LGBTQ San Diego County News | April 2024 | Vol. 4., Issue 37

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Campaign to honor Matthew Shepard hits a wall


On April 6, the South Bay Youth Center (SBYC), part of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, celebrated its fifth anniversary with a celebration to not only commemorate the milestone but also honor its early steadfast supporters. The event was open to the public.

“The South Bay Youth Center’s fifth anniversary is a celebration of our incredible South County LGBTQ+ community,” stated The Center’s CEO Cara Dessert in a press release about the event. “Queer and transgender youth need safe spaces to get help and create community, and The San Diego LGBT Community Center is proud to offer this center to our youth and families here in San Diego’s South County. We are committed to building the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders, advocates, and change-makers in San Diego. Together, we can create a brighter future where every young person feels welcomed, valued, and supported.”

Ramirez is the national chair of the campaign, with honorary chair members that include Sen. Toni Atkins, Mayor Todd Gloria, and Matthew’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard.

San Diego native Clarione Gutierrez-Owens (Clarione) was chosen as the artist for the stamp, and

On Dec. 1, 2023, the International Imperial Court Council (IICC), directed by Queen Mother Nicole Murray Ramirez, began a grassroots effort to convince the US Postal Service (USPS) to establish a US Postal Stamp to honor Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was brutally murdered in 1998 by two men who knew that he was gay. Matthew was born Dec. 1, 1976, which is why they chose that date.

Murder two

Driver who fled accident that killed Cheers bartender ordered to stand trial

A hit-and-run driver has been ordered to stand trial for seconddegree murder in the death of a local beloved bartender, Joshua “Josh” Gilliland, who was fatally injured while walking to work last year.

Gilliland, 47, had worked at Cheers, a local LGBT bar located on Adams Avenue in University Heights, for 20 years when he was struck on June 10, 2023, at the southeast corner of El Cajon and Park boulevards. He died four days later in a hospital.

Brandon Allen Janik, 37, of North Park, was also ordered to stand trial for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI while having a prior DUI conviction, hit-and-run in a traffic fatality, and three counts of presenting false auto insurance claims.

The attorneys at the preliminary hearing told San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven Stone the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

San Diego Police officer Gabriel Torres said the driver ran a red light at 10:45 pm before striking Gilliland, who was not at fault.

Detective Justin Beal said Janik’s vehicle was a rented

BMW and that Janik took it to a repair shop. The front windshield was damaged, mostly on the passenger side.

Det. Beal said Janik first told a worker that the BMW was already damaged when he rented it, but the employee told him it was

The early supporters honored at the event included: Nora Vargas, chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, who received the Legendary Advocate of SBYC award; California State Senator Steve Padilla, who received the Legendary Role Model of SBYC award; former Chula Vista mayor Mary Salas, who received Legendary Friend of the SBYC award; and PFLAG San Diego County received the Legendary Community Partner of SBYC award.

The South Bay Youth Center is a program of The San Diego LGBT Community Center, and provides a welcoming space for LGBTQ+ youth ages 10 to 24. The youth center provides counseling, education, and community-building activities for ages 10 to 24. The SBYC staff aims to empower young individuals to thrive and embrace their authentic selves.

SBYC is located at 1180 Third Ave., in Chula Vista. To learn more, follow them on IG @ southbayyouthcenter, or on Facebook.


Two longtime San Diego lesbians are seeking lesbian military veterans from any branch of service who served any time between 1970 and 2000.

The two women wish to gather as many lesbian veterans as they can to participate in a Zoom event on April 25, at 4:30 pm, PDT.

Organizers of the Zoom, Kithie Gateley and Jill Waters, say the

APRIL 2024 VOLUME 4 ISSUE 37 LGBTQSD.NEWS >>> DINING P12 >> THEATER P15 Stars of University This Bud’s
Powerhouse performance
you know this man? >>> NEWS P20 >>> CRIME P17 C ON TACT US
BT Happy Spring! Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast P2 See JOSH page 5 See SHEPARD STAMP page 4 See BRIEFS page 16
for San Diego
619- 432-LG
People attending a vigil held at the three-way intersection (Normal Street, Park and El Cajon boulevards) where Josh was killed. (Photo by Eddie Reynoso)

Harvey Milk Breakfast

to honor

civil rights icon Dolores Huerta

This year’s breakfast marks a departure from the event’s long-time affiliation with the San Diego LGBT Community Center


receive the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 16th annual San Diego Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast, scheduled for Friday, May 24, from 7:30 am to 10 am at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley.

The breakfast, which has been held in San Diego since 2009, has become a local tradition along with other breakfasts that honor civil rights leaders, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. All People’s Breakfast, and the César Chávez Commemorative Breakfast.

Huerta, 93, is considered to be one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century, and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement, according to the National Women’s History Museum.

Beginning her activist career in 1955, Huerta co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO), which led voter registration drives and fought for economic improvements for Hispanics. She also founded the Agricultural Workers Association.

According to the museum, it was through a CSO associate that Huerta met activist César Chávez, with whom she shared an interest in organizing farm workers. In 1962, Huerta and Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), the predecessor of the United Farm Workers’ Union (UFW), which formed three years later. Huerta served as UFW vice president until 1999.

Huerta has spent her life working to get greater protections for workers, and to elect more women and Latinos to office, among her many accomplishments. She received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

As of 2015, Huerta was a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the secretary-treasurer emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, and the president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Breakfast organizers are thrilled that Huerta will be in attendance to accept her award.

Additionally, San Diego civil rights advocate and social justice leader Rabbi Devorah Marcus will be honored with the Harvey Milk Equality Award.

It has been a tradition at the San Diego Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast since its founding in 2009, to present honors to local and international community members who are making a difference. The breakfast was established by Nicole Murray Ramirez, Robert Gleason, and Dr. Delores Jacobs and was “designed to bring together diverse San Diegans – business, labor, Democrats, Republicans, all communities, all ages, all San Diegans who support equality and justice – to celebrate the memory of this influential civil rights activist, Milk.”

Since its inception and with the oversight of the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast committee, the breakfast has been produced by the San Diego LGBT Community Center, with proceeds in recent years benefitting the organization’s programs and services.

This year, however, organizers of the breakfast have parted ways with The Center as producer and benefactor of the event, and it is now being sponsored and organized by the Harvey Milk Foundation and the GLBTQ Historic Task Force of San Diego.

This year’s event co-chairs are civic leader Laurie Black, attorney Bruce Abrams, and City Commissioner Rickie Brown. Event organizers say that for the first time this year, the breakfast committee will sponsor 50 LGBTQA+ high school students to attend the breakfast.

Organizers also said they have lowered the ticket price for this year’s event to $85 per person, in an effort to make it more inclusive.

Proceeds from this year’s Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast will benefit the Harvey Milk Foundation, the San Diego AIDS Memorial, the San Diego GLBTQ Historic Task Force, and the Hillcrest LGBTQA+ Pride Banner Campaign.

Individual tickets, tables for groups, and sponsorships are available at

San Diego Marriott Mission Valley is located at 8757 Rio San Diego Drive. For additional information, contact Murray Ramirez at 619-241-5672.

–Benny Cartwright

is a longtime activist and community leader. Reach him at Follow him on Instagram @BennyC80. ▼

Nominations now open for Hillcrest historical banners

For the last several years, the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) has hosted banners on street light poles throughout Hillcrest honoring national LGBTQ icons and celebrities, such as Ellen Degeneres, Laverne Cox, Wanda Sykes, and Elton John.

Now, through a partnership with the San Diego GLBTQ Historic Task Force, the HBA soon plans to spotlight local LGBTQA+ heroes and leaders in place of the existing banners.

The project – first announced in January by Nicole Murray Ramirez in his monthly LGBTQ San Diego County News column – is now accepting nominations through June 10. Nominees can be either living or deceased and nominations should include a bio of the nominee and a letter stating why the individual(s) should be honored with a Hillcrest banner.

“This is the first time we have honored our local San Diego LGBTQA+ heroes and leaders on

these iconic Hillcrest banners,” stated Murray Ramirez in a press release.

Murray Ramirez, who chairs the San Diego GLBTQ Historic Task Force, first envisioned the project, and also suggested it be implemented this year in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first San Diego Pride March.

While there are conflicting accounts of when San Diego’s first Pride march took place, it is generally acknowledged that the first one was held in 1974, even though the San Diego Police Department would not issue organizers a permit.

According to those who recall that year, a march did indeed take place, but marchers had to take to the sidewalks due to the lack of permits, with most participants wearing paper bags over their heads to protect their identity. More on that first year of San Diego Pride’s marches can be found at

This project is intended to honor and preserve the history and legacy of San Diego’s LGBTQ leaders of not only the past,

but also those who are making history today.

“The Hillcrest Business Association and Foundation is committed to preserving our history and celebrating the lives of LGBTQA+ leaders and activists,” said Ben Nicholls, executive director of the HBA.

Nominations are due by June 10 and should be emailed to bannersubmissions@hillcrestbia. org or sent via post mail to Banner Nominations; ℅ Hillcrest Business Association; 1601 University Avenue; San Diego, CA 92103.

Each nomination should include a bio of the individual being nominated and a letter stating why the individual(s) should be honored with a Hillcrest banner.

For further information on this project, contact the nomination committee chair, Murray Ramirez at 619-241-5672.

To submit a news brief or press release, contact ▼

national civil rights icon Dolores Huerta will Soon you could see yourself or a friend up along University Avenue. (Courtesy Nicole Murray Ramirez) (left) Dolores Huerta receives the Medal of Freedom award from President Obama in 2012. (above) At 92, Huerta is still an stalwart activist. (below) Rabbi Devorah Marcus will receive the Harvey Milk Equality award. (Photos courtesy Nicole Murray Ramirez)

As California’s primary election was held just over a month ago, one local race that may have slipped under the radar was for members of the San Diego County Republican Central Committee. North Park resident Matthew Phy, 34, thinks the election is one for the history books, though, as it is believed that he is the first openly bisexual person to be elected to that body.

A Southern California native, Phy said he has worked in politics for more than 15 years. In his current full time job, he works as a policy advisor for San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson, who represents District 2.

While San Diego County’s LGBTQ community has gained significant power in the local and statewide Democratic party over the last 30 or so years, the same can’t be said for the Republican party, which has normally not been the party of choice for a large portion of the LGBTQ community.

“Visibility matters,” Phy said. “I don’t hide who I am. I treat everyone with the same respect and kindness I expect to receive in return. It works.”

For those unfamiliar with a Central Committee, Phy defined it as “the official organization of the local political party in the county,” before going into greater detail.

“The best way to describe it is that the Central Committee

members are the elected ‘board of directors’ who provide input into the general direction of the Party,” Phy explained.

“For example, we vote on a Chair to represent the Party; we are involved in hiring an executive director that is in charge of County Party operations; we may make endorsements in certain races; and we support Party activities, outreach, and campaigns.”

While Phy is not new to the Central Committee, this was his first time being elected to the seat during an election cycle. He originally joined the body as an appointee, filling a vacancy.

Phy believes that the appointment was also remarkable; because he was unanimously selected to fill the vacancy by the other Central Committee members who he said took no issue with his sexuality. And now, after being elected outright by voting members of the local GOP public, it makes Phy believe that things are changing.

Phy is not the first LGBTQ person to serve on the local Central Committee for the GOP, as Gina Roberts, an openly transgender woman, has been elected several times to the same body. It is significant though, Phy said he believes, that another part of the LGBTQ spectrum is being represented.

Most regional political parties have a Central Committee that is elected by members of the political party it represents. This year’s San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee elections received more attention than usual, however, as several currentlyelected officials and members of their staff ran concurrently for Central Committee seats as well as their re-election campaigns. Nothing about this arrangement is against the law or party rules, but it did raise eyebrows among some political observers.

Back to the Republican party, Phy said he certainly won’t defend their track record on

LGBTQ issues, as it has been far from perfect.

“In my experience, the San Diego County GOP has been welcoming to me and many others in the LGBTQ community,” he said. “I’ve received far more negative comments from Democrats for being an LGBTQ Republican, than I ever have from Republicans for being bisexual. Progress is being made. But rather than celebrate incremental positive change, it’s far easier for the media and others to remain negative.”

Phy said he believes that issues like marriage equality and equal treatment under the law should be supported and championed by both major political parties.

“If the goal is to continue advancing and protecting LGBTQ rights, shouldn’t we want people advocating in every corner to change hearts and minds?” he said. “I do. And I want to be that person for the LGBTQ community within the Republican Party.”

Phy said his hope is that having visible and open LGBTQ members of the Party and within the Central Committee brings different perspectives in.

“I hope that it also continues to change hearts and minds,” he said. “Individual Freedom is a major pillar of the Republican Party. We should hold the Party accountable to be consistent on individual freedom, especially when it comes to LGTBQ issues. There is far more that unites us than divides us.”

As most of California’s political landscape is currently dominated by the Democratic

party, Phy offers that California Republicans still have a lot to offer all voters.

“[The party] offers a different path, a better path,” Phy said. “The status quo clearly isn’t working for the overwhelming majority of Californians. When you look around and evaluate the state of California on nearly every single metric, the state is failing, and its leadership is nothing short of a disaster. The Democrats in California own every problem and every issue. They hold all of the power. Plain and simple.”

One of Phy’s greatest hopes, he said, is that everyone learn or re-learn how to have civil discussions about politics.

“There used to be a time when this was encouraged and celebrated … and normal,” Phy said. “Now, we are told you can’t be friends with someone because they don’t think exactly like you. I think that’s ridiculous.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is the politically diverse group of friends that I have,” he continued. “Do we agree on everything? Absolutely not. But who cares? Each person adds a unique perspective and an incredible amount of joy to my life. I wish everyone could see the value in this. I think our country would be better off for it.”

To learn more about San Diego’s GOP Central Committee, visit central-committee.

–Benny Cartwright is a longtime activist and community leader. Reach him at

Follow him on Instagram @BennyC80. ▼

(l to r) Matthew Phy with former California state minority leader Patricia C. Bates (Courtesy Matthew Phy) Local GOP Central Committee elects openly bisexual member

painted the stamp’s proposed image in November of 2023 in advance of the effort, using a well-known portrait of Matthew as his guide.

“With the recent historic rise in hate crimes in our country, especially against the LGBTQ community, I felt a Matthew Shepard stamp would remind Americans about the legacy of Matthew’s life, which has become a symbol against hate and of bringing communities together,” Ramirez said, explaining why he chose to undertake the effort.

The decision to name a postage stamp is first reviewed by the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, which is where all letters go. The committee is defined as follows on the Postal Service website:

“Established in 1957, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) serves the Postmaster General of the United States (PMG). Using their collective expertise in history, science, technology, art, education, sports, and other areas of public interest, CSAC members consider and then recommend stamp subjects to the PMG for final approval.”

That committee currently consists of 10 members, two women and eight men, all of whom are appointed by the Post Master General.

The Matthew Shepard letter-writing campaign has followed the same suit as two previous – and ultimately successful – campaigns, also initiated and organized by the IICC; one that succeeded in getting a stamp to honor Harvey Milk, which was dedicated in 2014, and one to get a US Navy ship named after Harvey Milk. The USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO206), an oil replenishment ship, was christened in 2021.

This campaign, however, has already hit a snag.

Last month, on March 2, local LGBTQ activist and US Marine Corps veteran Bob Lehman, helped gather together a batch of letters written by supporters from across the country – 1,693 – to be exact, including his own, and sent them to the CSAC.

“My letter asked for a commemorative stamp in

Matthew’s honor as ‘a symbol of hope, resilience, and the ongoing fight against discrimination in America …’,” Lehman told LGBTQ San Diego County News.

Two weeks later, he received a response letter from the USPS, dated March 15. In the letter, which coincidently was not from the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, but Shawn P. Quinn, identified as the manager of stamp development. It did not offer good news.

Dear Mr. Lehman,

Thank you for your letter to the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee regarding the issuance of a commemorative stamp honoring Matthew Shepard.

Each year, the Postal Service receives thousands of letters and even more petitions suggesting hundreds of different topics for new stamps. The Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee was established in 1957 to review all suggestions and make recommendations to the Postmaster General. We rely on the Committee to produce a balanced stamp program that touches on all aspects of our heritage. Committee recommendations are based on national interest, historical perspective, and other criteria that can be viewed at aboutusps. com/who/csac/#criteria.

Unfortunately the subject does not meet current criteria for commemoration on a postage stamp. The stamp program commemorates positive contributions to American life, history, culture, and environment, therefore negative occurrences and disasters will not be commemorated on postage stamps or stationery.

We thank you for your patronage and taking the time to write.

Sincerely, Shawn P. Quinn (Manager, Stamp Development)

Lehman said he recently became aware of one other person who received such a letter, and that was in December, soon after the campaign started. The assumption is that there are many others.

“I was really shocked when I first read the letter,” Lehman said. “I had to read, and re-read, the part where the US Postal Service equates Matthew Shepard

Bob Lehman

1270 Cleveland Avenue, B136 San Diego, CA 92103

Citizen’ Stamp Advisory Committee

C/O Stamp Development U.S. Postal Service 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300 Washington DC 20260-3501

Dear Members of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee,

I am writing to request the issuance of a commemorative stamp honoring Matthew Shepard, a symbol of hope, resilience, and the ongoing fight against discrimination in America, particularly in advancing the rights and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Matthew Shepard, born on December 1, 1976, in Casper, Wyoming, was a vibrant young man dedicated to advocating for equality and human rights. Matthew's courage and story have become a beacon for the LGBTQIA+ community, inspiring continued efforts towards achieving equality and acceptance.

His legacy notably contributed to the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This critical piece of legislation embodies the positive changes spurred by Matthew's story, reinforcing our nation's dedication to combating hate and promoting justice for all, including marginalized communities.

A commemorative stamp in Matthew Shepard's honor would serve as a powerful symbol of our collective commitment to values of tolerance, acceptance, and equality. It would stand as a reminder of the strides we have made in our journey towards a more inclusive society and the work that still lies ahead.

Matthew Shepard's story resonates deeply with many and continues to motivate individuals and communities to work towards a world where everyone is accepted without fear of hate or prejudice. A stamp commemorating his life and contributions would be a fitting tribute to his enduring influence on our society's progress and the LGBTQIA+ movement.

I appreciate your consideration of the creation of this stamp to honor Matthew Shepard's remarkable legacy.


with something ‘negative’ or a ‘disaster.’ Talk about tone deaf. The letter shows that the US Postal Service completely failed to understand the powerful and lasting positive impact of Matthew Shepard’s life on the LGBTQ community and our world.”

National Chair Ramirez was stunned when he read the response letter.

“It’s absolutely outrageous and disrespectful,” Ramirez told LGBTQ San Diego County News. “This is the first time in all our ongoing stamp campaigns that we have received such a negative response and I believe it is absolutely unwarranted and should be reconsidered.

“My phone is ringing off the hook from national leaders,” Ramirez continued. “Organizations are shocked and angry. We are going to continue our letter campaign. This is far from over. Everyone is really upset, including members of the house and senate.”

Clarione was also disappointed by the news.

“I’d like to believe that the committee’s rejection of the stamp is rooted in misunderstanding of Matthew’s legacy,” he said. “Yes, his death was extremely tragic, but it sparked a revolution in combating hate crimes across the country. It birthed the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which seeks to amplify his story

Letter that Bob Lehman sent to the USPS’ Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee on March 2. (Courtesy Bob Lehman)

against policy to rent a damaged car to customers.

Janik then said the damages to the car occurred when he backed into something, and claimed he felt “a thump,” Beal said, according to the repair shop worker, who later told the detective that it was an inconsistent story.

Juan Garcia, an insurance investigator, testified as an online witness on a video screen. He said he called Janik about the car’s damages and his explanation was inconsistent with striking a post.

Detective Michael Gottfried said Janik had the windshield replaced for $460 and told an employee he had run into a metal pole, for which he provided a photo.

Other witnesses Beal intervewed said Janik had four alcoholic beverages at two bars that day.

Det. Gottfriend said he recovered Janik’s phone and noticed there were two articles about the crash that killed Gilliland.

Deputy District Attorney Laura Evans said in court that Janik was convicted of misdemeanor drunk driving in January of 2016, and attended a panel discussion put on by Mothers Against Drunk Driving as part of the DUI program.

Another witness testified that he saw Janik swaying as he was walking around earlier that night, and that he needed help getting

out of his car. A woman testified she heard him slurring his words.

Janik’s attorney, Justin Murphy, said there was no evidence his client was intoxicated, as he was not arrested until Sept. 5, 2023. The witnesses who claimed Janik was drunk were not people who were trained to observe intoxication, Murphy continued, and one person saw Janik through a window.

DDA Evans asked Judge Stone to order Janik to stand trial on all charges, saying one witness saw him slumped over the steering wheel at one point before the crash. Stone ruled there was probable cause for a trial on all counts.

Janik pleaded not guilty and waived his right for a speedy trial. He remains in jail without bail and will next appear in court to set a trial date on May 8.

On June 15, 2023, the day after Josh passed away, friends and community members participated in a vigil to “finish Josh’s walk” and draw attention to the three-way intersection of Normal Street and El Cajon and Park boulevards, as some feel it is dangerous.

To read our previous coverage of the accident, Josh’s death, and the vigil, visit finishing-joshs-walk.

–Neal Putnam is a local crime reporter. You can reach him at ▼

(above) Attendees of the vigil held June 15, 2023, gather in front of Cheers after “finishing Josh’s walk” to work from the location where he was hit. (below) A man gets ready to add Josh’s photo to a traffic pole at the vigil. (Photos by Eddie Reynoso)


Respect for small community papers

I grew up as the daughter of the editor of my hometown newspaper, The Lamplighter, and it was delivered twice-perweek to people’s driveways and businesses, and just about everyone in town subscribed to it. Those subscribers are what paid for the salaries, printing and distribution of the paper, along with ad sales, but it was never dependent upon ad sales. It was the paper of record for a small town in southeast Los Angeles, directly on the border of Orange County, called La Mirada.

I was extremely interested in “the paper” business and obviously influenced by my dad’s job, started writing for my school papers, starting with fifth grade, and did so all the way through high school and even college. Regardless of the many advisors and teachers I had during those years, it was my dad who taught me about the news. He instilled in me the importance of stories that started “above the fold”; how personal views should never be introduced into any article, other than those found on the opinion page; and he always emphasized the integrity of journalism in general. Research and interviews vs. shoddy guesswork. Facts vs. untruths. Holding local politicians to account, and giving them their due when they deserved it, regardless of party. He’d be horrified by the likes of the Fox News-style journalism of today.

Despite his small sphere of readership compared to say, the Los Angeles Times or the Orange

County Register of the time, his newspaper was incredibly important and well-read in our town. It covered Little League baseball and high school football games, locals who made the Olympics, local men who were killed in Vietnam, new business grand openings, parties at the local park, car accidents on one of our major streets, parades, kids who did amazing things, businesses who went above and beyond, the art festivals, City Hall, and of course, local politics.

At a very early age, I recognized that my dad wielded a surprising amount of influence back then, seemingly because of the power of what came out of his typewriter twice a week.

Everyone wanted to be his friend, buy him a drink, give him tickets to theme parks and other

events. He got awards for his writing and media support all the time and was even dubbed “Man of the Year” by the Chamber of Commerce.

He also had a lot of enemies. Like I said, he had a great deal of power, specifically when it came to local politics. He always held onto his endorsement editorials until the last paper published prior to any local election. He never focused on party; rather the candidate’s ability to do the job for La Mirada. His endorsements always won, and that often made people on the other side of the ticket and their supporters very unhappy with him and he lost many friends. He also wrote investigative stories that uncovered scandals previously unequaled in such a small town, even of people he may have shared a drink with just the

month before. I remember police escorts to school on more than one occasion and seeing flyers on every car at a local mall that demonized my dad and included his photo – the equivalent of social media take downs today.

I share all this for good reason. Journalism and integrity still matters.

We are a small LGBTQ community and this is the newspaper of record for that community. We have a very small staff and we work hard to cover the news and events that we can that happen locally.

There is a lot to cover and while it’s hard enough with a biweekly paper to catch everything, it’s even harder with a monthly paper, but we do our best.

6 APRIL 2024 VOLUME 4 ISSUE 37 LGBTQSD.NEWS OPINION See EDITORIAL page 14 LGBTQ San Diego County News P.O. Box 34664 San Diego, CA 92163 619-432-LGBT (5428) PUBLISHER Eddie Reynoso EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Morgan M. Hurley GRAPHIC DESIGN Chad Bevan COMMUNITY EDITOR Benny Cartwright STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Big Mike Phillips WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING SALES 619-432-LGBT (5428) SENIOR COLUMNIST Nicole Murray Ramirez CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mike Phillips | Chris Barone Neal Putnam | Frank Sabatini Jr. Veronica Zerrer PUBLISHER EMERITUS Terry Sidie David Mannis ASSOC. PUBLISHER EMERITUS Nicole Murray Ramirez NATIONAL SALES REPRESENTATIVE Charles Wellman 908-232-2021 EXT 225 CALIFORNIA SALES REPRESENTATIVE Scott Wazlowski 415-829-8937 DISTRIBUTION LGBTQ San Diego County News is distributed free monthly. © 2023. All Rights Reserved. SUBMISSIONS / NEWS TIPS For tips, stories, letters to the editor, or other media inquiries, email EDITOR’S NOTE The opinions written in this publication’s advertorial, editorial and opinion pages are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of LGBTQ San Diego County News. The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.
Stack of March issues thrown in trash

An ode to Baby Boomers

I am a proud member of Generation X. I was born in 1980, so I’m the youngest of the young from that generation, which spans from 1965-1980, but I’m glad to be a part of it. Mainly because I mostly get to stay out of the generation wars – there is so much fighting among the boomers, Millennials, and now Generation Z.

In fact, the most ridiculous thing that I have recently seen is a new trend where Millennials (1981-1996) and Gen Z (19972003) are fighting over who looks older. Millennials are saying they’ve aged like fine wine, while Gen Z is saying they’ve lived through such a lot in their short lives, it’s aged them. And there are fights about it.

And of course there was the infamous “ok, boomer” retort that was popular on social media for quite some time, as basically

a way to invalidate anything a member of the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) had to say in response to whatever hot topic was being debated. And then Boomers who would constantly blame Millennials for wasting money on avocado toast.

These debates, while mostly held in online forums like X and TikTok, do not serve us well. They are just another way to divide us among our various differences and life experiences. And I’m not having it.

In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I was out with this paper’s Editor-in-Chief, Morgan M. Hurley. While at the bar, Morgan introduced me to a co-worker of hers, who turned out to be an absolutely lovely woman. As we were sharing about ourselves, we came to the realization that she is on the oldest end of Gen X (born in 1965), and me of course, being on the youngest end.

While the 15 years of life experience she has on me took her through some very different periods in our fast-changing history, we had some nice conversations about many of the things we share being a part of the same generation, although on opposite ends of it. And the thing we agreed most on was that we do not like the generational wars, and were pleased that we “X’ers” have mostly been left out of it (noting that she often gets lumped in with Boomers, and I often get lumped in with Millennials because of our proximity to those generational spaces).

With that said, it really got me thinking about one generation

in particular: the Baby Boomers; the generation that has been most recently maligned by many younger than them for “ruining the world,” “hoarding wealth for themselves,” or “having their cake, eating it, and not sharing it with others.”

Sure, many members of that generation have done some pretty awful things, particularly when it comes to the economy and how it seems to only benefit corporations and the richest of the rich, while the rest of us struggle to get by every single day. But what I want to focus on is honoring the many good people of this generation, and their contributions, including those in our LGBTQ community.

I was raised by Baby Boomers. Most of my teachers throughout my schooling were Boomers. And when I became active in the LGBTQ community, it was Boomers who took me under their wing and taught me about the struggles they had been through to get us to the successes our community had seen by the late 1990s, while also helping prepare us to take on the challenges ahead of us.

They were also the generation most affected by the AIDS crisis, and to personally be able to meet many who survived it, and learn from them, has been powerful.

To me, I still think of so many Baby Boomers as the vibrant 40ish year old “old people” whom I looked up to when I was in my teens. Yet when I see a group of senior citizens in their late 60s and 70s now, I realize those are the people who raised me. As I get older, they get older. And

what struck me most recently was learning about the death of a neighbor lady I grew up with in the Allied Gardens suburb of San Diego.

My mom (now 70!) was a single parent and we were lucky to live in a neighborhood that was very close-knit and all the families looked out for each other. Come to think of it, a lot of my neighbors were just nosy, but that probably kept my brothers and I out of trouble – or at least more trouble than we were already causing.

Anyway, this neighbor lady, Jane, and I developed a bond when I was around 12 years old. I had been friends with her daughter, but as she became more interested in non-gay boys and other teenage girl stuff, her mom and I started chatting more.

In fact, I started to look forward to my daily chats with Jane after school, and all of the neighborhood gossip from the day that she’d tell me. She had a thick, New York Jewish accent, and chain smoked, so that made it all the more entertaining for me. Sometimes she even sent me to the store, with a permission note in hand, to pick up cigarettes for her (yes, that was really a thing back then!). Jane also found my dad to be quite handsome, so whenever he’d pull up to our driveway in his Jeep for a visit, she’d race to her kitchen window (which had a view of our front yard) to swoon over my dad. I thought it was adorable.

Jane and I hung out and were buddies for years. I stopped hanging out with her as much when I came out as gay at 16, but

I always knew she knew, with the winks she’d give me – winks of approval.

I, of course, “grew up,” and started college and got busy with all the things I was involved with, finding boyfriends of my own, and really shifting my entire life to Hillcrest. I lived at home with my mom until I was 26, because it was conveniently close to SDSU where I went to school and worked, so I would still see Jane for several years after we drifted apart. I’d always wave as I was rushing in and out in my car and told myself all the time that I needed to reconnect with her.

At some point, Jane and her family had a falling out of sorts and she divorced her husband and moved a few neighborhoods over. For years, my mom would tell me that I should give Jane a call and say hi. My mom would run into her at the grocery store or various other places and Jane would always ask about me. My mom even sent me Jane’s phone number and I told myself for nearly 20 years that I would call Jane and see how she was doing. Well, I just learned that in January of this year, Jane died. How I would have loved to be able to enjoy just one more chat with her and reminisce about the old days and all the funny characters in the neighborhood she used to tell me all the juicy gossip about. But I’ll never get that chance.

The Baby Boomer generation, which is full of amazing people who went through a lot, is getting up there in age. And as has been

See BENNY page 10

After we renamed our first charity event from “Bartender’s Christmas Charity” to “Ordinary Miracles,” Bobby Haas (board president for Special Delivery at that time) shared with Nigel and I the excitement they felt over how wonderful our first event went. He especially loved how we were able to bring all the bartenders and LGBTQ bars together to participate on behalf of Special Delivery. He asked if he could help with some more ideas to enhance our already great ideas to include more businesses and people in our community.

We were glad to get the experience and feedback from Bobby. Being very new at this – even though our first event went well and made a very good impression in the community – we still had a lot to learn and loved the fact that Bobby wanted to help us.

Nigel and I realized we could not do this project by ourselves, even with Michael Lunsford’s help that first year, we knew we needed more help to expand.

So, it was then, in 1997, that we created a board of directors for Ordinary Miracles. We had the honor to include – along with Michael Lunsford – Debbie Yoakum, Fernando Lara, Chris Walsh, Tony Chiumento (he created the Ordinary Miracles logo for us), and Tom Houk as our board, who all were very loyal during our five-year history. We needed these dedicated members of our community to help move us forward.

The second year we decided to be bolder with our mission by inviting restaurants and hair salons to participate in giving back.

It was exciting. We created the first dining event for Ordinary Miracles with so many restaurants, either matching their employees’ tips or donating 10% of the entire day’s sales. Hair stylists and salons were also donating their time and 100% of the money for a haircut. It worked, our community loved that they had other ways to be present and that it included other ways to give back without going out to a bar.

As we continued to grow every year, we just kept raising more money for more charities. Special Delivery was granted an equal portion the entire five years we were in existence. Our organization grew to become one of our community’s favorite yearly events. We loved that every single individual, group, and business, could give from their hearts to those who needed it most in such an easy, fun, and loving way. We were living up to our mission.

Ordinary people creating ordinary miracles

As our mission grew, so did the hearts of our community

A few of the many reasons why Ordinary Miracles became such a must-attend event, was because of the selection of food that was being donated. There were over 20 food stations, with delicious options from some of San Diego’s most favorite restaurants throughout the venue. Our silent auction was deemed impressive, filled with so many incredible items from so many amazing businesses.

One of the things our community loved most was the finale, created by the brilliant and talented Leonard Simpson of Fashion Forward. Simpson, a local fashion guru, provided New York-style runway fashion shows at the end of every event

Over the years, those fashion shows brought the house down; those shows were so mind boggling. Our event hosts every year were Kimberly Hunt of Channel 10 News and Trixie, our very own bars candy girl and performer. They were so magical together.

We were also very honored to have our very good friend, Rob Halford, the lead singer of heavy metal band Judas Priest, along with many political figures, join us every year as honorary hosts. Well over a thousand people in our community supported the events each year, joining Leonard, Kimberly, Trixie, Rob and so many others who never failed us. They were able to create so many memorable moments in those last three years of Ordinary Miracles.

No doubt it was a lot of work. The talented and creative ideas and guidance of Ferando Lara, who took charge of this major event every year, and the involvement of our board made it the go-to event of the year. Ordinary Miracles’ board of directors worked so well together, they were all angels, we were family, we loved each other. Every single board member worked hard and worked together to make sure every year was a success.

In fact, we did add a few more board members our last three years; John Brooks, Dan Navarro, Andrew Randall, and Peter Zanni, joined in and helped make things a bit easier those last years.

With the dedication and love our board had for this organization and our community, their leadership supported our vision, our compassion, and they helped bring our community together. And with that Ordinary Miracles became a reality and was very successful. We loved our community 100%; without our community involvement to help achieve our mission, this would have never become the success it was. For that I personally will always be grateful and carry this in my heart and mind forever.

Within five amazing hardworking years as a community, together we raised over $300,000. We were a human organization first and most importantly, but we also just so happened to be mostly gay. In those five years, Ordinary Miracles funded various causes, everything from AIDS/HIV, the

homeless, gay youth, women’s breast cancer research, children’s hospitals, cancer research, food pantries, pets, women abuse, drug and alcohol organization, elderly groups, and so many others.

I am going to try my best to mention as many people as possible, businesses and organizations that helped make Ordinary Miracles the charity that brought our community together. One hundred percent of our organization were volunteers, made up of ordinary people to create extra-ordinary miracles to help our fellow man, no matter who they were or what they believed in. We did good with good people to help good causes. So here I go, please forgive me if I did not mention you.

First and foremost, the whole reason this even happened; a huge thanks to all our LGBTQ bartenders, bars, and their owners. Our very first sponsor, the late Michael Portantin, publisher of the Gay & Lesbian Times. Also Buzz Magazine; The Update; The Weekly; Rick Ford of All Worlds Video; Leonard Simpson of Fashion Forward; Nicole Murray Ramirez and The Imperial Court de San Diego (first and only nonprofit to financially

support Ordinary Miracles); and Miller Brewing Company (first corporate beer sponsor). Edward Miller and Michael Moorehead for paying for all of our stamps, printing, and office supplies. Remember this was pre-social media, we relied on the newspapers and the U.S. mail to get the message out. They saved us thousands of dollars every year by their generosity.

Also, a couple of shout outs to California Cuisine wine tastings, hosted by Chris Walsh and Michael Lunsford; Tony Chiumento who did all our graphic designs for the paper, flyers, and programs; Tom Houk, who created one-of-a-kind art pieces for awards we gave out every year; Dr. David Littlefield’s dentist office; Robbie Cox and Dr. Greg Scott for their Slash Parties; Terra Restaurant’s BBQ dinner event; Phil Katcher and Phil Dole of North Park Travels; Steve White’s volleyball tournament; The Brass Rail’s welcome home for the holidays events; and that is just to name a few.

I am proud to say that because of the one idea Nigel came up with, within five years we brought a community together like I had never seen before. It was full of people wanting to help,

contribute, volunteer, donate, and have fun doing it, all at the same time. It was ordinary people creating ordinary miracles. These are memories I will always cherish; I made so many lasting friendships that I still have to this very day.

Finally, a huge thank you to Nigel Mayer who has been one of my best friends for over 30 years. Thank you for including me with your idea. It changed not only my life, but thousands of lives that benefited from this incredible journey. To all the board members that gave of their time, money, energy, love, and compassion, your hard work paid off and helped those who needed our help.

Lastly, a huge thank you to this loving community with such abundance of compassion to ensure a better life for others. I am blessed every day to live in the best community in the world. These are the shoulders I stand upon.

–Big Mike Phillips is a local photographer, bartender, and longtime LGBT activist and fundraiser. You can reach him at ▼

Founding board members of Ordinary Miracles (l to r) Big Mike, co-founder; Fernando Lara; Michael Lunsford; Chris Walsh; Debbie Yoakum; and Nigel Mayer, co-founder (Courtesy Big Mike) This mission statement was created by Big Mike, Nigel Mayer, and Debbie Yoakum, and was listed in all of their brochures and promotional materials. (Courtesy Big Mike)

Harvey Milk’s Legacy and San Diego

In the early 1970s, in a bar in San Francisco, World War II veteran and the first openly LGBTQ candidate to run for public office (1961), Jose Julio Sarria, introduced me to a long-haired hippie wanting to run for Board of Supervisors [San Francisco’s “city council”], named Harvey Milk.

Harvey and I hit it off immediately with our love for politics, history and our LGBTQ civil rights movement. I stopped by his photo shop in the Castro neighborhood anytime I was in town and we worked together against the Briggs State Initiative that would have fired all homosexual teachers had it been approved.

Harvey told me that he had been stationed in San Diego while he was in the Navy in the 1950s. I’ll never forget how I had the nerve to tell him that he wouldn’t ever win an election until he cut his hair and put on a suit – all the while I was in full drag with go-go boots giving him this advice!

When Harvey was assassinated after only about a year in office and the outrageous verdict handed down to his assassin, which rightfully caused riots in San Francisco, I vowed to myself that I would never let our community – and our nation z- forget Harvey Milk. And San Diego, you have played an important and major role in preserving the legacy of Harvey Milk, including:

1. The establishment of the Harvey Milk Democratic


the case for all of human history, as people get older, they pass away. I want to make sure we honor them, learn from them, and show our appreciation to them while we can. No one lasts forever.

To the Boomers who might be reading this and saying, “Wait a minute, you’re putting me out to pasture, already?” Trust me, I am not. I understand completely that many of our Baby Boomer generation are still incredibly active, working, contributing members of society. In fact, my 96-year-old grandmother (who is on the youngest end of “The Greatest Generation,” which birthed the Boomers) is still

Club of San Diego. The club’s past presidents included the first openly gay candidate to run for public office in San Diego, Dr. Al Best, along with Asian-Pacific Islander activist Jim Cua, and yes, me.

2. The dedication of the first bench in Balboa Park that honored an openly gay man: Harvey Milk.

3. The establishment of the Harvey Milk Civil Rights and Mayor George Moscone Equality awards.

4. The establishment of the San Diego Harvey Milk Student Scholarship Fund.

5. The dedication of the first Harvey Milk Street in the nation, located in Hillcrest.

6. The San Diego Human Relations Commission became the first government body in the state to endorse State Senator Mark Leno’s bill to make Harvey Milk’s birthday, May 22, a California State Recognition Day.

7. The establishment of the first Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in the nation.

A national letter writing campaign, which resulted in a US Postal Service stamp featuring Harvey Milk, was started locally with the Imperial Court de San Diego and the San Diego GLBTQ Historic Task Force.

Another national letter writing campaign, which resulted in the now christened US Navy Ship – the USNS Harvey Milk (TAO-206) – was also started locally with the Imperial Court de San Diego and the San Diego GLBTQ Historic Task Force.

The International Harvey Milk Medal of Honor was established in San Diego with Robert Gleason, with San Diego’s 35th mayor being the first honorees.

While all 10 of these Harvey Milk recognitions were my ideas, it absolutely took a village and none of it would have ever happened without your support, San Diego!

I will always remain grateful to so many of you who believed in me and supported my ideas. People like Dr. Al Best, Jim Cua, Daryl Edwards, Robert Gleason, Empress LaLa Too, Empress Julia Legaspi, then Councilmembers Toni Atkins

running around like the Energizer Bunny and I’m so thankful to still have her around, and hopefully for several more years.

Finally, I chose to write about this because I wanted to acknowledge the group of people who were and continue to be a source of inspiration and education for me, and as that group gets older, I want to do better about showing my love and appreciation. I don’t want another person I was once close with, like Jane, to pass away before I get the chance to let them know what the time we spent together meant to me.

–Benny Cartwright is a longtime activist and community leader. Reach him at Follow him on Instagram @BennyC80. ▼

and Todd Gloria, Mayors Jerry Sanders, Bob Filner and Kevin Faulconer, Ben Dillingham III, Frank Stirriti, the Imperial Court de San Diego, Emperor Mikie, Big Mike Phillips, Michael Portantino, UPDATE Newspaper, the Gay & Lesbian Times, Terry Sidie, the San Diego LGBT Community Center, Lambda Archives, former council member John Hartley, Kurt Cunningham, the GLBTQ Historic Task Force, Assemblymember Chris Ward, Eddie Rey, Carolina Ramos, Bob Lehman and Tom Felkner, and so many, many more.

My heart is full as I just returned from the welcoming ceremony for the USNS Harvey Milk, held in San Francisco, and I thought how my city, San Diego, has played such a major role in preserving the legacy of a true American civil rights icon, Harvey Milk.

Now we prepare for the upcoming 16th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast on Friday, May 24, honoring Harvey’s birthday on May 22, 1930. For more information, visit

–Nicole Murray Ramirez

is a lifelong Latino and LGBT activist and advocate, a longtime city commissioner, and is the Queen Mother of the International Imperial Court of the Americas. He can be reached at

BENNY (l to r) Nicole with Harvey’s nephew, Stuart Milk, who runs the Harvey Milk Foundation. Both are wearing USNS Harvey Milk officer caps.

Invisible Trans

I’ve only ever been fired from one job, and that was for telling customers to eat at a competitor’s diner after being ordered to change the roadside marquee to read “2 Pork Fritters for a $1.” Meh, that time didn’t bother me. I was going to quit anyway. Yet being thrown out of a writer’s group once did hurt.

Aspiring novelists, poets, and other interdisciplinary creatives often come together to support one another’s artistic endeavors. Upon just having moved to San Diego, I was unsure if anything I wrote was compelling enough to labor on with. So, seeking feedback, I joined two local groups. The first one was led by a former San Diego cop. The other by a true blue liberal.

As a trans woman, I was nervous about being accepted in either group. After all, visibility is often the hardest thing for a trans person to live – uncertain how we will be treated.

People in the cop’s group were standoffish at first. Unsure how to interact with me, they were curt to the point of rudeness. Yet after a while, they seemed to brighten at my critiques of their work, as I listed both the admirable things they did as well as their misses. There came, in time, not necessarily acceptance, but respect.

The more artistically-oriented group leader accepted me with broad smiles and open arms at the prospect of welcoming an “out” transwoman. She was generous in her praise of my writing, as well, oohing and ahhing over many passages of a story read.

Both groups were good. I learned a lot. One was hardboiled storytelling devoted to a brawling, street-schooled realism regarding the human condition, while the other was a high-brow examination of theme, prose, and literary complexity.

The cop’s group was filled with stories emanating from the desperation of those most left out in society: the homeless resorting to smash and grabs; addicts suppling their highs through burglary; street urchins running fentanyl; and LGBT kids doing sex work after being kicked out of homes. The ex-cop criticized my heroine, a murder investigator for the Topeka Kansas Police. He groused that she only carried a revolver (she was a cop – not a soldier) and had a penchant for haute couture at crime scenes (brain bits are sticky and don’t mix well with Dior). But other than those trifling nit-noids, he liked the story of a New Yorker’s self-exile to the Kansas Prairie where she solved the murders of a group of prairie longshoremen.

The aforementioned creative was a liberally-minded, lattesipping free-thinker, devoted to progressive causes. She prided herself on positive body-imagery, devotion to Black Lives, Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, Modern Monetary Theory, No-Nukes, and a belief that if we ate less beef we would live longer, have healthy colons, and less flatulence.

Guess which one threw me out of their writing group?

The whiplash I experienced from the liberal was so severe I was afraid I would need therapy from a chiropractor. From the level of her invective the evening she ordered me out, there was a lot of pent-up anger, and it had obviously been building.

Stung at first, I got over it. I concluded the issue was hers, not mine. I reexamined all my interactions within the group and with her. I had been as honest and open with praise and criticism as I knew how. Later, I found out others had left her group.

Ultimately, I took down my copy of Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. In his novel, he describes how The Brotherhood, a group of white middle-class folks were really not serious about solving the problems of blacks in Harlem. They only cared to appear that way. All while not letting go of their white supremacy. Like them, my liberal literati wasn’t really serious about inclusion of a trans woman in a group. She only wanted a demonstrative appearance of acceptance – until she realized she could no longer keep up the charade.

So, my message to my trans sisters and brothers is to be visible. You may not be able to always earn acceptance. But you can earn respect.

–Veronica Zerrer is the author of “Memoirs of a Cold Warrior, a Novel.” She is retired from the US Army and active in the local LGBTQ community. In 2023, she was appointed to the California Veterans Board by Gov. Newsom. She can be reached at ▼


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This is what it takes to take on Alzheimer’s.

It’s not easy to accept that nearly two-thirds of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are women. Or that some cases may be diagnosed as early as age 55.

But we can learn about signs and reduce our risk by staying active and lowering blood pressure.

Because we have what it takes to take on Alzheimer’s.

Learn about signs and screening at

Editor’s Note: Connor has taken a leave of absence for personal reasons, but in his stead will be local trans community leader, Veronica “Ronnie” Zerrer.
CLPF Lic #1050
Licensed Professional Fiduciary, Credentialed Mediator Michelle Burkart CLPF, MBA

Trigger-free Budweiser cans Say ‘cheese’

The Major League Baseball (MLB) season kicked off with a can design by Budweiser that honors the San Diego Padres and Petco Park. It shows off the team’s logo hovering over a silvery photo of Petco Park occupied by fans. The company actually rolled out beer can designs unique to all 16 teams across the league. They are limited editions available in their respective team cities wherever Budweiser is sold.

In addition, the beer giant introduced a general “league can” for baseball fans who might not align with any particular team — or who might be closet fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Budweiser last April partnered with trans entertainer Mulvaney for a commemorative can design supporting trans awareness. The backlash from conservative groups was swift. The fallout continues as Bloomberg News and reps from Columbia Distributing recently reported that Budweiser is poised to lose 10 to 18 percent of its retail shelf space across the nation this year because of ongoing boycotts.


Expansion is the name of the game at the “women-powered” Bivouac Ciderworks in North Park. The established tasting room and restaurant recently debuted a 5,700-square-foot venture next door called Ciderworks Adventure Lodge, which features a general store stocked with signature sundries and ciders.

The “lodge” itself greets with a communal seating area and a curvy bar, where visitors can imbibe on house-made ciders ranging from dry pear and mixed berry to orange and pineapple flavors. Each rings in at 6 percent alcohol by volume. The rotating tap system also gives way to ciders from local, national and international companies. A limited selection of wine and local beers are also available.

Bivouac is owned by Lara Worm, who launched the first phase of the business six years ago at 3986 30th St. Her new Adventure Lodge is located at 3980 30th St. 619-725-0844,

–Frank Sabatini Jr. has been writing about food in San Diego for over 35 years. He launched his own food blog during the pandemic, called, “The Hash Star,” which you can follow at He can be reached at

Imagine an exhibition space brimming with more than 100 different types of cheeses that you can consume without limitation. Ditto for the mescal, tequila, local beers, ciders and coffees, also in the mix. Look no further than the fourth annual Cheese Expo to fulfill that dream. Presented by locally-based Liquid City, the soiree will welcome attendees in two separate sessions on April 28 at Liberty Station’s 5,000-square-foot Brick event hall. The expo will operate that day from 1 to 4 pm, and 5 to 8 pm. The cost for either session is $95.

“There will be a mix of cheeses from around the world, with about nine of our vendors from Wisconsin,” said Edwin Real, who co-founded Liquid City with business partner and cheese monger Rob Graff of Venissimo Cheese. Real is also the creator and moderator of the Facebook group, Eating and Drinking in Diego. Real says the expo is a fitting launch into National Cheese Month in May, and that it will attract up to 1,000 people.

“But there is an intimate feel to it,” he added. “It’s about exploring cheese and talking with many of the cheese makers who come here to take part because of our bubbling food culture. We’re at about 40 vendors. You can rightfully say that it’s one of the more unique culinary events in San Diego.” Venissimo and the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin are among the main sponsors. Some of the cheese and “liquid” merchants will include Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, Central Coast Creamery, Emmentaler AOP, Bivouac Ciderworks, AleSmith, Vino Carta, Tequila Don Fulano, and Casa ZG Coffee. Tickets can be purchased at the door (2863 Historic Decatur Road) or by visiting

Calendar item: Taste of Hillcrest

One of San Diego’s favorite “taste of” events continues to bounce back after taking a punch from the pandemic that began four years ago. Today, the upcoming Taste of Hillcrest will spotlight more than 25 neighborhood establishments doling out their latest and greatest culinary offerings. The event will be held from noon to 4 pm, April 13.

Look for tantalizing sips and nibbles such as wine slushies from newcomer Cork & Stem; sweet and savory crepes from Creme de la Crepe; allergen-free chocolate chip cookies from Starry Lane Bakery; strawberrylemonade cocktails from AWOL; chicken wings from Hillcrest Brewing Co.; and more.

Tickets are $40 per person. They can be purchased online at or at either of the two check-in stations: the Hillcrest Business Association, on the east side of Hillcrest at 1601 University Ave., and Hairspray Salon, on the west side, at 141 University Ave.

Eating for a good causE

April is Earth Month. As a result, seven San Diego establishments are taking part in Bites for a Better Planet, a campaign that will directly benefit the anti-litter organization, I Love a Clean San Diego The businesses taking part have pledged to donate portions of their sales from various dishes to the local organization through April 30.

Spill the Beans, for example, is giving a percentage of its general sales to the cause, plus $1 from every cup sold of cold brew with orange peel. The coffee roaster receives the citrus from Olivewood Gardens in National City. In turn, the coffee grounds from the cold brew are given to Olivewood as fertilizer for its community gardens.

At the Original 40 Brewing Company in North Park, 50 percent of sales from their mint-kissed “Patou’s summer salad” will be donated. Other participants include George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, Arely’s French Bakery in Clairemont, The Smoking Gun in the Gaslamp Quarter, and Music Box in Little Italy. For more details about Bites for a Better Planet, visit

This Bud’s for you, San Diego.(Courtesy photo) A fitting salad for Earth Month at Original 40 Brewing Company. (Courtesy Alternative Strategies) The Expect curds galore at the upcoming Cheese Expo.(Courtesy photo) San Diego’s cider scene is alive and well. (Photo by Frank Sabatini Jr.) Right-wing conservatives still seething over Budweiser’s use of trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney on its Bud Light label last year can take solace in the company’s latest can designs — and maybe drink in harmony with their fellow LGBTQ Padres fans.

Art About Town

Greetings, art lovers, or even those new to the scene. Listings in this new space will include events, exhibits, or art announcements from LGBTQA artists, gallery owners, and the like. It is not meant to be all-inclusive but a way to get the word out about things happening locally that we can involve ourselves in. There is always something happening in our art community! Take a Saturday and visit one or more of these great events! All are open to the public unless a ticket price is indicated.

His move has now taken place and as of April 4, his works are on display for all to see at Studio 16 B in Spanish Village Art Center, located in Balboa Park. RD is known for his is ready to greet customers and even those taking a stroll through the village to browse.

Spanish Village Art Center is located at 1770 Village Place, Balboa Park (for parking, enter from Park Boulevard side, just north of the Natural History Museum).

His new studio hours are Thursday through Monday, from 11 am – 4 pm. For more information, visit rdriccoboni. com or

The eight local (paint and multimedia) artists whose works will be included are Ansley Pye, Jamie Kaminscky, Jason Gould, Kevin Winger, Beate BermannEnn, Jill Joy, Wayne Hulgin, and Jeffrey Taylor.

While the show is happening now and runs through April 27, the opening night reception is scheduled for Friday, April 12, from 6-9 pm.

“Studio Door owner Patric Stillman and guest curator Kevin Winger invite you to experience this colorful, innovative, and cutting-edge exhibition showcasing San Diego’s preeminent abstract creators,” said a press release announcing the exhibit. “These works demonstrate a broad diversity of processes, mediums, and unique expressions from our very own San Diego-based artists, exemplifying some of the top talent in our fine city. Please join us and experience this dynamic and immersive collection of works in person at the Studio Door gallery in Hillcrest this April.”

The Studio Door, which originally opened in 2014 in North Park, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The gallery is nationally known for its annual exhibitions, The Crow Show and PROUD+, and support of local artists. The Studio Door’s 4,300 square-foot Hillcrest storefront hosts 16 working artists studios in addition to its large gallery space.

The Artist Alchemy: Abstract

Studio Door, located at 2867 Fourth Ave., in Hillcrest. For more information, visit @thestudiodoor.

The controversy of equality

A special series called “Controversy of Equality,” will be on display at SD Art Advisory, starting April 9 and running through June.

The work is from local artist and sculptor Elizabeth Laul Healey, of La Jolla, who splits her time between here and Laguna Beach.

“Women, race, equality, power, celebrity, self confidence, the art world, consumerism and the environment are all recurring subjects in my work. Art challenges the way we think, it opens the doorways to conversations, and art is food for

Saturday, April 13, from 6-8 pm, which will launch the exhibition. Healey’s works, which she defines as “conscious contemporary art,” will then be on display through June, with viewings by appointment. Call 619-844-4487 to schedule.

SD Art Advisory Gallery is located at 3877 Falcon St., in Mission Hills. To learn more about the gallery, visit

Gallery 21 solo exhibition

A local Mission Valley-based artist will have a new exhibition, titled, “Minimal Designs & Organic Shapes,” to be held at Gallery 21 in the Spanish Village Art Center, from April 9–22.

The exhibition has an opening reception and meet-and-greet scheduled for Saturday, April 13, from 3-6 pm. Viewings outside of the stated hours can be made by appointment.

Gallery 21 has long focused on

A new creative palette space for RD Artist Alchemy in Hillcrest Guest curator Kevin Winger presents the group show, “Artist RD in his element. “Assortment X,” 24 x 20, oil on panel, by Kevin Winger “More Transparency,” 48 x 60, oil on canvas, by Elizabeth Healey
PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT Ad paid for by Toni Atkins for Governor 2026 C O N T R I B U T I O N L E V E L S H O S T : $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 | C O - H O S T : $ 5 , 0 0 0 C H A M P I O N : $ 2 , 5 0 0 | S P O N S O R : $ 1 , 0 0 0 F R I E N D : $ 5 0 0 | S U P P O R T E R : $ 2 5 0 G U E S T : $ 1 0 0 P L E A S E J O I N Hosts | Jack Nooren, Ryan Bedrosian Co-Hosts | Moe Girton & Dawn Stultz, Nicole Murray-Ramirez H E L P E L E C T C A L I F O R N I A ’ S F I R S T L G B T Q + G O V E R N O R Saturday, April 20, 2024 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM PT San Diego, CA (Hillcrest) Address Provided Upon RSVP SCAN THE QR CODE TO RSVP For more information contact Toni@ToniAtkins org
Smith’s paintings are often inspired by local sights. This one is called, “A Night in North Park.”

work in Gallery 21’s intimate venue.

The meet-and-greet on April 13, is “a unique opportunity to engage with the artist as he shares insights on his personal and professional inspirations that led to this exciting body of work,” stated a press release announcing the art event.

Smith, who moved to San Diego from the Midwest in 2021, is known for his use of color and “showcasing his personality.” He has already engaged in a number of other exhibitions around the county with award-winning results in his short time here.

“Lucas brings a fresh vision to abstractionism inspired by exploration of America’s Finest City,” stated the release. “This contemporary artist is not afraid to use color and showcase his personality through his imagination and creativity. Smith’s palette choices are bold & vibrant. His artwork is a series of layers, each with their own unique significance. Lucas invites his viewers in, not holding back, taking them on a journey through is artwork. Each piece tells a story and seeks to engage with the viewer not only to inspire but to soothe the mind.”

Gallery 21 is located at 1770 Village Place, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101. For more information, visit lucassmithart. com @lucassmithart

Paint and sip your evening away

Hosted by Alexander Salazar at his SD Art Advisory Gallery, Christy Ross Art presents “Paint & Sip,” an evening with art and wine.

Christy will guide those in attendance through an evening of creative exploration.


As a monthly, community newspaper, we are only dependent upon ad sales and now reader donations through our website. We too, have to pay our writers, our printer, and our distributor who delivers across the county for each issue.

We hope we are putting out a product that people enjoy reading and can learn something from, but we know not everyone is going to appreciate us. We can only hope that when they don’t, they bring it directly to us, rather than hit us from behind.

Recently, we’ve been seeing attacks on our distribution points. Papers disappearing from places and in other locations, directly thrown in the trash (see photo) next to where the stack had previously been. We’ve also had our papers intentionally moved away or under other stacks of papers so as not to be seen.

We know we are not the only LGBTQ publication in town, but there is room for all of us, and for many different reasons. We don’t know who is doing this, we only know it’s been happening the last few months.

When I first moved to San Diego in 1987, we had Gay & Lesbian News, Update, Bravo!, and the LA-based Lesbian Connection. Each week, I picked

At 6 pm, attendees will get the chance to mingle with a glass of wine and light appetizers while enjoying the two floors of professional artwork inside the SD Art Advisory gallery. The painting lesson, “The Cloud,” will start promptly at 6:30 pm. The next two hours will be spent painting. All art supplies will be provided and included in the ticket price.

Christy said she will teach attendees techniques to help them unleash their inner artists and create their own masterpieces.

SD Art Advisory Gallery is located at 3877 Falcon St., in Mission Hills. Tickets are $75. For more information and to buy tickets, visit sdartadvisory.

If you’d like to be included in Art About Town, send an email or a press release and photo to

All images/photos courtesy of the artists/galleries. ▼

up every one of them during my Friday night out. Over that weekend, I read each one coverto-cover, even though sometimes there were similar stories because three of the papers were all covering the same local LGBT community. The beauty was that they each were unique and each contributed to teaching me about the community I was a growing part of.

There is no reason for us not to have a similar situation today. We greatly appreciate The Word and Rage Magazine and we feel that each periodical has a different purpose, despite having similar audiences and coverages.

But someone is trying to hamper our ability to get the news out to our readers.

We would like to ask you to be our eyes and ears on the street and if you ever see stacks of our papers being thrown out or moved or shoved under other papers, please say something, or shoot us an anonymous message about the location so we can get there and rearrange or restock as soon as possible. Or advertisers and vendors depend on it. Thank you so much.

As always, please feel free to reach out with news tips, ideas, support or even criticism to We appreciate your readership.


(l to r) Ross and Salazar in his gallery

Like many, I grew up watching all of the “old school” Disney movies and am happy that so many have made the transition successfully to the stage. Full scale productions of “Mary Poppins,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” have all found great acclaim all over the w orld.

Leave it to Disney and the creative minds of so many to bring some of their most popular films to the Broadway stage. Shows like these are the perfect gateway to introduce kids to the theater. Judging by a lot of the youth that were in the audience at “Aladdin” recently, there are lots of parents that agree. Disney is definitely in the business to make memories and they do it well.

I’ll never forget seeing “The Lion King” on Broadway on Sept. 16, 2001; five days after 9/11. Broadway had just returned and everyone was desperate for some sense of normalcy. The show was playing then at the New Amsterdam Theater, which is where Aladdin is currently running in its just celebrated 10th year. I remember the audience being so awkwardly quiet and uneasy. We were living in a new world and nobody knew quite what to do. Then, with the first word of “Circle of Life,” the entire place erupted. People jumped to their feet sharing tears, hugs and a feeling of release from every single person in that building. Stopped the show before it even started. Theater is a healer and I felt it that night. A memory that will always be in my m ind.

This past week, I saw a production of Disney’s Aladdin at the San Diego Civic Theater that left me very pleasantly surprised. I originally saw this five or so years ago in the same place, and that production didn’t leave a very memorable impression on me. To be honest, I think I may have been more interested in the Prosecco that evening. I have always enjoyed the story and the songs, so I decided to give it another go, and I’m so happy that I did. After seeing this particular production, I can understand why it has found such longevity on the stage. From the first note of the show’s opener, “Arabian Nights,” I knew I was in for a highly entertaining and fun filled (magic carpet) ride for the next two ho urs.

The musical journey of Aladdin follows our title character, a poor, young man, who is granted three wishes by a Genie in a magic lamp, which he uses to woo a Princess and to thwart the Sultan’s evil Grand Vizier. Set in the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah,

Disney’s Aladdin flies into San Diego and soars

the audience meets a cast of characters that bring the story alive with songs written by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin. This particular show is a host of several memorable songs from the 1992 animated film (which featured the voice of the iconic Robin Williams as Genie) plus some new ones.

The strong cast and ensemble are why this production works as well as it does. Beginning with the title character of Aladdin, played exactly right by Ali Roy, he embodies all of the qualities of the character that everyone knows; a kind face, big smile and expressive eyes. Aladdin is likable from the first time we meet him and that never ends. Roy brings charisma to the role and the chemistry he shares with Jasmine is palpable. He definitely makes you root for the underdog. Most importantly, he nailed my favorite song of the show, “Proud of Your Boy.”

I was impressed by the beautiful vocals of Senzel Ahmady, who portrayed Princess Jasmine as the perfect personification of the character. At times, her voice reminded me of Lea Salonga, who also provided the vocals for the character in the movie. However, while both her speaking and singing voices were lovely to hear, I did sometimes have issues with hearing her. I don’t know whether it was a diction issue or a technical flaw, but I really didn’t care because I enjoyed her so m uch.

The show may be called Aladdin but it is clear that the star of this show is the Genie, brought to life masterfully by Marcus M. Martin. What a whirlwind, 100 miles per hour, powerhouse of a perfo rmer! When a character asks Genie, “Who are you?,” he is 100% correct in delivering the line, “The guy about to steal this show!” HE SURE DOES! You could feel the energy emitting from the stage, especially in the act one showstopper, “Friend Like Me,” which brought shades of “A Chorus Line,” “42nd Street” and handfuls of pop culture references and song clips from other Disney musicals. Good thing this number is the finale of act one, so the actors all have some time to catch their breath during intermis sion.

The other supporting characters and an amazing company all paint the story and keep it playfully moving al ong.

As Jafar, Anand Nagraj provided everything needed to nail that character; the fabulous, flowing cape, the eyebrows and of course, the rich, baritone voice. His sidekick, Iago, portrayed hysterically by Aaron Choi, was the one cast member who I couldn’t stop watching. I love the fact that he wasn’t afraid to play into the physical comedy of the character. Additionally, I really liked Aladdin’s trio of friends, Babkak, Omar and Kassim (Jake Letts, Nathan Levy, Colt Prattes) and found them to be enjoyable. Their distinct physical differences also played very well

into the likability and success of these three characters. I’d be friends with them, too.

Not to be overlooked is the amazing ensemble, who were all standouts. It seems like they never stopped moving. The audience is witness to an amazing blend of voices and the execution of joyful choreography created by Tony winner, Casey Nicho law.

The costumes were bright, ornate and moved beautifully. They effectively set the scene for an Arabian oasis. The sets were lit and swathed in lush tones of pinks, blues, greens, and oranges, and decorated in rich textures and fabrics fitting of the fictional city of Agrabah. The Genie’s cave was a vision in gold with tons of glitter, sequins and tap shoes. Super opulent and perfect for the setting of the “Friend Like Me” num ber.

The only slight disappointment I had all night was that during “A Whole New World,” the stage was quite dark and there was a lot of fog. I still loved the effect of Aladdin and Jasmine flying over on a magic carpet. I just wish I had seen it bet ter.

All in all, I had a fun night at the theater. Was Aladdin the best show I have ever seen? No. BUT it was an evening that kept me very entertained and made me laugh and forget about life on the outside for 2+ hours. I consider that a success all on its o wn.

–Originally from upstate New York, Chris Barone (aka “Miss B”) has been a part of the San Diego/Hillcrest community for 20 years. You probably know him mostly from Baja Betty’s, where he has worked since opening in 2004. Keen eyes may even remember him from his now retired drag persona, “Shalita Buffet.” Besides theater, his interests include cooking, traveling, New York Yankees baseball, and anything involving Dolly Parton. You can reach him at christopher5409@yahoo. com ▼

our paper
donating at LGBTQSD .news
Adi Roy as Aladdin, in the North American tour of Aladdin, at Broadway San Diego Civic Theatre (Photo by Deen van Meer, Disney) Marcus M. Martin as Genie (center), with company extras (Photo by Deen van Meer, Disney) Arabian Nights in Broadway production(Photo by Deen van Meer, Disney) (l to r) Jake Letts, Ben Chavez, Adi Roy, Colt Prattes (Photo by Deen van Meer, Disney)

plan is to hear what it was like to serve during those years.

“We would love to hear your story,” they said in a communication about the event. “We are planning this group zoom event for you to dust off those old memories and connect with others who share the military experience.

“Some possible questions that we might ask include: What was your motivation for signing up? Were you involved in any ‘witch hunts’? What was your discharge experience? Were you ever ‘outed’? What was your training? Do you have memorable stories?”

They said that the Zoom event will be recorded and added to the website – called San Diego Lesbians, sdlesbians. org – which is a much larger and more expansive project than the military Zoom meeting alone. Gateley, a software developer by trade, has been working on the seed project to this since 2017.

“We picked that range [19702000] as representing the ‘golden years’ of lesbian culture – before assimilation and ‘getting on with our lives’ began to happen,” Gateley told us via email.

“Basically we want to try to preserve that special culture that was early San Diego lesbian history,” Waters explained in a separate communication. “By recording women’s stories, we are attempting to do that. The [San Diego Lesbian] project has grown into collecting stories and memorabilia from events and organizations from that time period.”

Waters lived in San Diego for decades before moving to the Pacific Northwest a few years ago.

“Lesbians today just don't have what we had, and we are enjoying collecting things to show them our culture,” Waters continued. “As a veteran, I know we went through some things that most women can't imagine and are curious about. Our memories are clear and we want to talk about it.”

Only those who RSVP will be able to get the link for the Zoom meeting, so Gateley and Waters emphasize you must reach out to them to be included. In the future, they plan to have more Zoom meetings centered around Las Hermanas, and Rugby, and have already done others regarding San Diego Women’s Chorus, and the 1975 San Diego Women’s Music Festival.

To sign up for the military veteran Zoom, contact Kithie Gateley at or Jill Waters at sandiego10swmn@



The Kiwanis Club of Hillcrest All-Inclusive will host a special presentation by the San Diego Police Department’s LGBTQ liaison officers, Lisa Hartman and Akilah Coston, at their next meeting on Thursday, April 11, 6:30 pm, at Uptown Tavern.

Law enforcement agencies throughout San Diego County have created LGBTQ+ liaison officer positions to offer outreach and engagement with the local LGBTQ+ community. The San Diego Police Department was one

of the first departments in the nation to create such a position, and also to have an LGBTQ Advisory to its Chief of Police.

At the Kiwanis meeting, the officers will share about the work they do, how they engage with the community, and other public safety issues of concern. Participants will be able to interact with officers Hartman and Coston and ask questions about specific community issues.

The Kiwanis Club of Hillcrest All-Inclusive was chartered in June 2021 and provides community service opportunities for anyone who wants to get involved. They meet on the second and fourth Thursday of each month and organizers say they welcome everyone who is interested in hearing the featured presentation or getting more involved in the organization’s activities.

For more information, send a direct message (DM) to the club on Instagram at @kiwanislgbtq


The Lao Americans Organization, along with the LezBHonest Dragon Boat Team, are hosting the first Thai, Lao, and Cambodian (TLC) New Year celebration for the LGBTQ community.

The event, scheduled for Sunday, April 14, will be held in the Clark Cabaret space at Diversionary Theatre, and everyone is welcome.

According to event organizers, the New Year celebration will bring together the vibrant cultures of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, and showcase it within the LGBTQ community. The event will include Thai and Lao cuisine, dance performances, and cultural celebrations, hosted by Lao drag queen Billyanna.

“This is a safe space for everyone, regardless of identity or sexual orientation,” event organizers told LGBTQ San Diego County News. “Come join us, be yourself, and celebrate the diversity within our LGBTQ community. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our community members, we’re proud to present this inaugural event. We’re here to stay, and this event paves the way for future generations to thrive in a welcoming and inclusive environment.”

Diversionary Theatre and the Clark Cabaret is located at 4545 Park Blvd., in University Heights. To purchase tickets, visit bit. ly/3vFNbDO.



Throughout the year, FilmOUT San Diego presents monthly screenings of legendary films to raise money for its annual film festival. Each month, the group chooses popular or even slightly scandalous films, including film noirs, historical dramas, LGBT-themed films, films with LGBT icons, and the like.

This month they chose the Brian De Palma murder mystery, “Body Double,” starring Melanie Griffith, who plays a porn star. Originally released in 1984, it is the 40th anniversary of the film, which runs one hour and 54 minutes, and the underworld of the adult entertainment industry through De Palma’s eyes is sure to be a treat.

“Body Double” will screen Wednesday, April 17, at 7 pm, at Landmark Theatres’ Hillcrest Cinemas, located at 3965 Fifth Ave., in Hillcrest. Tickets are $12 online and $15 at the door. For tickets or more information, visit



“AIDS DIVA: The Legend of Connie Norman,” made the festival circuit rounds back in 2021, after its release, and the film, by award-winning, West Hollywood-based filmmaker Dante Alencastre, is still enjoying screening booking requests from across the country.

On Saturday, April 20, at 7:30 pm, it will be presented at Media Arts Center’s Digital Gym located at 100 Market St., in East Village. [The Digital Gym was previously located in North Park.]

Set in Los Angeles in the late early 1990s (with flashbacks to earlier times) when AIDS was still peaking and ACT/UP-LA membership was in full swing, the film follows transgender activist Connie Norman as she leads from the trenches as an ACT/UP spokesperson.

From the website: “Norman described herself as ‘ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current post-operative transsexual woman who is HIV positive,’ and simply ‘a human being seeking my humanity.’

“She served as a bridge, in both gender and politics – from ACT UP/LA to the Radical Fairies, to right-wing talk shows to Sacramento policy meetings to her marriage to gay husband Bruce – and challenged us to confront what it means to be a woman, a man and ultimately a human being. Modeling ‘wokeness’ in an earlier era of crisis, Connie’s piercing and compassionate voice, through these rare vintage video clips, leaps into the present, urging us again to wake up, to take action, and to fully engage with our collective lives and our world.

There are dozens and dozens of reviews and testimonials on the film’s website, with most recognizing how important – and relevant – the story continues to be.

“Our collective consciousness needed this story, as a community we need to know our history, and whose shoulders we stand on,” Alencastre told us. “During the 1980s and ’90s our community lived through the AIDS pandemic, we were demonized, politically used as pawns, neglected and rejected by our families. Some of these issues sound sadly familiar


Words from Cho ACROSS 1 Greeting from Leonard Bernstein 7 K. McKinnon worked here 10 Porgy’s lady 14 Langston Hughes’ “___ Dreams” 15 Began a sexual thing 17 Top dogs 18 Before-dinner drink 19 Start of a Margaret Cho quote 21 Golfer Sam 22 Take care of 26 Treat for Rizzo at the Frosty Palace 29 Stick it in your bunghole 32 Pet physician 33 Preposition for Byron 34 More of the quote 38 Come to mind 40 What’s left 41 Highly opinionated 44 Britten’s balls? 45 More of the quote 47 Hotties get it in gay bars 48 Avoids family cooking, with “out” 49 Beginning of “Rent” 52 Neighbor of Kan. 54 More of the quote 58 End of the quote 64 Hybrid citrus fruits 65 Role for Anthony or Freddie 66 ’69 and others 67 Sales people 68 Like the top of the world DOWN 1 Silverstein of kiddie lit 2 Mary topper 3 Word on a map of Israel 4 Ted Casablanca bit, with “the” 5 ___ Ten (LGBT support group) 6 Billiard stroke 7 Iran, formerly 8 Terse oral refusal 9 Leopold’s partner 10 Drag queen’s hosiery hue, perhaps 11 D.C. summer clock setting 12 Word before generis 13 Lotion letters at Sitges 16 “Charlie’s Angels” role 20 Meaty Mexican dish 23 Become more balanced 24 Oolong holders 25 Playful swimmer 26 Samoan investigator Margaret 27 Shaft in a straight simile 28 Vivien of “Gone With the Wind” 30 Cukor’s “Adam’s ___” 31 He stole the tarts of the Queen of Hearts 34 Expat Sylvia 35 “___ Waterfront” 36 “Daggers” look 37 Light, woody material 39 Hitting hard, like King James 42 Rudy Galindo milieu 43 Flirt’s quality 46 Urvashi has one 49 Firm member (abbr.) 50 Burn a bit 51 Perfect scores for Mitch Gaylord 53 ___ fide 55 On top of, in poetry 56 Suffix with project 57 Pacifier 59 Tit-tat connection 60 Chelsea’s mom, initially 61 Invoice fig. 62 Rink star Babilonia 63 SASE, for one SOLUTION
on page
@lucassmithart | www.LucasSmithAr NEWS | PUZZLE
Connie Norman (Coutesy

Do you remember this man?

Photo reconstructions may offer hope in identifying San Diego John Doe

An organization that helps with unsolved murders and the search for missing persons is urging San Diegans to look at reconstructed photos to see if they recognize a man who was killed in San Diego over 20 years ago.

“John Doe” was a hispanic male, 5 foot 5 inches tall, approximately 130 lbs, and he was stabbed to death on April 20, 1993, in Balboa Park. He has never been identified.

Because this man’s death occurred close to our neighborhood, and because, especially in the 1990s, Balboa Park is often used for “hook-up” encounters, I felt it was important to share this story with our readers.

Additional details about John Doe: both ears were double-pierced; he had long, dark brown hair, which was worn in a ponytail at the time of his death; his age was estimated to be somewhere in his 20s or 30s, meaning he could have been born between the mid-1950s to 1970s.

Barbara Rotella, the owner/ operator of Underground Mysteries, an online search portal and database run out of New Jersey, reached out to LGBTQ San Diego County News recently with a plea to get the word out regarding this unidentified man.

Underground Mysteries has reportedly helped solve several hundred cold cases and has been circulating information about this case throughout her network since December of 2023, but decided to start contacting news organizations in the San Diego area.

“This John Doe’s case has never received any media attention, and up until now, his photos were never circulated; that is because no photos had existed until Underground Mysteries decided to reconstruct his post-mortem photos to give him a life-like appearance of how he may have appeared when he was alive,” Rotella shared in an email. “Because he had a recognizable face at the time of his death, his photo reconstructions are an accurate depiction of how he appeared.”

Rotella is a missing/ unidentified person activist/ advocate, a forensic investigator, an investigative journalist for missing persons, and as a graphic designer, for the past two years she has begun to use facial reconstruction to help identify mostly underrepresented


Hate crimes rose by 73% in 2023 over 2022, according to the San Diego Police Chief’s yearly crime statistics report, which will be discussed in April by the full San Diego City Council.

The report was released March 26 by Police Chief David Nisleit, who held a press conference with Mayor Todd Gloria to announce that most

crimes actually went down by 3% overall.

There were 66 hate crimes in 2023, for which sexual orientation was believed a factor in 21 incidents or 32% in 2023, the report said. Race/Ethnicity was a factor in 25 incidents, or 38%, and religion was cited in 27% in 18 incidents, according to the report.

Mayor Gloria said the increase in hate crimes may be a result of more people reporting such crimes. The bias

cited in hate crimes involving religion were crimes that took place against Jewish or Middle Eastern people, which may be influenced as a result of the Israel/Hamas war.

In 2022, there were only four incidents of hate crimes that occurred due to sexual orientation, the report said.

Animal cruelty cases increased by 500% in 2023, a result of 24 cases as opposed to four incidents in 2022

unidentified persons who have been found dead or missing for long periods of time. She is also a forensic genealogist for cold cases, which she does through her website, but she said the two websites go hand-in-hand.


A prison sentence of five years and four months was handed down March 20, for Avonte Ahikim Hartsfield, a gay man who was convicted of arson and two counts of insurance fraud after torching his own vegan food truck.

A restitution hearing was set for April 22, to determine how much Hartsfield, 27, will have to pay donors who contributed more than $102,000 to a GoFundMe campaign when Hartsfield originally claimed he was the victim of a hate crime because he was black and also gay.

“The defendant preyed on the San Diego community on the trust, on the good natured spirit and the good hearts that our community has,” said Deputy District Attorney Judy Taschner afterwards.

If you recognize this John Doe, or think you might remember him or the circumstances surrounding his death, please contact Barbara Rotella at info@doenaming. For more information about Underground Mysteries, visit ▼

“The jury has spoken that he was guilty on all four charges of arson, two counts of insurance fraud and grand theft from GoFundMe,” DDA Taschner said. “He’s not taking any responsibility for any of his actions in this case.”

Hartsfield, who won the right to represent himself, told San Diego Superior Court Judge Kimberlee Lagotta that the prosecutor wasn’t able to prove he started the fire. He claimed he was at home at the time of the Oct. 3, 2021, blaze in Kearny Mesa.

Taschner played recordings at trial that showed Hartsfield saying he panicked when a rice cooker sparked and that the fire was accidental. He told a detective he fled the scene as he feared he would be electrocuted.

–Neal Putnam is a local crime reporter. You can reach him at ▼

Both of these photos were digitally reconstructed based on post-mortem photos of the victim. (Courtesy Underground Mysteries

to today’s audiences, including our youth.

“Connie’s activism shows us how to be vigilant, resilient, and that change takes hard work,” Alencastre said. “Her legacy lives on in every trans, gender non-conforming, two spirit, non-binary youth who gets to be themselves openly and proudly.”

“She was a compassionate disruptor and bridge builder. Her kind of leadership is needed now more than ever,” he said.

Alencastre @dalencastre, who also directed “Raising Zoey,” will be on hand at the Media Arts Center Digital Gym after the 62-minute film for a questionand-answer (Q&A) session.

Tickets are $12, students and seniors are $10, and members are $9.

To watch a trailer, visit bit. ly/3xgrDy3. If you want to learn more, visit and


Following a successful community-organized cleanup last January, the next “Hillcrest Cleanup & Cocktails” is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, at 9 am and organizers say volunteers are currently being sought. The event includes a litter cleanup throughout high-trafficked areas of Hillcrest, followed by hosted food and drinks as a thank you to volunteers afterward.

Organized by the @HillcrestSanDiego Instagram account and the Kiwanis Club of Hillcrest All-Inclusive, the April cleanup is being co-sponsored by Chase Bank, the Human Dignity Foundation, Hillcrest Town Council, Hillcrest Business Association, and Urban MO’s.

The event will be held in conjunction with I Love A Clean San Diego’s Creek-to-Bay cleanup, happening on the same day, with volunteers fanned out across the county to clean up litter and make sure it doesn’t find itself downstream.

Hillcrest cleanup participants will begin to gather at 8:30 am at the Hillcrest sign, located at the intersection of University and Fifth avenues. Coffee and bagels will be provided by the Kiwanis Club, followed by brief remarks and the start of the cleanup at 9 am. Volunteers will be provided with all necessary supplies (including trash bags and gloves), and are encouraged to wear closed-toe shoes and clothes they don’t mind getting dirty.

Following the cleanup, all volunteers who check-out no earlier than 11 am will be given a wristband for a thank you party afterward at 11:30 am, with hosted drinks and light bites sponsored by Urban MO’s.

Everyone who claims Hillcrest as their neighborhood (literally or figuratively) is welcome to volunteer and groups are encouraged to participate together. Participants in previous Hillcrest neighborhood cleanups have come from all parts of the county.

To RSVP, visit CleanCocktails4-24. For additional information or sponsorship opportunities, send a text to 619-316-9197.


The San Diego LGBT Community Center recently announced the hiring of its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) as Jeannie Posner, CPA, Esq., who joined the organization effective April 2.

According to The Center’s CEO Cara Dessert, Posner was selected after an extensive national search led by Koya Partners.

“Over the last five years, The Center has achieved remarkable growth,” Dessert said in their announcement. “Our budget has more than doubled, our programs have expanded, we have re-envisioned our planned giving program, and we now manage several multi-year government contracts. Our staff has grown, our physical footprint has expanded, and our impact has reached new heights. As we continue to serve and uplift our

community, Jeannie’s expertise will be invaluable.”

Posner, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, has over 20 years of financial expertise, according to The Center. Dessert said she believes Posner is well suited to navigate the growing financial landscape of The Center, which has grown so much in recent years.

“Jeannie brings with her an impressive more than two decades of accountancy experience,” Dessert said. “Her journey through the intricate world of finance has been nothing short of extraordinary. From her background in the auditing world, she moved to the corporate world before starting her own firm, and her most recent role was as CFO and COO at the San Diego Opera. Her background uniquely positions her to navigate the complexities of The Center’s financial landscape. Her commitment to transparency, efficiency, and fiscal responsibility aligns perfectly with our values.”

Outside of her financial career, Posner has also been a longtime volunteer throughout the San Diego community, according to The Center. She currently serves on the board of directors for Mama’s Kitchen, serving as treasurer and president-elect, and is on the audit committee of Lawrence Family JCC. She has also served on the board of directors for Congregation Beth El and Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks Soccer. Posner and her wife, Nancy Muller, have three adult children who they raised here in San Diego, and participated in The Center’s Family Services Program for many years in its earliest days.

“We are so excited to welcome Jeannie Posner to The Center family,” Dessert added. “As The Center continues to grow, her leadership will undoubtedly contribute to our continued success, and I am excited to see the positive impact she will make.”

Learn more about The Center, visit


It’s that time of year where magazines and travel organizations are looking ahead to catching the attention of folks who want to travel over late spring and summer, so San Diego is once again making the rounds of the “most” or “must see” travel lists.

America’s Finest City lands on these lists regularly for various reasons, most of which are evident, but this year it made two lists specifically related to its thriving LGBTQ culture.

The first list, published by The Advocate, was “15 gayest travel destinations in the world,” put together by Mister B&B, selfdeclared as “the world’s largest LGBTQ+ travel community.” The founders established Mister B&B after a homophobic experience in Spain while on travel.

The gayest destinations story said the organization’s researchers and data scientists checked the habits of their 1 million registered customers to create the rankings.

San Diego came in 9th, bested by London, Wilton-Manors (FL), LA, Chicago, Palm Springs, Fort Lauderdale, and NYC. To learn more, visit

The next list, from studyfinds. org, “7 most LGBTQ friendly places to live in US.” The online article referred to the need for “safe spaces” and “havens” and based on their research across eight expert sources, studyfinds. org identified the seven cities chosen for the following criteria: “There are still many places in the U.S. that are not as welcoming, which highlights the importance of having havens for the LGBTQ+ community. These places not only provide a safe and inclusive environment but also offer a vibrant and thriving LGBTQ+ culture.”

In this list, we came in 6th, with San Francisco, NYC, Portland, Denver, and LA ranked above us and Austin after us. To learn more, or to comment (which they highly encourage) visit


Paul Margolis, a gay man who recently moved to San Diego from San Francisco, has created an LGBTQ resource website for both visitors and new residents of America’s Finest City. It’s called

According to Margolis, the website’s mission is to act as a guide to local, major national LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations, annual community events, observances, athletic organizations and the arts.

Margolis created a similar resource for SF in 2011, which migrated to Facebook, called

Here’s the background story, according to Margolis.

In 2001, Walgreens at 18th and Castro in San Francisco began to offer free advertising space in their window to volunteers, to schedule multiple weeks to nonprofits to promote their mission, recruit volunteers, and advertise upcoming events.

“I was volunteering at a retail store named Under One Roof in the Castro District of SF which benefitted about 30 HIV organizations,” Margolis said. “The executive director told me that the nonprofit window [at Walgreens] was about to be given up since they could not find a volunteer to handle reservations.”

Margolis decided to do it himself. That was 2011.

“The volume of groups wanting to advertise in the window got out of hand so I created the website OurTownSF in 2013,” Margolis said. “The next year I met David Hatcher from Los Angeles on an Atlantis cruise and he started OurTownLA the following year.”

The SF website migrated to a Facebook page at some point and Margolis retired from hosting that page on the last day of 2020, but it is still going strong today.

“My husband Don and I shopped for the best place to retire and we fell in love with San Diego,” Margolis said. “I lived 36 years in San Francisco.”

Once settled here, he decided to create the same type of resource for his new home town.

While he does not accept donations or advertising for the website, he will accept complimentary tickets to local events so he can take pictures and share them on the website.

Note: Margolis is seeking a volunteer to help translate portions of from English to Spanish, which will be published on the site.

OurTown SanDiego is an all-volunteer nonprofit and educational activity of To learn more, add information, or even correct any information found on the website, contact Margolis at ▼

New CFO Jeannie Posner (Coutesy Courtesy The Center) Paul Margolis, his husband Don, and their furbabies (Facebook)
The last cleanup (Courtesy B. Cartwright)


Dec. 29, 1977 – March 14, 2024

Diane Frances Germain Erica Miranda Flores

Jan. 23, 1942 – March 25, 2024

In the early evening of Monday, March 25, Diane Frances Germain passed away at age 82, after a valiant effort to overcome complications of an elective surgery. She was surrounded by the love and comfort of friends, family and sweet pups.

Diane was born on Jan. 23, 1942, in Winooski, Vermont, to Beulah (Clairmont) and Clement Germain. After attending Burlington High School and UVM, she received her master’s degree from UCLA. She made her way to San Diego and eventually settled in the Ocean Beach area, where she flourished amid the fresh ocean air and welcoming OB community.

Diane was a self-described “little French lesbian activist.” She was at the forefront of the movement for women’s rights in general and lesbian equality in particular in the 1960s and ’70s. She was also an artist, and used


and promotes the importance of acceptance, diversity, and equality.

“The most notable effect of Matthew’s death was the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act – a law that criminalizes hate crimes,” Clarione continued. “That means it is now a federal crime to cause harm to someone due to their perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Because of that, our community is now federally protected by the law. I don’t know how you can’t consider that a major contribution to society.”

After reading the Postal Service’s response, we did a bit of research on our own and were not surprised at what we found.

In 2019, the “Purple Heart” forever stamp was created. A story about the stamp said the

her talents in many mediums to not only further the causes that mattered to her, but to send thoughtful, handmade cards and random notes that brightened your day, if you were lucky enough to receive one. She had a lightning wit, and was a fierce advocate and great storyteller with an unforgettable laugh.

Diane was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her sisters Kathleen Shuken, Maria Santini, brother-in-law Victor Santini, her beloved nephew, Aaron Santini, as well as numerous cousins and too many friends to count.

Per her wishes, there will be no formal funeral service. A celebration of her life will take place in the San Diego area at a later date.

Note: A celebration of life has now been set for May 19, from 11 am – 1 pm in Escondido. To learn more and RSVP, visit ▼

following, “The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to members of the U.S. military who have been wounded or killed in action.”

Also in 2019, the PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stamp was dedicated. Then-vice chairman of the USPS board of governors, who was at the ceremony, said this:

“The Postal Service is honored to issue this semipostal stamp as a powerful symbol of the healing process, growth and hope for tens of millions of Americans who experience PTSD.”

In 2003, a stamp was established to commemorate 9/11. Granted, it focused on the first responders and it was titled “Heroes of 2001,” but the stamp itself is the widely distributed image of the firemen raising an American flag on top of the World Trade Center rubble, specifically referencing perhaps our greatest American tragedy to date.

And here’s the kicker. In 1994, to commemorate the 50th

Our friend, sister, cousin, and mother to Keanu – Erica Miranda Flores – died on March 14, at her home in Hillcrest, following a brief and unexpected illness. A celebration of life was held on Sunday, April 7, at Urban MO’s in Hillcrest.

Born in Los Angeles, Erica was known in the San Diego and Hillcrest communities as more than just a jester in the crowd, but also as the life of the party, a shoulder to lean on, an elaborate storyteller, and a selfless giver who was in constant support to those in need. She was loud and proud and without a doubt always genuinely herself.

From all walks of life, Erica was sure to make friends and leave an everlasting impact. Her personality was unmatched! Truly artistic, with a gift of words that brought life to anything that hit ink to page. This rambunctious wild human being, whom we all loved dearly, has not only left her physical form, but those who loved her with unforgettable memories and life lessons.

Erica is survived by her mother Guadalupe Miranda Flores; aunts Carmen Miranda, Aida Flores, and Martina Zavala; uncle Henry Hernandez Flores; sisters Veronica Flores (mother to Matthew, Eliana, Bella, Melissa, and Jessica), Lupita Flores (mother to Rolanda, Issac,

anniversary of the end of WWII, the USPS had approved and announced the future release of a stamp with a full-color image of the mushroom cloud seen in the wake of the atom bomb dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. After much transpacific controversy and months of the State Department tap-dancing with their counterparts in Japan, President Clinton put the kabosh on the stamp.

But this fact remains, the USPS had approved a bomb that leveled dozens of cities, and murdered millions of innocent Japanese civilians, but Matthew Shepard doesn’t meet the criteria.

It is important to note that maybe the biggest difference between the timing of the Harvey Milk stamp’s approval (2014) and this effort to honor Matthew Shepard is the Postmaster General. Louis DeJoy was appointed to PMG in June of 2020 by former president Donald Trump. DeJoy was considered a “megadonor” to the GOP and

She was preceded in death by her father Armando Flores, her sister Monica Diane Flores, her brother Armando Hernandez Flores and nephew Dominus Flores. She was also preceded in death by her chosen family, Esther Betancourt, Rafael Coronado, Jaime Nova, Lisette Pasillas, and Michael “Giggles” Calles.

Nicolas, Mariah, and Keanu); Edith Flores (mother to Mia); nieces Monica Duenas, Giannina Flores, Amanda Flores and Carolina Flores; nephews Noel (wife Marilyn, children Noel Jr., Leoani) Flores, Omar Flores, and Jovani Flores; and countless cousins, including Edith Rodriguez, Aida Villegas, and Nadia Nouvelle.

She is also survived by her life partner and best friend Naseeb Rakib, and former longtime boyfriend Luke Henshaw. Erica also leaves behind the loves of her life, her nephew Keanu, and niece Mariah whom Erica “adopted” as her own, along with countless friends, and former co-workers from Urban MO’s, whom she called her “chosen family.”

Due to the unexpected loss, Erica’s family was not prepared for the high cost of services. During this difficult time, the Flores family is appreciative of the community for any generous donations they can make to help cover Erica’s final expenses. One hundred percent of the donations toward Erica’s services will be used for her cremation and the eternal rest and happiness her soul so truly deserves. Any remaining funds after her final funeral expenses are covered will be set aside for Keanu’s education to be distributed at the age of 18. Donations can be made at

Services for Erica were arranged by her cousin Nadia Miranda.

The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to Erica’s friends; Taj Al-Taji, Eddie Reynoso, Clivia Alexander, and Matt Ramon, who helped facilitate her final services and wishes, and they would also like to thank the staff and management of Urban MO’s for their generosity in providing a space and food for Erica’s celebration of life.

Erica will be missed by everyone she touched and made laugh over the years. ▼

Trump’s previous campaigns at the time. In the years since his appointment, DeJoy has become an unexpected household name simply because of his horrible policies while governing the USPS, with calls for his resignation or firing by its board of governors. He, or his staff, may have indeed been the ones to shut this effort down.

So, how can the community get involved? Those associated with the campaign say everyone should jump on board.

“I encourage everybody to send in their own personal letter to the US Postal Service and share how Matthew Shepard has touched your life,” Lehman said.

“I believe an outpouring of letters from people, organizations, elected officials, religious leaders, and youth to the stamp committee in Washington D.C. asking them to reconsider their stand will change their minds,” Ramirez said. “I pray so.”

“I think in this instance, the committee may just be unaware

of the social and cultural impact that followed Matthew’s death,” Clarione offered. “Maybe we just need to let them know. Maybe a social media campaign needs to be created that promotes the positive changes that resulted from Matthew’s murder. The committee needs to focus on the positive resonance rather than the negative connotation.

“As we’ve overcome all the setbacks we’ve encountered in our history, I’m confident our community won’t back down from this,” he continued. “Matthew has made too much of an impact in our history for this to be ignored. It’s important to never forget Matthew and to honor the legacy he left behind.”

The IICC has other campaigns in the works, including a stamp effort for Bayard Ruskin. To learn more about the Matthew Shepard campaign, visit

To get involved and learn how to send your own letter to the USPS, visit

Scan the QR code to donate towards Erica’s funeral expenses.

FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2024 / PROGRAM 7:30 A.M.

Dolores Huerta Rabbi Devorah Marcus Dustin Lance Black
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