pre-order congratulatory fruit baskets now, in anticipation of the sudden spike in traffic. glaad.org EDITOR’S CHOICE: OUTFEST (OUTFEST.ORG)

Best Real Estate Firm

WINNER: THE COLLECTIVE, REALTY A co-winner of this category last year, Collective emerged this time around as the sole victor. As we wrote then, “Owner Anthony Vulin assures that all of his mortgage brokers and appraisers are vetted as LGBT friendly, so you can invite them into your home with confidence. The Collective Realty also advocates for LGBT home ownership and nondiscrimination, by lobbying statewide, and in D.C.” 8278 1/2 Santa Monica Blvd and 2146 Sunset Blvd. thecollectiverealty.com EDITOR’S CHOICE: BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOMESERVICES CALIFORNIA PROPERTIES (LAST YEAR’S CO-WINNER; BHHSCALIFORNIA.COM)

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e started Wheels in order to offer a meaningfully safer option in the micromobility space – not just to create another scooter or e-bike company. While our device provides all the benefits that micromobility has to offer, from making transportation more sustainable and accessible to reducing traffic, our approach to safety actually addresses some of the biggest problems in the industry. That’s why from the beginning, our form factor has been completely different – with bigger wheels, a lower center of gravity, and a seat for more points of contact with the rider. Now, we have introduced a completely new safety initiative that has the potential to significantly advance the industry – we’re outfitting our bikes with a shareable and smart helmet that lives on the bike and is free for riders to use, with a biodegradable headliner that can be peeled off before each use. We at Wheels feel that innovation is important and continuing to improve micromobility allows for so many more people to get to work, school, their favorite restaurant, or your local Pride Celebration. As a local company, founded and headquartered in West Hollywood, we are looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Los Angeles Pride.

Best Salon/Spa


No close shaves here: Shorty’s won this category last year, and did it again by considerably more than a whisker. As we wrote in praise of their 2019 win, “When you walk out with some merch (the styling putty and soy paste are customer favorites), you can feel good about that, too. All of their products are ethically created, and never tested on animals. Besides the perfect cut, Shorty’s also puts a premium on giving back, by working with the likes of Concrete Hero, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.” 755 N. Fairfax Ave. @shortys_barbershop EDITOR’S CHOICE: THE POWDER ROOM (THEPOWDERROOMLA.COM)

Best Car Dealership

WINNER: CADILLAC OF BEVERLY HILLS Rightly hailed by a recent Los Angeles Blade article as “the Cadillac of Cadillac dealerships,” Cadillac of Beverly Hills is, we noted, a “sleek, sprawling, super-modern facility, located on the

marquee corner of Robertson and Wilshire.” This is not, General Sales Manager Ronald Elkhoury told us, “your traditional auto dealership that you go into, and are attacked by salespeople with tacky techniques. And you feel that right away. There’s no pressure at all. It’s a place where you’re able to relax, and encouraged to just hang out.” Five distinct lounges, Netflix viewing, and Starbucks coffee back up that assertion—but it’s the high standards of the iconic American-made luxury brand that has the competition spinning its wheels. 8767 Wilshire Blvd. cadillacbeverlyhills.com EDITOR’S CHOICE: TESLA, CENTURY CITY (10250 SANTA MONICA BLVD.; TESLA.COM/FINDUS/ LOCATION/STORE/CENTURYCITY)

Best Drag Show

WINNER: HAMBURGER MARY’S DRAG BRUNCH (ROXY) The 2019 runner-up for Best Neighborhood Bar topped all comers, as this year’s premier presenter of drag shows. We gave Roxy Wood a shout-out last year, for contributing to the Best Bar win by hosting, along with Willam and Calpernia Addams, the all-proceeds-go-to-charity

Drag Queen Bingo shindig. To Wood again goes the glory, for her hosting of Drag Brunch. EDITOR’S CHOICE: SHOWGIRLS MONDAYS (MICKY’S WEST HOLLYWOOD; MICKYS.COM)

Best Dance Party WINNER: CLUB PAPI

Club Papi Productions and Stefano Rosso put a smoking hot spin on the notion of TGIF, with this Friday night gathering of 1,000+ people wellprepared to party on two caliente dance floors flavored by 16 mouth-watering, drop-dead gorgeous muscle Papi and Latin twink go-go boys, presided over by the scandal-loving Ms. Lola. DJs Hardy and Ben lay down bossy beats and sweet rhythms in the main room and upstairs lounge (think Latin, Reggation, dance, and hip hop). The trouble starts at 9 PM, with the cover waived until midnight, and after hours dancing until 4 AM. Sex sells, and we’re buying (in crumpled single bills)! 8857 Santa Monica Blvd. clubpapi.com/los-angeles EDITOR’S CHOICE: CONFESSIONS (AT THE ABBEY; THEABBEYWEHO.COM)

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WEHO, WELCOME TO OUR HOUSE OF FRIENDS EXCLUSIVE TEQUILA, WITH AN INCLUSIVE SPIRIT. We continue to support and celebrate diversity, unity and equality. Casamigos Cocktails served in support of Los Angeles Blade 2020 Best of LGBT LA Awards




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Photo Courtesy of AHF

Best Restaurant


Delicious and decadent—just like you! After winning last year, victory is on the menu again for Tortilla Republic, whose West Hollywood location offers fresh and inventive takes on classic Mexican cuisine. Signature dishes include Pork Chop Al Pastor, Ancho Rubbed Salmon, and Carnitas with caramelized orange peel. The fan favorite Smoke ‘n Berries mezcal cocktail washes everything down exceedingly well, as will their margaritas, made with freshly squeezed juices shaken with premium tequila. Gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options mirror the spirit of inclusiveness fostered by the friendly staff. 616 N. Robertson Blvd. tortillarepublic.com/location/westhollywood-california EDITOR’S CHOICE: CATCH LA (HTTPS:// CATCHRESTAURANTS.COM/CATCHLA)

Best Cannabis Business WINNER: THE ARTIST TREE

Like marriage equality and an Oscar win for Lady Gaga, the legal consumption of

cannabis in California is a hard-won cause for celebration. Since opening in November 2019, this budding pot purveyor has been providing wide-eyed patrons not just with product, but something to stimulate the heightened mind. There are dozens of works of art on the walls, all by local artists who get every penny of profit from sales. “When we came up with this concept,” says Lauren Fontein, one of four Artist Tree founders, “we wanted it to be an experience, not just a destination. WeHo is a very special place, with a unique demographic that’s really focused on the arts. So we wanted to give artists a forum, and draw people in to see that.” Fontein, who says two consumption lounges will open in other locations by the end of this year (one for smoking, one for edibles), notes they want their Tree to grow, while staying true to its roots as “an extension of the community that really reflects its creativity and diversity.” Bonus points: Fellow co-founder Aviv Halimi is spearheading a recycling/compost initiative committed to a 25% landfill rate in 2020, and a 0% rate by 2022. 8625 Santa Monica Blvd.




Last year’s Editor’s Choice for Most LGBTFriendly Workplace won the admiration of this year’s voters, for 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. In its quest to rid the world of AIDS, this nonprofit organization provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy in 43 countries. Locally, says AHF Senior Director of Communications Ged Kenslea, “Our ‘circle of care’ concept starts with free and accessible HIV testing. When called for, AHF then provides swift linkage to care and follow-up treatment. We try as best we can to keep the focus on the patient by serving as their partner in care, in order to make it easier

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Photo Courtesy of Getty

for them to adhere to their medication and care regimens to help them achieve their best selves, health and wellness-wise.” 6255 Sunset Blvd aidshealth.org EDITOR’S CHOICE: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MEN’S MEDICAL GROUP/MEN’S HEALTH FOUNDATION (9201 W. SUNSET BLVD.; MENSHEALTHFOUND.ORG)

Best Museum or Art Gallery

WINNER: THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM In praise of its 2019 win in this category, we noted the Getty’s mission to collect, conserve, and exhibit works of outstanding quality, as well as its ongoing commitment to scholarly research, public education, and programming in the visual arts. Current exhibits include “Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs” (on view through March 8) and Käthe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics” (on view through March 29). Their Feb. 19 talk, “Place is the Space: Recasting Black Presence and Power through Art,” is a free event requiring advance reservations. Six daily tours tell the story of The Getty Center’s Central Garden, designed and conceived by artist Robert Irwin. 1200 Getty Center Drive getty.edu

Photo Courtesy of 24 Hour Fitness


Best Fitness or Workout Spot WINNER: 24 HOUR FITNESS

Like an insatiable man’s dating app that always seems to be on, many locations of this gym are open, as the name implies, 24/7. “We care about getting you the results you want,” they say, and do so by setting members up with a free custom workout plan from the moment you join, and providing daily guidance through a wide variety of fitness classes, personal and small group training programs, and their free custom workout app, 24GO. “Our goal is to guide you to success with personal fitness experiences that are not only challenging and motivating, but also fun and inviting,” they say, noting that applies equally to those “looking to get back on track, start fresh, or simply not sure where to start.” LA gyms at 505 S. Flower St., 5045 W. Slauson Ave., 3699 Wilshire Blvd. 24hourfitness.com EDITOR’S CHOICE: BARRY’S BOOTCAMP (LAST YEAR’S RUNNER-UP; 1106 N. LA CIENEGA BLVD.; BARRYS.COM/STUDIO/WEST-HOLLYWOOD)

Photo Courtesy of Abbey


The world-famous West Hollywood bar and eatery made local history late last year, by announcing the launch of “Heavenly Bodies,” the first known transgender club event in Los Angeles history, to take place monthly, on Sundays, at The Chapel at The Abbey. Owner David Cooley’s commitment to community includes his annual Academy Awards viewing party, which has raised nearly $2 million for AIDS Project Los Angeles. He helped found Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing, hosts an annual “Christmas in September” event and toy drive for Children¹s Hospital Los Angeles, and is known for his politically charged stunts. (He banned bachelorette parties from The Abbey until marriage was legal in California, and created the Chick-for-Gay sandwich, which raised thousands of dollars for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.) Cooley supports dozens of LGBT and community groups annually, including OUTfest, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, The Trevor Project, and GLAAD. EDITOR’S CHOICE: BLOCK PARTY (5052 YORK BLVD; BLOCKPARTYHLP.COM)

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At Santa Monica Buick GMC, we are proud to bring a large selection of new and used Buick, GMC cars, trucks and SUV’s to Santa Monica. We offer competitive lease specials, finance options and expert auto service for your vehicle. Our sales team is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and will make sure you drive away in the vehicle that fits your style.













Due at lease signing is $2,275 customer cash or trade-in equity and includes - $1,250 GM Select Market Incremental CCR, and $2,000 GM Lease Loyalty/Competitive Lease (Must qualify for either GM Lease Loyalty or Competitive Lease) FOR THIS OFFER Total Due signing $2,275 includes - first month payment, $650 Acquisition fee, $80 documentation fee, $30.00 Electronic license filing fee. Does NOT INCLUDE - sales tax, license fees, and any applicable government fees. MSRP:$33,380.00 Subject to vehicle availability, KB705907, KB714506, KB714889, KB715721. Must lease through GM FINANCIAL, on approved above average credit. Lessee is responsible for Excess wear and tear plus $.25 per mile for mileage over 10,000 miles a year. Disposition fee of $595 due lease end. $_0_Security deposit waived on Tiers A+/A. Picture may not represent actual vehicle. See dealer for detail

Due at lease signing is $0 customer cash or trade-in equity and includes - $600 GM Select Market Incremental CCR, and $1,500 GM Competitive Lease (Must qualify for either GM Competitive Lease) FOR THIS OFFER Total Due signing $2,075 includes - first month payment, $650 Acquisition fee, $80 documentation fee, $30 Electronic license filing fee. Does NOT INCLUDE - sales tax, license fees, and any applicable government fees. MSRP:$34,355.00 Subject to vehicle availability LL193069 . Must lease through GM FINANCIAL, on approved above average credit. Lessee is responsible for Excess wear and tear plus $.25 per mile for mileage over 10,000 miles a year. Disposition fee of $595 due lease end. $_0_Security deposit waived on Tiers A+/A. Picture may not represent actual vehicle. See dealer for detail

1717 SANTA MONICA BLVD SANTA MONICA California USA 90404-1906 santamonicabuickgmc.com





$64,675 NET PRICE

$64,675 Sale Price after $8,500 Santa Monica Buick GMC Discount, $5,500 GMC Standalone Cash on approved above average credit. - Prices Excludes - $80 dealer document fee, $30 Electronic license filing fee sales tax, license fees, and any applicable government fees. MSRP:$78,675.00 Subject to vehicle availability, KR257310. $64,675 sale price Can Not be combined with special APR 0% or other offers. See dealer for detail

SALES (424) 257-2066 Mon to Sat. 9:00 am 8:00 pm SUNDAY 10:00 am 7:00 pm

SERVICE (424) 257-6428 Mon to Fri 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM Sat 8:00 AM 3:00 PM Close Sundays

Photo Courtesy Kimpton

Photo Courtesy Pantages Theatre

Photo Courtesy AIDS Lifecycle

Best Hotel

WINNER: KIMPTON LA PEER Last year’s runner-up won a “suite” victory this year. Mere steps from the intersection of Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, Kimpton La Peer Hotel is its own destination, within a Design District that draws visitors from around the world. The design-centric hotel offers 105 luxury guestrooms and suites, a pool, a rooftop event space, and more than 8,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining and lounge spaces. Butler service and 24/7 in-room dining are available, loaner bikes are free, and dining options include an Italian eatery, an open-air bar, and made-to-order picnic baskets. 627 N. La Peer Dr. lapeerhotel.com


Best Social Group


Last year’s runner-up went the distance to claim the top spot this time around. Previously,

we noted a truth that stands tall to this day: “For many people, the fundraising marketing that precedes the 545-mile San Francisco to Los Angeles bike ride is about much more than AIDS; it’s about family and community at its very best. Not only do you get to pedal forward in life, you get to ask people to pay it forward. AIDS Life Cycle represents our community at its very best.” aidslifecycle.org



Having opened on Hollywood Boulevard, right down the block from Vine Street, in 1930, The Pantages has become one of the greatest landmarks of Hollywood, signifying both the glorious past and adventuresome future of the world’s entertainment capital. Primarily a movie house for several decades, Howard Hughes took possession 1949, changing its name to the RKO Pantages and setting up

offices there (Hughes’ ghost is among several rumored to roam the environs). Pacific Theatres bought the place in 1967, leading to a refurbishment and reopening of the theatre sections closed down during the Hughes reign. In 1977, the Nederlander Organization came in as Pacific’s partner and re-opened it as a legitimate theatre, after a renovation to recapture its 1930s look and luxury. Upcoming must-sees at the 2,703-seat space include “Hamilton” (March 12-Sept, 20), “Mean Girls” (April 28-June 7) and “My Fair Lady” (June 2-July 5). 6233 Hollywood Blvd hollywoodpantages.com



Tourists in T-shirts are frightful sights—but it’s easy to love the look of a visitor from Down Under, who emerges from the merch table

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Photo Courtesy of Rocco’s

wearing an autographed top with the likeness of a lady who’s got something extra going on, “down there.” Wide-eyed wonder from outof-towners is what won RuPaul’s DragCon LA our top spot, for its debut year in the City of Angels. Sending comments from London where they were debuting RuPaul’s DragCon UK (Jan. 18/19), con creators and World of Wonder co-founders Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey said they were “thrilled” with their win. “The fierce performances, exclusive panels, one-of-a-kind merch, Kids Zone, and Drag Queen Story Hour make it a truly unforgettable event for drag fans of all ages,” the duo declared, adding, “The convention will sashay back to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the 10th-ever DragCon, May 1-3, 2020.” Capping their comments with a quote that show’s mama knows how to make coin, Barbato and Fenton noted, “Tickets are on sale now at RuPaulsDragCon.com!” la.rupaulsdragcon.com


Photo Courtesy of Cat Cora

Best Neighborhood Bar ROCCO’S TAVERN WEHO

8900 Santa Monica Blvd. roccosweho.com Opened in May of 2019 by Lance Bass in association with well-known local chain Rocco’s Tavern, this neighborhood bar in the heart of West Hollywood has quickly become a favorite hotspot for locals and visitors alike. With nightly events like Monday Karaoke and GTFO (Gay The F*ck Out) Fridays, décor that celebrates LGBTQ pride and history (courtesy of the One Archive), a full menu of delicious food and drinks, and a strong sense of community, it’s no wonder that Blade readers have chosen it as their favorite.


Best Chef CAT CORA

catcora.com The first female winner of “Iron Chef America” and the first woman inducted into The American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame, Cat has blazed her own trail

Photo Courtesy of Channel Q

through the culinary world since debuting on Food Network in 1999. With more than 18 restaurants across the U.S. and globally, and a dedication to health, wellness and sustainability, she’s a welcome addition to our SoCal community, where she lives with her wife Nicole and their six boys.


Best Radio or TV Station CHANNEL Q

wearechannelq.radio.com Calling themselves “an innovative media destination built for and by the LGBTQ community and our allies,” this welcome community resource brings a proudly queer voice into the daily lives of its listeners with diverse programming, from pounding DJ beats to stimulating talk shows like “Sidebar with John Duran,” delivered via the airwaves or online for maximum convenience and availability.


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Mobile is HOTTER THAN EVER CHECK OUT: sexy member videos, hot user stories, and new search filters.

Best Local Media Personality ENRIQUE SAPENE, Q AGENDA LATV

Enrique Sapene on IMDb This actor, host, and reality TV star continues to be an audience favorite as the co-host of LATV’s flagship LGBTQ+ talkshow. Alongside Juliana Joel, Lianna Carrere, Victor Ramos, and other Latinx LGBTQ+ personalities and influencers, he provides us with a fresh, honest and funny conversation – and an LGBTQ perspective – about the news and culture of the day.



nba.com/lakers It’s no surprise that the Lakers, who are one of America’s favorite basketball teams, period, would also score high with readers

in their LA home. With their dedication to diversity, inclusion and unity in hosting an annual Pride night, they’ve earned their spot as Blade readers’ number one champions.


Best Home Furnishings

MITCHELL GOLD + BOB WILLIAMS 242 N Beverly Dr. mgbwhome.com/Beverly-Hills-Signature-Store At its signature store in the heart of Beverly Hills (and its other location in Glendale Galleria), this elegant brand presents the style and sophistication of its comfortable, ecofriendly American made line of furnishings, and offers a talented team of designers to help customers choose the ones “best suited to the way you live,” says general manager Rick Cordero. Add to this their longtime commitment to LGBTQ advocacy and inclusion, and there’s no wonder they win our

readers’ hearts for the second year in a row.



6838 Hollywood Blvd. elcapitantheatre.com Just up the street from the Pantages is this reader favorite, a 1920s movie palace lovingly transformed into a showcase venue for everything Disney. Yes, there’s an everchanging lineup of first-run must-sees and beloved classics to draw us there; throw in the added attraction of a pre-movie floor show and musical stylings from that enormous organ (a restored 1920s Wurlitzer, just to be clear), and you have an unbeatable movie destination for families, friends, or just a Disney fan who wants a deluxe experience all to themselves.

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Congratulations to all the honorees & nominees – standing strong together for our LGBTQ+ community.

With sincere gratitude for this recognition

Lindsey P. Horvath Mayor Pro Tempore City of West Hollywood

THE WALLIS and FOUR LARKS production



FEB 12 - MAR 1, 2020 An exuberant amalgamation of dynamic physical theatre, live music and experiential design that brings Mary Shelley's Frakenstein to life in today's world of unregulated technology, and questions the moral responsibility for each generation.

310.746.4000 TheWallis.org/Frankenstein





The ubiquitous RuPaul She’s everywhere — except on a talk show that was rejected By BILLY MASTERS

FOX passed on RuPaul’s talk show

“OK, people, time to recalibrate our gaydar. Batwoman is a lesbian? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but talk to me, Gotham – whatever happened to politics staying out of our superheroes?” - Not only did “Batwoman” just out herself, it was discussed in the on-air commentary of Vesper Fairchild - as voiced by Rachel Maddow. “Some people call it a train wreck. We call it ‘The View.’” Truer words were never spoken than during this “Saturday Night Live” spoof of the talk show’s opening (said by Cheri Oteri as Barbara Walters). Whatever you may think about “The View,” it is appointment television. The show not only reports the news - it makes news. And it opened the new year with a bombshell - the departure of right-of-center Abby Huntsman. A popular co-host’s departure would be news at any time. But a co-host’s departure during an election year is huge - especially for a show the New York Times recently dubbed “The most important political TV show in America.” The first question is why - why is Abby leaving? The immediate answer is that she’s going to help her father, who is running for governor of Utah. But then, more tidbits trickled out. First, who knew that Meghan McCain was pregnant? Hands? Anyone? Apparently, she was pregnant last summer and even wrote a New York Times piece about her miscarriage. So, bad Billy - I missed this entirely (in my defense, in the summer I am at my most self-involved and promiscuous). According to sources, Meghan considered Abby’s on-air “child-centric chats” during this difficult time “insensitive.” While this isn’t the only reason Abby left, the term “toxic work environment” was brought up more than once. Abby’s dad running for governor may simply be a good excuse. This leaves us with the bigger question - who will fill the seat? An election year is not the time for a revolving door of co-hosts. Friday fill-in Ana Navarro would be a perfect fit, but she won’t relocate to NYC. Perpetual also-ran, Rachel Campos, has surely already made herself available. What I believe the show needs is a newswoman. Of course, Meredith Vieira is the obvious answer. Diane Sawyer likely doesn’t want to continue being a Barbara Walters stand-in. But what about ABC’s former golden girl Elizabeth Vargas? She’d fit in perfectly. Or, if the show wants to be really edgy, why not reach out to Megyn Kelly? Replace one “Bombshell” character with another? Meanwhile in Hollywood, I was invited to a gathering of the leading ladies of “Knots Landing” at the Hollywood Museum. Michele Lee, Donna Mills, and Joan Van Ark were on hand to unveil an exhibit of costumes that were worn on the nighttime sudser. These events always bring out some luminaries from Hollywood’s bygone days. At one point, I found myself standing between Kathy Garver from “Family Affair” and Donna Pescow from “Angie.” I think that’s when Anson Williams stopped by to say hi. The “Knots” ladies were delightful, and I was happy to catch up with each of them. I saw Michele Lee two months ago when she joined the Broadway cast of “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” in a special performance for The Actors Fund. I spent time with Joan Van Ark last year when she participated in an all-star reading of “Valley of the Dolls” to raise money for the LA LGBT Center. And a few months earlier, I saw Donna Mills in “Driving Miss Daisy.” The fact that all three of these ladies recently did high-profile theatre events got me thinking - why not find a project for them to do together? “Why not?” said Van Ark, excitedly. “We could do it as a big benefit. We’d have a ball.” It’s been a great few years for RuPaul. She’s everywhere. OK, perhaps not on FOX, which took a hard pass on Ru’s daytime talk show. But it certainly isn’t slowing the drag diva down. She’s starring in “AJ and the Queen,” which has a 10-episode commitment from Netflix and producer Michael Patrick King. And she’s got another season of the award-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Then there’s a Las Vegas residency coming up at the Flamingo Hotel (formerly the home of Donny and Marie). And “RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK” was a huge hit. Alas, that also led to some woes. Last weekend, the UK hosted its first-ever DragCon - a popular event for drag queens and their fans. DragCon was a victim of its own success, with too many tickets being sold and people queuing in lines for hours. Photos at the Olympia London (the venue) show hordes both inside and out. World of Wonder (the producers) issued a statement offering to honor tickets the next day, or offer refunds. With all this hoopla, more producers are cashing in on the drag craze. TLC has announced a new show - “Dragnificent!”, which will star “Drag Race” alumnae Jujubee, Bebe Zahara Benet, Thorgy Thor and Alexis Michelle as sort of a drag version of “Queer Eye.” The ladies will travel around and try to make people’s lives better. I hope they let them loose on some of those people from “My 600-lb Life!” The show debuts in the spring. When Jujubees aren’t just for eating, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. You know what’s never a drag? Checking out www.BillyMasters.com - the site where you’ll never wait to be serviced. If you’d like to cut to the front of the line, drop a note to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before RuPaul replaces Abby Huntsman on “The View.” Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.



Congress holds hearing on ‘cannabis policies for new decade’ Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health last week held a legislative hearing, “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade,” during which they considered multiple legislative bills aimed at amending federal cannabis laws. This marks the first time that members of the Energy and Commerce Committee have debated issues specific to marijuana policy reform. However, during the three-hour hearing, members declined to explicitly discuss the merits of any specific cannabis measure before the committee. “At a time when nearly 70 percent of all Americans want to end our failed federal policy of blanket cannabis criminalization, it is unfortunate to see so many participants at this hearing advocating largely for business as usual,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. He continued: “The fact of the matter is that legalization and regulation work. Eleven states regulate the adult use of marijuana and 33 states provide for medical cannabis access. The time for federal policy to reflect this political and cultural reality is now. Congress should promptly approve the MORE Act and put the failed legacy of marijuana criminalization behind us.” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed disappointment that Committee members failed to advance any of the bills before it, but was not surprised. “Many of these proposals, like The MORE Act, seek to fundamentally change federal marijuana policies,” he said. “However, the witnesses before the committee are proponents and purveyors of the status quo.” Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) stated, “I’m pleased Chairman Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chair Eshoo made this hearing a priority. It was important to hear a number of senior members of Congress affirming the change that is taking place at the state level and affirming the contradictions that are created by the federal government being out of step and out of touch. It’s past time for Congress to catch up with the American people.” Six cannabis-related bills are currently before the Committee, including HR 3884, the MORE Act, which recently was approved in the House Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan vote of 24-10 and waived by the House Small Business Committee. Committee members announced their intent to hold a follow up hearing in the future. Witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing were representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

1 in 7 consumers bought cannabis out of state ONTARIO, Canada — One in seven U.S. cannabis consumers acknowledge having purchased cannabis from an out-of-state market within the past year, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. A pair of investigators affiliated with the University of Waterloo in Canada assessed cannabis purchasing habits of 4,320 subjects who acknowledged having consumed cannabis in the past 12 months. Overall, 15 percent of participants said that they obtained cannabis from another state. Respondents in states where adult-use cannabis sales are legal were less likely to make out-of-state purchases than were respondents in states where cannabis access is prohibited. Respondents residing in the south-central region of the United States, which includes Texas, and the north-central region of the United States, which includes Nebraska and the Dakotas, were most likely to acknowledge making out-of-state purchases. Those subjects residing in the pacific region of the United States (California, Oregon, and Washington) were least likely to admit having done so. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.






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