ABOUT THE COVER
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
For this Pride issue of Vanguard, we honor the lives lost as the fight continues for full equality and liberation.
Designed in 2018 by Daniel Quasar, the Progress Pride Flag builds on the design adopted by the city of Philadelphia in 2017 that added black and brown stripes to the top of the Rainbow Flag to represent LGBTQ communities of color. The six-striped LGBTQ flag is separated from the newer stripes because of their dif ference in meaning, as well as to shif t focus and emphasis to what is important in our current community climate. The six horizontal stripes represent life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), harmony/peace (blue), and spirit (purple/violet). The five half sized stripes represent trans and non-binary individuals (light blue, light pink , white), marginalized POC communities (brown, black), as well as those living with AIDS and the stigma and prejudice surrounding them, and those who have been lost to the disease (black). Learn more at bit.ly/PridePF
A PUBLICATION OF THE LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
Message from the Center’s CEO Reinvention Reigns During COVID-19 Pandemic
Pride Pantry Opens
That’s a Wrap: AIDS/LifeCycle@HOME
Take Five with Center Volunteers & Staff
Thank You to Our Supporters!
PRIDE ISSUE • SUMMER 2020
Meet Supporters Chris Laib and Lon Wahlstrom
Group Meetings Schedule
Why I Give: Frankie Grande
Subscriptions Vanguard is published quarterly by the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a nonprofit corporation. 1118 N. McCadden Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90038 Voice 323-993-7400 • TDD 323-993-7698 © Copyright 2020 Los Angeles LGBT Center • All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. • Publication of the name, quotation, or photograph of a person in articles or advertising is not an indication of the sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status of such person. Moving, getting duplicate mailings, or wish to be removed from the mailing list? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more than 50 years, the Center has risen up to meet the needs of our community. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, closing the Center was not an option for us. From reinventing our programs and services to adding safety measures and precautions to help keep our clients, volunteers, and staff healthy, we are here to make sure our community has access to the vital care and resources they need and deserve.
FROM THE CEO
OUR STRENGTH AS ALLIES
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
• Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean
haven’t been this sad or this mad (or this appalled by Presidential callousness) since the early days of the AIDS epidemic. It was the mid-1980s, and I was a young lawyer living in Washington, D.C. Then we were f ighting another pandemic: AIDS. It was hitting hard, and my friends were dying in droves while President Reagan and the federal government either did nothing or made things worse. Since COVID-19 began sweeping across the U.S., it has been hard not to reflect upon those early days of AIDS. Wondering how things might have been different if the government had responded to that crisis with even a portion of the urgency to which they have responded to COVID-19. But because the victims were almost entirely gay and bi men and trans people, very few people in power cared. For literally centuries in the United States, Black people have endured governments that were actively involved in their oppression. Since slavery was abolished almost 155 years ago, and up until this very day, Black Americans have died in countless numbers, often at the hands of government, especially in the form of law enforcement. And I’m not just talking about sheriffs in Mississippi in the 50s and 60s who wore their police uniforms by day and their Klan robes by night. I’m talking about today in some of our nation’s most liberal cities. The horrific murder of George Floyd was only one of the most recent—and most visible—examples, thanks to the bravery of 17-year-old Darnella Frazier,
who stood her ground to record the brutal killing of Floyd on her phone. Because of that bravery, his murder has become a much-needed and long-overdue flashpoint for action. It has prompted a groundswell of unrest demanding change. I honestly believe, and I fervently hope, that we are seeing the start of a powerful revolution. Political scientists define revolution as a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to oppression or political incompetence. Never before in my lifetime have Americans risen up against government because of its incompetence, its failure to adequately address some of our society’s most plaguing problems, and its flagrant disregard of anti-Black violence by law enforcement. Elected officials across the nation (our President notwithstanding) are finally responding in unprecedented numbers and with unprecedented speed. There is talk like we’ve never heard before. Talking and marching are important first steps. Plus, we need action that results in real, fundamental change. And that will require determination and hard work and continued community pressure. What is the responsibility of the LGBTQ movement during this time? We are—and must continue to be—deeply involved. LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ Black people and other people of color, have long been victims of police brutality born of bigotry. As a result, since its
characterizing movements which they aren’t a part of. Such mischaracterizations are exactly what is happening now by forces opposed to Black-led efforts to make critical change in the very nature of law enforcement and how all of government works to more effectively build community health and safety. That’s what “Defund the Police” is all about. Building community health and safety. Patrisse Cullors is an inspiring thinker, speaker, and writer. One of her more thoughtful discussions concerns the concept of abolition. She says: “What does it look like to build a city, state, or nation invested in communities thriving rather than their death and destruction? To ask this question is the f irst act of an abolitionist.” And “with abolition, it’s necessary to destroy systems of oppression. But it’s equally necessary to put at the forefront our conversations about creation. When we f ight for justice, what exactly do we want for our communities?” The LGBTQ movement’s purpose, and the Center’s entire mission, has been about ensuring that our community, our entire community—Black, Brown, White, Asian, Indigenous—not just survives, but thrives. It has been about f ighting for what is right and articulating what we want, and what we demand, for our community. It has been about holding governmental entities, including law enforcement, accountable and changing an entire culture. We haven’t always been polite. We haven’t always been peaceful. We haven’t always been understood, even by some of our own. But we’ve always persevered, moving inexorably forward in our f ight for justice. The Center is a committed ally in support of BLM and other Black-led organizations, using the strength and power we have built over the last 50 years to stand with them as they lead this transformational movement for revolutionary social change.
Marki J. Knox, M.D.
Carlos Medina David J. Bailey Co-Chair
Loren S. Ostrow
Jayzen Patria Sarah Dusseault Frank Pond Carolyn A. Dye Don Thomas Susan Feniger Amy Gordon Yanow
Alfred Fraijo, Jr.
Strategic Partnership Manager
Jaguar Busuego Production Designer
Megan Phelps Managing Editor
Nolan Ryan Cadena Operations Manager
Ari DeSano Platform and Systems Manager
Takashi Sato Production Designer
George Skinner Production Designer
Media & Public Relations Director
Creative Services Manager
Kelly Freter Director
Greg Hernandez Writer/Editor
Tiffany Ward Production Manager
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inception, our movement, including our Center, has been engaged in the fight against police violence. In fact, almost all of our own community’s early uprisings were in reaction to police brutality. This includes not only Stonewall, but also the nation’s first queer riot at Cooper Donuts right here in downtown Los Angeles in 1959, ten years before Stonewall. Our movement has made enormous progress (although so much more remains to be done) in changing the culture of law enforcement as it relates to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. For more than 50 years, the Center has led that battle in Los Angeles. I believe our movement has much to contribute in support of Black-led efforts to change law enforcement as we currently know it. Moreover, queer leaders have been key players in the Black Lives Matter movement and BLM organizations since the very beginning. I take great pride in the fact that among the women who founded the BLM movement, and among its most powerful current leaders, are queer activists. One of these is Angeleno and dynamic queer artist Patrisse Cullors. Powerful forces in our country have misrepresented the BLM movement. Put simply, they devalue Black lives so they distort what this powerful and important movement is really about, in hopes of weakening it. This has been happening at a time when white nationalism is being nurtured across the nation, including from the highest off ice in the land. And these forces are doing the same thing now, with their reaction to the current call to “Defund the Police.” Thankfully, despite some initial confusion about what this call to action really means, there has been a great deal of media focus on clarifying what is real and what isn’t. The LGBTQ community knows what it’s like to be misunderstood. We have been accused of everything, from seeking to destroy the family to eroding the moral fabric of our entire society to bringing God’s wrath in the form of natural disasters and terrorist bombings. So, I’m skeptical when I hear people
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
We Are An
Organization That Knows How to
Reinvent Itself The COVID-19 pandemic changed how the Center offers many of its programs and services, but the why never wavered even as events unfolded and realities shifted day by day, sometimes hour by hour. A herculean effort by the Center’s leadership, staff, supporters, volunteers, and clients helped ensure that vital care and resources stayed in place and that new programs were developed to meet the changing needs of the LGBTQ community.
• Staff from Public Policy & Community Building, Health Services, and Facilities on site during the COVID-19 pandemic
y mid-March, the COVID-19 pandemic had dramatically shifted how the Center was delivering care and support to the thousands of clients who depend on the organization’s free and low-cost programs and services each month. Here is just a snapshot of some of those efforts, which continue today: Staying Together Apart
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Safety precautions were put in place to reduce the number of people in each of the Center’s ten locations. Most in-person events, programs, and activities were canceled or postponed. The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Senior Center closed for activities. To provide proper social distancing, drop-in services for youth moved from the Youth Center to The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.
With tremendous support from the Center’s Information Technology (IT) team, hundreds of staff members transitioned to working from home. Other staff voluntarily redeployed to other roles within the organization, including helping to screen clients still coming into the Center’s pharmacy and health clinics. The screenings help determine if people were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. If they had symptoms, they would then
meet with a triage nurse, who continues the screening and determines if the person needs further testing. Adam Bass, the donor services and finance specialist for AIDS/LifeCycle, volunteered to help screen clients at the Center’s McDonald/Wright Building. He believes, more than ever, that the Center is a place people trust during good times and bad. “We are a place where our community knows they won’t be judged and will be safe,” Bass said. “I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that we continue to be an effective provider of services for our community. It’s good to know so many people rely on the Center—and that the Center doesn’t disappoint them.” Tanya Tassi, national community center policy manager for the Center’s Public Policy and Community Building department, also volunteered to help screen clients. She was deeply moved when a man walked into the lobby one day carrying a plastic bag filled with surgical masks. “He said the Center had done so much for him, so he wanted to make sure the clinic staff had enough masks and was donating his supply,” Tassi recalled. “Knowing that the Center remains open is like a
beacon of light during this uncertain time. It gives me a sense of pride. We’re on the front lines taking care of our community.”
Who’s Zoomin’ Who Going virtual quickly emerged as a necessary step to ensure that programs and services could still reach the clients and community members who were depending on the Center. As many staff learned the ins-andouts of meeting via videoconference, the
VIRTUAL • Greg Hernandez from Marketing & Communications
for a special virtual celebration of the Trans/GNC/ENBY community. Featuring Big Queer Convo with Isis King, workshops, the VarieTy Show, giveaways, and much more!
FRIDAY, JUNE 19 • 7–10:30 P.M. & SATURDAY, JUNE 20 • 12–9:30 P.M. lalgbtcenter.org/transpride
Center’s Health Information Systems and IT teams collaborated to put in place a telehealth platform that allows a vast majority of routine appointments to take place via telephone or online, keeping patients safe at home while still getting the care they need. The new technology will also help strengthen the Center’s Health Services post-COVID-19 capacity. “On March 5, we signed an order with Allscripts, our Health Services technology partner, to implement telehealth visits and by the end of the month we were up and running,” said Health Information Systems Director Gabriel Lopez. “We realize now what our potential is as far as telework and telehealth, so that introduces more options around more ways to engage patients and provide services moving forward, even after in-person visits ramp up again.” Staff members from across the organization also developed and implemented virtual content, programs, and services for the Center’s community. Programs now offered online include dozens of Senior Services activities; group meetings for youth offered by the Children, Youth & Family Services department; social networking groups run through the Cultural Arts department; and Trans* Lounge, the Center’s groundbreaking education
and empowerment program dedicated to serving Los Angeles’ trans and gender expansive community. “For so many folks, it was their lifeline to get to the Center or to be a part of Trans* Lounge. There was no way that we could just lose that connection with people,” Trans* Lounge Manager Gina Bigham explained. Similar to telehealth services in Health Services, virtual options will likely continue for many programs post-COVID-19. “We’ve seen so much more engagement. We have people who could only get to L.A. maybe once a month because they live farther away. Now they have the opportunity for more participation, and they’re hooked. We are not just going to forget about them,” Bigham said. “The pandemic has allowed us to show our fluidity and our resilience—nothing is going to keep us from creating community and being together somehow, some way.”
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• First-time virtual events included (top) Trans Pride Los Angeles; (bottom left) Big Queer Convo with U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff; and (bottom right) Senior Prom.
WE’RE FACING RIGHT NOW IS TREMENDOUS. WE’RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE AND MAKE SURE THAT, AS WE FIGURE OUT AND DISCOVER WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED, WE’RE THERE AND ADVOCATING ON BEHALF OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.”
Hello, How Are You? Before COVID-19, the youth drop-in center at the Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus could have as many as 120 youth inside at one time having meals, meeting with case managers, or just hanging out.
• Ariel Bustamante from Children, Youth & Family Services
Now, drop-in services and case management for youth without housing have moved to The Village at Ed Gould Plaza’s courtyard located across the street. There, they can get something to eat, use the restrooms, charge their devices, and connect with one another from a safe distance. The Youth Center is now only used by the 100 or so youth in the Center’s residential programs to spend time, have meals, and participate in sociallydistanced activities. In the past year, senior clients were served a hot lunch provided by the Center’s Culinary Arts program and could participate in other programs and activities at the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Senior Center on the Campus. The Senior Center is now closed for activities, but boxed lunches are available for pickup each day. Staff members and volunteers are calling clients at home to find out if the Center can help them with any special needs as part of the Center’s new Hello Club. “We’re able to remind our seniors that someone is thinking of them and make sure that they are able to get the resources they need while staying safe,” said Senior Services Activities Coordinator Stephanie Harris.
is a ﬁrst responder for our community. We always have been, but we serve as one even more so today. The reality is that we serve those who are not part of the national conversation.”
Meal service at the Center’s Triangle Square affordable senior housing is now delivered to the residents’ apartments daily. Staff and volunteers are also picking up groceries and medications through Senior Services’ newly-created service Senior Angels.
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
“Seniors in general are very isolated. Our seniors are even more isolated and typically don’t reach out to non-LGBT organizations,” said Director of Senior Services Kiera Pollock. “Unless we jumped in, they weren’t going to have other kinds of connection. We’ve gotten tons of emails and calls from folks who are just so thankful we reached out and that someone cared.”
• Byron Patel (left) from Health Services and (right) Center supporter Nats Getty from Strike Oil
“You have to understand what life is for each individual in order to create messages that are effective in helping them understand why they need to take the necessary precautions.”
• Bella Gavilan from Human Resources
Stay up-to-date with Center news at
LGBTNewsNow.org and follow us on social
• A thank you note from a Triangle Square resident who receives lunch prepared by Culinary Arts students and delivered by Senior Services staff members
IT’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO ME TO BE ABLE TO CONTINUE DOING THE WORK TO HELP PEOPLE. THIS IS A MOMENT WHERE I HAVE FELT THE NEED TO STEP UP AND MAKE SURE I’M AVAILABLE WHEN I’M NEEDED.”
Can Help View and donate to Senior Services wish list: lalgbtcenter.org/care4seniors View and donate to Children, Youth & Family Services wish list: lalgbtcenter.org/care4youth Donate to the Center’s CARE Fund at lalgbtcenter.org/care
VANGUARD | PRIDE
Volunteer with Hello Club making outreach calls to seniors or with the Senior Angels delivery team: lalgbtcenter.org/volunteer
MEETING SCARCITY WITH ABUNDANCE
I VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
t’s a Friday afternoon, and a team of Los Angeles LGBT Center staff members and volunteers are working inside Pride Hall at the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, surrounded by stacks of boxes filled with fresh produce and pallets of boxed and canned food. Nearby refrigerators are filled with gallons of milk.
All of it is being prepared for distribution as part of the Center’s new Pride Pantry, an initiative launched in May to help people experiencing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I got an email from the Center saying this is available if you need it. And, at this point in time, it’s something I really need,” said a Health Services client named Robert, who lost his job as a server at a
Burbank restaurant at the start of the health crisis.
jam, cold brew coffee, and orange juice.
“I only took as much as I could carry,” said Robert took a bus from Burbank after a happy Pride Pantry client named Yvonne. “Now, I have onions so I can make French getting word about the pantry. onion soup, which I love. I have bread, pota“My job had to let me go, which was toes, and coffee. Do you know what it means unfortunate because I loved my job,” he said to be able to put this on your shelf and know as he looked through a box of produce that you’re not going to go hungry for a week? I included potatoes, romaine lettuce, carrots, can’t thank them enough.” oranges, green apples, cantaloupe, onions, The Center’s Director of Culinary and squash. “I usually think there are other people more in need, so I always hold back. Training and Operations Nick Panepinto is But at this point, anything helps. I’m definitely among the employees from across various departments—AIDS/LifeCycle, Cultural Arts, thankful.” Development, Health Services, Legal SerOn this June day, Robert discovered Pride vices, Marketing & Communications, Public Pantry’s box of dry goods included bread; one Policy, Senior Services, Volunteer Resources, pound each of white rice, black beans, and and Youth Services—who collaborated to pasta; and bottles and cans of pasta sauce, tuna, help coordinate and launch Pride Pantry.
Additional Center staff and volunteers have been working every week to package and distribute food.
“I personally am overjoyed to be able to support this program,” Luna said. “There is such a great need, and the fact that the Center has stepped up to the plate and been able to execute it so seamlessly is phenomenal. It makes me proud to be part of this movement.”
“It’s been amazing to watch staff, from throughout our organization, be a part of this,” said Kevin McCloskey, associate director of education and youth development. “So many community volunteers have stepped up. Many of the volunteers I’ve met, their jobs are on hold now, and they are here because they have time and want to give back.” Eden Anaï Luna, manager of the Center's Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, has helped to load the boxes into people’s cars.
Among the dedicated community volunteers is Andy Perez, whose public relations work quickly dried up in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.
locations: Mi Centro, the Center’s partnership location with Latino Equality Alliance in Boyle Heights, and Center South in South Los Angeles. Panepinto and Dina Valenzuela, the Center’s culinary administrative and events coordinator, put a lot of thought every week into what to include in each box of produce and dry goods.
“It’s very rewarding for us to receive this beautiful produce, sort through it, and figure out how to give a well-rounded donation,” Valenzuela shared. “We’re constantly thinking “The first day I volunteered, we had a line about what we would want to receive, and of about 25 people before we even opened,” what we can give to a person, that can easily Perez said. “People were really friendly and be cooked.” appreciative. Some of them were shy, but they They are also mindful of which products were so grateful when they got a whole box were distributed the previous week. of dry goods, a whole box of produce, and a whole bag of dairy. It was a really special “If people are dependent upon this donation, experience to see them take all of this in and we want it to be exciting every week for them,” know that they’re going to be okay.” Panepinto said. “We don’t want them to think, Food is distributed from Pride Pantry ‘Oh, it’s black beans again.’ We want people to twice a week. The Pantry also serves as a feel like there’s love going into these boxes.”
distribution center for Senior Services’ Senior Angels program and two additional Center
• Center staff and volunteers working inside the Anita May Rosenstein Campus’ Pride Hall.
VANGUARD | PRIDE
“We noticed that people who had stable income for years were losing their jobs, and we knew there must be a need for food and nourishment in our community,” explained Panepinto. “At the same time, we had Pride Hall, which was built to be this amazing event space, but we saw it sitting empty day after day.”
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If We are Not a Part of the Solution, We are a Part of the Problem by Center CEO Lorri L. Jean Read more at lalgbtcenter.org/solution
calls on all of us in the LGBTQ community and our allies to continue the ﬁght for an end to the systems of oppression and inequality.”
From the Center’s statement in the midst of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in May and June. Read more at lalgbtcenter.org/BLM
VANGUARD | PRIDE
I DON’T EVER WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER WHITE PERSON SAY, ‘BUT ALL LIVES MATTER.’ THAT IS NOT THE POINT. THE POINT IS THAT BLACK LIVES ARE DEVALUED IN OUR NATION IN A UNIQUELY TERRIBLE AND TRAGIC WAY, BY BOTH INDIVIDUALS AND INSTITUTIONS.”
“The fact that our nation’s government would
seek to restrict access to care during a worldwide pandemic is yet another dangerous example of this inhuman assault on LGBTQ rights.”
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
Los Angeles LGBT Center Joins Lawsuit to Block HHS’s Anti-LGBTQ Health Care Rule Read more at lalgbtcenter.org/1557
Los Angeles LGBT Center Celebrates U.S. Supreme Court Landmark Decision to Protect LGBT Employees Read more at lalgbtcenter.org/title7
TO THOSE WHO ARGUE THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 COULD NOT HAVE FORESEEN QUESTIONS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY, IT IS NOW DECIDED THAT ‘THE LIMITS OF THE DRAFTERS’ IMAGINATION SUPPLY NO REASON TO IGNORE THE LAW’S DEMANDS. ALTHOUGH TODAY’S DECISION IS A HISTORIC VICTORY, IT COMES AS WE STILL FIGHT FOR TRUE EQUALITY AND JUSTICE ON MANY FRONTS.”
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
recommit not only to making this decision permanent, but also to working with our coalition partners to achieve nothing less than comprehensive immigration reform for everyone.”
Los Angeles LGBT Center Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Uphold DACA Program Read more at lalgbtcenter.org/DACA2020
THIS DECISION IS NOT AN ACCIDENT. IT IS A FURTHER ATTEMPT BY THE ADMINISTRATION TO ERASE THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY FROM THE AMERICAN MAINSTREAM AND TO PAINT US AS SO LOATHSOME THAT WE DON’T EVEN DESERVE TO BE COUNTED. AND THE RESULT IS THAT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF LGBTQ YOUTH IN FOSTER CARE WILL BE HARMED.” Los Angeles LGBT Center Responds To Trump Administration’s Elimination of LGBTQ Questions From Foster Care Data Collection Read more at lalgbtcenter.org/fosterdata
The 2020 Census is here! Although the goal of the Census is to count everyone living in the U.S., certain populations are inevitably undercounted, including LGBTQ people. We need to be counted as part of the 2020 Census so our communities can:
D Get access to federal funds for programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and public housing
DHave representation in our state, local, and federal government
DEnforce our civil rights
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
The Census counts. So do you.
Self-respond online, by mail, or by phone before October 31!
Learn more at lalgbtcenter.org/census
O P E N I N G
S O O N
Liberation for a New Generation on the corner of McCadden Place and Santa Monica Boulevard at the Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus
VANGUARD | PRIDE
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he world’s largest single event HIV/AIDS fundraiser went virtual this year due to COVID-19. Featuring reimagined versions of some of the week-long ride’s favorite events including the Candlelight Vigil, Red Dress Day, and Talent Show, AIDS/LifeCycle@HOME raised more than $8.2 million for San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the HIV/ AIDS-related services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Ride Director Tracy Evans acknowledged that, while everyone would have preferred to share hugs and a ride along the Pacif ic Ocean, she was grateful to the community for pulling together virtually with such enthusiasm. “This week has been very different than any of us hoped for or expected,” she said during Closing Ceremony on June 6. “While we were not physically together, I’m so glad that we had the opportunity to connect, converse, and share some much-needed space with each other. I love that we even got to laugh together a few times. There’s no doubt that when the AIDS/ LifeCycle community connects, there’s a bit of magic that happens.” AIDS/LifeCycle@HOME also included at-home workouts each morning; virtual hangouts, coffee talks, virtual dance parties; and even a mac ‘n cheese cooking tutorial from celebrity chef and co-chair of the Center’s Board of Directors Susan Feniger. Events throughout the week could be viewed on the AIDS/LifeCycle homepage. Participants interacted through livestream platforms, including Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook. “Really missing what would have been this week,” participant Jennifer LaFors commented on Facebook. “But I’m grateful for all the love, commitment, and care AIDS/LifeCycle has generated through this medium.” The Opening Ceremony included a moving presentation
featuring members of the Positive Pedalers team, who are committed to building supportive and inclusive communities by participating in public and visible activities such as AIDS/ LifeCycle. “It takes a community like this—friends, family, partners, colleagues, strangers, and spouses alike—all committed to a singular goal: ending AIDS,” said Poz Peds President Charles A. Lougee, a ride participant for 10 years. The Candlelight Vigil traditionally takes place along San Buenaventura State Beach on the ride’s last night with participants uniting to remember lives lost, to honor those who are still f ighting, and to ref lect on why the vital work to end AIDS continues. For A I DS/ Li fe Cycle @ HOM E , the virtual vigil featured an image of a bike on the beach surrounded by candles with the sounds of ocean waves. Leonel Lorta commented: “Missing the many beautiful friends we lost along the way. Never forgotten and always in my heart.” AIDS/LifeCycle@HOME kicked off on May 31 amid nationwide protests taking place each day in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. “As we begin a week intended to foster community and connectedness, many of us feel grief and rage and a sense of helplessness,” said Center CEO Lorri L. Jean during the Opening Ceremony. “Yet, all of us can—and should—participate in efforts to seek justice and create accountability for such racist actions.” “We commit ourselves to listening, learning, and taking fearless action to interrupt anti-Blackness and all other forms of racism,” added Foundation CEO Joe Hollendoner. AIDS/LifeCycle 2021 is scheduled for June 6–12. To register, visit aidslifeycle.org
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The Los Angeles LGBT Center is the largest provider of programs and services to LGBT people in the world. With 10 locations across Los Angeles, the Center is supported by nearly 800 staff members and thousands of volunteers. The Center’s compassionate, talented, inspiring, and fun-loving staff and volunteers are united in our mission to build a world where LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society.
And we’re missing just one thing: You. Learn more about the opportunities waiting for you at lalgbtcenter.org/careers & lalgbtcenter.org/volunteer
YOU BELONG HERE!
GET TO KNOW
CENTER VOLUNTEERS & STAFF MEMBERS
One of my goals for 2020 was to volunteer at the Center. Then came the COVID-19 outbreak and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to, but the Center responded quickly and adapted. Now, volunteering has really given me an opportunity to stop feeling helpless during this crisis. If people like me feel stressed, lost, or confused, I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for those in need right now, especially seniors. On my first day volunteering for the Senior Angel delivery program, I met a woman who was having a difficult time getting fresh groceries. I was so happy to do the shopping for her and she was beyond excited and couldn’t stop thanking me.
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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I have learned never to regret a day in my life. Good days give me happiness, bad days give me experience, worst days give me lessons, and best days give me memories. It’s very rewarding for me to be working at the Center through all of this because I love helping people. I became a Center volunteer in 2012 and became a staff member in 2019. Working here was a goal that I set for myself because I wanted to expand my life and look forward. Once in life, you’ll come across a special place that makes you happy, supports you, and makes you a better person.
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COUPLE WANTS TO INVEST IN THE CENTER'S NEXT 50 YEARS
GOING ALL IN mixed in with degrees of rejection from our families. For me, growing up in a small town in Central California, it was hell. That there is a central place offering refuge, information, and acceptance is so important. I did not have that coming out. I want to try to ensure that others do.” The pair have been particularly inspired by the 2019 opening of the intergenerational Anita May Rosenstein Campus because it brings together a multitude of youth and senior services. “I love that there are mature LGBT folks mingling with young, struggling kids,” Laib said. “That is a really beautiful thing.”
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VANGUARD | PRIDE
t was 1977 and disco was all the rage. generous friends, I am pretty successful at Chris Laib and Lon Wahlstrom met at fundraising.” In addition to their support of AIDS/ a gay dance bar in San Diego called West Coast Production Company and, 43 LifeCycle, the couple has also included the years later, they are still together. “Chris and I are opposites in so many Center in their estate ways, but snatching him from across the plan through its Circle dance floor was the luckiest moment of of Life program. “We are so proud of my life,” Wahlstrom shared. “Thanks to him, our lives are never boring and sel- the Center—50 years of fighting for the dom slow.” The couple’s staunch support of the rights of all of us who Los Angeles LGBT Center began when are LGBT,” Laib said. Wahlstrom decided to ride in the sev- “We want to invest in en-day, 545-mile AIDS/LifeCycle several the next 50 years. We years ago. He raised more than $70,000 are all in and look as the top fundraiser for this year’s AIDS/ forward to being part LifeCycle@HOME event, which went of the Center in every way we can.” virtual due to COVID-19. “Personally, I find “I was captured by the ride’s ‘Love Bubble,’” explained Wahlstrom, a the Center to be the central square for us,” licensed contractor who owns Wahlstrom added Laib, an agent in the Los Feliz office Companies, Inc. “The staff, riders, and of Sotheby’s International Realty. “Many roadies are fantastic. And because of our of us went through a period of discovery,
Join one of our Social Network Groups Virtually
Bi-osphere • ¡Hablemos! • Transgender Perceptions • HerStories • MasQ Coming Out Workshops (Men/Women) • Familias Latinx Entrelazadas (F.L.EX.)
To learn how to connect, email email@example.com
Keeping the Trans/GNC/ENBY Community connected
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
Trans* Lounge offers over 20 online groups and workshops each month. Groups include:
• Trans History
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• Group for trans & ENBY Folx on the Neurodiverse Spectrum
• Discovering Your Spiritual Path
• Groups for those having *HQGHU $IƓUPLQJ 6XUJHULHV
• and much, much more!
• Binder Exchange
Join today! Registration and all groups and classes are 100% FREE!
Due to COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, 12-Step groups are not meeting at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza. Please see notes below for instructions on how to participate virtually in certain groups. For groups not listed, please check the internet for information. AA Happy Hour Thursdays, 6:15–7:15 p.m. Videoconference link: bit.ly/AlAnonHH SCA – Step Study Thursdays, 7:30–8:30 p.m. For meeting details, visit scalosangeles.org/covid-19 Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous Thursdays, 6:15–7:15 p.m. Videoconference link: bit.ly/SLAAnon Sexual Compulsives Anonymous Mondays, 8:45–9:45 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 12–1 p.m. For meeting details, visit scalosangeles.org/covid-19
Coming Out Coming Out Workshops for Women Coming Out Workshops for Men Safe, nurturing workshops for anyone who is facing their own coming out process. Call 877-OUT-4-LIFE for recorded information and instructions for enrollment.
Community Groups (Cont.)
Community Groups (Cont.)
it relates to their lives. Nondenominational group and not associated with any specific ideology. A space dedicated to radical acceptance of all individuals and ideas. 1st Thurs., 7:30–9 p.m. Trans* Lounge membership required for access to videoconference links. Register for FREE at translounge.org
another, and there is always a story behind each painting, book, article of clothing, object, or even a pet. Wednesdays, 3–4:30 p.m. Trans* Lounge membership required for access to videoconference links. Register for FREE at translounge.org
Familias Latinx Entrelazadas (F.L.EX.) – Spanish Language Group Apoyo y guianza para familia y aliados de la comunidad LGBTQ+. Support and guidance for family and allies of LGBTQ+ community 2nd & 4th Tues., 7–8:30 p.m. To learn how to connect virtually, email firstname.lastname@example.org ¡Hablemos! Latino/Latinx discussion group Every 2nd Tues., 7–8:30 p.m. To learn how to connect virtually, email email@example.com HerStories A gathering place for all LGBT women who want strong community and great conversation. Mondays, 8–9:30 p.m. To learn how to connect virtually, email firstname.lastname@example.org MasQ Explore your male identity however you choose to express it. Join us in redefining masculinities! Tuesdays, 6–7:30 p.m. To learn how to connect, email email@example.com
Bi-osphere Explore and discuss the many shades of today’s diverse bisexual community. Mondays, 6–7:30 p.m. To learn how to connect virtually, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Redeﬁning Masculinities For all people and identities who want to actively redefine and explore the possibilities of what it can and should mean to be masculine in this world. Bring topics, questions, and issues to share and explore Every 2nd and 4th Tues., 7:30–9 p.m. Trans* Lounge membership required for access to videoconference links. Register for FREE at translounge.org
Circle of Renewal Using facilitated discussion, activities and stories, this group provides a space for Trans/GNC/ ENBY folx to gather, discuss, and explore spirituality and how
Share, Show & Tell Senior Services and Trans* Lounge members gather to share a poem, song, recipe, arts and crafts or something near and dear to them. So much we can learn from one
To learn how to connect virtually, email email@example.com
Surgery Suite Going to have a surgical procedure and need some advice? Or you’ve had surgeries and want to share what you went through with others? This group gives you the space needed to discuss your specific situation and hopefully give you some peace of mind. Every 2nd and 4th Thurs., 7:30–9 p.m. Trans* Lounge membership required for access to videoconference links. Register for FREE at translounge.org Trans* Spectrum Safe, small, quiet, controlled space for neurodiverse members of the Trans/GNC/ENBY community. Limited to 15 people maximum per meeting. Every 1st and 3rd Tues., 7:30–9 p.m. Trans* Lounge membership required for access to videoconference links. Register for FREE at translounge.org Trans Tales from the Vaults Our trans and queer history is rich and vibrant but also human, gritty, and sometimes salacious. Exciting interactive workshop which is part listening party, part talkback session as we explore our transcestors through the trans historical podcast One from the Vaults. 1st and 3rd Wed., 7:30–9 p.m. Trans* Lounge membership required for access to videoconference links. Register for FREE at translounge.org Transgender Perceptions Conversations and communitybuilding for transgender and GNC people. Fridays, 7:30–9:30 p.m. To learn how to connect, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Groups All Senior Services programming is available by videoconference and can be accessed by computer or phone. For more information about Senior Services classes, please call 323-860-7322 or visit facebook.com/50pluslgbt To RSVP, email email@example.com or call 323-860-5830. Alzheimer’s LGBT Caregiver Support Every 2nd & 4th Thurs., 10:30 a.m.–Noon Beginning Tap Dancing Lessons Wednesdays, 1:30–2:30 p.m. Bereavement Support Group Tuesdays, 1–3 p.m. Brain Power Every 1st & 3rd Thurs., 1:30–3 p.m. Chair Yoga Wednesdays, 11 a.m.–Noon Men Living with HIV Thursdays, 1:30–3 p.m. Housing Supportive Network Every 2nd & 4th Thurs., 11 a.m.–Noon Men of Color Aging 50+ Every 3rd Sat., 2–4 p.m. Men’s Drop-In Support Group Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–Noon Qi Gong Call 323-860-5830 for dates and times R&B Line Dancing Tuesdays, 11 a.m.–12 p.m. Veteran’s Support Group Last Tuesday of each month
VANGUARD | PRIDE
NEWS & NOTES IN GOOD COMPANIES The Center was the designated beneﬁciary of several global companies’ charitable campaigns during Pride month. Among them was furniture retailer IKEA, who donated sales of its rainbow-designed STORSTOMMA bags and will also refurnish the library at Triangle Square (the Center’s affordable housing complex for seniors) and one of the common areas inside The Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy. And, as part of its co-branded Proud Allies for All campaign with NYX Cosmetics, the Center will conduct diversity trainings to all of the professional makeup company’s employees. p y
WE DARE YOU
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
Nearly 1,400 people applied to live in one of the 98 affordable units at The Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing complex—with only one-third of them chosen at random to advance to the next phase of the housing lottery.
Located within the Center’s intergenerational Anita May Rosenstein Campus, the Senior Housing, which is scheduled to open later this year, will contain studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Residents can easily access Center programs specializing in HIV-related wellness, gender identity, and LGBTQ social and cultural support. Other services include meals, case management, employment training, and more than 100 monthly free or low-cost activities. The 506 semi-ﬁnalists are required to provide proof of age and income, submit a rental history, and undergo a background check. Those who do not secure an apartment will be placed on a waiting list.
The Center’s CAN (Community Action Network) Coalition, which forges partnerships with local organizations, schools, and youth development programs in order to serve as a resource to one another, launched an advocacy campaign to educate and reduce substance misuse among LGBTQ youth called Dare to Be the Best YOU: Stay Above the Inﬂuence. Studies indicate that LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to misuse substances. The campaign includes interviews with 12 diverse individuals who share their experiences with alcohol. Watch the campaign’s ﬁrst video at
CON-GRADULATIONS! The Center awarded 16 youth with college scholarships totaling $37,000 for college. Each year the Center partners with Edison International, Comcast NBCUniversal, and the Felice Samuel Green & Tate Renegade Thorson Memorial Scholarship to provide ﬁnancial assistance to eligible LGBTQ and ally high school seniors and undergraduate students. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center created two-minute congratulatory videos for each recipient in lieu of the annual LGBTQ Youth Awards. The personalized videos included a heartfelt message from Center staff along with a scholarship donor or social media inﬂuencer. The recipients will be attending some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities, including UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin.
A GRANDE TOTAL In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Center supporter and AIDS/LifeCycle participant Frankie Grande hosted Rainbowthon, a star-studded virtual concert and fundraiser beneﬁting the Center, which raised an impressive $54,870.
ANALYSIS & INSIGHT The Center joined other organizations for the national Queer the Census campaign to encourage LGBTQ people to make sure they were counted in the decennial population count. Data makes LGBTQ people more visible, as reported in Boyle Heights Beat:
The Center launched a patient portal three years ago, yet the COVID-19 crisis triggered Health Services to offer more client services via telehealth—a decision that will likely remain in place after the pandemic subsides, as reported in mHealthIntelligence:
Excerpt: “Legislators want to hear our stories, and we all have very powerful stories about why we matter, but we also get the question, ‘What are your numbers? What are the speciﬁcs?’ We have powerful stories, but if we can second that with good numbers and data collection, that could help us pass bills and change legislation that will change our lives and advance our rights.”
Excerpt: “It gives [clients] a lot of ﬂexibility to engage with us. They can access services when and where they want, in privacy. We’re ﬁnding that it’s sometimes easier to connect. It’s a safe haven for them.”
GABRIEL LOPEZ Health Information Systems Director Health Services
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The Trump administration’s immigration hold during the COVID-19 pandemic endangered LGBTQ immigrants, who were forced to wait in crowded detention centers or camps which were already dangerous places for many LGBTQ immigrants, as reported in Edge Media Network:
Organizations like the Center have pivoted to new methods and programs to be able to continue serving older adults amid social distancing mandates. The Center’s Hello Club, in which staff and volunteers make phone calls to senior clients to check on their well-being, has become a lifeline, as published in The Eisner Journal:
Excerpt: “Especially LGBTQ asylum seekers and folks who, for example, are living with HIV, or people who are living with AIDS. We know that our trans community is rarely housed in the correct place or given medical care that they need related to health conditions or medical needs related to their identity. In the last year, we've had multiple deaths of trans women asylum seekers, well before this pandemic, from not having proper medical care.”
Excerpt: “The simple outreach from a fellow LGBT-identiﬁed individual or ally makes all the difference in the world. From the top of the conversation, our seniors know they’re hearing from someone who understands and appreciates how they move through the world. The Hello Club has opened our eyes to the extent to which we can rely on our community to uplift one another in RANI DEMESME-ANDERS very practical ways.” Membership Manager
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TESS FELDMAN Staff Attorney & Immigration Law Project Manager Legal Services
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VANGUARD | PRIDE
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MARIA MELO Policy and Operations Manager Public Policy & Community Building
WHY I GIVE
VANGUARD | SUMMER 2020
y journey with the Los Angeles LGBT Center began as most journeys do—at a drag show hosted by AIDS/LifeCycle. My current Cycle Rep Erik Zamora, whom I became friends with through a mutual friend, invited me to the event at Micky's in West Hollywood and, honestly, I felt bad saying no so I decided to actually go—alone!— which, if you know me, is very, very rare for me to do. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I tell you that night changed my life. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence performed the most moving number I have ever seen as a tribute to the cyclists and volunteer roadies who we have lost to AIDS over the years. I began to weep...aggressively. One of the Sisters walked over to me and put their hand on my shoulder to comfort me. In that moment, I knew I was in. And not just like one toe in, but completely into the deep end of the pool. I registered for that year’s ride right there. Erik asked if I wanted to be part of the sober team he founded, the Trudging Buddies. I said yes. I was only a few months sober at the time, but I knew if I was going to get through the week-long, 545mile ride, I would need a lot of sober support. Thus, I began my three-year relationship with AIDS/LifeCycle as a Trudging Buddy…and I just celebrated my three-year sober birthday! So, now that I was signed up for the ride, it was time to start asking questions: Where does all of the money go that I just committed to raising? And that's where the incredible Lorri L. Jean comes in. She is the warmest, kindest, toughest, smartest woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
Her hugs are so comforting. As soon as I walked into her office at the Center and received one of her hugs, I knew she was the chick I'd switch for—oh, and I would support any organization she led! To hear her talk about the Center, not only did I fall in love with her but also with the entire organization and all of the amazing work done there. Lorri toured me around the Youth Center, and I saw with my own eyes the wonderful work they do with LGBTQ+ youth. I pledged to raise as much money as possible for them. Every year since, I have made good on that promise by scoring a spot as one of AIDS/LifeCycle’s top fundraisers. I’ve raised more than $140,000 so far...and counting! The Center’s work has only become more impressive. I was there at the community celebration of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus’ opening and the future Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing, which I look forward to moving into as soon as it is completed because I'm exhausted and ready to retire. Ha! (But seriously, I want in.) And I was there to speak on behalf of AIDS/LifeCycle at the Center’s 50th Anniversary Hearts of Gold concert at The Greek Theatre. Most recently I was there for the Center when COVID-19 broke out and heard their cry for funds in order to keep their doors open amid the pandemic. I spearheaded Rainbowthon, a star-studded virtual fundraising idea of mine using my list of contacts and a plea for help. Everyone I asked to participate said yes—we raised
almost $60,000 in less than three hours! I was overwhelmed. One of my favorite moments from that night was talking to AIDS/ LifeCycle Ride Director Tracy Evans live on the air during the fundraiser and seeing her beautiful, smiling face pop onto the screen covered in glitter and dressed to the nines—including a pink wig. Which brings me to why I ride and give. I ride because I can. I ride to end AIDS so that the next generation doesn't have to know as many people who have been lost to AIDS as I do. I ride to raise money for the Center. I ride so that LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness who arrive in Los Angeles, with nothing but a dream in their pockets, have a place to call home when the harsh reality of being homeless in L.A. sinks in. I ride so that my local LGBTQ+ friends can receive access to mental healthcare providers, doctors, medicine, counseling, and other help they so desperately need for free or at low-cost. I ride because I love it, because of the family I form on that road every year, because of the relationships I form on that last 545 miles. I ride to support my Trudging Buddies. I ride for love. I ride for you. The Center truly helps people. I have witnessed it countless times with my eyes and felt it in my heart. The Center is a sanctuary, a safe haven for those of us who have lost our way or need that little extra push to get us back on the right path. The Center is the mother ship for our community. The Center saves lives, and I am so proud to be a part of it today, tomorrow, always.
To support dancer, performer, and influencer Grande on AIDS/LifeCycle 2021, scheduled for June 6–12, 2021, visit his fundraising page at bit.ly/frankieALC
Community Action Response Effort
You are a first-responder for our community The Center has never walked away from our community during tough times and we will not do so now. With your support, our CARE Fund will ensure that resources and services are available for those who need them the most.
Anita May Rosenstein Campus 1118 N. McCadden Pl. Los Angeles, CA 90038