Shyne, Erickson sworn in as WeHo mayor, mayor pro tempore
At the city of West Hollywood’s annual City Council Reorganization and Installation meeting on Jan. 9, the city swore in Sepi Shyne as Mayor and John M. Erickson as Mayor Pro Tempore.
Mayor Shyne’s Oath of Oﬃce was administered by Lindsey P. Horvath, 3rd District Supervisor for Los Angeles County and former City of West Hollywood Mayor and Councilmember. Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson’s Oath of Oﬃce was administered by Abbe Land, former City of West Hollywood Mayor and Councilmember.
Mayor Shyne was elected to the West Hollywood City Council on November 2022. She made history as the ﬁrst Iranian American to serve on the Council, the ﬁrst woman of color to serve, and the ﬁrst out LGBTQ Iranian elected to public oﬃce in the world.
It was a packed house at the West Hollywood council chambers despite pouring rain and ﬂash ﬂood warnings throughout Los Angeles County. Richard Maggio, a West Hollywood resident who served as a rent WeHo stabilization commissioner for 33 years, was the emcee for the
ceremony before the Reorganization and Installation meeting. The pre-ceremony invited several friends, supporters, community leader and members of her family to speak and give some words of encouragement to the new Mayor and
Mayor Pro Tem.
The Mayor’s mother opened the ceremony with comments in her native Fārsī language. There were performances by the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles and singer, song writer Mikalah Gordon. And she received interfaith invocations by spiritual leaders and supporters, including her sister.
Mayor Meister called the Regular City meeting to order. Following the City’s Land Acknowledgement, she introduced Tina Calderón, a Gabrieliño Tongva / Chumash Culture Bearer who helped draft the City’s Land Acknowledgement. She performed a song that her culture oﬀers all of their women when they achieve something tremendous. The song sent a message stating “We are women. We Are strong.”
Mayor Pro Tem Erickson thank everyone who showed up to the ceremony, despite the rain, calling the event “a moment in our city’s history with the ﬁrst ever woman of color to be sworn in as mayor.”PAULO MURILLO/WEHO TIMES
Assemblymember Ward introduces Transgender Youth Privacy Act
Assembly Bill 223, also known as the Transgender Youth Privacy Act, was introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego) Tuesday and will require any petition for a change of gender or sex identiﬁ er ﬁ led by a minor to be sealed to protect their privacy.
“Being ‘outed’ is a traumatic event for anyone –– but especially traumatic for someone under the age of 18 years old,” said Ward. “The Transgender Youth Privacy Act gives transgender youth the conﬁ dence to navigate their gender identity without fear of retaliation from someone who discovers that information in the public record.”
Transgender youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgender peers, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transgender youth are also more likely to experience violence victimization, substance use and depression.
Transgender youth who feel supported report hav-
ing better physical health and mental health outcomes. However, the act of “outing” or “misgendering” someone can have severe negative consequences for adolescents. Allowing minors to decide when and how they wish to share their personal information with their peers is vital in protecting their mental health and overall well-being.
“This bill will secure the safety and privacy of so many California youth,” said Kathie Moehlig, executive director of TransFamily Support Services. “Transgender and nonbinary youth are navigating a world of hate daily. By sealing the name and gender marker change records, we are bringing the courts in line with the laws around schools not outing students. Often families were not even aware that these records are public until years after when a court order is discovered in a Google search of the youth’s name. Keeping these records public will put many students at high risk for bullying, hatred, and even violence. We applaud Assemblymember Ward for
Field of candidates to replace Feinstein in U.S. Senate grows
A day after Orange County Congresswoman Katie Porter announced her bid to replace California’s octogenarian senior U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, sources close to California U. S. Representative Barbara Lee told Politico that Lee is likely to also mount a challenge for the seat.
On Wednesday Lee informed her colleagues in a closeddoor Congressional Black Caucus meeting that she intends to run to two sources familiar with the situation Politico reported Thursday.
Asked later Wednesday about her plans, Lee said in a brief interview with Nicholas Wu, Politico’s Congressional Reporter and Politics reporter, she’d oﬃcially announce “when it’s appropriate.”
“Right now, in respect to [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein and the ﬂoods and what I’m doing, I’m doing my work. And we’ll let them know when I intend to go to the next step. But now’s the time not to talk about that,” she said.
Porter’s announcement and Lee’s potential run comes
on the heels of Rep. Adam Schiﬀ (D-Burbank-Hollywood) who had appeared on Los Angeles Fox 11 and told The Issue Is host Elex Michaelson that should Feinstein retire in 2024 he will seriously consider replacing her in a campaign.
Politico also noted that while she lacks the fundraising might of Porter and Schiﬀ, Lee is a revered ﬁgure in the Oakland-anchored district she has represented for decades. Her deep Bay Area roots could be an asset given that both Porter and Schiﬀ represent southern California districts.
Feinstein, who was ﬁrst elected to the Senate in 1992, is widely expected to retire instead of running for reelection in 2024. In recent years she has faced questions about her mental acuity an ﬁtness for remaining in her Senate seat and over the past year has has stepped back from some oﬃcial duties.BRODY LEVESQUE
LA County Sheriﬀ’s deputy threatens to shoot unarmed rapper
A New Year’s Eve incident involving South Los Angeles-based rapper Feezy LeBron and Los Angeles County Sheriﬀ’s Department patrol deputies recorded on a deputy-worn body cam was released Friday by the LASD.
The video has since gone viral, sparking public outrage and concern.
In the footage two deputies are recorded aggressively confronting the rapper and after he starts to ask questions about their reasoning for investigating him, the situation quickly escalates with one deputy threatening to shoot the unarmed LeBron while he was sitting inside his car in Gardena, in a parking lot of a strip shopping center.
“If you take oﬀ in this car, I’m going to shoot you,” says the deputy in the video. “I’m going to make it super easy on you. You put this car in drive, you’re getting one right to the chest.”
Lebron said he was using his cell phone while in his car at a parking lot on the 14900 block of Crenshaw Boulevard when two passing deputies approached him, asking him to exit his vehicle.
As the ﬁrst deputy tries physically removing him from the driver’s seat, the second deputy says, “I’m just going to spray you. Get out or you’re getting sprayed,” while pointing a pepper spray can at the rapper.
Eventually, it escalates as the deputy points a handgun
toward Lebron. As Lebron stays seated with both hands raised, he asks the deputy why he wanted to shoot him.
The rapper is told that if he doesn’t comply, he’ll be arrested and his car would be towed. He eventually steps out of the vehicle and is taken into custody.
“Unfortunately for you, you shouldn’t smoke so much weed in your car and then we wouldn’t have to search you,” the deputy says as Lebron is being handcuﬀed.
“I didn’t smoke no weed in my car, it’s not illegal,” Lebron replies.
“Do you have anger issues?” the deputy asks as the patrol car doors close on the rapper.
The L.A. Sheriﬀ’s Department released a statement on the incident:
“One deputy displayed pepper spray, then drew his ﬁrearm and used unprofessional language, which later resulted in a complaint ﬁled by that community member. The Sheriﬀ’s Department has opened an investigation into the deputies’ actions and language.”
After the incident, Lebron was not arrested and was instead given a ticket for a missing license plate.BRODY LEVESQUE
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Speaker McCarthy stands by George Santos
Asked whether he would urge GOP Rep. George Santos (N.Y.) to resign, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters the congressman is “part of the Republican conference,” having been duly elected to represent New York’s Third Congressional District.
At the same time, McCarthy said Santos has a “long way to go to earn trust” and acknowledged the specter of an investigation by the House Committee on Ethics pursuant to a complaint ﬁled by Democratic New York Reps. Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman.
Reporting over the past several weeks has revealed the congressman lied about practically every element of his biography and identity, while multiple law enforcement agencies have initiated investigations into his and his campaign’s ﬁnances.
Last week, more than a dozen elected Republican oﬃcials from his district and surrounding areas demanded Santos’s immediate resignation.
Nevertheless, the freshman congressman has been deﬁant. During his ﬁrst few days in oﬃce, Santos tried to dodge Capitol Hill reporters, but more recently he has vocally and publicly dismissed calls for him to step down.
McCarthy’s comments were echoed by other Republican House leaders, like Majority Leader Steve Scalise (La.), who said: “Obviously, you know, we’re ﬁnding out more, but we also recognize that he was elected by his constituents.”
House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) said, “It will play itself out,” noting that, “There have been members of Congress on the Democrat side who have faced investigations before.”
Other Republican members of the House, however – New York Reps. Nick LaLota, Nick Langworthy, Brandon Williams, Anthony D’Esposito, Marc Molinaro, and Mike Lawler, as well as South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace and Ohio Rep. Max Miller – have demanded Santos’s resignation.CHRISTOPHER KANE
Texts corroborate sexual assault allegations against Schlapp
Contemporaneous text messages shared with CNN appear to corroborate allegations of sexual assault against Republican activist Matt Schlapp, who chairs the organization that hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference.
In the messages, which were exchanged in October, a GOP strategist who was working for Herschel Walker’s senatorial campaign consulted a friend for guidance on how to proceed after he says he was groped by Schlapp in the car after an outing in a bar in Atlanta.
Schlapp addressed the allegations through an attorney who told CNN: “The attack is false and Mr. Schlapp denies any improper behavior.”
The Republican staﬀer texted his friend that Schlapp was “pissed I didn’t follow him to his hotel room.”
“I’m so sorry man,” the friend responded. “What a fucking creep.”
“I just don’t know how to say it to my superiors thst heir [sic] surrogate fondled my junk without my consent,” the staﬀer wrote.
Schlapp has close ties to former President Donald Trump, in whose administration his wife served as communications director from 2017-2019 and whose false claims about the 2020 presidential election he has parroted.
The sexual assault allegations were ﬁrst reported by the Daily Beast. The group that organizes CPAC, the American Conservative Union, did not immediately return a request for comment.CHRISTOPHER KANE
Wisconsin Republicans block conversion therapy ban
An eﬀort to outlaw conversion therapy in Wisconsin was blocked for the second time on Thursday by a group of four Republican members of a state legislative committee.
In 2020, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers banned the dangerous and scientiﬁcally discredited practice via occupational licensing requirements for therapists, social workers, and counselors.
The Republican-controlled legislature responded by temporarily blocking the ban, doing so again on Thursday with all six GOP members voting against their Democratic colleagues.
Twenty states along with the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy for minors, as it is inconsistent with clinical practice
guidelines governing evidence-based care, ineffective at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and tends to cause long term psychological harm.
The practice is often considered fraudulent and has been described as torture.
“It’s disappointing that the very ﬁrst move the GOP is going to make this legislative session is to green-light abusive practices against children,” State Sen. Kelda Roys said.
Republican Wisconsin legislators contend their objection is rooted in the fact that the examining board in the Department of Safety and Public Standards does not have the authority to enforce the conversion therapy ban.CHRISTOPHER KANE
Transgender journalist joins Ukrainian militaryBy MICHAEL K. LAVERS | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was shortly before 1 p.m. on Dec. 9 when Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a member of the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s Noman Çelebicihan Battalion, arrived at Le Bon Café, a coﬀee shop on Second Street, S.E., near the U.S. Capitol. The Las Vegas native who was wearing her uniform sat down at an outdoor table and began to sip a coﬀee as she talked about the journey that brought her from the U.S. to the frontlines of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Ashton-Cirillo in 2015 traveled to eastern Turkey to cover Syrian refugees who had ﬂed their country’s civil war.
She said she was “supposed to have started the story in Syria, but I was too scared.” Ashton-Cirillo later wrote a book, “Along the Tracks of Tears,” but she told the Washington Blade that she “was terribly unhappy with” it.
“Some of it had to do with being trans,” she said. “I had been traveling with Muslims, with diﬀerent groups, and they were accepting me, but I would always have in the back of my mind, would they have talked to me if they knew I was trans or a female.”
Ashton-Cirillo, who was born in northern Florida, was the director of communications for a California-based health care company before she launched Political.tips, a website that focused on politics in Nevada and across the country.
Ashton-Cirillo has also sought to expose extremist Republicans through her reporting.
Ashton-Cirillo noted she wrote her second book, “Fair Right Just,” while she was in the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.) Ashton-Cirillo told the Blade that she learned about what Russia had done to them through mid-winter visits to museums.
“That led me to hate Russia, because I’m reading about things that ended up being pertinent today: Filtration camps, the language issues, they were trying to erase culture, the genocide, the torture of political prisoners, everything that we’re living now, the folks in the Baltics lived 80 or 90 years ago, as do the Ukrainians, but I hadn’t been to Ukraine yet.”
Russia launched its war against Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
“It always bothered me for 6 1/2 years,” said Ashton-Cirillo, referring to her book about Syrian refugees. “As I was watching this unfold, I said, oh, there’s a massive refugee situation. Is it worth it for me to go over and try to maybe get new material and put out a book that would actually take the old material and the new material and put it together. I put it together, and so when the war actually broke out, I said, holy shit this is real and that’s why I wasn’t here (in Ukraine) on the ﬁrst day. I was watching it.”
Ashton-Cirillo conceded she is “the ﬁrst to say I was not expecting it to happen.”
“With the full-scale invasion happening on Feb. 24, even though Donbass had been under siege, and there had been a war going on for or years, I didn’t expect there to be an invasion, a land invasion of a full country, not just in this area that had been, you know, that the Russians had seized when basically the world was sleeping,” she said.
Ashton-Cirillo entered Ukraine on March 4, 2022, with the intention of covering refugees who had ﬂed the country. She
said the press credentials the Ukrainian government reﬂected her gender identity and her legal name.
“My legal name, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, was my legal name when I traveled. My gender was my legal gender when I traveled due to having changed it in Nevada,” said Ashton-Cirillo. “My driver’s license was changed but my passport had not been changed … it was very complicated because it looked like a totally diﬀerent person with totally diﬀerent names, a totally diﬀerent gender.”
Ashton-Cirillo noted Ukrainian oﬃcials put her legal name on the top of her press credentials and “formally known as my previous name” on the bottom of them.
“I was okay with it because I couldn’t believe they credentialed me anyway with the situation being the way it was,” she said.
Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights, less than a month after the war began told the Blade that many trans and gender non-conforming Ukrainians decided to remain in the country because they could not exempt themselves from military conscription. Stern during the March 18, 2022, interview cited the case of a trans man who tried to leave Ukraine and “in an eﬀort to prove who he was, who he said he was, he was actually forced to remove his shirt and show his chest” at the border.
“Unfortunately, that’s not the only humiliating and potentially violent incident that I’m hearing,” she said.
One of the stories that Ashton-Cirillo wrote for LGBTQ Nation while in Ukraine highlighted problems that trans people had when they tried to leave the country because their ID documents did not match their gender identity.
Gender Stream, a Ukrainian advocacy group, helped more than 50 trans and nonbinary people obtain the necessary paperwork that allowed them to leave the country. Ashton-Cirillo acknowledged there was “gatekeeping, but people could get out.”
“Nobody knew what to do,” she said, referring to the treatment of trans and nonbinary Ukrainians who wanted to leave the country immediately after the war began. “Every male was mobilized. It was just something I don’t think was ever going to come up in the purview. The other thing not coming up in the purview was getting a trans journalist popping in with an ID that was totally diﬀerent. I didn’t expect to get let in. I didn’t expect to get credentialed.”
Ashton-Cirillo told the Blade that she wanted to go to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and cover Russia’s eﬀorts to seize it. Ashton-Cirillo instead traveled to Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city that is less than 30 miles from the Russian border in eastern Ukraine.
Elvira Schemur, a volunteer for Kyiv Pride and Kharkiv Pride, was inside the regional administration building in Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, when a Russian missile struck it. The 21-year-old law student was among those who were killed.
Ashton-Cirillo arrived in Kharkiv eight days after Scheumer’s death.
CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward was among the journalists who reported from Kharkiv during the ﬁrst weeks of the war. Ashton-Cirillo recalled to the Blade a conversation that she had with her shortly after she arrived in the city.
“Clarissa says to me, via the Twitter Space, Sarah, I’ve been following your work in Kharkiv. It’s great,” recalled Ashton-Cirillo. “If you don’t leave you’re going to be traumatized for the rest of your life because this is the worst bombing … she knows it.”
“She’s an idol of mine,” she added. “She’s somebody that I look up to from a journalistic standpoint … I didn’t understand what that meant because I’m embedded with security services and not only am I trans, I’m living with security forces during the bombings as a trans woman and a journalist and I’m living with them. I was seeing things that no one else was seeing, but I was also living in a bubble and because of that I was living this life of war and I was living this life of terrorism and death every single day, but I didn’t realize it.”
Ashton-Cirillo said the only foreigner she saw from the time she arrived in Kharkiv until April 21 was an Al-Jazeera reporter who visited the same site that Russia had attacked.
“I was in a bubble and didn’t realize what I was going through was not normal,” she said. “It was not normal because journalists come in and out, they have each other to talk with. I was totally on my own.”
Ashton-Cirillo lived and worked with local security oﬃcials. She also helped them deliver weapons to checkpoints while she was not writing about the war.
The mayor of Zolochiv, a village in Kharkiv Oblast that is 10 miles from the Russian border, named Ashton-Cirillo his ofﬁcial representative in negotiations with foreign aid groups after he met her. She said there “was devastation” in the village when she ﬁrst arrived.
“I’m on the Russian border and I’m being empowered as power of attorney for this town of Zolochiv. This was my focus in between my writing,” she said. “I would go up there and do my things, but I was not a combatant yet.”
Continues at losangelesblade.com
‘I want to serve this ﬁght for freedom, this ﬁght for liberty’SARAH ASHTON-CIRILLO in Ukraine (Photo courtesy of Ashton-Cirillo)
is a journalism student at the University of Maryland and a Blade Foundation fellow.
GOP doubles down on racism, homophobia with ‘Old Glory Only Act’
Pride, BLM ﬂags should be allowed at U.S. embassies
“Old Glory Only Act,” one of the Republican majority’s ﬁrst legislative priorities in the U.S. House of Representatives would prohibit ﬂags other than the American ﬂag from being ﬂown over U.S. diplomatic and consular posts.
“Old Glory Only Act,” sponsored by Rep. Jeﬀ Duncan (R-S.C.), is nothing but a tired reminder that the GOP has no real plan for improving American lives and instead is doubling down on exclusionary, racist, and homophobic rhetoric.
The GOP claims the Old Glory Only Act remedies (what they call) the politicization of U.S. embassies during the Biden administration, which has allowed Pride and Black Lives Matter ﬂags to be ﬂown from U.S. embassies.
“Our beautiful ﬂag, Old Glory, should be the only ﬂag ﬂying and representing our country over our diplomatic and consular posts worldwide,” Duncan said in a press release. “The American ﬂag is a beacon of liberty, and no other ﬂag or symbol better portrays our shared values than the Stars and Stripes.”
“It is important to ensure that Old Glory only is ﬂown at American embassies to represent our ideals abroad,” Duncan said.
My question for Duncan and his colleagues that support this legislation is: Which ideals? Have we reached a level of openly embracing discrimination in the U.S. to the point that we are going to pretend that Americans, U.S. citizens and residents aren’t Black? Queer? SGL?
At the heart of it, the bill seeks to permanently ground the Pride ﬂag and Black Lives Matter ﬂag for the very same reason that these two ﬂags were ﬁrst approved to be ﬂown at U.S. embassies during the Obama administration — the U.S. ﬂag is not automatically seen as inclusive of those communities. Old Glory’s “shared values” could represent all Americans at some point in the future, sure, but this is not the Old Glory we ﬂy today.The ﬂying of the Pride ﬂag and Black Lives Matter ﬂag sends a critical message when those
communities of people aren’t represented by the American ﬂag and should be.
The GOP is intentionally hailing a ﬂag whose 50 stars and 13 stripes represent states that are actively waging violent, exclusionary campaigns to strip non-white and LGBTQ residents of their rights and safety. In some states, the question of representation has become regressive to the point that state legislatures have passed dress codes so restrictive that some state representatives can easily be prevented from performing their duties to constituents because of the representative’s gender identity and attire.
And the argument that any ﬂag other than the American ﬂag is politicization of American embassies clearly missed the history lesson on the establishment of this country, whose beginnings are rooted in genocide, enslavement, theft, and lies.
The GOP was the ﬁrst to dehumanize Black and LGBTQ people by attempting to politicize their right to exist. And the Old Glory Only Act joins the same dehumanizing discourse as Republicans’ unsubstantiated claims about bathrooms and drag queen story hours as the GOP continues to shove Christian nationalism down the throats of all who refuse to swallow their poison.
For politicians like Duncan, the only liberty in this country is for those whose complexion, gender identity, and sexual orientation passes the GOP’s litmus test of humanity.
How can LGBTQ people have the right to liberty in a country that threatens healthcare providers for providing trans aﬃrming healthcare or the right for two same-gender people to marry?
How can Black people have the right to liberty in a country where white murderers go free for unjustly taking Black lives and 33 out of 50 states still allow for Black people to lose their livelihoods for their hair texture and styles?
Let’s be clear: There is nothing glorious about Old Glory or its representation of the failed experiment that is America.
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Best of LGBTQ LA 2023
Sixth annual special issue celebrates the communityFROM STAFF REPORTS
Welcome to the sixth annual special issue of the Best of LGBTQ LA! The Los Angeles Blade is proud to celebrate the best of our community as this special recognition issue becomes a Los Angeles tradition.
The year for LGBTQ people and families has been uniquely challenging and the accomplishments made throughout this past year seem more relevant than ever. We got past some of the pandemic restrictions, but anti-LGBTQ forces got more aggressive and violent. It was a year in which we relived the attempted insurrection from the year prior while learning details of all that happened behind the scenes, and who was responsible. It was also a year when LGBTQ families and our gender non-conforming population came under direct political and physical attacks.
In Los Angeles, we had a change of leadership after enduring our own local scandals tainted with racism and homophobia. Through it all, our community did not allow our fabulousness to dim. We are strong and know how to ﬁght back. This could not be more evident as you enjoy these highlights of Los Angeles living that demonstrate the best of LA’s LGBTQ community.
Los Angeles Blade readers nominated ﬁnalists; the top ﬁve vote getters in each category were then added to the ﬁnal ballot. Twenty thousand Blade readers then voted and the winners are presented here. The Blade staﬀ congratulates each of this year’s winners and ﬁnalists.
Local Hero Presented by Ariadne Getty Foundation: Sheila Kuehl
“I haven’t been this happy since I was in my 20s,” says out former Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who will celebrate her 82nd birthday on Feb. 9. “The freedom of deciding or not deciding every day what you want to do without any weight on you, without any expectations on you, without any demands on you, is enormously freeing and really, really pleasant.”
After almost three decades as an elected leader and actively ﬁghting for progressive issues, Kuehl’s ﬁnal day in ofﬁce representing the Third District was Nov. 22, 2022 — a day ﬁlled with celebration and grateful tears shed by colleagues and friends.
Now she’ll have time to write. The working title for her planned autobiography is “My Life As I Remember It: Probably a Novel.”
Much of that life has been in service of advancing LGBTQ rights, for which Kuehl is being honored by the Los Angeles Blade and the Ari Getty Foundation on Jan. 18 at 10 DTLA during the Blade’s Best of LGBTQ LA Readers’ Choice Awards 2023.
In an odd ﬂash of ﬁckle fate, Kuehl culminated her long legislative career in much the way as she began it — protected by bodyguards from threatening bullies. In 1994, the bullies were knuckle-dragging followers of Far Right rhetorical bombastic bomb-thrower Newt Gingrich. Today, the bullies are followers of Gingrich’s heir, Donald Trump, some of whom the Department of Justice considers domestic terrorists.
In Kuehl’s case, her primary bully was LA County Sheriﬀ Alex Villanueva, who LA Magazine dubbed “the Donald Trump of L.A. Law Enforcement.” Last Sept. 14, after two years of ﬁercely ﬁghting Villanueva over alleged LASD wrongdoing, a slew of Sheriﬀ’s deputies pounded on Kuehl’s door at 7:00am, served her with a search warrant in a corruption investigation, and escorted her outside barefoot to a face a throng of reporters and TV news cameras.
The raid was big news but backﬁred on Villanueva, who subsequently lost his bid for re-election. The LA Times reported succinctly: “A Times review of the case found it is based
on the testimony of just one person, a former Metro employee named Jennifer Loew, who brought her bribery complaint to at least four law enforcement agencies, but found a receptive audience only at the Sheriﬀ’s Department. The Times found no evidence to support Loew’s allegation.”
1994 was also a year of living dangerously. Gingrich was elevated to the traditionally respected position of Speaker of the US House of Representatives and pledged to implement his anti-gay, lie-based Contract with America, civility be damned. Meanwhile Kuehl and her best friend Torie Osborn were watching a new LGBTQ movement grow and get stronger as thousands of LGBTQ people, AIDS activists, Queer Nationals and allies took over the streets in 1991 after California GOP Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed AB 101, the gay rights bill he had promised to sign.
“Thousands and thousands of us were on the street, as opposed to just being in the closet and hiding in a lot of shame,” says Kuehl. “I had not really thought about running. I was engaged in more of the Women’s Movement, especially domestic violence issues, sexual assault issues, trying to get any law in California to deal with domestic violence, which it didn’t have at the time. We founded the California Women’s Law Center.
“There was a lot going on in the ’70s and ’80s and there was a lot to push back against,” Kuehl continues. “There’s a diﬀerence between working towards something when there’s nothing there and working to gain something back — like the loss of Roe v Wade (the federal law permitting abortion). Our expectations grew, but there was nothing in place to protect us. I actually had not thought about running. But I had been up and back to Sacramento many times testifying on new domestic violence bills that I helped to draft before I was elected and I understood from sitting for so many hours at committee hearings that there was no silver bullet genius talent in these members, that they were just like me — and in some cases, less capable because they hadn’t been to law school. They didn’t really understand the issues.”
Then, on Jan. 17, 1994, two earthquakes happened at once – the Northridge earthquake and Kuehl’s decision to enter politics.
“There was broken glass and fallen pictures and glasses and everything all over my house. I picked up the LA Times and it says, ‘Terry’s not running,’” she recalls, referring to Assemblymember Terry Friedman. “I think, ‘Okay, this is my chance if I’m going to be one of those people sitting in those chairs and try to make a diﬀerence.’ I started exploring running, and frankly, I didn’t think at that moment about how historic it would be. I didn’t think about being the ﬁrst gay person if I got through whatever. I felt more like a feminist progressive that needed to be there to add that voice to the table.”
Kuehl quickly discovered that she was making history. But her victory as the ﬁrst gay person elected to the California State Legislature was fraught with danger, with so many death threats, then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown ordered a bodyguard for her protection. “I had to wear a bulletproof vest the whole ﬁrst year that I was in the legislature,” Kuehl told Spectrum News1.
But braving those threats and doing the work, then and now, is not the only reason Sheila Kuehl is an LGBTQ hero. She recognizes her place in the largely invisible long span of LGBTQ history.
“Just as people have said they’re standing on my shoulders,” Kuehl says, “I stood on a lot of shoulders, too.”
Follow @WeHoCity for alerts on news where policies unite and trends take ﬂight.
The City of West Hollywood is thrilled to be recognized with this year’s Los Angeles Blade award for Most LGBTQ Friendly City!
Follow @WeHoCity for alerts on news where policies unite and trends take ﬂight.
Follow @WeHoCity for alerts on news where policies unite and trends take ﬂight.
Follow @WeHoCity for alerts on news where policies unite and trends take ﬂight.
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Best Drag Performer: Lolita Colby
Mayor Sepi Shyne made history in November 2020 when she was elected becoming the ﬁrst out LGBTQ Iranian elected anywhere globally and the ﬁrst woman of color elected to West Hollywood’s City Council. Actively progressive in her politics, Shyne is constantly seeking to improve the lives of her constituents, friends, family, and the greater community of the City aﬀectionately referred to as WeHo.
“West Hollywood is a vibrant tourist destination and one of the most walkable as well as LGBTQ+ safe cities in America. Our visitors and residents love to frequent our businesses, so helping to keep them in business is a priority. One of my joys of living in West Hollywood is walking down the street to neighborhood restaurants or cafes and enjoying a meal or an oat milk latte,” Shyne told the Blade in an interview after her ﬁrst anniversary of being sworn into oﬃce on December 7, 2021.
As a woman of color and as a minority as well, Shyne is keen to maintain awareness of the ongoing needs of the diverse communities that comprise her city. “Aside from COVID, the social justice movement impacted the City of West Hollywood by awakening our community to the truth that systemic racism, even in our progressive city, needs to be dismantled,” she noted.
After her sister was sworn into oﬃce as Mayor earlier this month at City Hall, in which the Mayor and her mother opened the ceremony with comments in their native Fārsī language, Soodi Eshraghi, made a few poignant remarks:
“Good evening mayor, mayor pro-tem and council members, my name is Soodi Eshraghi, I am incoming mayor Shyne’s sister, representing the Baha’i Faith.
A little girl with big brown eyes frightened in a new country and not speaking the language. In her short years this little girl had experienced the trauma of war as well as the compulsory hijab which forced her to cut her hair short, choose a boy’s name to be able to play on the streets with her cousins. Yet, her resilience and tenacity allowed her to overcome challenges faced by many immigrants and build a life for herself and become a lawyer. Her choice of academia was a reﬂection of her passion for justice and equality. Her decision to run for oﬃce was for the same exact reason, and more. Her ultimate goal is to make a diﬀerence in the lives of those around her, bringing about opportunities conducive for betterment of life, especially her constituents. Mayor Sepi Ghafouri Shyne, your family is extremely proud of you and we are always ready to support you every step of the way.
The prayer I’ll be reciting from the Baha’i writings is on the destiny of America with the hope that this nation can become promulgator of peace and the oneness of humanity.
O Thou kind Lord! This gathering is turning to Thee. These hearts are radiant with Thy love.
These minds and spirits are exhilarated by the message of Thy glad-tidings.
O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just government victorious.
Conﬁrm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world.
O God! This American nation is worthy of Thy favors and is deserving of Thy mercy. Make it precious and near to Thee through Thy bounty and bestowal.”
Lolita Colby is now a 10-year drag veteran, having launched her career in a Miami bar. She now creates legendary moments at Rocco’s in West Hollywood. “I don’t know if this is a cliché or not, but it takes a really strong man to put on a dress,” says this year’s Best Drag Performer winner. Given the current right-wing attack climate in the United States, that statement is truer than ever. “Many drag artists do not realize the importance we bring to the community. Drag artists break boundaries. We stand up against the norm. We do a lot of things that other people are afraid of.” Lolita’s 30,000 TikTok followers, 18,000 Instagram followers, and a host of LA Blade readers agree with her fan that called her “Absolutely Gorgeous.”Runner Up: GottMik
Best Drag Show: Makeout Mondays at Rocco’s
Last year’s Editor’s Choice is this year’s winner. The 5,000-squarefoot Rocco’s, located at 8900 Santa Monica Blvd., wowed boystown with the best drag on the LA scene. Crowds ﬂocked to the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente in the heart of WeHo. “This is the funnest place EVER and their drag shows are so much fun! The food is great and the atmosphere is awesome!” wrote a happy visitor. A second chimed in, “They have some epic drag shows that are diﬀerent and entertaining!” LA Blade readers obviously agreed.
Editor’s choice: Thirsty Thursdays at Beaches, West Hollywood
West Hollywood’s Mayor Sepi Shyne honored with a Stop the Hate Initiative award
Equality California Congratulates the LA Blade on a successful 2022!
With over 900,000 members, Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization and California’s only LGBTQ+ civil rights organization working at the local, state and national levels.
We strive to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating, and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve.
We’re fighting for full LGBTQ+ equality and YOU can join us! Your membership allows us to:
∂ Pass pro-equality legislation in California and Washington, DC
Elect pro-equality champions up and down the ballot
Fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice in the courtroom
Reduce disparities in LGBTQ+ health and well-being
∂ Develop a pipeline of LGBTQ+ leaders
Increase civic participation and building political power within the LGBTQ+ community
Your support matters! Join us in advancing LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice in California and across the country!
THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SPONSORS & PARTNERS!
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Best Inﬂuencer: Gigi Gorgeous
Best LGBTQ Bar: Heart
“lover of beauty, fashion, and a good party.”Runner Up: Ambers Closet
Best Queer Artist: Nats Getty
Check out Nats Getty’s “Undecided 10” signed art prints. Writer Karen Ocamb said of him, “Nats Getty was an artist long before he knew it. His soul was forged in the ﬁght between the ﬁre of freedom and the cold dictates of a society he tried mightily to understand and follow, only to fail and fall into rebellion, a fury of authenticity that still feeds his art and serves his independent, progressive, philanthropic spirit today.” Getty himself stated, “Philanthropy — and advocacy — is something that is very important to me. I made 600 masks that were donated to hospitals and nursing homes on the frontlines, and 400 masks for the Strike Oil website, where 100 percent of proceeds have gone to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank…Everything I create from a jacket to an art piece has a story and serves a purpose in my personal journey.” LA Blade readers cheered his generous spirit and named him this year’s best artist.Runner up: Guadalupe Rosales
Heart WeHo threw what it called “the biggest most lavish NYE celebration in West Hollywood” with three DJs, two levels, and two packed rooms of dancing and featured DJ Liza Rodriguez from Brazil. The premier watch party for the premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” was a sold out “amazing night of love.” Patrons call Heart “the happening spot” and “super fun.” LA Blade readers voted in kind.
Editor’s choice: Bar 10
Best Brunch: The Abbey
Patrons cite a “fabulous outdoor terrace” and “fun ambiance” for making the “world famous” Abbey this year’s goto spot for brunch. The Abbey launched 31 years ago as a small coﬀee house by David Cooley as a safe space for the gay community. “Come as you are,” was its mantra. The stained glass window décor inspired the religious-themed name and atmosphere. LA Blade readers got religion this year and brunch toasted The Abbey as the best.
Editor’s choice: Stache West Hollywood
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Best Restaurant: The Nice Guy
With a delicious menu that ranges from roasted veggies to exotic pizzas (lobster pizza with sunny vodka sauce anyone?), to incredible pasta, steak, and seafood, The Nice Guy has been named this year’s best. The aesthetic is described as “decadent Maﬁa” that brings a unique social experience encouraging conversation and camaraderie. As they say, thanks to the maﬁoso deliciousness and good vibes, if LA Blade readers tried to escape, The Nice Guy just keeps pulling them back in again.
Editor’s choice: Bottega Louie
Best Radio or TV Station: KTLA
This year KTLA aired the annual telethon in support of Project Angel Food’s vital work of feeding critically ill men, women, and children in Los Angeles County. Janene Drafs, vice president and general manager of KTLA 5, told the LA Blade, “This show gets better and better every year, and we are thrilled to extend our relationship with Project Angel Food. KTLA has a 75-year tradition of being there for LA, so providing this very special program to connect our community of viewers with Project Angel Food’s work serving the most vulnerable in our community at large is what being ‘L.A.’s Very Own’ is all about.” With more than 400 LGBTQ relevant stories on its website, KTLA has demonstrated that it has its ﬁnger on the pulse of LGBTQ interests. From tracking U.S. progress on LGBT rights to reporting that California reached the milestone of 10% of its legislature being LGBTQ, KTLA is there for the community. LA Blade readers show their gratitude by calling them the best.
Editor’s choice: 104.3 Pride
Best Cannabis Retailer/Lounge: Green Qween
Business partners Andres Rigal and Taylor Bazley launched Green Qween as “a queer-driven cannabis dispensary in an industry where LGBTQ+ and BIPOC representation have been lacking.” Donating a portion of proceeds to the DTLA Proud Community Center, Green Qween sees itself as an incubator for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC cannabis brands and growers. LA Blade readers just see them as the best.
Editor’s choice: The Artist Tree
Best LGBTQ-Owned Business: Cake and Art
Cake and Art has proudly served the community since 1976. It is the renowned producer of custom cakes, cupcakes, and more. They brag, “For 46 years, Cake and Art has specialized in imaginative birthday cakes for Hollywood’s biggest entertainment industries and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Clinton, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and many more.” Cake and Art was founded by Glenn von Kickle when he was 45 years old. Glenn, who’s gay, started the shop where he could be himself, and in a community that would appreciate what he was doing. Current owner Tom Rosa came on board as a business partner, and became the spirit that made sure von Kickle’s legacy endured. Cake and Art’s history arcs between being the place to get the cake no one else will think of, or attempt, to heroes of the anti-same sex wedding cake wars. When gay marriage started, they ﬁlled the gap for many consumers rejected by their usual bakeries. As for being “LGBTQ owned,” Tom has said “I’ve never been considered ‘the gay bakery’…I was sitting there thinking, what does that mean? What are the parameters of a gay bakery? Is it creative? Is it sensational? Is it fabulous? Do we all dress in rainbow?” Well Tom, whatever it means, it means that you have been voted the best of them.
Editor’s choice: Urban Pet
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Best LGBT Social Group: Impulse Group LA
Impulse is doing something right. They have won this category for three years in a row. Impulse Group LA was founded in 2009 by Jose Ramos. It is a nonproﬁt organization dedicated to building a stronger and healthier community for gay men. Hosting more than 400 events annually in 25 cities, 12 countries across 5 continents across the globe, Impulse seeks to create a brave space to engage, support and connect our community. This year their outreach included HIV testing, a strong showing for World AIDS day, and embarking on a ﬁght against Monkey Pox.
Editor’s choice: Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles
Best House of Worship: Congregation Kol Ami
In 2019, 2021 and 2022, Congregation Kol Ami won the award for Best House of Worship. In 2020 it won Editor’s Choice, and now wins the award yet again for the Best House of Worship this year. Kol Ami is an important leader in the Jewish, LGBTQ, and West Hollywood communities since its founding in 1992. Rabbi Denise L. Egers, who plans to retire in 2024, broke barriers that resulted in more LGBTQ inclusion at synagogues worldwide. Kol Ami describes itself as “a progressive, Reform congregation rooted in a rich Jewish tradition, with commitment to social justice, diversity, and a world in which all individuals are honored and connected. Our congregation celebrates an LGBTQ+ core at the center of a profoundly diverse community.” (1200 N La Brea Ave, West Hollywood)
Editor’s choice: InVision Church Los Angeles
Most Committed Activist: Gabby Leon and Terri Jay
Gabby Leon and Terri Jay jointly came to the realization that there was a need for an event to create visibility and celebration of the Two Spirit identities. The concept of a festival that celebrated and honored Native American LBGTQ roles and traditions was born. The idea blossomed into a reality and Los Angeles now has the cultural Indigenous Pride LA, which “honors, and acknowledges all indigenous peoples’ plight, especially those who are Two Spirit and/or identiﬁed with the contemporary labels and terms of cisgender and transgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, and intersex.”
Editor’s choice: Princess Murray
Favorite Public Oﬃcial: Karen Bass
On Nov. 17, Karen Bass spoke to Los Angeles for the ﬁrst time as its ﬁrst woman and second Black mayor. She addressed economic hardship and declared a state of emergency over the homeless crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris has stated of Bass, “I saw how she would tirelessly ﬁght for the people … the people of our state and the people of our nation. Karen Bass has a long history of always being on the side of people, ﬁghting for the people.”
The people who read the Blade have embraced that reputation and declared her their favorite public oﬃcial.
Runner-Up: Lindsey Horvath
Most LGBTQ-Friendly City: West Hollywood
There are some who will claim that the city of West Hollywood is perfect. In terms of being the most LGBTQ-Friendly City, they may be right. The city was born out of a determined campaign by LGBTQ activists, seniors, and renters on Nov. 29, 1984. The city has a rich history and can be credited for launching iconic rock and punk musical acts. With approximately 39,000 residents, it has been called “Los Angeles’ hottest destination for the entertainment industry.” It boasts celebrity-owned bars and restaurants, unparalleled nightlife and shopping. It hosts world impacting events like the HBO Emmy Party, Sir Elton John’s Annual Oscar Party, WEST HOLLYWOOD PRIDE and the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, the largest Halloween street party in the world. Many feel that West Hollywood sets a standard for super creative individuals representing the state-of-the-art on trends and new ideas.
As far as West Hollywood being “perfect”, the Human Rights Campaign has the receipts. It scored West Hollywood as earning 100 out of 100 possible in terms of LGBTQ friendliness. LA Blade readers already knew that as they name West Hollywood the friendliest city for the fourth year in a row.
Editor’s choice: Beverly Hills
Best Local Pro Sports Team: LA Dodgers
Things have changed since 1970. That year, Dodgers player Glenn Burke was traded away when the owners found out he was gay. What a diﬀerence half a century makes. This year, the Dodgers kicked oﬀ Pride month in LA with their game against the New York Mets. Burke’s family threw out the game’s ceremonial ﬁrst pitch and 18,000 special Pride packages to the game were sold. Fans showed up in droves wearing rainbow paraphernalia and Pride caps and jerseys were available for purchase. So, yes, things have changed and LA readers have declared the Dodgers the best local team for the third year in a row.
Editor’s choice: LA Sparks
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Best Realtor: Josh Flagg
Josh Flagg, an original cast member on the show “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” on Bravo, represents more than a decade’s worth of high-end deals in the real estate industry. He has wowed the Los Angeles real estate market. Flagg, who’s gay, has sold well over $2 billion worth of property and is among the city’s top ﬁve real estate agents. He has represented many American billionaire families such as the Gettys and DeBartolos. Adam Levine, Shonda Rhimes and Steve Aoki are also clients.
Editor’s choice: Compass
Best LGBTQ Ally: Gov. Gavin Newsom
As Florida and Texas all but declared war on transgender kids and their families, one governor did more than shake his head in shock and disbelief. He did something about it. On Sept. 22, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill, one of many LGBTQ aﬃrming of the year, that aims to legally protect trans youth and their parents who need to ﬂee conservative states due to personal persecution and the oppression of gender-aﬃrming care availability. His statement read, “States across the country are passing laws to demonize the transgender community especially transgender youth and their parents… the hate demonstrated by these laws is unfathomable and contributed to soaring suicide rates… This is unacceptable and we must ﬁght for our youth and their parents.”
Editor’s choice: Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union
Best Salon/Spa: Spa Montage
Spa Montage’s clients are raving. “The best spa in LA,” states one. “Very old school glam, full of antique style and old world charm,” declares another. Yet another goes right to the heart of a good spa: “The team here is just fantastic.” Goop also professes its love, “From prenatal massages to really good facials, the Montage is one of those luxe hotel spots that pulls no punches when it comes to pampering.” LA Blade readers agree.
Editor’s choice: Burke Williams
Best Car Dealership: Honda of Hollywood
Honda of Hollywood is deservedly proud. “At Honda of Hollywood, we strive for excellence during every visit. Our team of experts is here to help you with all of your automotive needs... Whether you’re from Hollywood, Los Angeles, or another city, get in touch with our team to experience superior customer service,” they state. “Great staﬀ, friendly service, feels like a small family-like environment” promises one customer. “Amazing dealership. Recommend 100%,” states a second. LA Blade readers have test driven them into being the Best Car Dealership for the second year in a row.
Editor’s choice: BMW of Beverly Hills
Best Doctor/Medical Provider: AIDS Healthcare Foundation
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS healthcare in the world. It currently has 1,725,070 patients in care across 45 countries. As a global non-proﬁt, it provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy. Their ﬂoat in this year’s Rose Parade was “No Place Like Home.” Their local fans, and LA Blade readers, agreed naming them the year’s best for the third year in a row.
Editor’s choice: Cedars-Sinai
Best Fitness: LA Fitness, Hollywood
LA Fitness can tell you why you should get ﬁt with them. “LA Fitness oﬀers many amenities at an outstanding value. Gym amenities may feature Functional Training, state-of-the-art equipment, basketball, group ﬁtness classes, pool, saunas, personal training, and more!” Its clients call out its wide range of equipment, friendly staﬀ, great classes and convenient parking. For the second year in a row, LA Blade readers have named LA Fitness the best.
Editor’s choice: Crunch, West Hollywood
VODKA INFUSED WHIPPED CREAM
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Most LGBTQ-Friendly Workplace: AIDS Healthcare Foundation
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been an Editor’s Choice for most LGBTQ-Friendly workplace, and this year the LA Blade readers agree, voting it into the top spot. AHF represents the consistently excellent work of doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, med techs, beneﬁts counselors, and support staﬀ at 14 AHF Healthcare Centers and satellite clinics throughout Southern California. A recent employee reports, “The people here are so welcoming and full of joy. Corporate also does a great job of making you feel included and often have outreach events.”
Editor’s choice: Getty Museum
Best Non-Proﬁt: LA LGBT Center
Founded in 1969, The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides programs and services for LGBTQ people. The organization’s mission centers on four key areas: health, social services, housing, and leadership and advocacy.
This year, as a response to the 2021 Hate Crime Report from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, the Center made an even deeper commitment to the LGBTQ community to ﬁght: “I have served our Los Angeles community for nearly 17 years, and it pains me to say that I have never been more concerned for our collective safety than I am right now,” said Terra Russell-Slavin, Chief Impact Oﬃcer at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “Across the country, armed white supremacists are showing up en masse to intimidate drag performers. Hospitals and healthcare facilities that provide care to transgender patients are closing their doors to bomb threats. Our nightclubs and safe spaces are being threatened and attacked. And our trans community is being deliberately targeted by far-right groups and our lawmakers on a daily basis. It’s not surprising that we see the ripple eﬀects of that violence here in Los Angeles. I hope our community knows that their Center will ﬁght like hell for them, and will always be here as a place of refuge.” LA Blade readers seem to understand the importance and need for the LA LGBT Center in these growingly contentious times, naming them the Best Non-Proﬁt of the year.Editor’s choice: Project Angel Food
Best Museum/Art Gallery: The Getty
The Getty is a Los Angeles treasure. In its two locations, it represents more than 6,000 years of art. Besides a library collection of books, archives, and services, the museum holds more than 100,000 artwork images as well as special collections. The Getty Center, with its bird’s eye view of Los Angeles, is located in Brentwood and showcases European art amid modern architecture. Its second location is the Getty Villa Museum, which lies along the coast and displays ancient Greek and Roman art in a recreated Roman house. The Getty embarks on numerous philanthropic projects including several supporting the LGBTQ community. LA Blade readers have shown their appreciation for the second year in a row by naming the Getty as the Best Museum of the year.
Best Theater: Geﬀen Playhouse
The Geﬀen Playhouse, located in Westwood, is a not-for-proﬁt theater company founded by Gilbert Cates in 1995. It has been a key hub for theater in Los Angeles since its opening and produces plays in two theaters in the Geﬀen Playhouse, which is owned by University of California Los Angeles. Patrons compliment it on its breadth of productions, excellent staﬀ, and comfortable seating. LGBTQ audiences have appreciated works like “The Inheritance,” which cited key LGBTQ history allusions. In support of the play’s theme and to give audiences a sense of context, The Geffen published a “dramaturgical deep dive” into LGBTQ history on its website.
The Geﬀen has made diversity a mission. Its commitment includes this statement: “In recognition of the essential examination of systemic racism and injustices, we at Geﬀen Playhouse commit to continued analysis and expansion of our own institutional practices in order to be part of the solution. Our vision for the Geﬀen is that people of all races, faiths, sexual orientations, abilities, genders and backgrounds ﬁnd it an easily accessible and highly relevant source of art that reﬂects the dynamic human experience and galvanizes a more equitable and vibrant community.” For this, and great theater, LA Blade readers have deemed them the Best Theater in LA.
Editor’s choice: Pantages/Broadway in Hollywood
Best Music Venue: The Hollywood Bowl
Two years ago, the Hollywood Bowl won for Best Virtual A&E Events. Last year it was named the Best A&E Venue. This year, it won again – for Best Music Venue. This can only lead you to conclude that live or virtual, artistically or musically, in the eyes of LA Blade readers, it is perennially the best. Since its opening in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has been the premier destination for live music, hosting everyone from Billie Holiday to The Beatles to Yo-Yo Ma under the iconic silhouette of its concentric-arched band shell. This past year saw such LGBTQ-friendly acts as Ricky Martin and Grace Jones. Can this year top that? Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, Game of Thrones and Janet Jackson will surely try.
Editor’s choice: Disney Concert Hall
Most LGBTQ-Friendly Entertainment Company: Warner Bros. Discovery
Warner Bros. Discovery tells us that they are “the stuﬀ that dreams are made of.” They are a relatively new combined company. The new company combined WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports, and news assets with Discovery’s leading non-ﬁction and international entertainment and sports businesses. The combination is a premier global media and entertainment company that promises to oﬀer us the “most diﬀerentiated and complete portfolio of content, brands and franchises across television, ﬁlm, streaming and gaming.” Hyperbole aside, they brought us “White Lotus” and gay boys Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen to welcome in the new year. LA Blade readers were impressed.
Editor’s choice: Disney
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Best Screenwriter: Ryan Murphy
It is no surprise that LA Blade readers called out Ryan Murphy as the best screenwriter of the year. The bigger question is — for which script? Murphy is proliﬁc, having written literally hundreds of scripts in 2022. He wrote scripts for his “American Horror Stories,” “Dahmer-Monster, the Jeﬀrey Dahmer Story,” “9-1-1,” “9-1-1 Lone Star,” “American Horror Story,” “The Watcher,” and “Ratched” shows. The new year does not promise a slowdown. Upcoming, he scripts the mini-series “A Chorus Line,” the series “Consent,” and the TV movie “One Hit Wonders.”
Editor’s choice: Our Lady J
Best Actor: Laverne Cox
The iconic Laverne Cox impressed LA Blade readers this year. She, of course, is the American actress and highly visible LGBTQ advocate. She burst on the scene with her role as Sophia Burset on the Netﬂix series “Orange Is the New Black.” This gave her the notoriety of becoming the ﬁrst transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. In 2015, she was the ﬁrst trans woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.” In 2017, she became the ﬁrst transgender person to play a transgender series regular on U.S. broadcast TV as Cameron Wirth on CBS’s “Doubt.” This year, LA Blade readers were impressed by her performance as Kacy Duke in the mini-series “Inventing Anna.”
Editor’s choice: Jennifer Coolidge
Favorite Musical Artist: Cardi B
This year, the famed Grammy-winning “WAP” rapper seemed to impress LA Blade readers as much with her pro-LGBTQ candor as she did with her talent. She ended the previous year as an oﬃciant at a samesex wedding, “I’m going to get these two beautiful ladies married. It’s not only a special day for you guys, but it’s a special day for me, and I want to thank you for making me a part of your beautiful journey,” she said at the time. This year, she slapped down those who wanted to doubt or play down her bisexuality. “I ate bitches out before you was born …..Sorry I don’t have razr phone pics to prove it to you,” she snarked on Twitter. Just in case you are not yet clear on where she stands in regard to LGBTQ people, she made the point clear: “If you homophobic you just ugly.” Her favoritism by our readers appears to be well-earned.
Editor’s choice: Dolly Parton
Best LGBTQ Event: GLAAD Awards
Last year, the annual GLAAD awards was a star-studded ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills hosted by Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and DJ “Shangela” Pierce. The ceremony included appearances by Andrew Garﬁeld, Troye Sivan, JoJo Siwa, Jasmin Savoy-Brown, Mira Sorvino, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo, and more. Anti-trans legislation and the “Don’t Say Gay” bills were addressed during the show. President and CEO Kate Ellis denounced the hateful political activities in her speech, “These bills are designed to erase us as a community, but GLAAD will not let that happen. We have never been more committed to our vision of a world where everyone can live the life that they love.” With that, LA Blade readers expressed their love for GLAAD.
Editor’s choice: DragCon LA
Best Regional Pride: WeHo Pride
Last year, the City of West Hollywood presented its inaugural WeHo Pride in early June, kicking oﬀ celebrations across the nation during Pride Month. WeHo Pride Weekend celebrations in and around West Hollywood Park included a free WeHo Pride Street Fair that represented a diverse array of LGBTQ community groups; a three-day ticketed OUTLOUD Raising Voices Music Festival, the Dyke March and Women’s Freedom Festival, and an inaugural WeHo Pride Parade. LA Blade readers named it the best around.
Editor’s choice: DTLA PROUD
Best Hotel: Sunset Tower
The New York Times called it “Hollywood’s Grand Dame Hotel.” LA Blade readers just called it the year’s best. With a dramatic setting on the Sunset Strip and elegant Art Deco styling, the Sunset Tower was designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant. It boasts former residents Howard Hughes, John Wayne, Billie Burke, Marilyn Monroe, Errol Flynn, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Paulette Goddard, Zasu Pitts, and even gangster Bugsy Siegel. Hotelier Jeﬀ Klein purchased the building in 2004, enlisting designer Paul Fortune to revive the property’s classic art deco style and then in 2018, Klein put his personal touch on another refresh, restoring the Sunset Tower’s heart and soul while not compromising its character. The hotel’s rooms were elegantly refurbished and its famous Tower Bar was expanded to include a dark and sexy bar, reimagined restaurant, and updated pool area. Further additions have included a bright and airy 7,000-square-foot gym in John Wayne’s former apartment, and the Joanna Vargas Spa one level above oﬀering expert facials and massages.
Editor’s choice: San Vincente Bungalows
Best of LGBTQ LA 2023 continued
Best Coverage of LGBTQ Issues by a Mainstream News Outlet: John Fenoglio of KTLA
LA Blade readers appreciate hearing the news from one of our own. Out reporter John Fenoglio appears to have our backs. He is quoted as saying, “LGBT people are the targets of more hate crimes than any other minority. A San Pedro resident and veteran I met today knows ﬁrsthand what that feels like. Don’t hate... But do ﬁght back and ﬁght smart.”
Editor’s choice: Elzie Lee “LZ” Granderson of the LA Times
Best LA Region Airport: Hollywood/Burbank Airport
Best Podcast: Gigi Gorgeous and Mimi, Queeriﬁed
This year, in a special, fan-centered Queeriﬁed ﬁnale, Gigi and Mimi bid farewell to their listeners and reminisced on their Queeriﬁed journey. After 40 Queeriﬁed episodes with popular guests, LA
readers showed their appreciation.
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